KEXP's Sound & Vision airs every Saturday morning from 7-9 AM PT, featuring interviews, artistry, commentary, insight, and conversation to that tell broader stories through music, and illustrate why music and art matter. You can also hear more stories in the new Sound & Vision Podcast. New episodes are out every Tuesday. Subscribe now.
Chris Ballew made a name for himself for fronting the Seattle-based band, The Presidents of the United States of America. For the last 10 years however, Ballew has been a prolific children's musician – releasing 16 albums for kids under the pseudonym Caspar Babypants. Sound and Vision host John Richards caught up with Ballew after a performance during KEXP's Kids Day to talk about the move from 90s indie rocker to children's musician.
On transitioning his target audience from The Presidents of the United States fans to their children:
On finding his true calling:
I've always had this drive to find out who I am authentically, musically. I always had this drive to make the music that is most honestly me. I don't want to put on an artifice. I don't want to put on a literal costume or a figurative metaphorical costume on stage. I wanted to just be who I am, and so part of that was it took me a long time to figure out who I am and what I really want.
I only knew that The President's [of the United States of America] was almost it. It was like 92% percent perfect. But, that first record, it followed my 20s which were kind of a dark time. I had some sad times as a lot of people do in their 20s -- bad choices, weird relationships, family issues... So, I mixed who I really am, The Caspar Baby Pants, core with this dark detritus that was left over from all these dark songs. And that's why The President's, I think, work. It was this friction between innocence and innuendo, between innocent and grown up. The sparks from that friction, made it happen.
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