Graham Reid | | 3 min read
Over here at Elsewhere we don't have little ones but that doesn't stop us enjoying children's books and sometimes even music aimed at the wee folk.
Our favourite local artist making music for kids – which adults don't have to endure but can actually enjoy – is Wellingtonian Robin Nathan, producer of Fatcat and Fishface albums as well as fleabiteBITE.
The lyrics are witty and the music contemporary sounding, so it was no surprise to us when we did a giveaway of fleaBITE's The Jungle is Jumping just before Christmas the response was massive. Right up there with our Bob Dylan giveaways.
Right now there is a lovely hardback book of The Wreck of the Diddley by Fatcat and Fishface with illustrations by Stephen Templer, and it comes with a DVD which has an animated version of the song.
The Wreck of the Diddley is a very dark story about a shipwreck but the Captain and his parrot disagree on every detail of it, even as they tell it from beyond their watery grave.
Doesn't sound like a children's story? Don't you believe it: kids like the dark stuff.
Remember, every Nick Cave fan was a kid once.
You can find out more about Fatcat and Fishface and fleaBITE at the website here.
So because we like Fatcat and Fishface, and fleaBITE and this book we thought it timely to flick our Famous Songwriter Questionnaire to Robin Nathan.
The first song which really affected you was . . .
Danny Kaye’s ‘The Little Fiddle’.
Somewhere between story and song.
Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .
My extended family singing songs for the Jewish festival of Passover. All gathered at long tables, with the same song being sung at different speeds, tempos and keys…all at the same time.
The one songwriter you will always listen to, even if they disappointed you previously, is?
Nina Simone, Ruban Neilson
As songwriters: Lennon-McCartney or Jagger-Richards; kd lang or Katy Perry; Madonna or Michael Jackson; Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson?
Is this a trick question? Has anybody ever answered Jagger-Richards, Katy Perry, Madonna and Kris Kristofferson?
Melody first? Words or phrase first? Simultaneous?
Sometimes a musical hook, sometimes a phrase or a nonsensical notion… you just have to run with it and not think too much.
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
I recently flicked through a book about Patti Smith.
If you could co-write with anyone it would be . . .
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .).
I’m fairly eclectic in my musical tastes. My last $10 specials (World Music Store Day) were Nigel Kennedy playing with the Kroke band from Poland (East Meets West). And a compilation of NZ musicians remixing Te Ku Te Whe by Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns.
One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you would be . . .
Cecilia by Paul Simon…great rhythm track.
One line (or couplet) from a song -- yours or someone else's -- which you think is just a stone cold winner is . . .
From Fiddler on the Roof:
“Our great men have written words of wisdom
To be used when hardship must be faced.
Life obliges us to hardship
So the words of wisdom shouldn’t go to waste.”
Songwriting: what's the ratio of inspiration/perspiration?
I find the ideas and writing stage comes relatively quickly.
It’s the arranging, re-working and producing that takes all the time and eye strain.
Ever had a song come to you fully-formed like it dropped into your lap?
Writing as fleaBITE, ‘Don’t Sit Under the Poo Tree’ comes to mind…profound I know. And a nice little melancholic lullaby. ‘Time Goes By’ flowed onto my table napkin as a response to the Pike River mine disaster.
And finally, finish this couplet in any way you like: “Standing at the airport with an empty suitcase at my feet . . .” (You are NOT allowed to rhyme that with “meet” however)
"Oh officer, I’m innocent
Believe me, I’m discreet"