AnomalyCon performer Keldari Station on what makes good science fiction
Keldari Station in cartoon form
AnomalyCon (running March 28 to 30 at the Denver Marriott Tech Center) started as a steam punk and alternate history-themed convention but has since expanded to cover science fiction generally. In its fourth year, the convention is featuring guest speakers, artists, writers and performers that have either direct ties to the world of science fiction or whose work resonates with that creative sub genre. The alternative rock band Strange Artifact is appearing all the way from Tokyo, Japan and several local artists will grace the stage as well. We spoke with dub/electronic duo Keldari Station about its favorite science fiction books, movies and television series and why it has chosen to cover television theme songs for this event.
Westword: You're band is pretty much part of the experimental music scene in Denver. How did you come to play this event?
Darren Danahy: The person who picks bands for it approached us. That was shortly after we'd become Keldari Station. We'd only played a couple of gigs at that point. We'd been making music and started recording it and putting in online. Within a few weeks of that someone asked if we wanted to play a gig.
Kelley Donovan: That was Don White of The Kappa Cell.
That was your first show, the one in the basement of The Gypsy House last March?
DD: All the songs had working titles like "The Neutral Zone" and named after science fiction things. So I think that maybe that's the connection that happened. We had titles like "Tardis Wake," "Gallifrey Timeshare" and "Mos Eisley Contraband." That's probably how she found us through Soundcloud.
What was your introduction to science fiction?
DD: For me it would have to be Dr. Who or Star Trek -- something from the '60s or '70s. I've been an insomniac since I was a kid and that's what was on late.
KD: For me it was Twilight Zone and 2001 and then Star Trek, Star Wars.
DD: I think Star Wars was more like religion to me. Because I was never brought up on religion and when I saw Star Wars they had this whole concept of the force and I was like, "Yes!" So it's science fiction but it's still a traditional story in a lot of ways as opposed to Star Trek that had pretty alien concepts to me, even culturally, I think, things about equality, in 1966. They had a black woman on the bridge of the ship. That's pretty cool.
What are you favorite science fiction movies?
DD: I would say Alien. Especially the first one. I saw that when it came out. Made my parents take me, it gives me nightmares to this day. I still love it. That really changed things. I did love Star Wars and 2001. What really gets me, though, is anything that has time travel or time paradoxes.
KD: Or alien contact like Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Why is time travel so fascinating?
DD: When I see anyone in a movie messing with the space-time continuum I get this weird feeling of, "Oh, don't do it." I feel this connection to it, I feel like it's real. I'm not a religious person but god is very real to someone brought up on religion. To me messing around with space and time is a very real thing that goes on all the time.
Why do you think it goes on all the time?
DD: I don't believe that time is linear, we just experience it that way. I believe that we are unwitting manipulators of it because of our not understanding of it. I don't have any book to tell you to explain it.
That's a more intuitive explanation of quantum theory and the fourth dimension.
DD: Yes. Like Kurt Vonneget. In a few of his books there's a planet called Tralfamador. In The Sirens of Titan maybe but definitely in Slaughterhouse Five. Tralfamadorians can perceive all events as having at once. The main character gets unstuck in time and gets to experience that.
That's like Dr. Manhattan from The Watchmen -- which is more explicitly discussed in the comic books than in the movie.
DD: Yes! That's the only comic I've ever read.
You're covering a handful of popular science fiction television themes for this show including the Dr. Who intro music. Delia Derbyshire composed the music for that and she's a pioneer of synthesizer music. As well as the Star Trek theme by Alexander Courage and the music for X-Files by Mark Snow. Why are you covering those particular songs? Did you research how to do that music?
DD: The idea was how do we make it a Keldari Station song. Our sound has developed since our first gig into an electronic dub feel. We want to give it that kind of chill feel. So we listened to it and figured out what key it was and see if that worked for us. I only have a two octave analog synthesizer so I have to make adjustments and see if it works. Star Trek was really hard because the melody changes key several times in the course of the song and the melody involves every single note. We're playing it but we still don't know what key it's in.
Which science fiction books have been the most inspirational and most interesting to you?
KD: Slaughterhouse Five for me. It was kind of outrageous for the time it came out. It wasn't what you were expecting at all.
DD: It was the coolest book I had to read for school.
It's also very meta because it's a science fiction book in which one of the character reads science fiction books that are described to you as though you're reading them too--authored, of course, by Kilgore Trout.
DD: It's psychedelic. It's like Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? in which he considers whether his own memories are really his own memories. I love books like that. I also read Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany. I'm pretty sure that was just his notebook.
Delaney has at least two acknowledged masterpieces, one being Dhalgren and the other, a later work, called Stars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand. I've not read the former but have you read the latter?
DD: No. I'll have to check that. I've read some of his other books. Babel-17 was like that too. It talks about how a language has so many more meanings than a word in English. It carries with it all the emotions and history of the word. It changed the way I read books.
KD: I also think many science fiction writers see the future and it's a good way to express those views safely.
What are you favorite science fiction TV series?
DD: They don't like each other on that show. They don't really get along. I like that.
KD: X-Files of course, Star Trek of course and Firefly.
DD: The Prisoner and Fringe. The latter has a mad scientist character that resembles Kurt Vonnegut who seems to like making his own strains of pot.
Why are the songs you're covering your favorites of the various TV shows from which you could have chosen?
DD: I know for Dr. Who and Star Trek that the music attracted me to the show. I'm up late, I'm up in my room, I had musician siblings and I heard those sounds and I had to watch them. I connect synthesizers and science fiction. I don't know how to separate the two. The sounds and the music are evocative in a way of science fiction. They have a mysterious sound.
KD: They give me the feeling of childhood and watching those shows. It's really comforting.
Throughout the weekend performers include Clockwork Flamingo, Dangerous Nonsense, Matthew Ebel, Pandora Celtica, Peter Cohen, Rachel Renee, Strange Artifact, TLT, Unwoman and Keldari Station who play at 10 p.m., Friday, March 28, Denver Marriott Tech Center, 877-303-0104/888-238-1491, $35 full weekend, $15 Friday or Sunday only, $20 Saturday only, All Ages
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