Last week MJ Hibbett presented us with his first effort to write a children's song in the form of his lovely Monster Island. Today is as good a day as any to ask Mark a little bit more about himself and his inspirations, in what will be a returning item on this blog: 5+1=6 questions for...
The Pop! For Kids Project: Hello Mark! What have you been up to recently?
MJ Hibbett: Lots! I'm just finishing off touring the two-man show version of my musical Dinosaur Planet whilst simultaneously writing the follow-up, 'Moon Horse VS The Mars Men Of Jupiter', which we'll be taking up to the Edinburgh Fringe this year. Me and The Validators are also busy doing final mixes for the huge concept album version of 'Dinosaur Planet', and any spare time I have left over after all that is currently being spent on February Album Writing Month, where you sign up to write a 14 track album in February. I'm five songs in so far, just about on schedule!
TP!FKP: What are your earliest musical memories?
MJH: Listening to my Mum singing in the kitchen - a song that involved someone's mum disappearing, which terrified me - and the song Yellow River being on the radio all the time. My Dad playing Tommy Gun's Theme on the guitar, which for about twenty years was the only song he could play, and would at very little provocation! And, of course, for anyone of my age, the arrival of the double album War Of The Worlds was an introduction to a whole world of excitement!
TP!FKP: Do you think good music is important for young children?
MJH: I think music is very important for children and for everyone - I didn't come from a particularly musical family and so it took me ages to get round to learning an instrument, but when it did it comepletely changed my life, for the better. The more people are involved with making music the better, but only when it's strictly for fun. I know loads of people who were forced to learn instruments like the violin or piano, which are much to difficult and boring for kids, and ended up being put off it for life.
I don't, however, think we need to worry about whether the music is 'good' or not. Children have very different needs and tastes from adults, so we shouldn't go around trying to make them listen to the sort of stuff we like - let them make their own mind up, they'll probably end up teaching us all a thing or two!
TP!FKP: What's the best bit about being a musician?
MJH: It opens up MASSIVE opportunities for Showing Off, which is pretty much my favourite thing in the world! It also allows you to be like a little kid again, grabbing people and saying "Listen to ME! Listen to what I MADE!" People are generally too polite to tell you to get lost, even as an adult!
TP!FKP: Do you have any favourite children's songs?
MJH: The songs I most enjoyed singing as a child were Christmas Carols with rude words put in - "We three kings of Leicester Square/Selling ladies' underwear" or "While Shepherds washed their socks by night", that sort of thing. They still fill me with exactly the kind of delight they always did!
TP!FKP: What gave you the idea for your musical 'Dinosaur Planet'?
MJH: I went to see someone doing a one-man version of Jeff Wayne's 'War Of The Worlds' a couple of years ago. As I say, I LOVE 'War Of The Worlds' and was very excited, but the whole thing was a bit dull and disappointing, so I decided to do my own one-man rock opera, and used various ideas I'd been talking about in the pub for years, based on cheap novels one of my friends used to read. That was more of a stand-up kind of show, with me explaining the story, which wouldn't really work as a recorded album so I wrote it all out with the intention of making a record and enjoyed it so much that I ended up turning it into a musical. The rest has been a) history b) expensive!
TP!FKP: Thanks Mark!