“It’s Great to be a Kid” - Interview with Fred Mollin

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Mr. Henry and Mr. Fite had the pleasure of sitting down to chat with Fred Mollin. Fred Mollin is an American and Canadian record producer, musician, film and TV composer, music director, music supervisor, and songwriter. He has produced records for many famous singers, and has composed music for movies and television for more than forty years.

As an artist, he has written and produced music for a series of children's albums, including Disney: Lullaby Album: Instrumental Favorites For Baby, peaking at #6 on January 26, 2001, on Billboard's Kid Album music chart; and Disney's Princess Lullaby Album, which peaked at No. 23 on October 25, 2002 (Billboard). He created the musical group Fred Mollin and the Blue Sea Band, composing and producing albums such as Finding Nemo-Ocean Favorites, Lightning McQueen's Fast Tracks, and others, primarily released on Disney/Pixar albums.

Here's a short video about the new CD! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFcErmrkUOk

Check out his new record label Melody Place Music here: www.melodyplacemusic.com

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Let the music begin in 3, 2, 1... Learning music, having fun. That’s what we’re gonna do. Mr. Henry, Mr. Fite, exploring along with you. Learning music, having fun. That’s what we’re gonna do. Mr. Henry, Mr. Fite love hanging out with you. The Music Podcast for Kids!

Hello and welcome to The Music Podcast for Kids we're your hosts Mr. Henry and Mr. Fite - Music educators extraordinaire! The Music Podcast for Kids is a fun and educational podcast where we learn and explore the best subject ever - music!

Legendary record producer film and TV composer musician musical director and songwriter and now record label president of Melody Place BMG, Fred Mollin is Walt Disney records most successful lullaby album artist. He has produced and written best selling children's music since 1998 and has sold over 3 million children’s CDs. He has worked on over 30 Disney album projects including Disney's best selling lullaby albums and album projects for Finding Nemo Lilo & Stitch cars and many more. We had the pleasure to talk with Fred about his first solo children's album called It's Great to be a Kid. So let's get to the interview with Fred Mullen.

