casio christmas

August25, 2015

On Christmas of 1989 I received a Casio SK-1. This keyboard is renowned as one of the first consumer grade synthesizers with the ability to record audio samples. At the time, I didn't know what I had since I was only a kid. Although it was more like a toy, this instrument introduced me to the world of creating music.

I hadn't a clue what I was doing with the thing. I remember randomly mashing down keys and buttons with mysterious labels such as "portamento" and "loop set." I had no idea that I was in possession of what would become known as a legendarily crappy sampler. To me, it was just a toy, and it lived up to its toy status by being totally fun to play with. I'd invite friends over and we would sample ourselves making fart sounds with the built-in microphone and embed those samples into the pre-programmed demo songs. On top of that, I learned the keyboard could select rhythm patterns, like waltz, samba, or bossa nova, and play them back at varied tempos. I was fascinated by the rhythms being set to the slowest tempo possible and would listen repeatedly to those beats for up to an hour straight. In a funny way, this was an early indicator of my love for slow and hazy music.

Over the years of use, abuse, and neglect, my SK-1 stopped working. I'm not sure where it ended up; it might have possibly been tossed in the trash or donated to Goodwill after I moved out of my parent's house.

I loved the drum beats and rhythm patterns on that keyboard.

Stacy has a similar keyboard, the PT-100. It lacks the sampling capability of the SK-1 but has those same glorious Casio tones. I used this synth on our song "Snowed In."

The PT-100 might make another appearance on the next album. There is something about those skittering, 8-bit, low resolution drum beats that take me back to late 80s winters. I wouldn't say things were better or easier back then, but different nonetheless. Maybe I was more innocent. The world was strange and confusing. Maybe I was less afraid.