Monday, March 28, 2011

Pop! Classic #5

Fishboy is one of those bands that don't really play kid's music, but most of their music is definitely as fun for kids as it is for us, the adults. And indeed, when I wrote Eric Fishboy about this project he said "I have always gravitated towards making my music open to all ages and would say that about 95% of my songs are accessible to everyone." The below song - Parachute (Using The Ghost Of Buddy Holly As A) - is one of my favourite Fishboy songs, and it's got a fun video as well.

You can download this song for free from here.

Fishboy have a new album out this month called Classic creeps, which you can buy here and here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pop! #8: The Indelicates - The sad gnome song

The Indelicates are an English popgroup formed around Julia and Simon Indelicate. In their usual 'grown up' style they mix influences from folk, punk, classical music and indiepop/rock, resulting in edgy, catchy and original songs with great melodies and insightful lyrics. The Indelicates' contribution to this project is quite a bit different, but no less fun. It's an amusing (but sad) little tale of a gnome who doesn't have very much room in his mushroom house. The song was recorded a couple of years ago, but hasn't appeared on any of their releases so far, even though it had a record label named after it!

You can buy The Indelicates' records here, here, here and here.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

5+1=6 questions for... Vom Vorton

It's been already over a month since Vom Vorton contributed his great original song The world is round to this project. It's more than time to throw our 5+1 questions at Tom, and see what answers he comes up with.

The Pop! For Kids Project: Hello Tom! What have you been up to recently?

Tom Morton: Well, I've been writing and recording a lot due to the time of year, but more on that later! I'm trying to have quite a busy musical year in 2011 to follow up the EP that I released at the end of last year (Plots & Plans), so I've got quite a few gigs coming up. I also provided some science based songs for the Geek Pop festival recently, although the science involved is dubious at best!

TP!FKP: What are your earliest musical memories?

TM: I had a tape of songs recorded off the radio called Tom's Favourites that I used to play all the time. I think the songs became my favourites because they were the only ones I had rather than being picked for any specific reason, but some of the better ones included Letter from America by The Proclaimers, Heaven Is a Place On Earth by Belinda Carlisle and of course the incomparable Rick Astley with Never Gonna Give You Up. I guess I would have been about five at the time. I also used to put on 'musical' shows with my cousins throughout my childhood and most of us have carried on making music to this day. They're mostly doing better than me, but that's OK - I'm proud of them!

TP!FKP: Do you think good music is important for young children?

TM: I think music in general is important for young children, and if that music happens to be good (and bearable for grown ups as well) then it can't hurt!

TP!FKP: What's the best bit about being a musician?

TM: When it all goes right - finishing off a new song and feeling proud of it, or realising in the middle of a gig that everyone is having a really good time. Getting to do something really fun and have other people enjoy it too!

TP!FKP: Do you have any favourite children's songs?

TM: I certainly do! I don't want to live on the moon first appeared on Sesame Street in 1978, and is sung by Jim Henson as Ernie. It is absolutely wonderful! So sweet and with a nice melancholy tinge. I've thought about covering it in the past, but there's no improving on perfection. I also think the child-friendly Beatles songs get a bit too much stick - if you can write a catchy song about an octopus or a brightly coloured submarine then go for it, I reckon.

TP!FKP: You recorded The world is round as part of FAWM. Can you tell us a little bit about this yearly challenge?

TM: FAWM stands for February Album Writing Month, and it's a timed songwriting event that, this year, generated over 10,000 new songs. It's a hugely positive event where people upload their songs and encourage each other to reach the goal - 14 songs, in theory, but it's a personal challenge and people's output varies from a couple of lo-fi webcam recordings to huge studio-recorded opuses (opii?). I managed 19 songs this year, which I'll be trimming down to the best ones, polishing up and releasing as a free album sometime in the next couple of months.
The Pop! For Kids song request arrived just in time for the start of February and The World Is Round was the first song I posted. Thanks for getting me started!

