Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011 A New Leaf for Monkeytail and Wellington

Happy 2011 to one and all!! Hope the New Year is already bringing you good tidings :o)

New Year means a new leaf for many people. A chance to reflect on the year that was, identify areas you'd like to improve on, instances you don't wish to repeat. 2010 was a big year of reflection for me and I'm grabbing 2011 by the horns as a chance to get my priorities back in order and get on with the stuff I love and let go of the things that are holding me back.

Monkeytail and Wellington has been going strong since it's inception and launch in 2008, but as any business owner will know it is a hard daily slog to turn your dreams and aspirations into a viable business. I'm extremely proud of the milestones that Monkeytail and Wellington achieved, the products we sourced, designers we collaborated with and the many wonderful customers I have met along the way.

But I'm not proud of the cranky Mum and Wife that I turned into, or the sleep deprived neglector of extended family and friends I also became. So after much agonising and lost sleep I came to the conclusion late last year that for the sake of my sanity and of those closest to me, something had to give. Sadly the larger part of Monkeytail and Wellington lost the coin toss :o(

As a result I'm scaling back my endeavours and returning to my crafting and creative routes, which is where I am truly happiest. I'll still be producing Sock Monkeys and Fairy Doors, but you'll be able to find me from February onwards exclusively trading on Etsy... but more about that later :o)

For now, it's time to clear out all the remaining stock. I've done some house keeping this morning and reduced everything in store by a minimum of 30% and up to as high as 80% - the average discount is around 60% off the original retail price. There are still a few capes left as well as some lovely prints and the ever popular Shinzi Katoh bento's. Hope you'll pop on over and take a look, if your not after a bargain yourself, perhaps you could suggest something to a bargain shopper friend.

Thanks so much for joining me on my journey into online retail... catch you in February with all the details of where to find us in the future!

Vicki xxx

Friday, June 11, 2010

Gorgeous Fairy Tale inspired jewellery

I just came across this absolutely Divine fairy tale jewellery for children from Italy and had to share!

Once Upon a Time is the brainchild of Brazilian jeweler Juliana Conde who now resides in Italy after much travel and has a healthy portfolio of graphic design under her belt. The Once Upon a Time collection includes pendents, earrings, necklaces and bracelets and an assortment of trinkets inspired by Cinderella, Jack and the Bean Stalk, Hansel and Gretel and the Ant and the Grasshopper.

Each piece comes in a beautiful storybook box with a booklet containing the fairy tale. Hmmm Abby's birthday's coming up, but maybe 5 is a little young for diamonds for everyday ware, but I'm definitely not too young!!

Visit the Once Upon a Time Store to drool over the complete range :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What about the little people?

Just in case you may have missed an ABC Kids news blast, or possibly been living under a rock, Justine Clarke the darling of children's TV and music in Australia is embarking on a national tour kicking off in July with dates so far for Qld, SA and WA (unfortunately she's not making it up this far north though as yet which is a shame) and more dates for the rest of the country to be posted soon (find dates here http://www.justineclarke.com.au/tours).

We would dearly love to see you up here in Qld's biggest baby boom town HINT HINT NUDGE NUDGE!!!!

On another note, some very cool little people are making a stir in Melbourne. Small Aussie kindie rockers The Mudcakes also have dates booked throughout June and if you are one lucky Melbournite you could even book them for your own personal performance. That would definitely make you the coolest kid in town!!

I asked Sherry and Rick (aka Mr and Mrs Mudcake) for a comment on the kids music industry in Australia, where big labels and brands seem to dominate our children's music and entertainment. They were so flat out booking shows and rockin the house that their multi talented and mega sock monkey manager 'Socrates Monk' came back with this statement...
"We are proudly independent and like to think we are part of the international movement towards more organic adult friendly children's music. We actually still get more interest and kudos paid to the Mudcakes from the US and Canada where the 'kindie rock/family music' scene is a viable part of the music industry and one of the fastest growing genres with great sales. In Australia people are just now starting to give children's music and the artists who are involved more respect. We hope that continues to be the case and that more folks will see that it is possible to be independent and forge your own path without relying on corporate record companies. "
Check out The Mudcakes website here for show dates, booking and more! Being fellow sock monkey aficionados I can't recommend them more :o) And to wet your appetite, here is a video of the Mudcakes song HUG - I love it for it's simplicity

So what are you waiting for? Get behind some great Aussie indie music talent and let the little peoples voices sing out loud!

