Video: “Town Town” – Dean Jones

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Every now and then Grammy winning producer, Dean Jones of Dog on Fleas​ conjures up a little ditty of his own. The results are always unexpected and entertaining. One of my favorite things about Dean is the clever quirkiness that pops up in his music. Dean is not afraid to get goofy and creative and lay out the contents of his imagination. Life is more interesting that way, as is listening to music.

Check out “Town Town” by Dean Jones. You’ll want to watch this one twice.

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Video: Ratboy Jr. “The Skunk and the Robot” from Hamster Pants

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Timothy Sutton (“Timmy”) and Matt Senzatimore (“Matty”) make up the Hudson Valley-based duo, Ratboy Jr.  Earlier this week, they relased their third studio album, Hamster Pants, and a video to go with it. For their single, “The Skunk and the Robot,” the guys explore the idea of whether of what might happen is a robot got sprayed by a skunk. Ratboy Jr. specializes in exploring “what if” scenarios that prompt kids to stretch their imaginations in unexpected ways. They’re wacky, which is why we like ’em. And this song is crazy catchy!

Take a listen to Hamster Pants through the CDBaby widget at Ratboy Jr. official site.

Video: “The Church Usher’s Dance” – The Uncle Devin Show

1324662933_TheUncleDevinD72aR06aP02ZL-Carter6a_mdmMaryland-based Devin Walker recently released a video for his single, “The Church Usher’s Dance.” Walker is the man behind The Uncle Devin Show, an interactive musical experience which he describes as a cross between Fat Albert and Schoolhouse Rock. I kinda love that description.

This video for “The Church Usher’s Dance” is classic in so many ways! Aside from the fact that it reminds me of some of my favorite 80’s hip hop videos (think Run DMC and Slick Rick in terms of sound), there is also a great message in here. Dancing is a great way to express yourself, but it can also be a pretty vulnerable way. As Walker teaches us a new dance thanks to 8-year-old Tre, he also reminds us that when you’re true to yourself anything is possible. Right on!

“The Church Usher’s Dance” is a single from Uncle Devin’s upcoming album, Be Yourself. Starting on June 4, 2015, it will only be available digitally. You can download four different versions i.e. 1) Short Version, 2) Extended Family Version, 3) Instrumental Version and 4) The March through iTunes, CDBaby, Amazon and Google Music store.

Watch: “One Love” – 1 World Children’s Chorus Celebrating Bob Marley

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Whenever I hear even the first few beats of Bob Marley’s music, I feel comforted and just happy. Em has always loved Bob Marley and I still have the t-shirt she regularly wore, from 2 to 3-years-old (until it didn’t fit her anymore), with his face on it. His music appealed to her, and she would let everyone know that he was her favorite.

Today’s video is a part of the year-long Bob Marley 70th birthday celebration in 2015. Ziggy Marley‘s Tuff Gong Worldwide has partnered with Aaron Nigel Smith’s One World Chorus to release Celebrating Bob Marley, a tribute featuring some of Bob Marley’s most classic songs.

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Watching kids from around the U.S., Jamaica, Kenya and Colombia sing “One love, one heart/ Let’s get together and feel alright,” and thinking about the greater message of unity and peace just feels right. Though the kids are world’s away from one another, this music connects them. Pretty powerful, and I imagine Bob would be very proud knowing that his legacy is being carried on in this way.

Learn more about Celebrating Bob Marley at Tuff Gong Worldwide where you can also purchase the album. A portion of sales will be used to bring free workshops to participating schools. 

New Video: “Robot Dance” by The Pop Ups and Interview with Jacob Stein and Animator Garrett Davis

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We love a good game of Freeze Dance, but someone always needs to be the designated “freezer.” Not anymore! “Robot Dance,” a track from The Pop Ups’ Grammy nominated album Appetite for Construction, reinvents this dance party classic and makes sure everybody gets down on the dance floor.

