When Andrew Westphal found a toy rabbit, a chess board, and a particularly noisy Daffy Duck head littered around his toddler's bedroom, he saw not a nuisance, but an opportunity to bring electronic music into play time. Along with his son Hudson, now six years old, the upstate New York dad used those assembled objects (for their percussive qualities) to put together a cover of Daft Punk's "Voyager," a more obscure tune from the French duo's album Discovery.
It was an auspicious debut. It may not be the dawning of one of the great musical acts of our time, but when watching Hudson play synths and bass, clap along, and help record samples that his father, who studied music at Rutgers, could expertly collage into the resulting video, it's hard not to be overcome with the feeling that you will never be as cool or accomplished a three-year-old.
Last week, Andrew and Hudson put up their second project, a cover of Kraftwerk's 1978 synth-pop classic "The Robots." Now that Hudson is a little older, he's graduated from accompanying musician to frontman. He plays lead synth lines on a Korg ARP Odyssey while his dad jams on a Moog, and they both share vocal duties.
In an homage to the German retrofuturists' style, both father and son dress in orange shirts and black ties with slicked-back hair, while they do the famed robot dance and nerd out. It's the most adorable thing to ever happen to a 4/4 beat. So naturally, we had to check in with this rising duo to determine the creative fuel behind this collaboration (the answer, per Hudson, is "robots"). Watch the new Kraftwerk cover below alongside a few questions with both Andrew and Hudson.
THUMP: What's your background in music? There seems to be a high nerdage quotient here.
Andrew: I started out pretty young. My mom was a music teacher. I sang in a boy choir for a few years. I got into synths as a teenager––Kraftwerk were my heroes from childhood. They're what got me started on electronic music. I studied music at Rutgers. I played in a lot of bands over the years: Psychedelic jam bands, jazz trios, funk bands, a soul band, an experimental synth duo...I started playing a lot more solo piano to make a living. I DJ a lot in the summer months. I do a lot of weddings around the Finger Lakes in New York.
How does collaborating with Hudson work?
I try to introduce music and ideas through playtime. When we hang out in my synth room, music is a bonding thing for us. I found that I can't even teach Hudson so much, he seems to do better when I let him discover things on his own. We took our time. The attention span of a six-year-old is limited. I showed him how to program the Teenage Engineering pocket operators [a line of handheld synthesizers]. He was able to learn how to program the beats!
What are your favorite kinds of music?
Hudson: A lot of, like, Michael Jackson and Daft Punk. Oh, and I like Mozart!
What is it that you love about Daft Punk?
I really like robots. And they're robots and stuff and their music is really cool and they're really great.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Um, I don't know yet. What I'm thinking right now is secret agent.
Jemayel Khawaja is THUMP's Editor-at-Large - @JemayelK