Monday
Nov012010

October 24, 2010

By Amber Bobnar

Gustafer’s New Adventure

We caught the Gustafer Yellowgold show at Club Passim this weekend and were excited to see Morgan Taylor debut two songs from the upcoming new Gustafer CD/DVD set to be released in February.

So, you want to hear the news? In the next DVD, titled Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock, Gustafer goes in search for the end of the universe’s longest sock. This is going to be the first Gustfer DVD that tells a complete story with a definite beginning, middle, and end.

As Gustafer follows the infinity sock I’m sure he’ll find himself in interesting places—like with his head stuck in a beehive! One of the new songs is called Beehive and it brings back the mint bee and his band. Gustafer gets to see the mint bee put on a rock show for all the other bees, complete with pyrotechnics and a fan riot. Looks like Gustafer makes it out without getting stung, though!

And if we’re talking about socks, then we must be talking about Slim, Gustafer’s pet eel. He does “sleep in a tube sock,” after all. Another new song is about Slim, called Slim gets in ‘em, and his love for all things socks. It was a really fast-paced pop song that was great for dancing (Ivan was so excited about this song). Slim’s one of my favorite characters so I love that he’s getting a new song… but what about Forest’s pet cat? I think he needs his own song, too!

The show was magnificent, as always. Morgan is hilarious and everyone loves hearing silly stories about Gustafer’s life. We didn’t get any videos of the new songs (we don’t want to spoil the surprise), but here’s a fun video of Pinecone Lovely, my absolute favorite ode to conifers:

 

1 Comment:

We were there too! As much as I already loved Morgan’s work, the two new songs blew me away. Often, when you go to shows and hear new material, it’s nice to hear but doesn’t have a chance to make a proper impression. I’m not sure if it was because of the video accompaniment or not, but these really did. My almost-six year old was even talking aboutSlim gets in ‘em as we left. Personally, I think Beehive is tremendous. The video is just awesome. And the songs are even richer—fuzzy guitar solos, fuller drums… great stuff.

The show was simply incredible. I personally wish the set was about three times as long, but it was a good length for kiddos.

Monday
Oct182010

October 9, 2010

By Amber Bobnar

 

Maybe this will sound silly to you, but when I recently sat down to list my fifteen favorite albums of all time (for one of those FaceBook note surveys), a children’s album made the number one slot.

Then again, if you’re a Gustafer Yellowgold fan you’ll understand exactly what I was thinking. How could I possibly live without songs like Sunpod, Quite Easily Lost, or (perhaps my favorite) Sugar Boat—all from Gustafer’s 2009 release Mellow Fever.

Gustafer’s creator, Morgan Taylor, has developed a perfect combination of surreal fantasy, quirky characters, and melodic songs—all presented in both song and animation on the accompanying DVD and at his live shows. Morgan’s music isn’t meant for kids or adults, but for everyone, so don’t worry if you find yourself listening to your kids’ Gustafer CD when they’re at school. You’re not alone!

Gustafer’s Top of the Sock tour will be rolling into Massachusetts this month with a show at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst on October 23rd and at Club Passim in Harvard Square on October 24th. I guarantee you will see my family at the Club Passim show.

Tuesday
Oct122010

Interview with Gustafer Yellowgold Creator Morgan Taylor

March 20, 2010

By Amber Bobnar


A couple of weekends ago I had the awesome opportunity to talk to Morgan Taylor, creator of the animated music project know as Gustafer Yellowgold.

If you haven’t heard any Gustafer songs or seen any of the videos, you’re really cheating yourself. Stop right now and visit Gustafer’s website where you can watch videos from the new DVD.

Are we all caught up now? Good.

As you know, Gustafer Yellowgold is an explorer from the sun who came to earth to find out what life was like on our cooler world. He lives in the woods in Minnesota with his friends, Forrest Applecrumbie the pterodactyl and Slimothy the eel, just to name a few. He observes, he learns, and he interacts with nature. Not a bad life!