If you know of any other indie kids bands out there in Australia trying to find a voice, send them this way

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

And finally Recess Monkey

I've been writing this post for about a week, trying to find time with all the real life issue that keep popping up. I was trying the save the best for last for music month and I think I have.

Recess Monkey are about to release their fifth album titled The Final Funktier on June 15th and I think it is one of the more anticipated music releases of this year in the Children's music genre. Stephen at Zooglobble calls them the "heart of kids music today" and they have accolades coming out the wazoo. But I think the true testament to why they are so loved it that they live and breath kids in their real life jobs as school teachers. Jack Forman (on bass, vocals and keyboards) teaches the 1st and 2nd grades; Daron Henry (on drums and percussion) is a the helm of the 2nd and 3rd grades; and Andrew Holloway wrangles the Pre-K and Kindergarten years. that just about covers the entire age group the kindy rock genre is reaching out to give or take a few years. This may be giving them an unfair disadvantage over their contemporaries as they have inspiration on tap from a classroom filled with different experiences and imaginations. Makes me wonder if there is any junior groupy hysteria happening in those class rooms.

Their latest offering The Final Funktier is a solute to space exploration performed in funky funky style as the name would suggest. The guys have played around with a bit of electronica on this album which is a step away from thier usual sound, and they have been joined by special guests from the Seattle Kindy scene Chris Ballew (Caspar Babypants), The Not-Its!, and Morgan Taylor and Rachel Loshak (Gustafer Yellowgold), as well as featuring kids in the chorus on 5 tracks.

Here is the first video from The Final Funktier - Moon Boots

Here is the video for Jet Pack

 The Final Funktier is set for a June 15th release with a launch happening at Kindiependent in Seattle on the 13th.

- Recess Monkey Town

- Kindiependent

Monday, May 24, 2010

Princess Katie & Racer Steve are Tiny and Cool

Once upon a time there was an improv and sketch comic called Katie O'Sullivan. She was touched and saddened to learn that there were sick kids in hospital sitting around all day scared and lonely. So she said to her musician husband Steve Borne, "You know what? We should go down there and cheer those kids up!" So off they trot to the costume shop to hire some fun costumes to go visit the kids in. They soon found that their visits had turned into performances and it was no longer practical to sing a play guitar dressed as Sponge Bob or Shrek. So Princess Katie and Racer Steve were borne.

Princess Katie and Racer Steve soon started writing their own songs based on their experiences with the kids and learning what the important issues were to them. Song writing turned to album recording, and fast forward past two studio albums and a live DVD release to album number three Tiny Cool just released in May.

Tiny Cool has a mixture of song styles from Latin, pop and James Brown style funk mixed in with three comedy skits all staying true to Princess Katie and Racer Steve's clear messages for kids about honesty, individuality, acceptance, kindness and the power of love. Katie and Steve work their magic by incorporating a bit of skit comedy into the album to introduce songs and get the imagery working in your head.

What also makes Princess Katie and Racer Steve unique is that they have adopted the characters as the band, rather than have a mascot or honorary band member. This has transcended their live performances to become the cartoon characters that decorate their album art, website and music videos. Their live performances incorporate the vibrant sets and props, skits and of course great family music that rocks. They are currently touring the US to promote and celebrate the launch of Tiny Cool.

Here is the animated video for JEANS! from their 2007 release Songs for the Coolest Kids

Check out Princess Katie and Racer Steve's website to listen to music from their albums and make sure to check out the live performance video for Tell Them How You Feel!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

C'mon and meet The Not-Its!

There must be something in the water in Seattle. It is home to more Kindy rocker's than you can poke a stick at. And alongside some names we've met before (Caspar Babypants) and some we are going to meet shortly (Recess Monkey) are The Not-Its!

They are a five piece alternate indie pop outfit who have their finger on the button when it comes to kids music. Each band member sports a hefty music pedigree of indie band lineage and there is even a school teacher in the mix, which may or may not be purely coincidence or for spy purposes on acquiring inside material for songs.

Their first album We Are The Not-Its! debuted in June 2009 and has been receiving rave reviews ever since. Their second album, aptly titled Time Out To Rock has just been completed (seriously moments ago!) and is due for release on June 6th! And if it's anything like their first album, I think we're in for something a bit special!

