Let’s talk about Get On Board. How would you describe this album?
Whether it’s learning fun facts or having a dance party or just letting your mind wander in a daydream, Get On Board! brings children on an adventure that leads to the treasures of the world. The kaleidoscope represents a unique point of view – it is the mind of the child – where no matter what you’re looking at in the world you can always find something interesting and fun to celebrate and appreciate. Get On Board! from Alex & The Kaleidoscope inspires conversations about the world around us and encourages listeners to find wonder everywhere you look!
How does it differ from previous albums? What is your goal for Get On Board?
Get On Board! comes directly from my Emmy® Award winning TV show Alex & The Kaleidoscope which is targeted at that ever important 4-8 year old age group where the brain is just exploding with words and facts and observations about the world in which we live. All of the songs on this album come directly from my work both as a teacher and an entertainer. Each song was tried and tested with children before making it to my TV show or onto this albumn and so I know that kids love it! And, of course, we have produced the music in a way that is sure to please ears of all ages. The goal for Get On Board! is for children (and caregivers) to listen to the songs and feel excited and inspired about the subjects and to be motivated by that enthusiasm to go and learn more. Perhaps find cool fun fact websites or visit a museum or aquarium. Most importantly, I hope this album inspires people to never be bored and to always be willing to “take a look in the kaleidoscope” and find something cool and interesting about the world around us. Only through appreciation and wonder can we genuinely care about the world, and it is this connection that leads to happiness and peace. I hope that Get On Board! can play a part in helping children turn into happy and productive adults.
You’ve said that you feel a responsibility as an artist to educate children. Why?
There is little in this world that can influence people the way that the arts can. Whether it’s a song, a movie, a dance style, a painting or a book, I believe it has been and always will be the artists of the world who bring about the greatest change. It is no mystery that children are profoundly impressionable – they are learning everything they need for the rest of their lives in the first decade or so of life, and so it is critical that we as a culture and society make the most of this precious time. Children are the most important investment we can make in our own future, and as an artist who has specifically chosen to focus on this particular group of human beings I feel an incredible responsibility and honor to turn kids on to beauty and wonder, kindness and community, and appreciation and self-awareness. It is these things that they will really need to grow up to be healthy, thoughtful and interesting adults. And, of course, the best way to reach children is to have fun, which is why music can be such an effective tool for teaching!
Who are some of your musical influences?
Bobby McFerrin because he embodies what is so natural about music. He creates landscapes of sound, rhythm and melody with nothing but his own body and voice. Paul Simon because he has absorbed so many different styles of music from so many unique cultures and has created a completely original sound out of them all. He is a master songwriter seamlessly weaving stories about everyday people with poetry and visions of beauty. Bob Marley because I can listen to his songs every day for the rest of my life and never tire of them. His music restores my faith in love and righteousness every time I hear it. Bruce Springsteen for his unbounded passion and originality of voice. Peter Gabriel, Edie Brickel, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Robert Plant, John Coltrane, Pat Metheny, Chet Baker, Louis Armstrong… the list goes on and on!
What are some of your plans for the future, both personally and professionally?
Professionally speaking it is very clear – to produce more episodes of the Alex & The Kaleidoscope TV show and to tour in support of the show. I’d like to bring the TV show to the stage with a big production, live concert experience. On the personal side my goals right now are to stay healthy and present and appreciate all that I have while my dreams manifest into reality.
You just recently had your second child. What is it like now being a dad of two? How do you think it will impact your music?
Oh man! Yes – my wife and I just welcomed a baby girl into our family. She is so precious and sweet. We are very lucky because so far she has been a very easy going baby. When my son was born I’ll admit it was pretty much a religious experience for me. I had been working with children my entire career and to finally have my own kid and my own family was truly life changing. I wrote an entire album of music, Love Songs For My Baby, about the whole experience. This time around it is different. In a way I feel much more prepared now to deal with the intensity of balancing everything that happens when a baby is born. I have some experience now, so I can learn from my previous mistakes and try it all over again. It has been easier than I feared, which is a big relief! I’m not sure quite yet how it will impact my music. One thing for sure is that I have even less time to be creative so there is no room for self-doubt at this point, which is really quite empowering.
You had mentioned that you want your music to not only teach but to connect kids to the world. Let’s talk about that.
These days we hear a very familiar story happening to kids all over the world – they are lonely, disconnected, disempowered and bored, left to all sorts of violent and negative influences. This to me is the saddest thing because life is truly amazing and to feel that way at such a young age is heartbreaking. The isolation can be broken by communication, and communicating is a skill we start to learn from the moment we are born. Using the world as a classroom and finding interesting things to observe and talk about (or sing and dance about!) at an early age gives young children the chance to feel a connection with something outside of themselves. The more they get used to this feeling when they are young the more likely they will be to make choices that foster this connection as they grow.
What is your ultimate goal for your music?
To build our music entertainment brand into a major company offering inspired and unique ways to turn kids on to the wonders of the world that surround us.