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Beautiful Me - Interview with Alan Glass, Ed Jordan, Paul Choritz Print E-mail
Ceri Balston   
Wednesday, 03 October 2007
Beautiful MeCeri Balston caught up with Alan Glass, Ed Jordan and Paul Choritz, the team behind the highly successful "Beautiful Creatures" series (the first album in the series has achieved gold record status) to find out what the inspiration was behind their music, what motivates them, and what we can expect from the latest addition to the series - "Beautiful Me".


Ceri: What was the motivation behind starting the Beautiful Creatures series?

Ed: Well we felt there was a need for it first and foremost. I think our children have a need to be more aware of how fantastic it is to be young. You know little children grow up so quickly nowadays they almost sort of bypass that age of innocence we have where it's so great to be a kid and be young and alive and free. Suddenly everyone's got cellphones, (Alan: and iPod's), and they're listening to their teenage brothers and sisters or their parents music because they find the nursery rhymes of before a bit banal for them.

We found that there was a gap for these littlies to join in singing with their parents…that's very important that parents and kids can join in together, because that also seems to be another problem in our society today, parents are working the whole time, and they shove their kids in front of the TV and the time they do spend together is maybe watching TV or in the car. Now in the car you want kid's music that's not going to drive adults mad. So that's always been our mandate, to write songs for adults and kids.

Alan: Parent friendly children's songs.

Ed: Or child friendly pop songs. You know so that everyone's happy. The kind of children's music that the Dad enjoys because it's got some nice jazz chords, the Mom enjoys it because there's some great singing, kids enjoy it because there's sing-a-long-y stuff, the family enjoys it because it's elevating everyone…

Alan: (cheekily) Can't the Mum's enjoy jazz?

Ed: No, no. The research we did at Kaya FM (where Ed was the host of the morning show) found that women don't like jazz, or interestingly enough reggae… so there's something there in our music for everyone.

Ceri: Alan, you have kids, did you find that there just wasn't the music that you could sit in the car and listen to?

Alan: Yeah, I spent a lot of time, especially early mornings (my daughter's an early riser) and we'd sit and watch TV and we'd do whatever at 5 o'clock in the morning and the stuff is really nasty, it would just irritate me… Well it wasn't that I was pushed into doing this, but rather I was inspired to do it because there wasn't anything else that I enjoyed. And so I harassed Ed. Ed and I were at Varsity together, I graduated when he started … so he's much younger than me! (laughs)

Ed: Alan was my senior at Wits drama school, we're both graduates of Wits drama school in the 80's, and so our background is in theatre, and music and stage craft. We were lucky to have the most amazing teachers in Johannesburg in the 80's, so we do see things with theatrical eyes with a view to putting things on stage eventually.

Alan: The actual inspiration for the music was often a phrase, or a child will say something that will inspire you and you'll go, "ah that's a good idea" and I'll scribble them down…

Ed: And then Alan brought the lyrics to me and I fiddled around on the piano and we started piecing it together and chopping and changing things.

Ceri: I was going to ask how you go about doing the work and the song writing process…


Ed: For the animals we sat down and said, "right let's do one about a lion" for example. The night before I was chatting to a friend and he said "why don't you go 'Can you purr like a lion? Can you growl like a lion?'" and Alan had been working on it because of his cat.

Alan: Yeah, I have a cat called Lucas (referring to the track "Lucas the Lazy Lion" from the first album - click here to listen to a clip), I woke up in the middle of the night and scribbled down these lyrics in my sleep (pretty much), went back to bed, woke up the next morning and thought "oh those aren't too bad". And then whilst I was sitting at my laptop typing them up, I had written down the title "The Lazy Lion", and Lucas my cat appeared and waddled into the room, you know the way cats do (mimics a cat stretching etc.) "ah, ok "'Lucas the Lazy Lion'". And so I phoned Ed and he had been singing the chorus in his head.

Ed: Yeah, we love SMS's, SMS song writing. We'd go for example…

Alan: (acts out typing on a cellphone) "CAN U PURR LIKE A LION".

Ed: Yeah, I think I'd been out on the jol and I wrote to Alan (Alan and Ed break into song at this point and start singing the Horace the Hysterical Hyena, click here to listen to the recorded version) "HA HA HA, ITS SO GOOD TO BE A HYENA". And then another line via SMS, "From the Limpopo right up to Keenya" and then Alan would go, no it has to be "Kenya", and I would reply saying, no it has to be "Keenya because it rhymes with Hyena". So we had this little argument, via SMS, about that…

Alan: It's an interesting process!…

Ed: It's a fun process!

Alan: Sometimes I'd write a lyric with a tune in my head and I won't tell Ed what it is. Or say it has to be kind of like this. And he'd say, "No, no, no that doesn't work, (impression of Ed working furiously) blah blah blah".

Ed: And also, this is very important, because some people who write lyrics…finding a combination of writers is very very rare. With Elton John and Bernie Taupin, for example, Bernie Taupin would finish the poem and he'd give Elton the freedom to chop it up, which is quite a thing, because so many of the people I've worked with, they've gone "this is the verse and this is the chorus" and its all wrong, and I like make a little bit of change and I can see that it upsets them. I've said to Alan from day one…

Alan: I trust his musicality, often, even now we would shift things around, right at the end of the process. Yesterday we were saying, "No, the chorus can't go there, the song has to start with the chorus, move it to the top, we've moved it about four times…"

Ed: (joking argument starts) Did you approve that?

Alan: Yes, yes I did (laughter)… So we're not precious about it, you know if I think his melody sucks I'll tell him.

Ed: It’s a good relationship it really is, once you find something like this you want to look after it and nurture it.