For today’s video premiere, the kings of electro-kindie-pop once again enlisted the talent of animator Garrett Davis (“Box of Crayons,” “Subway Train“), who brings this pants splitting discotronic adventure to life. Together these guys are just crushing it! Garrett’s artistic talent and wild imagination masterfully captures The Pop Ups’ vibrant energy and playful spirit. Plus, dancing robots!!

Read on to learn more about the collaboration and creative process behind the scenes with Jacob Stein from The Pop Ups and animator Garrett Davis.


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Jacob Stein, Musician and Robot (featured above)

KCG: What initially appealed to you about Garrett’s work?

JS: We’ve been huge fans of Garrett’s work since the very beginning of the Pop Ups. Jason came into the studio one day and said, “Check this out!” It was a video I was already a big fan of called “Song for North America.” It was edgy and hilarious and weird and beautiful, so we reached out to him, and a wonderfull relationship began.

We’ve made at least one video per album with Garrett; Subway Train, where he was still working in a hand drawn and photographed animation format, to Box of Crayons where he mixed live action, hand drawn animation and some computer hand drawn stuff.  And then Robot Dance, which he drew on the computer and really got to go places in..

KCG: What is it like to work with an animator and create a video versus writing a song?

JS: We’ve only really worked with Garrett, but that process has really grown as time has gone on. In the beginning we left him to his own devices, but we’ve finally found a good balance of storyboarding/conceptualizing together, and then setting him free to go places only he can go.  We usually go through a set of revisions until we’re all happy.

KCG: Can you give us a behind the scenes breakdown of how you approach the making of a video with an animator?

JS: Our process usually involves giving him a concept and often a narrative, and Garrett jumps right in. For Robot Dance, he made an animatic, a rough set of black and white drawings that move with the song, to show the flow of the story. We also worked with Garrett to make all of the bits of animation you see throughout our web series.

I have been a serious fan of all eras of animation since college. I had a friend who would come to our house and play old 16mm animated films on our living room wall.  Everything from “The Sinking of The Lusitania” by Windsor McCay and “Gertie the Dinosaur” to “Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend” to “Allegro Non Troppo” the Italian Fantasia from the 70’s. So usually I’m thinking about a certain look or an animation era that I’m interested in referencing. We are currently working with Garrett on a song about a Disco Dog, and I sent Garrett a bunch of pictures of Andy Warhol’s Factory parties as a reference, as well as 70’s fashion…

KCG: What do you like best about this video?

JS: I love the wildness and feeling of openness.  It moves through such a variety of wonderful locations and is filled with huggable robots.

KCG: Who is your favorite robot of all-time?

JS: My favorite robot is Johnny Five from “Short Circuit.”

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Garrett Davis, Animator

KCG: How would you describe your style?

Garrett Davis: I would describe my style as “eclectic.” I bring in any element I like and don’t worry whether or not it “works.” It all comes together in the end and adds up to a richer and more fun visual language or style than if I had pre-defined it.

KCG: How do you feel your style fits in with The Pop Ups style?

GD: I like to make characters REALLY MOVE in funny ways like kids do intuitively. Kids are naturally ultra-creative so I try to be too.

KCG: What was most appealing to you about this project?

GD: I liked all the little sounds throughout the song that could be assigned to different characters, like the little gong-hitting robot with the baseball hat, or the tiny robot who drums on his buddy’s knees.

KCG: For Robot Dance, did you listen to the song before animating?

GD: I listened to the song before, during, and after animating, constantly, over one hundred and fifty nine thousand times per day.

KCG: What is your creative process like in terms of how you are inspired to create music videos? For example, does the music influence the art and vice versa?

GD: I listen to the music and see in my head what characters and scenes it suggests to me then I just go for it and start drawing.

KCG: Can your share a behind the scenes breakdown of how the video came to fruition?

GD: I drew a rough storyboard/animatic to show what I was thinking for the video and once that was approved I broke down the time into manageable chunks so I knew how much I had to finish each day in order to complete the video according to our schedule.

