Making music simple for kids

Making music simple for kids

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo (SAS23) makes hip-hop music for children. His album The Perfect Quirk was nominated for the Grammy Awards in the category of Best Children’s Album, this year. The US-based musician will be performing in Delhi at the BuddyDaddy Family Bash. In a chat with Metrolife, the performer talks about his music, journey and future projects. Excerpts:

How did you get into music?

I started through street performance, or busking, while travelling across USA in my twenties. My friends and I would stand in a crowded part of town and freestyle, improvising lyrics about whoever was walking by. This usually surprised them enough to stop and listen, and so we got big crowds...and hats full of money!

How did the idea of playing hip-hop for children strike your mind?

When my daughter Saki turned five, I’d been touring the USA with a funk/hip hop band for about a decade. It was awesome, but it kept me away from my family. So I decided to combine the two. I taught her how to rap and created our first album together. My wife sang and danced, Saki and I rapped, and we started touring the nation that way instead.

What is your musical philosophy?

Music and lyrics are a perfect combination that simultaneously engage the heart and mind, a potent elixir when concocted properly. It can uplift, depress, brainwash or teach. My mission as a bandleader, producer and writer is to pick up the listeners, take them on a fantastic ride through light, dark, love, fear, curiosity and adventure, and to make sure that I always drop them off at least one notch higher than where I picked them up.

What’s the difference between playing for children and for the general audience?

I think people care about music and art the most when their lives are in transformative stages. Music is like lifeblood then! Well, when adults have kids, they are in a sense reborn themselves, and open their minds and hearts to grow along with their child. It’s a magical, wondrous time, full of change and new experiences for everyone involved. I create music with that in mind, stories and anthems that relate to seeing the world brand new, floating through the tremendous beauty and intensity that life holds when you actually pay attention to it.

Did you ever face any criticism for your work?

Sure, but mostly only before people hear it. Family musicians are often expected to create sugary, simple, dumbed down songs. Once people actually listen to what I do, the criticism tends to stop.

Have you ever listened to Bollywood music?

I have a few Bollywood records. I loved Om Shanti Om, and I really dig Bombay the Hard Way. I love the hybrid aspect of disco, funk, and cinema soundtrack with the rhythms, melodies, time signatures and instruments of India. There’s a deep, vibrant spirit to it, and I especially love the older stuff. I really like it when recordings are a bit Lo Fi and grimy.

Have you ever been to India earlier?

I have never been to India. I'm really excited to check out Indian culture. It’s a dream come true for me. It didn’t hit me that it was real until we’d gotten our vaccination shots and gone through the brain twisting process of acquiring travel visas. The purple tuxedo is dry cleaned, the stage moves are tight, and we’re ready with a new live version of our biggest hit, Imaginary Friend, in which I have to rap in two different voices (both mine and my imaginary friend’s).

What is in store for your fans?

We are flying halfway around the planet to deliver a bass bumping, ground shaking, mind expanding, grin inducing dance party for the tall, the small, and all of yall! We will tell stories of Dragons and Boogie Man, introduce an Imaginary Friend, get everyone there moving, yelling smiling and getting down till the very end. And we promise to drop you off at least one notch higher than where we picked you up!

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