Many of you probably grew up with "Blue's Clues." Or maybe your kids did. Or your brothers, sisters, colleagues. SOMEONE you know and love grew up with Steve on their television sets. (Steve has always reminded me of Archer and through the years, people have expressed the same sentiment, so I feel this strange love-of-my-child pull to him. Is that weird? Maybe so, but there you go.)
Many of you ALSO probably grew up listening to the Flaming Lips. If you're like me, you're STILL growing up listening to the Flaming Lips because they're the best. And now, because we CAN ACTUALLY HAVE NICE THINGS, Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips and Steven Burns of "Blue's Clues" have pooled their collective genius to bring you and me and everyone, "Foreverywhere," a "psychedelic kids' album" that's very much for everyone. Everywhere.
It was my pleasure to sit down (virtually) with Steve Burns to talk a little bit about the record, music, kids and music for kids.
Rebecca Woolf: Steve! Congrats on your soon-to-be released "psychedelic kids album," "Foreverywhere"! And speaking of "psychedelic kids' albums," can you explain what it means to be a "psychedelic kids' album"?
Steve Burns: We sort of didn't know how to classify it. I guess, because we weren't really looking at as "kids' music" or "adult music" as we were writing it. I usually just call it "everybody music."
Rebecca: I just listened to "Unicorn and Princess Rainbow" and it blew my mind. What inspired this song specifically? And what can we expect from the rest of the album?
Steve: I'm glad! That's the first in a trilogy of songs about a unicorn that falls in love with a cosmic rainbow princess with incredible guitar chops. He joins her band but eventually loses her and spends the next two songs searching everywhere for the rest of forever to find her. We were thinking Ziggy Stardust, Rocky, Puff the Magic Dragon, "The Point!" Those sorts of things. We wanted to write something with a sense of quest, yearning, determination. When I was kid, I remember I really responded to music that had that sort of complicated stuff in it. I loved the entire "Rocky" soundtrack, for example.
Rebecca: Let's talk about "Blue's Clues" for a second. What has life been like for you post-"Blue's Clues"? What is it like to watch your audience grow up and how has your background as a beloved host of a kids' series influenced your work today?
Steve: It's been very quiet and normal. There are some obvious differences. I no longer leap into the air when the mail arrives, for example. Over time, I've cultivated a much more adult relationship with my condiments. I haven't had a good skidoo in years, but overall, it's been great.
Looking back, some things are pretty difficult to process. The kids who used to watch me on the show in 1996 are now adults with jobs and cars and podcasts. Many of them have children of their own who watch "Blue's Clues." It's surreal, mind-blowing and wonderful. I feel grateful. Also, old. Also, bald.
Rebecca: What makes "Foreverywhere" different from other kids' albums? And who would you say your target audience is for this record?
Steve: Well, I think Steven and I took our best shot at not defining an age group for the record. We tried to make it for everyone.
Rebecca: You've been collaborating with Steven Drozd (of the Flaming Lips) since the early Aughts. How did you two meet and how is "Foreverywhere" different from your earlier work together?
Steve: I met Steven while working on some of my own music with Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann. Steven was at the studio beginning work on "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots" at the same time. We met and became instant friends. It was dream come true for me because I was such a huge fan of their 1999 album "The Soft Bulletin." He ended up playing on my songs, which of course made them a gazillion times better.
Years later we collaborated on a song for "Jack's Big Music Show" about a groundhog. We had so much fun with that. We just kind of decided then and there that we should just do a whole record.
Rebecca: What are your top five favorite albums of all time?
Rebecca: What makes recording a kids' album different from recording an album specifically for adults?
Steve: I don't think what makes music great for children is all that different than what makes music great for adults. I defy you to find a kid that doesn't love "The Immigrant Song" by Zeppelin, or an adult who doesn't love "Christmas Time Is Here." Is that kids' music or adult music? I don't know! We are interested in the music that is maybe either but decidedly both.
Rebecca: What story are you telling with "Foreverywhere"?
Steve: Well there's the unicorn who searches everywhere forever to find his love, as I mentioned before. And many of the songs tie into one another thematically. But I wouldn't say it's a full on concept story album like "The Wall" or "Tommy." Although, that would be so fun. So so fun.
Rebecca: How would your 7-year-old self review "Foreverywhere"?
Steve: "OK, hi, I am Steve. 'ET' was a scary movie. I like Michael Jackson but I like Hulk Hogan more. But he's not as good as Rowdy Roddy Piper."
[Picking up CD] "Is this a record? It is tiny and silver. It looks cool. This is a song. Cool. It's weird. It's making me feel all sorts of things. Did it cost money? I have a limited concept of money.
"I like the song, I like how the unicorn never gives up like Rocky never gives up. It doesn't sound like boring music. When I grow up, I want to be in a band and make music like this. I bet if I were also 10, I would like it as much as if I were 3 and that my dad would like it too, maybe. But Darth Vader is Luke's father. 'The Empire Strikes Back' is a really great movie. I kind of thought that anyway about him being Luke's father but he shouldn't have cut off his hand.