PLSDSP Live: October 20 in Berkeley!

Here’s the info you’ve been waiting for! On Saturday October 20 we’re performing all of Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans live — with the full power of the Awesöme Orchestra Collective.— at Hertz Hall at UC Berkeley. And we need your help in making it happen!

Performing the album live with a full orchestra is something we might only get to do once, so Jude and I really want to make this everything we feel it can be. Hertz Hall was designed for symphonic music — it will sound phenomenal — and we want to have the show recorded in both audio and video formats, which we will release publicly at a later date. So to make all of that happen, we’ve come up with a three-prong, one-time fundraiser:

DONATE: If you just want to donate a few bucks, we have an account on PayPal  — anything helps! All donors will receive a download link for the live recording of the show in advance of its public release, and your names will be included in the credits (if you want that). So please make sure you include your email of choice somewhere in there — we’ll assume it’s your PayPal address unless you say otherwise.

UPDATE: VIP & VIP Plus tickets are no longer available — thank you for the enthusiastic support! Standard free seating is still available on a first-come basis. Doors open at 6pm! 
If you plan to attend in person, we’re setting aside the first few rows at $20 per seat. If you donate $20 through PayPal and specify that you want a “VIP ticket” (please note if you’re planning to attend with friends or family, you can get as many $20 premium seats as you want until they’re gone), we will have a VIP list at the door with your name on it. And if you really want to shoot the works, a super-generous $40 $30 gets you a literal front row seat second row seat plus a souvenir packet including a laser-cut PLSDSP keychain, a desktop R2 model, some PLSDSP guitar picks, a custom replica of the infamous plans themselves, and other goodies that we are still putting together. There are only a limited number of these special seats, so claim your “VIP Plus” package early! Same email contact rules apply — let us know where we can send you a link to the recording when the time comes.

LIMITED EDITION T-SHIRT: If you cannot attend but you like getting physical stuff for your donation, we are selling a limited-edition t-shirt which will only be available for the duration of this fundraiser. It features a commissioned illustration by Tony Baldini of Lightning Dogs fame. (Since Spreadshirt doesn’t show us your email when you order, you’ll need to drop us a note with your order number so we know how to send you a download link later.) More info on the shirt is here.

All the funds we’ve received so far from the release of the album are being applied to our costs here, but it’s not quite enough. That said, any funds we raise in excess of what we need to cover our costs go to the Awesöme Orchestra. Nothing will be wasted and we will not take advantage of anyone’s generosity. We just can’t pay for all of this out of pocket.

We’ve put together an amazingly talented band with players and singers from around the country, plus the Awesöme Orchestra is appropriately named. They will also perform selections from John Williams’ film score as part of the show, and we have a few other fun things planned too. The venue seats more than 600 people, and the show will be appropriate for all ages. Cosplay is strongly encouraged! A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

We are thrilled that we get the chance to perform the album live, and we are committed to doing this as well as it can be done. If you can help — either by donating some money or simply spreading the word about the event and the fundraiser — please do. It’s deeply appreciated. Here’s the Facebook event if you’d like to share a social media reminder for the event, and to spread the word about the fundraiser, just send folks to this page, please!

We can’t wait for October 20!


March 2017 Update

The last month has been very productive. While we had hoped to have everything squared away and done by the end of February, we are spilling into March — but there’s enough wiggle room in the schedule that it’s not terrible.

We have eight tracks fully complete now, with the ninth in final mix, on the bubble of being approved for release. That leaves four songs. Two of those are complete except for relatively minor instrumental additions/changes; we have some digital instruments that can be improved or replaced or both, so that needs to happen. The remaining two songs were pretty bare as of last weekend, but now have content all the way through to confirm structure, whether it be bass or guide vocal or piano or some mix of the above. Now it’s a question of “decorating the tree” (or “hanging meat on the skeleton” if you prefer a different holiday). We are each adopting one of those tracks as we build them out, then we’ll swap and finish each other’s work. That will probably take us a few more weeks, but with so many songs done — the first six sequentially, and now very close to the first eight in order — we’re in good shape as the video pitches get underway.

We have a friend representing our biz dev interests, approaching online content producers and distributors about making videos for some of the songs we’ve recorded. While that’s happening, Kat is working on album art (which is pretty darned close to done) as well as a few other visual surprises, including new promotional photos. And weirdly, we are working on getting this very website — which is as clean as a whistle — removed from some internet malware blacklists. Guess there were old issues with WordPress that got us flagged, but after the site was fixed, the flags were never removed. We’re now going to the individual watchdog sites and asking for new evaluations. That’s what we get for running our own website.

