Everything is awesome at Mutato Muzika.
“It works perfect for me as a private studio . . . it’s got all these little rooms with a circular hallway, so I can start walking, and if I forget what it was I was gonna do, I just keep going . . .”
When we rang the doorbell at Mutato, we weren’t sure who would answer. Mark Mothersbaugh the film composer? The visual artist? Devo co-founder? Would it be the prankster notorious for slipping subversive subliminal messages into television commercials? What about Booji Boy? Mr. Mothersbaugh wears many hats, or Energy Domes, if you will, and we were justifiably nervous about meeting this legendary spud.
After serenading us with a squeeze-box raga of Devo’s “Girl U Want,” we visited Mothersbaugh’s archive, where he stores a treasure trove of musical oddities. In a plastic bin lie the final remains of his alter-ego Booji Boy, taking the form of eighteen melted rubber masks. File boxes of Devo 2” tapes line the walls, including one particularly fascinating specimen which very well may contain the Complete Truth About Iggy Pop. Elsewhere in the studio are Pink Floyd dumpster finds, circuit-bent toy drum machines, and the Booji Boy signature guitar - a tennis racket with a Donald Duck head, strobe lighting, and a calculator.
Throughout his career, Mothersbaugh has famously been an early adopter of new technology. One doesn’t have to dig very deep to find images of him in the 70s with effects pedals taped to his Telecaster for easy tweaking, or to watch the members of Devo endorsing the latest and greatest video technology from Pioneer - the Laserdisc. In keeping with tradition, he believes effects pedals are a required step on the devolutionary ladder.
“Stompboxes,” he says, “are what gives an artist the opportunity to put his personality on the sound. . . Especially on synths - they’re really important.”