Last week I trekked up North to New England Analog to drop off my Jupiter 8 for repair. The owner, Rob, kindly stayed late to accommodate me and let me poke about his workshop taking photos. It was quite the toy store with all sorts of rare synths I’ve never seen before including that holy grail of analog keyboards the Yamaha CS-80.
He says it will be at least 2 months before he can get my board fixed and I may have him install his Pyxis aftertouch system in it.
I love the early Banana Republic. The one that billed itself as a “travel and safari clothing company” before the GAP transformed it into purveyors of yuppie-wear. And I equally love the new book “Wild Company: The Untold Story of Banana Republic” by Mel and Patricia Ziegler (the original founders of the company).
In fact, it could prove to be my favorite read of the year. It’s fun, witty, and chock full of sunny entrepreneurial optimism. During its engaging tales of adventure and the genesis of Banana Republic the book doles out numerous pearls of wisdom on starting a business:
“Having at the start of the company not know any beter, we regarded profits as the natural byproduct rather than the goal of our process”
Approaching product packaging and the media:
“As every journalist knows. you are only as interesting as your subject. As an entrepreneur, it was my job to be interesting.”
“Media loves media, and media is where media often goes to get story ideas. The more press we got, the more press we got.”
And data verses intuition in a design-based business:
“In matters of design, data give you the rear view – only intuition can tell you what’s up ahead”
“If you’re in business to copy and knock off, data is your designer.”
“Breaking form creates new context, Mel believes. When context is unfamiliar, the lack of orientation gives people a chance to see something new.”
This book is great and I can’t recommend it enough. I think the Zieglers constitute some of the very few celebrities I’d be interested in having dinner with.
And a big happy Turkey Day to everyone out there.
As I’ve stated before, Banana Republic used to be a very cool and fun clothing store before they were purchased by the Gap. Abandoned Republic - A journey through vintage Banana Republic catalogs is a site by Scott Adams that has many scans and information about those original great catalogs. Very fun to browse.
You know analog synth fetishism has been taken to a whole new level when an artist is releasing albums who’s track names include the actual gear used.
Firechild is such an artist. He’s got two albums out (Beyond the Sun and Beyond the Stars) with such titles as:
- “Mighty Jupiter (Jupiter 8)”
- “The Pulse of My Heart (Waldorf Pulse)”
- “The Voyager (The Minimoog Voyager RME Edit)”
- and my favorite: “The Frenchman and the Greek”
He’s also got an absolute treasure trove of vintage analog synths with which to craft these tunes. Yamaha CS80? Check. Roland Jupiter 8? Check. Oberheim Xpander? Check. The list goes on and on.
The albums themselves are really quite good. They’re generally short, upbeat instrumentals with each using only one or two synths. The guy can play and arrange very well and if you’re a synth aficionado you’d do well to check these recordings out.
I find it very interesting how similar the tracks can sound even with totally different synths. To my ear the CS80 track rings as the most distinctive with the Jupiter 8 a distant second. All the rest sound more or less analogous (har har). This could all be due to programming and production but it makes the point that pretty much any decent polysynth can sound great in the hands of a skilled artist.