We have a very special guest with us today on the music podcast for kids. Legendary record producer and composer Fred Mollin thanks for being on the show. I'm delighted to be on the show. So since we are a music podcast for kids we always like to ask our special guests how they got started with music so did you play music as a kid may be in school take private lessons? What kind of journey did you have when you were growing up with music? Apparently I didn't have much of a choice because as a young child I was quite musical and generally was found in the backyard playing drums on garbage cans. So I think my parents knew I was probably trouble. And so all my life literally as a young child till now I've been a musician. And did you take private lessons? Like did your parents eventually go okay we need to get Fred some lessons or how did that how that work out? Well I grew up middle-class in Long Island New York. My parents were not what we call... My parents were civilians because people in show business are not civilians. And I just had such a tremendous love for music and wanted to make music but it was really it was mostly self-taught. That's amazing. And so for many years you were writing music for Walt Disney records producing lullaby albums based on the movies that were coming out from Disney at the time. Can you tell us more about these albums? Yeah I mean I had a very deep life in music and then from really from 72 when I was a kid still 1998 I had done record production of many records and then I became a TV and film composer from 85 till till about 2001. But then in 1998 a few years before I stopped writing TV and film I got a call from one of my favorite people Jay Landrews who was very much sort of my patron of the Arts on many levels cuz he always would give me opportunities to produce except for during his life as an A&R person. And he had moved to Disney records and he said I have a great idea and asked to do an instrumental lullaby album. This was 1998 to do an instrumental lullaby album of Disney songs and other songs, do them very calmly with piano and strings or guitar and strings. And I thought it was a wonderful idea and I did that album which was called Disney's lullaby album. And it wound up doing really well. And I wound up doing seven others. And one thing we’re always fascinated with is the writing process of each composer. So Eric Whitacre he's someone we talked to he’s a choral and instrumental composer and he'll have like a musical idea then create a map. Like actually hand write it out to take the audience on a journey and you know so that that was his process? So what type of process do you have and maybe that process even changes from song to song? Well if we’re talking about the lullaby albums in particular ‘cause I've done so much different kinds of work. But the lullaby albums I would work with another person. Generally a piano player who is even better than me. And we would just talk about the ideas of the arrangement I would sort of sit with him at the piano and say I hear this or that I hear this and then he wouldn't embellish it. And then my dear pal my best friend in life Matt McCauley would write the strings for it. And it was a very organic process. I don't know because I came from a world of teaching yourself. I didn't come from an academic musical life. A lot of what I do is very much based on my musical instincts but not based on writing things out and handing them to people. right yeah that's interesting cool. So and now you're the president of a record label called Melody Place BMG and there's a new album coming out called It's Great to be a Kid. Can you tell us first what inspired the writing of this album? Well first of all thank you I started the label 2 years ago with my partner Lee Shockey and um you know I've always wanted to run a record label. But it's a small passionate boutique record label. And one of the projects that we did is very near and dear to my heart in total. I've probably done about thirty kids' albums for Disney records since 1998 till about a couple years ago. So I know kids music really well. When the pandemic hit I was here in Nashville and I was very much alone. And I was missing my two grandchildren who were one and three living in Toronto. And I decided to use some of my time that I was sequestered during and I decided to write some songs about the great things in life that they would get to experience. And I would go down to my studio every day and in this time I think it was approximately April or May. And there's not a lot of hope going on because of the pandemic. But I went down to the studio every day you know walk downstairs and went into my home studio and I'd write a new song each day that talked about things that I thought they would love to be able to experience especially once the pandemic was over. And so things like you know the love of animals, the weather, the taste of food having your parents or caretakers put you to sleep at night. So I just wrote about twelve songs. And you know it was the first time ever that I've done it where it wasn't for hire where it wasn’t like Disney records was calling me saying can you write this. So I sort of became my own record label. And I didn't tell my partner who was more the business partner in the company. But I went and I spent my own money and recorded it with my great friends and musicians. And then I sent it to my partner and I said what do you think? And she goes we got to put this out. And so originally it was really done for my grandchildren. But now I hope it's for everyone. That's awesome. So the CD arrived at my house. Thank you for sending that. And my first impression when I opened it up was man I really love this CD cover. So to describe it I have it in my hand now the audience can’t see it but it's it's written it's written in crayon and it's just it's just it's a very simple but super cool. I just don't know why I just when I saw it I was like I thought I just love this cover. It just felt good. So my kids they’re three and five and we actually spent our time in the basement just playing. They like to play mean guy where I'm the mean guy you know. And we were listening to the CD to listen to the whole CD and just had a lot of fun and what I really loved about it was the diversity. So there was a lot of and not just in the content but also the sound of each song. Very catchy and very educational. And that the first song Play Time has a really fun groove. I really liked the groove. I mean it just I think it just really sucks you right into it. So I was just curious what inspired the song Play Time? Well as I said I would go down to my studio every morning early in the morning and that would just let my imagination you know go a little bit. And one of those days I just hit my little sequencer and computer and I got sort of an up tempo groove on the drums. I started to play Play Time. so there's not much to really analyze here. I wanted to write songs about different experiences children would have in their young years. And one of the great experiences you have as a young child is to learn how to play. So there's not much more to it except you know I think I was inspired a little bit by the Paul Simon song Me and Julio by the Schoolyard which has that sort of you know vibe rhythmically. Yeah. And so when I wrote it I said it must have been inspired a little bit by that and then when I cut it with my musicians in Nashville I really you know was able to say to them have want this sort of vibe here on the drums, I want this on the you know and it just became