Everyone is affected by music. It’s a language of the soul, I think. We all have our own groove, but I think we all need music. I wanted to make an album that parents could enjoy with their littles. Something that would strengthen their bond, I wanted to make musical glue.
Tell me about your parents. What are your earliest memories of music in your house?
My earliest memories of music at home, are actually singing with my mum, in the kitchen. I had a little joke ukulele that I dare say was never in tune, I would strum it and we would sing at the top of our lungs. I remember singing the words ‘Ruuuuunning and juumping’ over and over again.
There was also a lot of singing in the car, that song from the Sound of Music with the yodelling in it was always on high rotation…we would make up different words and yodel our heads off.
We had a record player and these great headphones, you know the old school type that look like you should be a helicopter pilot? I used to love putting those on, blocking everything out and listening to just the music.
As I got a bit older I remember listening to records like The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, The Beach Boys…listening to the harmonies and trying to figure out how they made that sound.
My mum liked to sing and played the piano by ear, dad loved listening to good music. He was a cabinet maker and mum was able to stay home with us in our early years, before kids, she was a magician’s assistant. Total gold bikini and high heels babe!
How did you get started with singing? Do you have a formal background or training?
Well I guess it all started in the car and in the kitchen!
I was pretty shy as a kid, I struggled with wanting to make friends and get involved sometimes but was crippled with some kind of fear, school discos were a nightmare! In my first year of high school we ended up at a church with a pretty huge youth group, one of the youth leaders asked if I would like to sing in the band for some big thing that was coming up, I did it, but I don’t think anyone heard me singing, even with the mic turned all the way up. So shy. I continued singing in whatever church we attended and was blessed to work with some pretty great peeps, I actually have just now watched a couple of them ripping it on The Voice!
I had singing lessons in handfuls throughout high school and a bit after, but I think I gleaned a lot from the incredible musicians I got to sing with on Sundays.
How/when did the idea of making a kids album come about?
When Clementine was born, I began to reminisce a lot, about my mum and my nan who I spent a lot of time with as a kid.
I remembered the songs mum sung to us and started singing them to my own little creature in an effort to comfort her, make her happy or while I was begging her to smile.
I suddenly thought hey! I should record these songs, almost as a tribute to my own mum and a gift to my girl.
I started thinking more about it and researching what was out there, turned out someone in the States had done exactly what I was thinking already.
A bit bummed I kept researching and fell in love with the idea/concept of music being something that brings people together. You can meet someone and if you both turn out to be fans of some secret/new band there’s an instant connection. Everyone is affected by music, it’s a language of the soul I think. We all have our own groove, but I think we all need music.
I wanted to make an album that parents could enjoy with their littles. Something that would strengthen their bond, I wanted to make musical glue.
Tell me a few stories behind your favourite tracks on the album.
Travelling Band is one of my faves, it came about after a trip to the park with a friend and fellow creative/singer/mum. We were chatting about the whole ‘balance’ thing, creativity and motherhood. I was on maternity leave with my 2nd child and I think everything seemed to be going a lot faster than the 1st time round. It was me processing this, I was kind of like, hey Angie, enjoy the moment, it’s such a short, precious and bloody hard time, but one day this little dude is going to be big, and you’re going to be old, don’t miss it! The chorus pretty much tumbled out of my head on the way home from the park.
The Chicken Dinner Song seemed to be the hit of the summer with the kids this year, it really gets stuck in your head! I actually made this one up trying to get the first born to eat her flippin’ dinner! The games we had to invent to make her eat were really something. Often I would pretend I was waiting for the bus to take me home and I would be dangling her fork loaded with chicken or what not…I would say ‘I’m really looking forward to going home today, and when I get there I’m going to eat my chicken’…at which point she would snap the food from the fork and I would be all…’did you see what happened to my…oh man’…she would laugh and back to the top, eventually, it turned into a song, and there you have it!
Hey Sun is a song I wrote after going to The Sydney Writer’s Festival last year, I went to a talk on ‘The Anatomy of a Kids Song’ with a few of the greats. Peter Dasent (musical director for Play School) said he often wrote songs with his kids…so this was me trialling that method. Clementine suggested we write a song about the sun and the moon and the stars and with me on the mandolin with my 3 excellent chords, we came up with the chorus right away! She loves saying she helped me write it. She was 3 at the time, which is a pretty great age to get involved…when she grows up she says she, ‘‘wants to play the microphone’’ like me…cutest!
When we caught up you mentioned hearing about the creative process from some other mothers and finding it didn’t gel with your own thoughts – the idea that being creative isn’t something we can do alone, that it takes a village – can you share more about that?
I love the idea of ‘The Village’. I think it’s something our society has lost in some ways. We have our own homes and madness and we need to do it all and have it alI, I think we need each other more, especially as parents, it’s good to know your struggles are not unique. It’s funny how you need a degree to teach children in schools, but they just send you home from the hospital with them without any kind of certificate right? Cue the sisterhood.
I am very blessed to have a great community of friends, family, musicians, creatives and all sorts! Making an album is certainly not something I could do on my own, so I’m beyond thankful for that gang, and their willingness to collaborate. They all brought their own talents, beauty and personality and we made something together that I’m really proud of.
What’s the hardest thing about making a kids album? And the most rewarding?
