Caspar Babypants. Photo: Brian Kasnyik
I have a confession: I did not know who Caspar Babypants was until I started working at ParentMap.
In my defense, I don't have a child under the age of 10 and haven't lived in Seattle my whole life. How was I supposed to know that one of the giants in children's music lived among us?
I'm not kidding: Caspar Babypants is legend, particularly among a certain set of knee-high fans. Real name Chris Ballew, Babypants has serious music cred. He's the singer of alt rock band The Presidents of the United States of America.
What that means for parents is kindie rock music they can actually stand.
So, Caspar fans, rejoice! Babypants' newest album debuts August 17. "Keep It Real!" runs 20 songs long (my personal favorite: "Disco Hippo"). It offers what we've always loved about Babypants: silly lyrics, catchy melodies, old-fashioned, uncomplicated fun.
Just a few days before "Keep It Real!" catch Babypants at the free Sub Pop 30th Anniversary party hosted at Alki Beach in West Seattle. He'll be playing 1 to 1:45 p.m. and followed by fellow popular kindie act The Not-Its at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 11.
He'll also be playing a free 30-minute live show at local radio station KEXP at Seattle Center on the album's release day, Friday, August 17. The show starts at 9:30 a.m. though fans are encouraged to arrive early to grab a spot.
ParentMap spoke with Babypants about the upcoming shows, new album and what he wishes people knew about his work.
This is your 15th album! What keeps you motivated to do the work you're doing?
I am driven by an impulse to help relieve stress for families through music that parents and the kids can enjoy together.
I also have a desire to get this volcano of songs that is erupting out of me out into the world while the iron is HOT!
The goal is to have a huge library of music that fans can choose from so they don't have to burn out on my music while still using it on a daily basis as a parenting helper and stress reliever for the whole family.
Is there a difference between good music and good music for kids? If so, what's the difference and how does it influence your work as Caspar Babypants?
I don't think there is! I am really writing songs that I love and they just happen to be songs for families.
A good song paints a picture and engages the listener with both the melodies and the lyrics in a way that gives them the gift of being able to enjoy the song in their heads later on their own. I call it the "generosity factor" in songwriting.
So I call "good" music good when it serves the listener a heaping helping of hooks and story. The same goes for children's music and adult music.
What's a question no one ever asks you about being Caspar Babypants that you wish they asked?
I like to talk about how music that brings family together in the same room to sing, dance and relieve stress for tired overworked parents can help save the world!
Strong bonds between a parent and a child really do matter when that child grows up and goes out in the world to forge their own relationships.
I am proud to be a musical piece of that connection puzzle that keeps parents and kids humming the same tune. I don't get asked about those bigger ideas enough!