12th Annual Children’s Music Album Vox Pop Winner
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Record Label: BALANCE Edutainment
Home Base: Oakland, California
Genre: Children’s Music
Categories Entered: Children’s Music Album
Work Submitted: Pacha’s Pajamas: A Story Written By Nature Vol. I
Artists Featured: Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def, Cheech Marin, Talib Kweli, Majora Carter, Lester Chambers, Agape Youth Choir, Lyrics Born, Jazz Mafia, Lil JaXe, MC Fireworks, Milo McFly, Felecity, A-Natural (aka Aaron Ableman), Ariana Hernandez, Ashlie Cortez and Ta’Kaiya Blaney.
Label: BALANCE Edutainment
Who are your influences? Our musical influences include the sound of pop hitmakers like Selena Gomez (nod to the production genius of Rock Mafia), Bruno Mars and BOB. However, we are also deeply inspired by indigenous and traditional musical idioms from around the world. And finally, the work of The Beatles, Fela Kuti, The Police, and Bob Marley.
Describe your nominated work: We are creating magnetic and conscious children’s stories and music to stand the test of time. Our album is super-fresh, pushing the boundaries in many respects with 55 artists spanning four generations including celebrities like Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def, Cheech Marin, Talib Kweli, Majora Carter, Lester Chambers, Agape Youth Choir, Lyrics Born, and a dozen youth stars including Lil JaXe and Ta’Kaiya Blaney. Each of our serial albums are an innovative blend of musical storytelling and songs.
Our nominated album is the first volume of the soundtrack for a story about a little girl who discovers that her imagination can overcome the obstacles she encounters in everyday life. In her dream, Pacha journeys to an epic music festival organized for (and by) plants and animals. The animals’ experiences convey clues about the state of their habitat and the impact of human activities. Through this dream experience, Pacha falls in love with nature, realizes she is part of nature and that she has all that she needs within herself.
The Pacha’s Pajamas story translates key aspects of today’s reality into a magical story, which enables kids to better understand real life situations. It also helps them understand how they can make a difference in the world and within themselves. The story handles real life topics including climate change, childhood illness, drought, hurricanes, extreme weather events, habitat loss, plastics, appropriate technology, resource extraction, deforestation and more.
In her dream journey, Pacha experiences making change in her life through various creative activities, including music, dance, visualization, teamwork, cooperation and much more. Through these experiences, she develops a better understanding of herself, her creative talents and how she can use them to positively impact the world.
Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording? The South American Pan Pipes, Ngoni, Melodica, Balafon, Didgeridoo, and Thumb piano are all unusual instrumentation for popular children’s music. We also used a lot of soundscape directly recorded from nature and layered animal effects as well.
Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned?: Everything went as planned.
How did you raise the funds for this project? How long do you expect it will take to recoup your out-of-pocket recording expenses?: If we said “by hook and by crook”, it would almost be true. We used savings, help from parents, a lot of credit card advances, loans from friends and family and equity investment. We expect to recoup our out-of-pocket recording expenses by the end of the year.
Why did you choose to submit this work to The 12th IMAs?: We are big fans of independent music and the IMA. We believe that music is one of the most potent tools for healing and social change. A vast majority of the music that provokes such a response is independent.
What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it?: Our definition of success is to bring hope, joy and a new way of seeing themselves and the world to millions of children across the planet. We aspire to help kids grow resilient and a provide a platform for them to express their dreams and share their gifts.
How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals?: We will let our audience know in multiple ways … in blog posts, through newsletters, on partners web sites, in a press release, on Facebook and Twitter, in an episode of our YouTube show, in our TV appearances and radio interviews, and our live performances. Whenever we apply to anything (e.g., grants and sponsorships), we will mention our IMA honors.
Who’s sitting in your audience and what makes your fans unique?: Our audience is North American kids between 5-12 years old and their parents. The unique thing is that our audience includes all ethnicities.
What is your guilty pleasure on the road? Any close calls or mishaps while on tour?: Bliss mix, other organic snacks and food from Whole Paycheck. No close calls or mishaps.
Who are your musical heroes & influences?: Bob Marley, Sade, Ravi Shankar, Nneka, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Zap Mama, Ali Farka Toure, The Roots, John Coltrane, Macklemore and so many more.
Are there any songs you wish you wrote and why?: “Imagine” by John Lennon and “One Love” by Bob Marley because they are songs that provide a blueprint for a future that works for everyone. Many Rivers To Cross by Jimmy Cliff, because he is singing a song that we all can relate to.
What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans?: Vivaldi, Frederick Chopin, and Wolfgang Mozart.
How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming?: We discover music through YouTube, streaming service, the radio and our music loving friends.
How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free?: It will continue to be difficult. Artists will have to make money through shows and licensing.
What don’t fans/audiences understand about the music industry today?: Fans don’t understand what musicians have to do to survive in the ever-changing music industry climate.
Are digital singles/EPs vs. full albums the future?: Both. Singles and EPs are great because they provide the possibility of getting exactly what one wants. As long as there real music fans, albums will always have an important place enabling the audience to fully experience the artist. A single is like looking at one section of a painting.
Finish this sentence: The music industry is…an incredible environment to be experienced at the highest levels.
What do you have in the works for the upcoming year?: Pacha’s Pajamas: Written by Nature Vol II, of course. Everyone wants to know what happens after the hurricane!