While we considered working with outside musicians, we did wind up doing everything ourselves — drums, esoteric instruments, you name it — and we are still working all weekend every weekend, plus some time after work during the week when energy and responsibilities allow — at the expense of our gaming, for sure. But we’re definitely at the point where we listen to the tracks and no longer say “What the hell are we doing?” but “Wow, we did that?” Hopefully you will, too.

February 2017 update

For the second half of 2016, we were basically sidelined by real life. The last two months, we’ve done everything we can to make up for that; the last three weekends have been particularly fruitful/exhausting. We’re also at that crucial time where we feel like we’re getting a lot of great work done…but we still cannot tell anybody what we’re up to. This will all be explained once the project is officially announced and we start promoting it, but trust us — we’re bustin’ our butts here.

The very good news: The first five tracks are as complete as we can make them. Through a friend who has biz skills, we are now ready to approach potential video partners with these songs as our calling card, along with the full (copyrighted!) lyrics and a project overview.

Please cross your fingers.

Drums: We’re going digital

Thank you for the suggestions, volunteers, and “I’ve got a friend” messages after our call for a drummer. We’ve decided to move forward with MIDI drums, which will give us the greatest control. Half the songs are completely done in demo form and just need to have their drum sounds upgraded. If anybody likes programming MIDI drums and feels like helping with that, shout — we’ll give you credit.

That said, not only are half the tracks completely tracked, but we’ve now got at least something recorded for all but one song, which we saved for last on purpose. The next few weeks are going to be light on gaming and heavy on working in whatever spare time we have outside of our busy jobs and abnormal normal lives. We are still dedicated to a late spring/early summer release window, and if we finish stuff now, we can give video partners time to do their thing for that same time frame.

Help us find a drummer

We had hoped to have the whole album recorded by the end of 2016. The second half of the year turned into a crazy time for both of us. Jude had a major scientific breakthrough at work this fall (which then created more work for him, because that’s science) plus he’s raising two small children. Over the summer, Dan traveled to Germany, France, and various US cities for work, then produced a live concert in San Francisco in October, which was exhausting. Basically, the last six months were a black hole for Palette-Swap Ninja efforts. But in reviewing what we’ve recorded and seeking the advice of some pro audio friends, one thing became very clear: We need a drummer.

In fact, we have tried, unsuccessfully, to find a drummer for this project since its earliest days. When we started, we reached out to a fan who’d contacted us two years prior, saying “If you ever need a drummer, call me.” So we did, and he said “Cool, sounds fun!” A year later, he informed us that he wasn’t really into playing, you know, other people’s music, which made his original offer weird. Jude and I approached two drummers we’d worked with in our previous live bands, and while both were supportive, neither wanted to commit. We’ve contacted multiple friends of friends who say they want to do it but then go silent. We’ve talked to professional drummers for hire who gave us realistic estimates of $2000, which is not feasible for a project that will give away for free. And so we’ve chipped away and soldiered on, repeating to ourselves that in order to do this project justice, we really, really need a drummer.

And completely seriously, maybe that drummer is you.

We live in a crowdsourced world; if you want something done right, ask a few hundred people to help you do it. So this is an official call for people who like our music enough to want to be our session drummer for the project.

We are looking for either of the following:

  • a drummer with an acoustic or electric kit who can record uncompressed audio files for us to drop into Logic Pro X
  • a MIDI drum programmer/arranger who can create and sculpt our digital placeholders into something that sounds dynamic and organic

This is a full-length album, probably 45 to 50 minutes total. We are planning to release this album for free; if we wind up making any money on it, we will share that with our drummer. But we are currently hoping that we might simply find a serious hobbyist who shares our motivations to make fun stuff for free — or at least someone who might have a more affordable fee that we can discuss. Nobody pays their rent with “exposure” so we understand what we’re asking here, but we also never know who’s out there and what motivates them. Maybe there’s a drummer out there who is just as interested in doing goofy music as we are, and might really be inspired by the concept once we let them in on the big idea. Or maybe there’s someone out there who will work for cheap. Let’s figure it out.

We have chosen a release window, and this project is coming out one way or another, but we really want it to come out right. So if you are a drummer/drum programmer or you know a drummer you think might be willing to go under FrieNDA to learn more, please have them send a mail to with links to samples of self-recorded work. It’s a shot in the dark — so please, help us take aim.