We Asked the Creator of the Furby Organ: Why?
Sam Battle is a musical Dr Frankenstein.
Image courtesy Sam Battle
Twenty years after Tiger Electronics first introduced the Furby to a nation of terrified kids, a wild inventor has fused the undead corpses of the uncanny robo-pet into a demented musical instrument. The Furby Organ’s UK-based creator, Sam Battle, a.k.a. Look Mum No Computer, couldn’t be more pleased with himself.
Battle, who has also modded a flamethrower organ, a synth bike, and a Gameboy oscillator, revealed the maniacal musical instrument in a bombastic YouTube video earlier this week. The concept has been rattling around the tinkering YouTuber and musician’s head for about seven years, but only recently did he develop the skills for what he describes as the “formant Furby fusion synthesis brain modification surgery procedure.” He soldered together a grid of 44 Furbies rescued from charity shops or donated to his cause to create a Furby hivemind that’s “kind of like The Matrix, but without the bad sunglasses.”
In the video, he proceeds to wake up his army of automatons, who grumble to themselves in typically off-putting Furby fashion before simultaneously glitching out into a single, spookily sonorous sound at Battle’s touch of a button. The piano keys each Furby is soldered to can squeeze a formant vowel note from each creatures beak, turning the chaotic crowd of chatterboxes into a rigid, obedient choir.
We contacted Battle with one question: why, god, why? It turns out, the answer is simple. “I get this question quite a lot with the machines I build and stuff,” Battle says. “The only thing that comes to mind is, ‘Why not?’” He explains further that he wasn’t allowed to have a Furby growing up, “so it may be a backlash on that!” He’s been tinkering with abandoned Furbies since he saw The Nervous Squirrel's music box-like “Furby Gurdy,” and has been slowly collecting them ever since. Putting them to use was his 2018 new year’s resolution, and one-and-a-half months in, he has succeeded.
After such a buildup, he describes the feeling of playing the Furby Organ as, “an unhinged laugh of joy.” It takes a special person to look at a cadre of dull-eyed, foot-having bird heads and experience ecstasy, but Battle is one-of-a-kind. “I mean I think i'm doing the furbies a favor,” he explains. They could be gathering dust in an attic, caught in an endless Rick Roll, or tortured to death by a hydraulic press. Instead, Battle says, “They get a life of empty happiness, and I get their souls.”
For those immune to the organ’s charms, don’t worry. “FUNNY STORY……” says Battle. “It turns out I have built it just big enough that it won’t actually get out the door of my room, in any orientation. It was a proper *facepalm* moment when I realized.” While Look Mum No Computer tours fairly regularly, this Frankenstein’s monster of musical screaming Furbies won’t be leaving the room where they were reborn anytime soon.
See more of Sam Battle's work on his website.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.