Bearded Magicians: Gerry Paul on the Magic of Children’s Songs
These days, Gerry Paul must go to great lengths to test his new children’s songs on an audience, introducing them to nearly every occasion his young daughter and her friends get together.
“They think we’re inviting them to a party, but we’re really going to test out some new material,” Paul said.
The Coastella co-founder and ex-CubaDupa producer will release his second EP of “wacky” children’s songs on February 24, along with a new video for the title track. We all have bones.
“It’s one of those songs that I get the kids to sing along and shake their heads for a funny cartoon vibrato,” Paul said.
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We all have bones is a playful, country-influenced song about the skeletons that all mammals share.
“It’s a little melody that says underneath it all, no matter how tall or short you are, we all have the same old bones that hold us up and we’re all subject to the same vulnerabilities. Of course, it’s a little less serious than that,” Paul said.
Other tracks from the EP feature a circus full of bearded magicians, gypsy musicians, tightrope walkers and a menacing collection of beasts and a chocolate world inspired by contributions from Dannevirke children who attended a music workshop. which Paul directed about two years earlier.
The new EP was recorded at Lee Prebble’s Surgery studios in Newtown, with a band made up of some of the capital’s best-known musicians.
Former Trinity Roots drummer Riki Gooch, indie-folk songwriter Finn Johansson, Fly My Pretties bassist Aaron Stewart and trumpeter Ben Hunt all feature on the songs, which Paul says has always required a little more creativity than your typical recording session.
“They all really enjoyed getting a little wacky. With these songs you can pretty much do anything, it’s like how many weird sounds can we make? said Paul.
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ.
Gerry Paul performs in Tiny Town, the smallest theater in the world, at Coastella 2017
Emily Staveley-Taylor of British band The Staves also lent her vocals to the sessions after appearing on Paul’s debut EP of children’s songs. Tales of the Sea and an Elephant Tree.
Paul said it was important to use the best musicians and produce the songs to as high a standard as possible.
“I think children are quite demanding. You must maintain musical integrity and songwriting integrity. You can’t ignore it or you’ll lose their interest,” Paul said.
Paul enlisted the help of 48 Hour Film Festival winners Couch Kumara and illustrator Nick Jones, to make the western-style lo-fi animation for We all have bones.
The inability to perform live and during the pandemic meant that Paul would not have been able to fund the Ep or accompanying video without the support of a grant from New Zealand on Air’s New Music Kids Fund .
“It’s fantastic to have a fund designed to fund children’s music, so there’s a lot more children’s music to come,” said Paul.
Paul said he always played his daughter the Spike Milligan songs and children’s tunes that captivated him as a child, and loved bringing that joy to the next generation of children and their parents.
“There are so many things kids are dealing with these days that are kind of serious. It is important that we remember to sit down and listen to music and have fun. Kids need it, adults need it, we all need it,” Paul said.