Wild Rumpus is the kind of place we wish we'd had as children. Not just a bookstore for kids--an imaginative playspace for kids, stacked floor to ceiling with books. A place with a tiny door set into the main entrance with its own handle and deadbolt, perfectly sized for the five and under set.
And on this Monday morning the store is packed with parents and offspring alike to hear Haley Bonar perform her new album, Sing With Me, in its entirety--a children's album. Yes, an honest to God children's album, from the songwriter who even in her earliest recording maneuvers was marked by a maturity beyond her years.
After the quick show, which found a few dozen unruly toddlers moved to pitch-perfect sing along, Bonar spoke with Gimme Noise about her decision to make a children's album, her life in Portland, and her plans for her next release.
Bonar performing "Green Eyed Boy" live in the 89.3 studios.
What inspired you to write a children's album?
I'm the oldest of four, and I've been babysitting since I was nine. I've nannied for a lot of families around here, and I have a nany job in Portland. Music is the best way to get kids to calm down and listen. I'd start recording stuff and start playing them for the kids, and they really liked them. I'd been thinking about doing it for a long time and just never got around to it. And then I just decided to do it on the cheap.
So you recorded it in your basement?
How long did it take you to make, from concept to completion.
Well, I did this whole project in a month, pretty much. I just thought, "I'm gonna be in Minneapolis! Let's do a show!" and then I did the CD, and just got it in the mail on Saturday. I like flying by the seat of my pants.
Writers say that the hardest thing in the world to write is a children's book. Challenge?
I don't know. I got lucky. I hang out with kids a lot. I like kids better than grown ups a lot of the time. It's easy, because I'm such a kid. It's a matter of "can you go there in your head, and pretend you're a kid? Thinking of what you'd like to hear. We didn't listen to a whole lot of kid's music when we were growing up. There's a lot of counting and learning songs, but none of them really teach you about singing, and how to be positive about yourself. I always wanted to make that album.
Are you going to do any other shows in support of Sing With Me?
I'll probably do another real show next spring. It depends on how well this does, and if I want to do a full length.
What's next after this?
I have three fourths of my new record written, so I'm basically just waiting to finish writing it, and then I'll come back here and record it in the spring.
Are you liking your new life in Portland?
I am, but I'm sad. I miss Minneapolis. But it's good to move away and get perspective and sing in front of a different audience. It's really a different audience out there. They really like weird music. They like singer songwriters. Not that they don't here, but it's different. It's great to kick your own ass and do things you never thought you could do. Moving somewhere where you don't know anyone is hard to do.