a little bit of a of a slightly up-tempo very uptempo. But a slight homage in a way to the Paul Simon song. And speaking of musicians, there is a variety of artists that you have on the CD. Musically that just brings a great amount of diversity so can you tell us more? I saw the EPK on YouTube where you give little introduction to some of the songs that was really fascinating to see the overlay of the folks in the studio and then hearing the audio it was really fascinating. So can you tell us more about some of the artists you work with and maybe how the collaboration process can bring life to the music in the studio? Well if you know I'm very used to bringing a lot of great musicians on the floor of the studio that's what I do. And except for the 17 years I scored TV and film from about 85 till about 2000-2001 where it was really done very much on my own. My favorite thing to do in the best thing I do is to work with live musicians in the studio on the studio floor. And in Nashville we have the greatest musicians in the world and the greatest singers and the greatest studios. So it’s effortless to make records. But on this project I picked a certain bunch of guys that I just love working with and we went in one day and we cut 12 songs in one day. And it was just you know again you have to remember that this is what I do well. And I think I stink at most things but I think I'm good at making records with live musicians. And so I have wonderful musicians to work with. The collaboration is effortless. And then what I decided to do on this record was to cast vocals so that I knew I wanted to do maybe four or five songs by myself. But I had other people in mind do other songs. I didn't want to sing every song myself. so I called in Tania Hancheroff. And I called Troy Johnson both top Nashville background singers and demos singers. They're fantastic. And I love their voices and their variety of sounds. And then also um I brought in Caryn Richman from L.A. who is an actress and a voice actor. And I thought she'd be fun to have on some of those songs as well. So we just spread the wealth a little bit and it was just done again like you said create different colors, you know. Yeah yeah that's cool and I was talking about this earlier about how the content that you chose was really great too. And I was going to ask about you know what inspired these different pieces of content. But you kind of explained that it was something that you wanted your grandkids to experience you know especially post-pandemic here. But I did want to mention some of the things like you talk about the kitty cat and the weather and animals and ice cream and cleaning the house and in the Bedtime one. so you know it was just it's such a cool diverse bit of content as well. and I really saw this as something that kids could not only you know you would hope that they would experience it but even just learning about it you know learning about these things. And I saw it as something that little kids can listen to in an educational setting for sure. So was there something to that as well like when you are writing it, like almost like you wanted to educate kids as well through these songs? Well I don't know if I felt I wanted to educate although that's a lofty feeling. I would love to feel that way but I just wanted to write songs that celebrated all the things they could look forward to. And as a bonus on the CD are the interactive tracks where the kids can perform along with the music and with a little help from the singers. So thanks for that it's really as music teachers we were we really appreciate that cuz it's it's always good to have a in a great backing track in just a little bit a little bit of a nudge there for the kids to get moving so it's perfect for teachers out there who want to have the kids perform. Was there a did you what was the what was the goal with that was that to what was the goal to have it work out that way? I'm nothing but a veteran. I've done so many records over my lifetime and so much music it just seemed obvious to me for children's albums of which I told you for Disney I’ve probably done at least 30 that it will be great to have some sing alongs type songs or act along songs or join in songs. So I just decided I'd give three bonus tracks where the children you know the simpler songs you know the ones that we really had a sing-along vibe to them. So for instance on Kitty Cat very obvious that's the only song I had written before. I wrote that song in 1986 for my two-year-old son and it became a family favorite over the years. And I put that on the album. But I remember my son singing along so the Kitty goes meow the Kitty goes meow and he would do the sounds. So that’s what really gave me the idea. Why don't we do some you know alternative mixes where the children can join in and I wasn't thinking really about education as much as just you know that children tend to want to sing along or join in. Yeah that's awesome so yeah as we wrap up our time together what advice or bit of wisdom could you share with our listeners as they explore the world of music around them? In working for so long as a freelancer and then for two years running Disney records A&R I learned so much about children's music that I am well versed in it. So I think what's critical is to make music for children that the caregivers also enjoy. And I think it's really important that the music has a certain I wouldn't say sophistication but I would say that music has a certain elevation so that the children are able to enjoy the moments of listening and then maybe they join in. So there's not a lot of like I said there's not a lot of analyzing and you know intellectual thought that goes into my making of music for children except that I just want them to be able to enjoy the different colors that I provide. And because I've done so much of it this record was particularly a joy to do. And I wanted it to be something that the children could feel comforted by. It's great. Well Fred Mollin we want to thank you again for all of your great music especially in this new album It's Great to be a Kid. The album is available on March 12th 2021 and it's great for listening at home in the car or if you're a teacher it's even great for the classroom. So we will have a link to the website in the show notes and hope everyone listens, grab the copy to enjoy. So Fred thanks again for taking the time to chat with us on The Music Podcast for Kids today and we wish you all the best. Thank you so much for having me on.

Time to wrap it up folks! Thank you so much for tuning in to the Music Podcast for Kids. We hope you enjoyed the show, and most importantly, learned something cool today about music. Remember to send in your jokes or even a topic in music you would like us to discuss by visiting our website themusicpodcastforkids.com. If you are interested in awesome educational and fun songs for your kids to listen and sing along with, please visit brucefite.com. Music is available to download with iTunes, CD Baby, and Facebook streaming platforms like Spotify and Amazon Radio. Links will be found in the show notes. If you are interested in learning how to play the piano with a fun and engaging curriculum geared toward kids, please subscribe to Mr. Henry's YouTube channel called Mr. Henry's Music World. Links would be found in the show notes. Please visit iTunes to leave a review of the podcast and also share the podcast with friends, relatives, aliens, whoever! Again we thank you so much for tuning in!

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