Check out The Not-Its! website for lots of colouring and Karioki fun, and of course to hear the tracks from their first album. They get an extra gold star for having lyrics available, it's my pet hate when I'm singing along to a song only to have my 3 year old correct me on the lyrics, so I like to have the upper hand!

You can find We Are The Not-Its! at iTunes or directly from their website and you can also pre-order their new album!

Oh, and if you are lucky enough to be in Seattle on June 13, you may want to check out The Not-Its! at Kindiependent (is that not the coolest name!) alongside, Caspar Babypants, Recess Monkey, and Johnny Bregar for a FREE Share the Music Festival! I'm so jealous!!

And of course, here is a video of The Not-Its! "Come Play at Our House" to wet your appetite.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

and one Anorak says to the other...

Rob (aka Supermundane) and Cathy (aka Cathy) from Anorak the Happy Mag for Kids have sent in a little contribution to Kids Music Month. You'll remember back in Spring of '08 they did a Music issue, so I reckon they are more than qualified to put in their two cents. I asked them if they could tell me a little about their favourite music memories from childhood. They figured the best way to respond would be to interview each other!

Music to our little ears
By Rob & Cathy from Anorak Magazine

Cathy: Do you remember the first song you ever heard? Mine is a vague memory but I can see giant speakers and hear "Hey Jude".

Rob: I can't really remember that much up to the age of five or six, I do however remember learning Summer Nights from Grease, the John Travolta part rather than the Oliver Newton-John bit, there must have been music before this as I was seven when Grease came out. I can remember various 60s music that my Dad played in the car and Don McClean's song Vincent, but I can't say which was the first I heard.

Cathy: You've just reminded me the long car drives we always seemed to do as a family and my Dad playing Supertramp all the time!

Cathy: What genre of music were you into before your teens?

Rob: I was really into 2-Tone music (The Specials, The Selector etc) when I was eight or nine, I used to go to primary school dressed all in black and white, like the man in the 2-tone logo. I also liked Adam and the Ants and Dexys Midnight Runners. I was then introduced to the world of Heavy Rock via a bootleg Status Quo tape my Nan bought off the market, this was when I was ten/eleven and, annoyingly, it went on to be an obsession for most of my early teens! What about you?

Cathy: I would LOVE to see pictures of you as a Little Mod, that is so cool. I listened to the radio a lot so it was whatever they played on there at the time. A lot of cheesy disco! My parents were really into dancing, they'd give us lessons in how to dance the cha-cha-cha, the tango and the rock in the living room etc. In fact that's all music was to us: an excuse to dance!

Rob: I stayed in my room a lot, listing to Black Sabbath whilst reading, or pretending to read, the Lord of the Rings...not so much fun!

Cathy: what kid-friendly music are you aware of now that you particularly like?

Rob: Well, something that isn't for children, but I think they would like, is Ivor Cutler's album Ludo. Not all the songs are that kid friendly (they are not offensive though) but some are very funny and have a childlike wonder about them that isn't always there in music made specifically for children. With lyrics like: "I saw Granny at the pictures biting all the buttons off the seats" and "Good morning! How are you? Shut up!" I think kids would love it.

Another album that is made for children but is even weirder is Monster Songs for Children by Jad Fair. Jad Fair is the front man of the long running band called Half Japanese and has always been known for his quirky, odd, and, at times, childlike approach to music. Here, he and his brother David run through the alphabet via all manor of monsters, including Bigfoot, the Jabberwocky and even Nosferatu! Each song is introduced by a child talking about the monster. It sounds a bit like the music from a Tim Burton film like the Nightmare Before Christmas but a little bit madder!

(click the pic to listen at Amazon)

An album I loved as a child was one called Spin a Magic Tune, which was a slight surreal journey through the main cartoon characters from the 70s including my favourite, the Hair Bear Bunch, in the company a child and a talking dog, unfortunately it has never been put onto CD.

Cathy: Sounds great! I have to admit I am pretty rubbish with music...Lately I have discovered a couple of great kid friendly bands: one is called Lullatone, they are a Japanese couple who do the sweetest, most enchanting music.

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And at the other end of the spectrum, there's this US band called The Jimmies whose indie rock make me smile, they are a bit bonkers but much fun.

And the French Carton Park do utterly mad electronica for kids.

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I must say Rob, your Nan must be one special lady if she's spotting bootleg Status Quo at the markets! Thanks so much to you both :o)