Music by VICE

How a New Documentary Helped Bob Moog's Daughter Learn About Her Father’s Legacy

Michelle Moog-Koussa talks growing up with the synth pioneer, North Carolina's anti-trans laws, and more.

by Benjamin Boles
May 3 2016, 6:55pm

All photos via Electronic Voyager's Facebook

While Bob Moog's revolutionary contributions to electronic music are celebrated worldwide, there's less known about the late synthesizer pioneer's personal life, but a new documentary is seeking to change that. The film is coming from the same Canadian team behind the 2014 modular synth doc I Dream Of Wires, and they've recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for the project.

Central to the movie is the involvement of Moog's daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa, who works with the Bob Moog Foundation. The non-profit organization's mission involves promoting musical education and building an online and physical museum in Asheville, North Carolina, dedicated to the late inventor's work.

THUMP recently spoke to her by phone to talk about the doc (scheduled for a summer 2017 release), Moogfest's statement in response to North Carolina's anti-trans laws, and her father's legacy.

THUMP: How did you become involved in Electronic Voyager?

Michelle Moog-Koussa: I knew [producer] Jason Amm and [director] Robert Fantinatto from their work with I Dream Of Wires, and they had interviewed me for that. We helped them promote it a little bit, and we kept in touch since then. They came to me with this idea of doing a documentary on Bob Moog, and I was intrigued and enthusiastic about it, and things just kind of developed from there.

Is it accurate to say that the film is going to be centered on your relationship with your father, and your attempts to uncover some of his history?
Yes. I think it's very much a reveal if you will, of information that I didn't necessarily know, and that most people don't know. The angle is that my dad didn't talk about his work that much at home, so a lot of what I've learned and continue to learn is due to the people that he worked with and was close to.

When you were a small child, what did you think your dad did for a living?
I knew he made synthesizers. And I even knew he invented the Moog synthesizer, but you know at 5-years-old, you don't really understand the true magnitude of that. I don't even remember having a synthesizer in our house until I was a teenager. It wasn't a super tangible thing to me. And then of course I got these little glimpses of the fact that he was also famous, which was a really weird thing.

What's the status of the Moogseum project the Bob Moog Foundation has been working on?
It's kind of our ultimate vision, and we pursued it initially when we started the foundation, but found that it's an enormously expensive project that will probably cost tens of millions of dollars, and so we decided to pull back just a little bit. We're focussing now more on Dr. Bob's SoundSchool, which is our educational curriculum, through which we teach second graders about the science of sound, using music and technology. We've been growing that program for the last five years, and we'd like to begin to grow it nationwide. In addition, we have the Bob Moog Foundation Archives, which is this vast collection of materials that we are working to preserve.

Moogfest is a separate entity from the Bob Moog Foundation, but I'm wondering about the "Synthesize Love" statement they released regarding anti-trans laws in North Carolina. Were these issues important to your father?
Yes, they absolutely were. He was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and he believed very strongly in equal rights across the board, no matter what. It was one of the reasons he was so humble about his celebrity, because he felt that celebrity was very exclusive, and he was much more an inclusive person. I think he would be absolutely appalled at what's going on in this state, and he would agree 100% with the "Synthesize Love" sentiment.

Benjamin Boles is on Twitter.