Todd'n'Tina is a family-friendly music duo from Minnesota. They make goofy, fun, and ridiculous children's music. Their new album (Kaboom!) is not only a play off of their explosive themed debut album (Dynamite!) and band name, it's a wild ride into a world of imagination. They introduce us to Jellyfish Chicken, Life Saving Pigs, and Pirates & Parrots while giving us steady grooves and singable songs that kids will gravitate to. Their energy and attitude are contagious and lovable and I am so excited to help spread the word about the wonderful work they are doing in the children's music genre.
How did you get into making music for kids?
Todd: I've got a couple kids and I'm always making up weird, dumb, and quirky little songs for them. (Whether they want to hear them or not!) During the "Summer of Covid", I went on a road trip with my family and kept hearing tracks by The Presidents of the United States of America on the radio. This made me wonder what they were up to and Google led me to Chris Ballew and his "Second Act" as children's music entertainer Caspar Babypants. This struck a nerve as I was looking for something new (and fun) to put my creative energies behind.
I'd been doing the "rock band" thing since I was 15 and then - as I got older - I actually fell into jingle writing. (Long story short, Little Caesars heard one of my silly tunes and turned it into a national advertisement!) While working on jingles for some other companies (car wash, drywall repair, children's clothing), I reached out to friend and elementary school music teacher Tina because I needed a female voice. We seemed to work pretty well together and when I decided to pursue kid's music, I asked her if she wanted to be a part of the project and "KABOOM!" here we are.
Tina: As Todd began writing songs, he invited me to come record a couple of them with him for fun. After the first session of recording, he called and said he had a few more songs, and we just kept recording them for our own entertainment until we realized that we actually had something pretty awesome! We chose our name, kept recording, and put out our first album. And now here we are, two albums in, playing live gigs, and beginning work on album #3.
Which part of the music-making process do you enjoy more; the writing and creating phase or performing?
Tina: Ooh, tough question! I love performing with Todd; we have a great chemistry during our performances that is lighthearted and engaging, I think. It's especially fun to connect with kids and families who love to dance and listen to us play. However, I also love putting new songs together and the creative process behind turning a concept into a complete song.
Todd: When everything is gelling, live performances can be fantastic... and a necessity if you want to get heard. However, the reason I keep coming back to music is definitely for the ability to create and let your imagination run wild! I love how you can share ideas, construct an entire universe, or change the mood of a room by simply moving molecules through the air. Without sounding like I just fell off the turnip truck, it really is magic!
How would you describe your style of music to listeners that have never heard it before?
Tina: Definitely family-friendly music. There's not much music out there that you can listen to with your family without worrying about the content of the lyrics. I like that our music can meet that need and be witty, too!
My favorite track off of your new album is Box Life. It's a total jam! Can you tell us a bit about the new album (Kaboom!) and what inspired it?
Todd: Thank you! "Box Life" was written while I was going through a heavy Devo-phase and thought it would be fun to write a song from the perspective of a toy that's been forgotten about and left on the shelf. I was picturing a little toy robot, but now as I reread the lyrics - I see that I never actually say that it's a robot. Go figure!?! I guess it's implied by the music and vocal effects!
Tina: As for Kaboom!, these are songs Todd and I worked on and honed over the last year while playing live. Lyrically, it was great to see people's reaction when we performed to make sure the stories and jokes were clear enough. For instance, we were playing a festival and after "Life-Saving Pig" a little kid shouted at us, "You ate the pig?"
Todd: Our live set-up consists of vocals, acoustic guitar, ukulele, and some hand percussion so that instrumentation definitely worked its way onto the record. However, I'm also a total studio geek and can sit for hours and hours tweaking synthesizers, adding loops, and little production flourishes. I realize most listeners don't care about that, but hopefully all these little embellishments only help to serve the song.
What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
Tina: Playing the Minnesota State Fair was definitely a performing highlight so far. The state fair is a BIG. DEAL. here in Minnesota, so it was exciting to get to perform and be interviewed there. It's also been incredibly exciting to see how far our music has made it out into the world. To think that our music, which started as something to entertain ourselves during Covid, is getting played all over the country and overseas is pretty incredible! I'm excited to see where this adventure will take us.
Todd: Honestly, I'm just thrilled we've been so positively received! Heck, I'm 44... the only thing I should be doing is watching my kids play sports and talking about the cool things I used to do, right? Just kidding! It's pretty clear that all the lessons I've learned from years of touring around in a minivan and playing to no one at midnight have come back to help me. I know it sounds hokey, but really everything is a highlight! Plus, it also helps that Tina is super talented, has a great ear for melody, and can help make these ridiculous ideas far more palatable. It's all good! We just gotta keep moving forward!
As children's artists, we have a lot of freedom to write about a wide variety of topics. What's your favorite thing to write songs about?
Todd: I love to write songs about novel or ridiculous ideas that could appeal to both children and adults. For instance, on Kaboom! we've got a song called "Jellyfish Chicken" that is about the ramifications of splicing the DNA of a chicken with the DNA of a jellyfish. Obviously, this sounds amazing, but then you start to wonder... would you get a boneless chicken - or - would you get a chicken that could sting you? On our last album, we had a song called "Dermatologist Astronaut" which is about a guy who couldn't decide if he wants to be an astronaut or dermatologist, so he decides to be BOTH figuring there'd still be zits to pop in space! As a children's artist it really gives you the freedom to write about all sorts of ridiculous and fun ideas. Personally, I feel like I've found my niche!