11 Questions: John Boswell

interview by Brent Cole

I like to joke with anyone who’ll listen that John Boswell is the most famous musician in Bellingham you’ve never heard of. Yet, his music and mixes have been viewed over 20 million times between different songs from his project Symphony of Science (which mixes smooth beats with Carl Sagan lectures). He’s also released a single on Jack White’s Third Man Records, and is about to work on a series for the National Geographic Channel on the Origins of Man.

In fact, John is, simply, such a badass, that when I asked him to expand on his answers for the 11 questions, he said he’d do his best, but was working in Spain and the Internet was intermittent. Awesome and anonymous – in my book, that’s brilliant.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, John Boswell.


Who are you and where did you come from? Please tell us about yourself.

I am a music producer and creative director who was born in Idaho, grew up in Spokane, and came to Bellingham in 2004 to attend WWU. I found some success on YouTube about six years ago making creative music videos, which has grown into a freelance career in the entertainment industry. My passion is making music and crafting compelling videos about science and human history.


You are best known for you Symphony of Science project, specifically “Glorious Dawn” (which currently has over 10 million views on YouTube and was released on Jack White’s Third Man Records). Where did the seeds of the song come from and how did you build on them?

After graduating from WWU in 2008, I was working odd jobs and decided to start putting musical content on YouTube for fun. Autotune was new around this time, and I wanted to make a remix tribute to Carl Sagan’s 1980 series Cosmos. It was just an experiment in remixing science content into a coherent music video – I never imagined the video gaining popularity or becoming the first in a series of videos. But the song really resonated with a lot of people so I decided to expand on the concept and start an ongoing series.


Along those lines, why do you think the Symphony of Science project became so popular? 

Everyone has a deep sense of wonder and awe about the universe – even jaded adults – which sometimes needs to be reignited. I think Symphony of Science rekindles that sense of wonder in a lot of people.


Aside from Symphony of Science, what other projects have you worked on?

I have done a lot of freelance work for companies doing short form musical content – most recently with Disney, creating a series of 16 music videos for their children’s cartoons, which was a lot of fun. I collaborate often with marketing teams and production companies who want to try something new and different with their content.


In some ways, you are one of the most famous residents of Bellingham, yet you seem to live in relative anonymity. Has that been a conscious decision? 

I am a studio hermit so I don’t get out much! ‘Famous’ is a gross mischaracterization though.


What is it about Bellingham that has kept you here when there may be opportunities elsewhere?

Most of my collaborators are based in LA, but I’ve resisted pressure to move since Bellingham is so beautiful. Plus I love the rain. The downside is a lot of driving to and from Sea-Tac.


Speaking of opportunities, please tell us about your new project with National Geographic TV.

Last year I conceptualized a TV show that would celebrate all of cosmic and human history, presented in a totally innovative way. No talking heads, no boring music, no shitty narrators and half-assed dramatizations. And so ORIGINS was born – and luckily National Geographic Channel was hungry for something like this, and the pieces fell into place very quickly. The show promises to be a cinematic, innovative, experimental look at the human story – from cosmic to primal to modern day. We’re trying to change the game and tell human history in a way that’s never been done before. Watch for it in 2017.


What would your ideal Sunday morning in Bellingham look like?

My ideal Sunday morning?  Maybe getting up early if I’m not hungover and shooting some beautiful landscape footage, then making music the rest of the day.


If you could spend a day with anyone – living or passed – who would it be and why?

Definitely Carl Sagan.


Do you have any aspirations of performing live (or have in the past)?

I would love to one day. I am something of a perfectionist so it would take me a long time to get right, so don’t hold out for anything soon.


Where did your interest in science come from? Is there a specific time in your life where you remember becoming fascinated by it?

My fascination with science ballooned in college. High school science classes were a slog for me, but taking elective courses at WWU really opened my mind to how incredible the scientific worldview is. There are so many amazing stories that get overlooked because people think science is boring or difficult to understand.


When did you start making music?

I really got my start in high school, playing in a metal band. Don’t tell anyone that. But after that I developed an interest in piano and music production, which led to my focus as a music producer rather than performer.


Any last thoughts?

Tune into National Geographic channel next year for Origins!  And I’m still updating my YouTube channel – Melodysheep – every month or so.

LISTEN UP: Check out the work of John Boswell through his YouTube channel at Melodysheep and his website at www.symphonyofscience.com. 

Published in the May 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine