Interview With Kids' Musician Laurie Berkner

Interview With Kids' Musician Laurie Berkner

Laurie Berkner has been a beloved fixture in the world of children's music for over 20 years. Hits such as, "We Are the Dinosaurs" and "Victor Vito" are a delight to kids and parents alike. As a mom of two, I can honestly say that Laurie is one of the few artists whose music I can listen to with my kids over and over and over again.

I talked to the musician about her first new album in 8 years, Superhero, what it means to her to create new music, and her new Kickstarter campaign in which she hopes to raise enough money to be able to perform five shows for kids at hospitals and special needs schools across the country. It's a worthy cause that will help put a smile on many kids' faces. Please consider donating to the Be A Superhero campaign to help spread some joy and some music.

Check out the interview below:

Tell us about your new album. It’s called Superhero, and I didn’t actually start thinking that would be the name of it, that was just a song that came to me when I sat down to write all the songs for the album, which I did earlier this year. I sat down thinking, "I’ve just got to write a bunch of new songs, I don’t want to think about a theme." So when I wrote them, this song really felt like an opening song and it also felt like it was kind of representing something that came through in a bunch of the songs on the album, which was just about really encouraging kids and whomever was listening to be the best person they can be. So I was excited about that idea and that’s what the album has turned into, there’s a lot of different things on the album, lots of playful things, but that’s the underlying feeling of it for me, just being your best self.

Is Superhero a similar sound to past albums? Every album I make I feel a little bit prouder of the production and musician quality, and it takes a while to find out if people will like the songs or not because I have to wait until they hear the music and let me know. I’m hoping people will like these as much as they seem to like some of my earlier stuff. But so far, from the videos we’ve put out and the people who have listened we’ve gotten some really good feedback. So I would say it’s hopefully what I’ve always done, just a notch better in some ways.

What does it mean to you to create new music? It feels important to create new music just because I want to be able to keep bringing new music to people. It feels good as an artist and it’s for my own development and my own experience as somebody who plays songs for kids all the time, it’s fun to try new things and it’s also very scary because I don’t know if they’re going to like them or not. And then when they do like them, it’s one of the most thrilling feelings ever. To me, making a good album is when kids like it, and it’s really nice when reviewers say “Oh, I love this sound,” but honestly at the deepest level, they’re not who I’m making this music for. So I want them to like it, and I love it when they like it, but what I’m just dying to hear about is if the kids like it. There’s so much to write about and so much to express it’s just one of those things that I think there’s really no end to, luckily, that fountain of creativity.

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Do you plan on touring with this album? I’ve already started playing some of the songs at my shows and I probably won’t do a Superhero tour in the immediate future because honestly, you would never want to come to one of my shows with your four year old who’s been listening to one of my greatest hits albums, or even to just some of the back catalog and have me play all Superhero songs. So I know I have to play all the old songs but I’m gonna start sprinkling these in, and I just hope they’ll become like those classics soon enough that it won’t feel like I'm doing something new.”

Do you have a favorite song that you like to perform? It’s hard, because there are so many, for different reasons. I feel like often what comes to mind is “My Family” because there’s just something moving to see when I see parents reaching out to hug their kids and vice-versa, during the song. And actually my dad passed away about 6 years ago and I remember I sang it to him in the hospital before he died and it was really one of my songs that I felt really bridged the gap between the kids music and the adult music for my own life, so I like playing that one because it feels good.

Do you keep parents in mind when you’re creating your music? Of course! And I didn’t mean to imply that when I said that it’s really for the kids, it’s more that I care the most that it’s for the kids. The thing is, I feel like when I started, my whole goal was to write songs for kids but I thought they would really like that I didn’t mind singing hundreds and hundreds of times, and that was what drove me. And if you see the kids enjoying it, it makes it that much easier. So I’m definitely thinking about that. And as a musician, it feels really good when people actually respect me, whether or not I do kids music, because for a long time doing kids music was synonymous with not being good enough to do anything else. And I feel like I’m trying pretty hard to prove that that’s not true.

Do you have a favorite song off the new album? One that I love and have been playing a lot and we’re actually working on the video right now, is “Bubbles." There’s just something about the way that song came out and the beat of it that I love. It was one of the first songs I wrote for the album and the verses are kind of in a minor key and I realized I had this sense of how taking a bath is a really, sort of vulnerable moment when you’re taking your clothes off and you’re totally naked and you’re stepping into a whole other temperature zone and you’re gonna be surrounded by water and then you get in and it’s like, “This feels so good why didn’t I get in before!” And then it’s so fun if there are bubbles so then I realized I felt like I really wanted to convey that message with the song and the verses a little more minor and little more tentative and then just the explosion of joy in the choruses. And when I listen to it, I don’t know if anyone else will hear this, but I hear it and it makes me really happy. So that’s why I like that one.

Watch some of the interview:

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