Ceri: And did it happen straight away?

Ed: It happened straight away, this is key, we didn't sit down and say "right, we're going to make children's records and they'll sell loads and loads and loads and etc. etc. etc." Alan kept saying "there's a need for it, let's write some children's songs". So we sat down, I sat at the piano, Alan sat at the table, off we went, and then I started bouncing around doing hippo dances and pretending to be Mafuta the elephant. (click here to listen to the track) (lots of laughter from everyone) Yeah, exactly, I'm pretty much in touch with my inner child.

(lots of energy around the table)

Ceri: You wouldn't guess… (Ed's eyes are alive with enthusiasm and excitement, you can feel the energy trying to burst out of him)

Ed: No, I love what I do, and I sort of bounce around and great energy would come out of it and… what was your question?... (laughter)

Ceri: Did it start straight away?

Ed: Did it start straight away with that magic? Yes it did. We wrote six songs, we went to record them, we lost one which we'll put in another album because it was a bit too adulty, (Alan: beautiful song though) we met Paul, we wrote the next five, and bang, and in it went. And that's the first album, and that's how it was made, no um-ing and ah-ing, just in the studio, this is what felt was right, we thought there was a need for it and we love what we do, we're very proud of what we do.

Alan: It wasn't done with any intent…

Ed: Or with an executive record producer behind us saying "well I think you should change this, and change that etc. because I'm paying for it". We were paying for it, all three of us, so it's our baby, we all shared the ideas equally.

Alan: It's become a very democratic process, (cheekily) it's a true democracy.

Ceri: And I guess you just trusted your instincts, in terms of what you wanted.


Alan: We all had different skills, so we put those skills into the pot.

Ed: Paul does the business, Alan does the words, I do the music, those are the big brush strokes.

Ceri: What can we expect from Beautiful Me?


Alan: Ahah! I'm sorry I can't tell you that… no I can… Beautiful Me is a very different project, its different but it’s the same. Its part of the same brand, but we've had a slight deviation from the animal theme, not to say we're not coming back to it, we are, we're already writing the next album which is Beautiful Creatures from the Sea, but that's for next year…

Ceri: Olly the Octopus I'd imagine…

Ed: Octupuses have three hearts, did you know that? So there's going to be a love song about having three hearts to love you with, and eight arms to hug you with.

Alan: (singing like a pirate) I've got three hearts…

Ed: Yeah I just wrote it now…

Alan: We did discuss it briefly…

Ed: Genius!

Alan: You're seeing the work in process!

Ed: (in Blues/Soul style) "I've got three hearts to love you (Ed and Alan together), eight arms to hold you."

Alan: You see, that's how it happens.

Ed: (excited again) Come on, what else have they got... (in the same singing style) "I've got iodine, you know what I mean, I'm a mean machine"...

Alan: I think they get the picture...

Ed: (not finished) "Sitting at the Mug & Bean." (where the interview took place) Come on! Genius! (laughter all round).

Ceri: So, Beautiful Me…


Alan: Where were we, oh yes, so Beautiful Me. So we wanted to do something different, a slight deviation, and again we believe that there's a need for it. Paul's sister-in-law in the States is a child psychologist, and his wife was in New York with her discussing this and they discovered that there was a definite need…

Ed: There's a need again, this is the key word, there's a need for songs about emotional development, this was the word that was bandied around last year, by our friends in America.

Alan: We're not professing to be experts in emotional development.

Ed: Which is why we got an expert consultant in to give us a couple of the issues that parents and teachers have to deal with children who are developing between two and six. So they came up as; sibling rivalry was one, anger management was another, self-esteem was another, being different and being accepted was another.

Alan: Diversity.

Ed: Yes, diversity... Then from that we started thinking… well there's a song called "Don't be a Brat" (click to listen), and we were thinking well why are children brats, well its probably because they haven't eaten properly or slept, so the lyrics go, "If you're feeling baddish, just ask yourself one thing. Is it food or sleep you need, this could be the thing, could it be the sugar or the tartrazine."

Alan: You see, has anyone ever written a song with the lyric tartrazine in it, I wonder, we think not.

Ed: The first track on Beautiful Me is called "Beautiful Me" and the lyrics go, "Everyone is different, no two of us the same, everyone is special, no need to feel ashamed, everyone has something that's inside of you, if you can find that something, you'll know what to do" (click to listen) and then the children start singing.

Ed: And the little African flavours are not to alienate our Western ears, it's just a nice easy sing-a-long, the lyrics are always translated for everyone…

Paul: But we digress again…

Ed: What were we talking about, ah yes Beautiful Me…

Alan: So, the idea is to deal with the issues but not in a preachy kind of way, we're not professing to be experts in this field, other than that we are parents, we are uncles and what have you.

Ceri: Do you have a message for parents and children, can you sum up Beautiful Music?


Alan and Ed together: We are all Beautiful Creatures. We want to get kids and parents together, enjoying themselves".

Alan Glass & Ed Jordan

What really struck me about Alan, Ed and Paul was the passion and enthusiasm that they have for this project, their energy is incredibly infectious and they are obviously close friends, all this has made for a formula for success that is rarely repeated. Harmonious Living wishes them every success with their latest release "Beautiful Me", in stores now.


All the CD's in the Beautiful Music collection, including Beautiful Me, are now available in all music retail outlets, baby stores and leading book stores, nation wide, including C.N.A., Look & Listen, CD Warehouse, Exclusive Books, Baby City, Baby & Company, Fascination Books, Toys R Us, & Reggie’s or online www.beautifulcreatures.co.za
 
 
 
 
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