Play Date is making music that parents and kids can enjoy together. Husband and wife duo Greg Attonito and Shanti Wintergate spoke exclusively to Celebrity Parents about their music, the importance of free play, and who their ultimate play date companion would be!
How did the band come to be?
Greg: I guess the first incarnation of the band was just the creative and sharing dynamic of our relationship. We have always felt being creative together is a vital ingredient in the life’s blood of our marriage. From the beginning we have enjoyed writing songs and being creative together, but the real seed for Play Date was officially planted when we performed and wrote a song with our nephew’s second grade class back in ’06. We both had been performing live music for years at that point, but that day was the first time we had really performed for just kids. It was a whole new world to be discovered. Shanti came home from that experience and wrote 3 songs that would later be recorded for our first album, Imagination.
How would you describe your musical style?
Shanti: A short description would be fun, genuine and positive “pop-rock for kids and their parents,” but we are inspired by lots of musical styles. Early ’60s rock, three chord punk, ’80s dance, ukulele music, ska and hip-hop all show up in various ways on our new record, We All Shine.
As a husband/wife duo, how do you find working together?
Greg: We love it! It poses a lot of challenges and rewards, but a lot of what makes our marriage work well invokes the same aspects that make our business relationship good too. Creating/performing music and having a bsiness together is challenging as a couple. but we believe sharing the highs and lows makes our relationship stronger and happier everyday. It’s also valuable that we know each other so well and can use each of our strengths accordingly. We couldn’t imagine it any other way!
What would you say sets your music apart from other music in the kids’ space?
S: We are very intentional with the energy at the roots of the music. The TRUE intent of the music — not just the words or how it sounds — is what matters most to us. We believe children more than anyone are sensitive to energy, so it’s really important to us to infuse our music with the energy of sweetness, positivity, care and love. This is what kids really need!! There are many musicians in the kids’ music world today who consciously create in the same way but many who do not. Another thing we bring that may be uncommon in the kids’ space is our rockin’ edgy sound. We make it sweet for the kids, but we have found the parents can really appreciate the edgy aspect of our musical style and presentation.
What was the transition like going from performing for adults to children? Which audience would you say is easier or harder, and why?
Greg: The transition for me was a little harder than for Shanti. I was a little more self-conscious with the kids at first. I have performed for “older kids” for over 25 years, but I think I had a little mental hurdle to get over before I was totally comfortable with the family environment. It took a few gigs and getting our set worked out to start really having fun with the kids. Now I really love it. It’s so much fun seeing how the kids react and dance to what is sometimes their first live musical experience. I think the kids are a more honest audience. They don’t ever pay attention just to be polite like adults may do. That aspect is fun and challenging.
Let’s talk about the latest album. How does it differ from previous work?
Shanti: Energetically it’s very similar. We are bringing the same kind of sweet. positive vibes to make the kids feel loved and cared for. Stylistically it is exploring some new territory though. We have our first hip-hop inspired song called, “Ninja Pajamas,” an ’80s dance-style song called “Hug Hug Hug,” a very ’60s garage rock influenced song called “Stevie The Fox,” and we have some fun, one-minute PSA announcements spotted throughout the album. Each PSA describes the tastiness and health benefits of a fruit or vegetable.
What are some of your plans for the future?
Shanti: We have a really busy summer and fall with touring and our record release so planning for that has taken up a lot of our time and energy. We have talked about doing a tour of orphanages and schools in India and Guatemala, as we have contacts there who are interested. That could be a great adventure and great for the kids, but it’s just idea at this point. We’ve also been developing a new kids’ televison/web series which we hope to produce sometime in the near future. I think we’ll always be creating something new.
Describe some of your best playdates as kids.
Greg: Well, it wasn’t exactly a play date, but I remember a big moment as a kid when I first saw someone sing and play guitar. It was in the library at school, and I must have been in kindergarten. I really loved and it and the experience must have had a huge impact on me because its one of the few things I remember from that early time in school.
I really love that Play Date creates these kind of experiences for kids every time we play!!! Its pretty amazing on so many levels.
Also…. when we were kids, you didn’t really have playdates. You just went out and played and knocked on friends’ doors and asked them to come out to play. I do see this lacking in today’s world, and it makes me a little sad. I know today we live in a slightly different world but I believe “free play” is SOOOOOOOO important for kids. They need to have time that isn’t “structured” play time. You know?!
If you had to pick any celebrity for a play date, who would it be and why? What would you do?
Greg: I would pick: Jimmy Fallon! It would be fun to sing a tune with Jimmy and the Roots on his show! Maybe make up a new version of our song called, “Colors” and have the audience participate like we have them do at our shows. That would be fun!