Four countries, four musical machines! A.R.C presents a travel docu-series directed by the creative powerhouse Youth Hymns following YouTuber Look Mum No Computer around four different cities (Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam & London) building peculiar musical instruments out of junk within a 48-hour challenge.
The four-part show follows Look Mum No Computer (Sam Battle) searching each city for junk shops, recycling centres, car boot sales, scrap yards, skips, flea markets, dumpsters and whatever else can be found on the street. Musical and YouTuber guests appear in interviews and music-making sessions in their studios, hackspaces and community organisations giving us local and educational insights into the region and helping Sam reach his lightbulb moment when thinking about what instrument to make.
With environmental responsibility and the importance of recycling being a central theme throughout, the show combines Sam’s genuine love for junk with the thrill of rescuing bygone items destined for the landfill. The results: self-playing-audience-led acoustic guitars, a synth made of actual pork sausage keyboard keys, a tap dancing clog machine and a theremin made out of an old bog.
The mixed-media show itself retains the zany, DIY and punk rock tone Sam has established for his brand, but frames it within a fun docuseries format, complete with 2D animation, plenty of pranks and mishaps and learnings from the road. For existing fans of Look Mum No Computer, we see the return of Sam’s trusty animatronic mate Kosmo, who is called upon when the going gets tough and provides comical local knowledge or some wacky inspiration.
The challenge angle to the show sees Sam building the instruments comprised of scrap from each city in 48hours, visually explained by way of fun animations that break down the construction stages of his Junk Rock TV master plan, nodding to shows of the past like Scrap Heap Challenge.
Contributors from across the series include Berlin-based synth artist Hainbach, Barcelona-based flamenco hero Pedro Javier Gonzalez, theremin specialist (and Granddaughter to the theremin inventor, Leon Theramin) Lydia Kavina, Amsterdam-based sound artist Fedde ten Berge, not forgetting our chorizo champion “The Sausage Man Never Sleeps” in Berlin… as well as local institutions such as Befaco (Barcelona), Common Ground (Berlin) and Red Bull Studios (London).
Barcelona and Berlin episode excerpts below.
From Look Mum No Computer:
"We shot this series in a hectic 3 weeks travelling around some exciting cities in Europe. Sure enough, there were many challenges along the way but one of the biggest things for me was sticking to the time frame. Some people may think the "48 hours" was for effect… it really was not.
The Barcelona trip was the first experience of time constraints so I went in with a very optimistic idea of how to get it done, but much to my horror it took me about 45-46 hours to get it finished… I did however manage to squeeze a couple of hour-long naps on the sofa, but at about 10 pm the guys left me to crack on until the morning, it was heavy! It was a tough slog but very worthwhile in the end! One of the funniest moments happened in an apartment in Amsterdam. Basically, I had 3D printers and junk parts sprawled out on the floor and one of the guys in Youth Hymns burnt some food which set off the alarm the owner came in and was horrified by what was going on! In all honesty, he really wasn't quite sure what the 3D printers actually were but he definitely assumed the worst which took quite a bit of explaining! All in all, a truly fun experience with a great end product."
From directors Youth Hymns:
"Junk Rock TV… What the f**k!?
The chaos on screen is just a fraction of the month-long daily turmoil we all endured on this one. Impounded vans in Barcelona, Sam nearly quitting the show in Berlin to start a sausage-making apprenticeship, getting kicked out of our apartment in Amsterdam because the owner thought we’d started a Bitcoin mining operation in his living room and somehow spending a day in London inspecting second-hand toilets. We genuinely couldn’t have done it without the kindness of everyone we met along the way, giving us places to eat, build, sleep etc.
We had an amazing time and somehow prevailed. Already looking back with luminescent rose-tinted glasses. Who wants to commission season 2 then?"
4-part docu-travel series
Look Mum No Computer
Look Mum No Computer (Sam Battle)
Pedro Javier Gonzalez (Flamenco guitarist)
Manu Retamero (Befaco Representative)
Hainbach (Stefan Goetsch)
The Sausage Man Never Sleeps (Simon Ellery)
Vincent Cornelissen (Clogs expert)
Fedde ten Berge (Musican & inventor)
Lydia Kavina (Theremin performer)
Nervous Squirrel (Dave Cranmer)
Audio Engineer (Sam Houselander)
Look Mum No Computer