We love SteveSongs music in this house, and I am honored that he was able to do this exclusive interview with Steve Roslonek, for our Super NoVA Mommy readers. Check it the interview below, in true SteveSongs hilarious style!
1 ) We are huge fans, and your Music Time and Marvelous Day CDs are played constantly in our family car. We're very excited for the release of the new album, Orangutan Van. What makes this album unique?
Awesome! Thanks so much. Well, in some ways this album is a natural progression from Marvelous Day. It’s similarly predictable. For instance, there’s a subtraction song about an 11 seat orangutan passenger van (who hasn’t heard one of those?), a sing-along to celebrate the Grumps when they come to visit (jumping on the Grumps bandwagon), and Silly Vanilli is back to help explain why, ‘A’ is for Silly (even though everyone already knows why). We were joined by many of the same musicians who played on Marvelous Day, (co-writer/producer - Anand Nayak, horn player/arranger - Matt Steckler, drummer - Sturgis Cunningham and bass player - Paul Kochanski) and I guess one might characterize the music as ‘redundant’ if they are referring to how these musician friends played so incredibly well all the time. And just like I was with Marvelous Day – I couldn’t be more proud of or excited to share this new batch of songs!
So, now to answer your actual question of how it’s unique: one of the things that sets this album apart is the way we recorded it. It’s fairly typical, nowadays, especially with digital technology, to record songs one instrument at a time – it allows you to get a great take with one instrument then move on to the next. We tried something different (not new – actually more retro) for this album. Our long time studio owner and engineer, Mark Miller, moved to a beautiful new studio space and so we had the opportunity to record many of the band instruments at the same time. This ”more-live” process gives the songs a cohesiveness that, while subtle to the ears is actually pretty noticeable to the overall feel and serves this set of songs particularly well. Because while the writing is just as quirky as ever, the content is a bit deeper, the meaning a little more meaningful and the pickles a little more sour (sorry, I couldn’t think of a third thing). It makes for a more mature sounding recording. Hopefully a “hmmm… this fellow sounds like he has some interesting experiences to share” kind-of-mature, not the “hey, that guy doesn’t remember what it was like to be a kid, does he” kind-of-mature.
2) Do you have a favorite track on the album?
No, I honestly don’t. In fact, it’s been so challenging to even decide my top three songs to send out for publicity. There are elements of so many of the songs that I’m enjoying as we finalize the track list.
The song on the album that I think is the most impactful and the one that I currently can’t stop listening to is; “We’re All in This together (MLK)”. Though the message of the lyrics, inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, is simple, I really believe in it and I think that the more we, as a community, take that lesson to heart the easier it will be to solve some of the problems we face today.
I love the way the song starts simply with the rolling drumbeat, then adds acoustic guitar, then bass, and builds throughout Anand’s amazing raw electric guitar performance. It feels as much like a journey as it does like a song – right through the breakdown which says, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”. In the end, all of the instruments fall away to leave the kids chorus to sing the last line on their own. Throughout the recording process a number of us, from engineers to musicians, have been moved to tears. I’m not saying who cried, I’m just saying it happened J.
3) What message do you want to get out to children through your music?
Well, first of all, I hope the music itself (the melody, the instrumentation, the sound) is able to move them and take them some place different. Lyrically, I hope that they laugh and learn and are amused or inspired enough to listen on. There are a bunch of messages and lessons both subtle and not so subtle that I hope will resonate with kids and complement or reinforce similar messages that they may hear from parents, teachers, or mentors.
“Superhero You” talks about how we can be heroes in small but super ways if we just make a point to look out for others. “Soaring with Reading” reminds us that reading can help us G-O anywhere we want to go. Reading doesn’t just take us incredible places in our imagination through stories, but in real life it can open doors for us that otherwise might have been closed. BTW: Glen “Big Baby” Davis from the Orlando Magic cameos on the song. His Big Baby Foundation is dedicated to helping young kids learn and grow through literacy and other healthy lifestyle choices.
“Recess Rocks” is a big sounding, hip hopping, bass thumping, exhilaration. If you follow the movement instructions and dance along like the kids in our Recess Rocks youtube video you will realize how aerobic a dance song can be. If kids and families have fun with this song – I hope they check out the free Recess Rocks videos and program online. It’s all about helping teachers in and after school to integrate high energy, fun, aerobic activity into classroom lessons and is ultimately aimed at combating the childhood obesity epidemic in this country.
4) Steve, when I saw you last year at Jammin' Java, you mentioned your family. What do your children think of your music?
One of the coolest things about this new album project is that it’s the first time my own kids are old enough to listen, provide feedback and participate. There was a solid month that our four year old, Josh, “needed” to hear “Recess Rocks” on the way to preschool everyday. He regularly requests “Orangutan Van” and sings along most enthusiastically with “Grumpy Boy” and “We’re All in This Together”. Our one year old, Nadia, always asks for the “Bubbles” song - I was actually able to record her requesting it, along with Josh laughing in response and so we put that on the end of the song (I Love It!)
Josh is also the rapper on "Flat Stanley":
He went to Hong Kong to see a pagoda“I was flatter than a day old soda!”In Rock Paper Scissors he’s the best on the block“You better use scissors, ‘Cause Stanley covers the rock”We were also very lucky to get my wife, my mother and mother-in-law to sing the grumpy mom part in ‘Grumpy Boy’.
5) Share with us the best compliment that you have ever received from a young fan?
Best compliment: “This is better than recess!” is one of my favorite compliments. But many times the most heart warming comments that I get go beyond the face value of the words. Just last week, a girl shyly came up after the show, she leaned forward and as the smile on her face grew, she said, “You’re the best singer in the world”. Now, of course, she’s totally incorrect, but there was a great excitement in her eyes and obviously something about listening to my songs and/or singing along made her feel great. So great, that it might as well have been at that moment to that child the greatest thing in the world. That’s a nice compliment. That’s one of my favorite things about kids – they don’t hide the way they’re feeling. If they’re shy, you can sense it, if they’re excited, they show it, if they’re disappointed they tell you and if something you do is special to them you’ll know it.
By the way – one of the worst compliments I’ve ever gotten: “Your teeth look like a werewolf… Cool.”
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