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Posted by Penny, May 20, 2015

Words – pictures – music!

Today’s guest blog is by Penny Dale, creator of the Dinosaur picture book series, on an unlikely overlap of interests with some of her favourite musicians…

I have always listened to music in my studio while I’m working. Years ago I listened to recordings much more than to radio, but since BBC 6 Music came along everything’s changed, and now the reverse is true, and it’s radio most of the time.

Not only is the music played on 6music varied and eclectic, but it’s curated and presented lovingly by knowledgeable people who sprinkle the playlist with rare classic tracks as well as lovely things that just don’t get heard on other more mainstream stations. And there’s lots of great new work played too.

Some favourite discoveries have included: Metronomy, Field Music, Teleman, and particularly, Public Service Broadcasting. They first diverted me, in a good way – i.e. paintbrush frozen mid air kind of way – a couple of years ago, when I heard ‘Spitfire’ from their first album, ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’. We saw them play at Cardiff Globe, which was amazing!… Not only musically, but visually as their performance includes tightly edited archive film clips.

So… about a year after we saw them live, a happy coincidence unfolded. Last October I had just delivered the final artwork for Dinosaur Rocket. I was finishing work on a simple trailer featuring images from the book. The 1.5 minute clip ended with a slow zoom in, to a close up of a T rex footprint on the moon, “That’s one small step for a T rex… One giant leap for dinosaur kind!”

Still image from my trailer

Imagine my surprise when around that time, I saw the first teaser trailer for PSB’s new Album. (I didn’t realise there was any overlap at that point) It featured a slow zoom out… from an indecipherable black and white image with minimal music playing and an extract of a recording of President Kennedy’s ‘Go to the moon’, speech. It slowly zoomed out until it resolved and revealed itself to be an image of the famous boot print on the moon!

Still image from Public Service Broadcasting’s Trailer

I realised in a rather “Wow!” moment, that for the past year I had been working on very similar subject matter, with similar source material and inspiration as some favourite musicians! It turned out that PSB’s new album was titled, ‘The Race for Space’!

It has a stand out single “Go!” which features all the mission control voices, that check the myriad systems before lift off and landing; the sequence of actual voices recorded at the time saying ‘Go!’ just before the moment the Eagle lander touched down on the Moon. So much of Dinosaur Rocket follows similar moments of highly focused group endeavour.

Here’s their video:

Their video is absolutely in a different league to mine. The weaving of the music, voice samples and visuals is awesome!

My 10x more homemade effort features music from a youth wind ensemble my daughter played in – which actually fits quite well as it has a 1950’s/60’s B Movie feel – but the animation is pretty clunky and wobbly. (Disclaimer!) But how lovely to discover such synchronicity in subject matter!

There are mission control-like teams in many fields. Most definitely in music and publishing and space exploration! Here’s to teams, and to Synchronicity!

Detail from Dinosaur Rocket featuring mission control dinosaurs!

PS It would be interesting to hear if any other writers or illustrators, listen to music when working, and if there are other examples of musical influence or overlap or shared inspiration.

Thank you, Penny! You can take a look inside Dinosaur Rocket below, and buy the book online here – and you can find out more about Public Service Broadcasting here.

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