There are so many aspects to the Gustafer experience. The songs themselves are phenomenal, but when you pair them with the slow-moving animation you reach a whole new level of art and music.

Translating this to the stage is yet another adventure as you watch the musicians create the songs alongside the images being displayed on the screen. It’s a very multi-sensory experience and it appeals to both kids and adults (and ages in between). Really very cool.

Gustafer songs are mellow in the best meaning of the word. You can relax to them, but also dance. You can find yourself both excited and at ease at the same time. I’m sure this is partly due to the french horn that finds it’s way into many of the songs. My son, Ivan, actually enjoys listening to Gustafer Yellowgold at meal times. When I told Morgan this he laughed and asked, “Does he ever punch cheese or jump on cake?” No. But I bet he’d take a bite out of a pinecone if given the chance!

I started the interview by asking how Gustafer came into being…

Boston Children’s Music: Did you always intend Gustafer to be something for kids?

Morgan Taylor: When I wrote the music that started it all, I wasn’t thinking of kids. I had a rock band and I wrote songs. But then I moved to New York and I had a sort of creative awakening. I had always written songs, but suddenly I felt really inspired, like I was lifting the barriers of any kind of creative block. I felt like I got into a groove and really found my voice.

I was still writing songs for the band, but I was also writing fun songs for myself. They weren’t for anything but for the enjoyment of creating and oddly enough those are the ones that ended up as Gustafer music.

BCM: When did you start combining that with the animation?

Morgan: Around fall 2003 I started drawing these pictures. The band I was in had broken up and I wanted to do something else and my wife, Rachel, suggested I work on the kids’ book I had been thinking of creating.

So I go into it thinking “this is going to be a kids book” and I take the lyrics from some of these silly songs I had written and start illustrating them. Most of them are sung in first person, but I knew it wasn’t me saying these things, so I thought “I’ll use that pointy headed yellow guy I used to doodle back eight years ago as the main character.”

Once I saw him on the paper his world started forming and I began to figure out his story. So I was looking through my songs to see which would work for this project and one of the songs was I’m From the Sun. And I thought, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I just happened to write this.” So I used that song and it became the nucleus for the whole thing.

The other cast members or characters are also from fun songs I had written earlier. So it blossomed from there and all of a sudden we’re thinking, “How can we do this live? How can we sing and have the images at the same time and have it in sync?” It took a few months of doing shows to figure out the technical aspects. People started getting really interested in it right away.

BCM: Were you surprised by the response?

Morgan: Yeah, it was crazy. It was really a lesson for me because it turns out that the music I’m finally having success with—well in my terms having success—is the music that is the most me. It’s the music I’m creating just to create.

BCM: So do you feel now that you’re writing for kids, for families, or more for yourself?

Morgan: Now that we’ve established it and have three DVDs out and now that I see what it is and see people’s reactions and know what people like about it and I’m writing on purpose for it now—yeah, now I know I’m writing for kids.

But I’ve also been able to set my own standard so it’s actually quite easy to both write for an audience and for myself because it’s my own standard.

BCM: And it appeals to so many people. Even my super-cool twenty-three-year-old hipster brother loves Gustafer.

Morgan: The humor in it is weird enough that people that age can get it. It works on many levels. Gustafer looks like a preschool character, the music is easily accessible because it’s basically just pop (I want to write catchy melodies, that’s what I’ve always wanted to do anyway), but the humor is my sense of humor and leaning toward the absurd.

Of course, I don’t want to make it so weird that it’s inaccessible—I want everyone to enjoy it—but I want it to be full of a bunch of inside jokes, too.

BCM: It’s complicated enough.

Morgan: There’s depth to it and also some subject matter that I’m finding out is not normal for kids’ music.

BCM: For example, in Sunpod Gustafer says he’s in “pursuit of poetry.” That’s a great line. Is that why he came to earth? Why did Gustafer get in that space ship?

Morgan: Well, the sun is a great place—it’s exciting and different—and he had an established life there, but he always wondered what earth was like and he just had to find out. He had to know what it was like to touch snow, to feel the greenery, to experience cooler climates. He just had to know. So his brother built him the Sun Pod and Gustafer just went for it.