TP!FKP: You're very welcome Tom, and thank YOU!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pop! #7: Mascot Fight - Dance like robots

Mascot Fight are a joyful sounding English indiepop quartet, who make songs with lyrics full of social commentary and wit. I was excited when they promised to contribute a song especially written and recorded for this project. The result is this, the bouncy and very catchy Dance like robots. It's lovely. If you like this song you'll be up for a treat with their albums. Most songs tell nice stories that lift you up, make you think or laugh for a minute, and put your mind in a unique place for a while. But now first: "...come on let's dance everyone, let's all dance like robots!" With a tune like this, who could possibly resist?

You can buy Mascot Fight's albums here, or give them a listen first, here.


Monday, March 14, 2011

5+1=6 questions for... Nat Johnson

A week ago I posted Monkey Swallows The Universe's lovely song Inspector Flamingo. Today, it's time to ask singer and songwriter Nat Johnson our 5+1 questions.

The Pop! For Kids Project: Hello Nat! What have you been up to recently?

Nat Johnson: Hello! The Figureheads and I have been quite busy lately releasing a new EP, called What the Heart Pours Into. We thought it would be a nice idea to do some handmade cd copies of it, so we've spent a lot of time playing at arts and crafts. I managed to get spraypaint all over the house but luckily it cleaned up with a lot of scrubbing. We've also been recording some more and have been playing a few gigs as well. It's been great fun.

TP!FKP: What are your earliest musical memories?

NJ: Being scared of putting the needle on the record player, but desperately wanting to listen to my parents' records, so holding the needle above and dropping it from quite a height whilst cringing away. Taping over the laugh on the end of Michael Jackson's Thriller cos I was scared of that too. Writing little pop songs on my casio keyboard from the age of about 7. Being caught recording myself singing the song from the Aristocats and being very embarrassed about it.

TP!FKP: Do you think good music is important for young children?

NJ: Well good quality from the start can't hurt can it? Though people will always make their own decisions about what they like when they get older, you'll always remember what your parents listened to and sang to you when you were little and if it's something pretty cool then that's a bonus.

TP!FKP: What's the best bit about being a musician?

NJ: I love creating something out of thin air. One minute there's nothing, then suddenly there's a whole new song that never existed before. I love it if a song I've written can mean something to someone.

TP!FKP: Do you have any favourite children's songs?

NJ: I always liked the one that goes... In a tiny house, by a tiny stream, lived a lovely lass, who had a lovely dream, and her dream came true, quite unexpectedly... in... Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellenbogen by the Sea!

TP!FKP: What was the inspiration for writing Inspector Flamingo?

NJ: I just sat down with my guitar, opened my gob and out came Inspector Flamingo. I must have been in an odd mood I suppose, but I hadn't planned to write a murder mystery song about flamingos and crocodiles. I remember coming up with the first couple of lines, quite liking the sound of them, and by the end just laughing to/at myself.

TP!FKP: Thank you Nat!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Interview with TP!FKP

Tyo from Indonesia was so kind to interview me for the Heart Fanclub Radio blog about this project. Go and have a look, in case you're interested!

Picture: our son Sam having a good time posing in an attempt to get a nice photo to go with this interview.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pop! #6: Monkey Swallows The Universe - Inspector Flamingo

Nat Johnson is widely known for making beautiful pop music with gorgeous vocals and melancholy melodies. For this reason I asked Nat for a contibution from her and her new band the Figureheads, but what I got instead is at least as nice: an unreleased song by her previous band Monkey Swallows The Universe. "We did put it up on our website for a bit just after we split as it was the only thing we'd recorded that no one had heard, but otherwise it's not been available," says Nat. Written by her in a silly mood in 2007, this is actually a delightful song perfectly suited for this project: a lovely melody and an entertaining story, with sweet intrumentation that fits this song perfectly. And then there's that voice of course.

Monkey Swallows The Universe were an English acoustic folk-pop/indiepop band, centred around the original founding duo of Nat Johnson and Kevin Gori. When the band disbanded in 2008, Nat went solo for a short while and is she's now making pretty music with her new backing band The Figureheads.

You can buy Nat Johnson's releases here and here, and Monkey Swallows The Universe's albums are also still available, here.