OWTK Interviews / OWTK Kindie Music News

OWTK Interview: The Pop Ups

I could wax poetic about the vibrancy, creativity and energy that exists in the kindie rock world. Really, I could go on all day. It’s just better down here in the kid’s music underground; more diverse, better music, legitimately cool concerts. There are so many new acts making fun, provocative and interesting music for children – more, seemingly, popping up every day. One of the most exciting bands of the 2010 crop is the Brooklyn duo The Pop Ups.

Jacob Stein and Jason Rabinowitz, aka The Pop Ups, are currently juggling a brand new kid’s album and a Los Angeles puppet show, but still found some time to answer my questions.

OWTK: Aside from your work with the Little Maestro CDs, what was your experience with, and perception of, the kid’s music genre before making “Outside Voices”? And now that you are an active member of what some are calling the ‘kindie rock’ scene, how has your view of kid’s music changed?

Jason Rabinowitz: When we made “Outside Voices”, we had no idea that the ‘kindie’ genre even existed. We wanted to make something young families could enjoy, and then we realized we were in the middle of a movement! We are most definitely having a great time meeting other musicians and exchanging ideas and hopefully collaborating with some of these other groups! We already had Cathy and Marcy on this record.

Kindie music is awesome, and I think that kids respond to something that operates in a sophisticated way in regards to their tastes.

Photo Credit: Yocheved Z. Amrami

OWTK: Musically, the album covers a lot of genres. Was there any hesitation to make an album without a central style, knowing that often those types of discs end up a disjointed mess (“Outside Voices”, of course, is far from that!)?

JR: We started writing the songs from an developmental standpoint, trying to find activities and subjects to use in early childhood classrooms/environments. As the songs started multiplying, we started to realize that we had an album in the works, and we didn’t look back from there.

OWTK: What is your favorite track on the record (1 each from Jacob and Jason)? Why?

JR: I think “I’m Tired” has a gentle poetry and sound all its own.  I find myself listening to that track and happily zoning out…

Jacob Stein: I think mine would be “Apes In Capes”. In terms of the production, the composition, the concept.. I just think that song is cool.

OWTK: What are you two listening to these days?

JS: My ipod currently hosts Beirut, Sleigh Bells, Joanna Newsom, Johnny Flynn, and Janelle Monae among others.

JR: I’ve recently really become obsessed with Jordan: The Comeback, by Prefab Sprout; also rediscovering the entire Wings catalog in a profound way. The new OK Go album is really really terrific, as well as the new Via Audio record. Also Miike Snow and The Flat Earth by Thomas Dolby.

DOWNLOAD “SUBWAY TRAIN” FROM THE POP UPS FOR FREE:

OWTK: Music was once a communal affair, a shared experience where traditions and stories were passed on to younger generations. What role do you see music playing in a modern home, one ripe with electronic devices, countless media outlets and more technological diversions than we know what to do with?

JS: I grew up in a house of musicians.  My father, Grammy winner Mike Stein was a founding member of kids band Dinosaur Rock and lots of other bands. My brothers and mother are also musicians and we play together in Los Angeles as a family band, so I am a firm believer that music is not only meant to be listened to as a passive experience, but meant to be made together in the home. I think technology can bring the experience of music making into the home in new ways, and that’s great. Ultimately though, I can only ask one thing of parents…Sing with your family!

JR: There are so many ways of consuming media nowadays.  I have neices who just love watching You Tube clips of their favorite Muppet skits.  Of late I’ve realized the tremendous pleasure of listening to LP’s (My wife was always a vinyl person, but I’ve converted).  I do think every household has their own relationship to how, where, and when they listen to music. I believe music is not a luxury, but a necessity in life. Regardless of how, I don’t see the role of music in the household getting any LESS prominent.

OWTK: Are there any plans to hit the road? If so, what does/will a live Pop Ups show look like, from a band configuration standpoint? Having been made by two guys in a bedroom studio, are there any tracks that just can’t or won’t translate into a live setting?

JR: All of the songs started as two guys playing guitars and drums and singing together in a room, and we have performed most of the songs in acoustic settings already. One version of the Pop Ups concert experience will be had at “PASTA! A Pop Ups Puppet Musical,” which combines the songs from this record with a large cast of puppet characters journeying through the magical land of Brooklyn. That show debuts in Venice, CA from July 21st to July 25th.

OWTK: What does the future hold for you two as an all-ages/children’s music act

JR: We are so excited to start performing more. Starting with “PASTA! A Pop Ups Puppet Musical” in L.A., we will come back to NYC to have our album release concert on October 3rd at the BYOK kids concert series at the 92YTribeca. We’re truly having a ball. We hope to be on the road a lot in 2011.
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Catch PASTA! A Pop Ups Puppet Musical at the Electric Lodge in Venice, CA from 7/21-7/25.  Tickets and more info here.

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