KCG: What was the balance between self-expression and collaboration?

GD: There was a very good balance between self-expression and collaboration. Jacob and Jason had some ideas of their own but were more interested to see how I responded to the song and what ideas I came up with on my own. They are great to work with in that way.

KCG: The Pop Ups are a kids’ music band, did you have to find a balance between your aesthetic and creating something that was kid-friendly?

GD: No. My aesthetic is very fluid and I make much use of so-called “chance” in creating.  I basically am in a kid-like mindset when I do creative work so it’s naturally kid-friendly I hope. Kids are so spontaneous and hilarious on their own and they live creatively without over-thinking everything, it’s very inspiring. Most kids still have some kind of inherent understanding of the magical nature of life so making things for them is way more fun than making things for adults, who usually go on and on about how things don’t make sense or are arbitrary, etc, etc. If you’ve ever been around young kids you are familiar with what I call “the endless WHY”…no matter how clear something is, there’s always a kid who keeps asking “why” without stopping. And you can only answer that question so many times. It’s nice to just embrace the fact that some things don’t need a logical rationale.

KCG: Were you given direction in terms of what elements (besides robots) to include in the video?

GD: The Pop Ups had some direction for things that could be in the video, but most of it was just dictated by the song itself. We wondered how we could show pants splitting in a “tasteful” way and I think we solved it pretty ingeniously by just having classic polka dot/heart boxers underneath the trousers.

KCG: Most importantly, did you do the robot dance til you split your pants at any point during this process?

GD: I ruined many perfectly good pairs of pants to get all the robot dances just right. Please pass along to The Pop Ups that they will be receiving a bill from my tailor shortly.

batteryPOP / Zooglobble Kindie Rock Showdown!

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March 11, 2015 marks the start of the Kindie Rock Showdown. Kids’ music blogging veteran, Zooglobble, has teamed up with batteryPOP, a great online resource featuring curated video content for a broad range of ages (preschool up to tweens!), to present a kids’ music video tournament.

batteryPOP was founded by oh just a couple of regular all-star guys from Nickelodeon. BatteryPOP’s mission is to find the highest quality, age-appropriate content that is well, awesome. Sounds pretty right on to me! And so far they have been crazy successful with it. Your kids can find videos, cartoons, blogs for kids, video game walkthroughs, and the best in Kindie music videos.

The way batteryPOP works is that if you like a video you a “pop” it which is basically similar to “liking” a song on Pandora, for example. This lets batteryPOP know what you like so you can be served more preferred content.

Ok, so, the Kindie Rock Showdown

8 excellent bands will be competing against one another. Week by week, the tournaments will be hosted on batteryPOP’s site with commentary by Laurie Berkner and Stefan Shepherd of Zooglobble.

Here is the breakdown:

Week 1 – 5/11/15 – 5/17/15
Alphabet Rockers vs The Bazillions
Danny Weinkauf vs Caspar Babypants

Week 2 – 5/18/15 – 5/24/15
Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band vs Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

Week 3 – 5/25/15 – 5/31/15
The Not-Its! vs Josh and the Jamtones

Week 4 – 6/1/15 – 6/7/15
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inals

So grab the kiddos and tune in to batteryPOP for this fun competition. And above all, MAKE SURE TO VOTE!

Want to get to know the bands? Check ’em out here.

While you’re at it, take a little stroll around the batteryPOP site. They’ve really got a nice selection of stuff!

View This: “Spring Day” – Karen K & the Jitterbugs


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Though it was a disturbing (putting it mildly) winter for many, Karen K & the Jitterbugs​ reminds us that fun is what you make it, and in Karen‘s world there is plenty of sunshine.

In the visual companion to her previously released single, the video for “Spring Day” celebrates spring, sounds like spring and by golly feels like spring when you crank it up and dance around. Someone pass me a Tulip!