Something magical happens when you crank up the newest music by Seattle kindie-rocker Caspar Babypants – kids quiet down! That is, until the giggles erupt. This is Fun, Chris Ballew’s (aka Caspar Babypants) third kids’ CD offers youngsters a fantastic mix of silly and sweet tunes. It’s clear that Ballew is having fun! Imaginative stories about elephants coming down the street, things with googly eyes coming alive, and babies bouncing all over the country, as expressed through song capture, as Ballew says, “the boundless, powerful innocence that kids have.” Ballew, also known to parents as the lead singer of The Presidents of the United States of America, includes a cover of Nirvana’s “Sliver” on the CD and is joined by special guests Elizabeth Mitchell and other kiddie singers on several tunes. This is Fun releases on November 2nd!
This West Seattle father of two (son Augie is 13, and daughter Josie is 10) recently took some time to chat with Red Tricycle about music and life in West Seattle with his kids.
RT: What did your own kids listen to when they were little?
ME! Lots and lots of ME! I used to lay them out on a blanket and just improvise songs about how much I love them and stories about things. The only kids CDs we had were Free To Be You And Me and a collection of Sesame Street hits.
RT: Has your family directly inspired some of the songs?
Oh yes! Those “blanket sessions” are showing up as Caspar songs now and they help me write songs now and collaborate with me on the videos. Those kids have good brains!
RT: When did you first decide to make kids music?
The summer of 2008 was when the lightning bolt hit me but it was a fifteen year trek of searching to find a form of expression that scratched all my creative itches and fit into the world in a positive way. My wife Kate’s artwork was the AH-HA moment. Look at it!
RT: What’s the story behind your name?
Once upon a time there was a poor artist guy who had no winter hat. He found a pair of baby pants in a bin at a flea market and put them on his head. The kids that hung out on the brick wall between the subway and his house started calling him BABYPANTS. He added CASPAR as a first name because he always thought his first name (CHRIS) was a bit boring. The End.
RT: What’s the best part about performing live for kids?
I love the randomness. The random ways they react and interrupt and how small and loose and free the shows and the audiences are.
RT: What’s playing in your home/car/iPod right now?
Alexi Murdoch. This guy sounds like Nick Drake reborn in spots and these days I have no time for loud stressy music. Also two huge collections of early American folk music and African American spiritual music. And Ella Jenkins! She is the mother of simple kids’ music.
RT : A perfect day in West Seattle with your kids would include:
A walk on the beach at low tide with water proof boots on. A climb up the fairy tale path at Me-Kwa-Mooks park. A bike ride from our house around the horn at Alki and back with a Starbucks treat thrown in. A random CD purchase at Easy Street for everyone in our party. A slice of pie at Shoofly Pie (Kimmy! Where is my gluten free crust?) after lunch at Maharaja for all-you-can eat Indian foods.
RT: Where do you and Kate go for date night in your neighborhood?
RT: Favorite outdoor family activity in West Seattle?
The above-mentioned ones, really. Sitting still in our killer backyard? A ferry ride to Vashon and eating at the Monkey Tree!
RT: Where do you and the kids like to catch live music in Seattle?
At home in the living room! My kids are ten and thirteen and they haven’t seen much live music. If they could, they’d want to see the Beatles, but that ship has long since sailed.
-Angie J. Ballas