For me it was just forging the time to get the songs written, the ideas together, the planning and co-ordinating with severe sleep depravation and not a lot of spare daylight hours.
I had 2 days booked in the studio to get drums, guitar, accordion, banjo and all the vocals down. The very night before, Dash, who was about 8 months at the time, came down with middle ear infections in BOTH ears. My husband suggested I may have to cancel, which got my left eye twitching and I pretty much yelled at him that, the doctor had told me what to do with the Panadol & Nurofen and he would be fine!
After the 1st day I was like drunk tired, Dash of course had a bad night, so day 2, well…coffee! It was a slog, but dang I loved every moment.
I love love love getting feedback on the album. It makes me so happy to know that what I wanted the album to be, or do, is actually translating. Somebody wrote me a little while back saying: “My girl sits in the back of the car very pensive and calm listening quietly and I keep catching my self welling up with love for her.”
For me that kind of feedback is the ultimate.
What’s been your biggest parenting fail and what did you learn from it?
Oh gosh. My first baby didn’t sleep through the night consistently until she turned 3. Then we had 3 months of bliss before the next babe arrived, so my ‘finest parenting moments’ have probably been in those wee hours. You get so crazy when you’re that tired, consistently and you just can’t get a break. Sometimes I would get so angry that when the morning came and I saw that darling little face in the daylight, I hated myself for the anger I felt the night before. I think I’ve learnt (and continue to learn!) that self control is key, if I expect my kids to act a certain way then they need to see me doing the same. Sometimes I just want to loose it…I’m practicing deep breathing! Which sometimes works…Recently I made porridge for the kids for breakfast, Miss 4 wouldn’t eat it right away because it was too hot, then she wouldn’t eat it later because it was too cold! I suddenly heard myself yelling at her, “What!? Do you think you’re Goldilocks or something?! Just eat your damn porridge!”…I’m working on it.
There are lots of instruments stashed around your house. Do you hope your kids are musical? How will you help them with that?
Haha, I actually hope they’re not! I (jokingly) encourage them to use their heads and not their hearts because they might earn better money!…but really, they are surrounded by it, so we shall see what happens, they will either run to it or away from it I suspect. Clementine actually comes up with some great melodies, we make up songs all the time about whatever we are doing…she’s a lot of fun. I find making requests or giving instructions in song is a lot more fun and well received than spoken word sometimes…even with the husband, for example if I just say, “Hey you big jerk face can you please clean up the kitchen?!” it may not go down so well, but if you put that to a fun melody and maybe throw in a Russian or Welsh accent, you’ll all be singing and cleaning up in a jiffy!
As far as helping the offspring along on a musical journey goes, we’ll wing it!
When my 2 year old hears music I can see her face light up and she just really gets into it – what are three things I can do to encourage her and support her if it turns out she’s a gifted musical prodigy (JOKING – that last one was totally a joke) But seriously, what can mums do if they see their kids are into music?
Well my kids are obviously still little, so for now, I think just having music on in the house or car, singing together and getting silly on the loungeroom dance floor is the best!
If you live in the city or a small place and your child shows an interest in the drums, I would strongly suggest you really do the hard sell on the flute or something like that, drums are a storage nightmare!
There are a few kids radio stations in Australia now that play songs for the adults as well, it’s a great resource and a great form of non screen entertainment!
(Kinderling Kids Radio / Little Rockers Radio / Funky Kids Radio)
How did you meet Craig & how has your relationship changed/grown/been challenged since you’ve become parents?
I first met Craig in a shipping container. I had lived in London for a couple of years and made friends with a small gang whose visas all expired within a few months of each other. We decided we would all meet back in Sydney and continue the adventure when our London time was up. I had played some music with Chad Mason who was one of these buddies and when I got back from London, he had just started a band and invited me to join.
My first rehearsal is where I met Craig. He was the drummer. His parents had bought him a shipping container which was his own rehearsal studio. Genius if you have the space!
He was wearing a cheque flannel with a hood and cut off sleeves, his hair was down to his shoulders and he dragged his moccasined feet across the driveway while eating a vegemite sandwich or something. I sat in the boot of his Volvo wagon and painted my nails while they all faffed around setting up. Apparently he was sold.
We played the Sydney scene for a while as ‘The Smoking Muskets’ an Alt Country set up. It was a year before I even figured out Craig liked me, I wasn’t good at picking up on signals apparently. I really wasn’t. We finally figured it out somehow and got married and had kids and here we are!
Life is pretty full and busy, Craig is working, studying and plays in 2 bands. I’m working part time and doing stuff for ‘Littlefolk’ and trying to stay on top of all the life admin. Like all new parents you miss that quality time together. There is a lot more to co-ordinate and did I mention life admin? I feel very blessed with my little family. I think Craig is a beautiful Dad and we have the same approach with parenting/discipline which helps. My heart gets all big in my chest when I see our little guy giving Craig a head on the shoulder cuddle, or when he demands some lap time and a good book. Those boys are so cute together. Like all new parents, we miss that one on one time with each other, we are in that stage where it’s often pretty hard to have an uninterrupted conversation. I really miss playing music with Craig, sometimes we get to play together at weddings and things, last time that happened I spent the entire next day crying because I realised I missed it so much. Maybe one day we’ll get back on the road together.