BCM: Was he expecting to go back? To get back home to the sun?

Morgan: I don’t think he knows. He’s just going. In a way his life is a bit of accidental tourism. He’s often a passive observer, taking things in, but always having fun with it.

BCM: You have plans for a new Gustafer CD/DVD. Can you tell me about it?

Morgan: Yeah, we’re recording now. The music is mostly finished. I’m just starting the process of the animation. The drawing actually takes a lot longer than the recording. It’ll take me probably until the fall to finish the drawings.

BCM: Are you introducing any new characters?

Morgan: Yes, there are some new peripheral characters. There’s new adventures. This is going to be the first DVD that is plot-driven, that tells a full story. So something happens in the beginning and Gustafer has to figure out what’s up and it’s solved by the end. It’s very silly but also possibly spiritual in places.

BCM: So wait… If you’re going to finish the drawings in the fall, it won’t be out until next year?

Morgan: Yeah, we’re aiming for next January.

BCM: That’s a long time!

Morgan: It’s a long time for me, too. It just takes so long to draw. If I were just recording the music, I could put out an album every six months. But it’s the art that makes it special, and that takes time. Also, we spent all of last year touring so I didn’t have the time to work on anything new.

BCM: How many shows do you think you do in a year?

Morgan: At least a hundred shows a year. We did our 400th show recently in Philadelphia. So we’re up to about 435 now.

BCM: One last question. I was checking out the Gustafer website. It’s very cool! Did you put that together yourself?

Morgan: I drew everything by hand and we knew how we wanted things to function.

BCM: It’s very interactive. It’s almost like a video game as you walk through and explore Gustafer’s house.

Morgan: Basically I wanted it to be like looking through someone else’s medicine cabinet. You get to look through this guy’s stuff and you can click on something and then realize, oh, that’s the radio, and it plays music. And there are little hidden videos all over the place.

There are multiple ways to get to certain things, so if you don’t want to hunt and peck you can go straight to the link that says “videos.”

We just wanted something that would be fun and it’s not super animated, like the rest of Gustafer’s world.

BCM: It’s like you’re walking into his house, but he’s not there, so it’s OK to poke around.

Morgan: Oh, but he is there! He’s just always in the other room.

Tuesday
Oct122010

Favorite Kids’ Albums of 2010

January 15, 2010

By Amber Bobnar

 

How do you describe Gustafer Yellowgold? Gustafer is a creature from the sun who’s come to earth on an adventure. He has wacky friends (like an eel and a pterodactyl) and he likes to eat pine cones. Somehow this all makes sense in Gustafer’s world, believe me.

Mellow Fever is the third in an amazing series of CD/DVD releases that combine music and animation. You don’t listen to or watch these CDs and DVDs, you experience them. The songs can be catchy, soothing, or just beautiful (I love An Erring Ant), but all of them capture your senses and really take you on an adventure with the characters. Kids love the wackiness, parents appreciate the artistry, and even my super-hip twenty-three-year-old brother finds Gustafer cool enough to listen to. Talk about something for everyone!

Thursday
Jul222010

Gustafer Yellowgold is Coming to New England!

January 4, 2010

By Amber Bobnar

 

We first discovered Gustafer Yellowgold this past year with the release of the newest CD/DVD set titled Mellow Fever.

And this led us to order the other two CD/DVD sets, Gustafer Yellowgold’s Wide Wild World and Gustafer Yellowgold’s Have You Never Been Yellow?.

The songs and DVDs are difficult to describe. The project was created by illustrator/songwriter/musician Morgan Taylor, who developed the Gustafer Yellowgold experience as equal parts pop rock concert and minimally animated movie. The live shows are supposed to be fantastic events combining music and theatre.

Check out some videos; Panther Stamps Pants is one of my favorites.

After listening to the CDs over and over with my son, I’m very excited to announce that Gustafer Yellowgold’s Show will be coming to New England this spring!