SPRING CATALOGUE: MODIFIED TOY ORCHESTRA

March 17, 2013
SPRING CATALOGUE: MODIFIED TOY ORCHESTRA

Two days ago we unleashed our new UO spring catalogue upon the world, brimming with excitement to share all the stories from our adventures to Copenhagen.

You may have already seen our behind the scenes video, but we want you to watch again (and again) this time paying particular attention to the music…



The bleeps and noises you can hear are created by none other than Birmingham’s Modified Toy Orchestra, a band of men with a lust for circuit bending and making sounds from a range of obscure instruments. The success of scientifically formulated music has seen MTO play shows as far as Hong Kong, grace the stage at festivals such as Sónar, and release a collection of albums full of modified beeps, bonks, twangs and twonks.

We loved the track so much we decided to send Matt and Helen from our UO store in Birmingham to take pictures of MTO’s toy filled studio, as well digging deep into the mind of orchestra man Darren Joyce to find out what the band is all about…

SPRING CATALOGUE: MODIFIED TOY ORCHESTRA

Tell us a little about how it all began…
Well It began in 1906 with the invention of the Triode electronic valve by a man called “Lee De Forrest” who accidently placed his finger across the new circuit and realised it changed the sound! Enter the first circuit bender, move forward 2000 and the MTO was born out of an urge for bypassing the ego and autobiography in the compositional process.



We love your track “Qwerty”, so much so we wanted it on our behind the scenes video! What’s the story behind the track?
The story as you say behind Qwerty is about the birth of the Gutenberg printing press in 1450 and the Age of enlightenment, it allowed the spread of learning to masses and lead the rise of the information age.

SPRING CATALOGUE: MODIFIED TOY ORCHESTRA

Circuit bending sounds like real good fun. Is it hard to learn?
No! it’s a democratic art form open to everyone and easy to learn, an expert free zone and can be as simple or as complex as you prefer.



It must be dangerous messing around with all those wires and electricity. Have there been any accidents so far?
Usually we recommend only modifying toys that run off batteries, so that there is less risk of electrocution and ones hair standing on end. As the process can start with placing a wet finger over the circuit board to search for bends you can see how this rule matters. We have in the past blown up a few toy but not many they are quite resilient.

SPRING CATALOGUE: MODIFIED TOY ORCHESTRA

What’s the most obscure instrument you’ve made for MTO?
“Hula Barbie” is probably the least likely instrument, but we are very fond of the “Happy farm chorus” which we have only ever found one of.

Where’s the best place to find toys that you can mess about with?
We dont mess with toys! We convert redundant technology into glamourous unexpected new instruments. The place we recommend is car boot sales, as you can come away with whole new orchestras by the arm full for just a few pounds!

SPRING CATALOGUE: MODIFIED TOY ORCHESTRA SPRING CATALOGUE: MODIFIED TOY ORCHESTRA

You seem like a well-traveled unit of men. Where’s your favourite place so far?
Hong Kong City Hall was very exciting, and seeing huge Hula Barbie posters all over the Mass Transit Railway *MTR* was thrilling also a Medieval Fortress in Fribourg Switzerland and a three tier ritzy opera house in seville called the “Teatro Lope de Vega” it was full of gold leaf and red velvet.

Where’s the best place to hang out in Birmingham?
Our studio and the carboot’s are the two most exciting places for us, as you see, we are socially awkward geeks…

SPRING CATALOGUE: MODIFIED TOY ORCHESTRA SPRING CATALOGUE: MODIFIED TOY ORCHESTRA

We love the name, but if you had change into a hilariously cheesy boy band, what would you call yourselves?
“Modified Boy Orchestra” “The Toy Boys” or “The benders?


Close your eyes and peer into the future. What do you see?
The heat death of the universe and a gradual collapse of space time into a neutrino super fluid, oh yeah and new album! This will be our third to date, also there will be a six song free EP out next month called “Unclaimed” this will on the label “Bit-Phalanx.


Tell us a joke…
Schrodingers cat walks into a bar and doesn’t…

Three statisticians went duck hunting one day. While walking along, they scared a duck and saw him flying off. The first statistician shot and missed by a yard to the right. The second shot and missed by a yard to the left. The third one yelled, We got it!!

SPRING CATALOGUE: MODIFIED TOY ORCHESTRA SPRING CATALOGUE: MODIFIED TOY ORCHESTRA SPRING CATALOGUE: MODIFIED TOY ORCHESTRA SPRING CATALOGUE: MODIFIED TOY ORCHESTRA SPRING CATALOGUE: MODIFIED TOY ORCHESTRA

Well thank you very much Modified Toy Orchestra. Keep your eyes peeled for more tales from Copenhagen coming up over the next couple of days, and show some MTO love in the comments below!