Nathan Penlington interviews Diego Arandojo: ‘Edward Packard is a very important person’
July 14, 2014, Article by Tom in Books
The Boy in the Book author Nathan Penlington interviews Diego Arandojo, the creator of A Musical Tribute to Edward Packard: Master of Adventure, a musical salute to the genius behind the Choose Your Own Adventure books…
Many of my passions are what you could call niche. One of those passions however led me on an adventure that would change my life, an adventure that is documented in The Boy in the Book. It started with my obsession for Choose Your Own Adventure books, the revolutionary series that began in 1979 with The Cave of Time by Edward Packard. The book turned the notion of storytelling on its head, no longer were you just the passive observer of a narrative, you were the main protagonist of the story and each page offered you decision about what would happen next.
It was my birthday a few weeks ago and Sam Smaïl, one of the film makers I’ve been collaborating with on a live documentary version of a Choose Your Own Adventure book, gave me a present that instantly out niched my niche – a CD titled A Musical Tribute to Edward Packard: Master of Adventure. The track listings are all titles of Edward Packard books – The Mystery of Chimney Rock, Inside UFO 54-40, Space Vampire. My brain instantly exploded with excitement.
Tribute albums are a risky proposition; Radiodread instantly springs to mind. So it’s with a reggae version of Subterranean Homesick Alien looping through my brain that I press play on the CD player. The lounge fills with genre based film soundtracks – detective, horror, space – that sound like they’ve coincidently been pushed through a Radiohead filter tuned to Hail to the Thief. An ambient soundscape of shifting adventures, swings of tone and mood, montage of samples and style. In short it’s great.
I’m so taken with this album that I needed to know more – I mean what compels someone to fuse electronica with an iconic series of children’s books? So, I tracked down project creator Diego Arandojo to talk about the creation and inspiration behind the Master of Adventure.
Nathan: What makes Choose Your Own Adventure so special?
Diego: My first contact with Choose Your Own Adventure was when I was a little boy. For us, Latin Americans, Choose Your Own Adventure in the 80s and 90s was very important, they were a kind of teacher, a book teacher. These books were my first experience with reading. I still remember them well, because in each one I lived a different adventure. It was a very powerful experience.
For me Edward Packard is a very important person, thanks to him and his books, I became a reader and then through the years I became a writer. I work here in television as a script writer, and also on comic books. Choose Your Own Adventure was like an invisible school.
So, I can think that Choose Your Own Adventure was for me very special. The interview gave me the perfect excuse to read again the Choose Your Own Adventure books that I have in my library, which are more than 100. It was really delicious, going back in time, reading these marvellous books.
Nathan: Where did the idea of a musical tribute come from?
Diego: The idea of making this musical tribute began when I made an interview with Edward Packard – the interview was published in a digital magazine I have here in Argentina called Lafarium Cuartiquis. It’s a fantasy phrase that means “room without space or time”. I made contact with Edward Packard through email, he was very kind, but also he is very funny because he said I will answer your questions but give me some time. Some time was three months.
It was in 2012. At the end of the special edition, where I also interviewed the Chilean Visual Baker, responsible for the remake in eBook format of Underground Kingdom, I got the idea of a CD tribute to Packard. I thought it was an interesting and intriguing idea: how would each book of Packard translate to a different musical style?
Nathan: Do you have a musical background?
Diego: I produce video art since 2002. I’m in constant contact with experimental musicians, also with more “conventional” genres as rock, pop and the heavy metal. With my friend Avencio Delgado from the music label GH RECORDS in Valencia, Spain, we work in collaboration. For example: Summoning the Elder Ones, inspired by the work of H. P. Lovecraft. It’s a musical tribute as well, with the music of the argentine IGNIIS and KAZERIA. Also, from GH RECORDS, we launched the DVD-CD Light of Baphomet, a tribute to the last grand master of the order of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay.
Nathan: How did you choose the books to turn into tracks, and decide which musician interpreted which book?
Diego: From the beginning the goal of the CD was to have a tribute composed of a different group of musical artists. In both countries, I mean Spain and Argentina, I chose bands of different musical styles, from metal, pop, rock, experimental, because Choose Your Own Adventure was a lot of different styles of adventures. Sport and time travel, space and ocean travel, and so on.
Initially I analyse which were the most popular books of Packard; those more iconic. Then I look for the musicians, by their styles and inclinations. So it was giving each book to a musician with the mission that translated the spirit of that particular text. For example: Chimney Rock has Black / Doom Metal style. The goal was that each track of the CD reflects the anima, the energy of each of Packard’s books. The result is a CD of multiple styles, diverse, rich musical differences.
Of course we have the authorisation of Edward Packard who gave us his blessing. We are deeply grateful to him. He is not just an excellent writer, he’s an excellent person. We love him.
To order the Master of Adventure CD visit GH Records: http://www.gradualhate.info/packard_a_musical_tribute.htm
Read Diego’s interview with Edward Packard in Spanish: http://www.unhediciones.com.ar/packard.html
The Boy in the Book is out now: https://www.hachette.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9780755365692
For Choose Your Own Documentary tour dates visit: http://www.cyod.co.uk