Toy Death’s manipulation of treasure-trove goodies and modified toys leads the audience into a wacky world of childish wonder.
“We're not restricted to a genre and the toys have an incredible variety of sound. It's a journey through electronics, psychedelics and noise. It's been described as 'horror-pop'.”
'Agent Orange', 'Super Dad' and 'Big Judy' may sound like characters fashioned up by our overactive imaginations, but in fact the trio make up Toy Death – a band that circuit bends toys to create a blend of electronics known as 'toy music'.
“I guess [the characters] are our alter egos. I have always been a kind of GI Joe, action man character so it evolved into Agent Orange. We do a few acting exercises — that is our way of generating characters. We ask questions like 'what would they do in this situation?' and 'what's their darkest secret?'
“For years I didn't know about circuit bending, so we played the toys just as they were. That [discovery] unleashed incredible sounds out of the toys. Suddenly they could go really slow or really fast. Some of the toys like Speak & Spell, you can actually break down into the phonetics of the sound because they are an alphabet, and the chips are full of the little sounds that make up speech. You can make them [and] go crazy in a way, so it's kind of like the toy has turrets.”
With all three band members working in toy shops, new instruments are constantly on the horizon.
“I can't really walk past a toy shop or two-dollar shop without looking. We go on excursions to different suburbs where they have a lot of op-shops, as well as the major toy shops like Toys R Us. Sometimes I walk down an aisle and leave about ten toys playing because I just had to try them out.”
With colourful costumes and dance moves to boot, the band gives new musical life to forgotten playthings.
“A toy gets selected if it has really good sounds in it. We are always looking for really good feeds, really interesting sounds and if it's a talking toy. [It's] sort of poetry in a way. We use alphabet apples to make SMS poetry.”
Toy Death Play the Festival Of Toy Music st The Brisbane Powerhouse Saturday October 5.