Published on January 25th, 2017 | by Meg Lemke


FEELINGS ARE SUCH REAL THINGS: An Interview with LISA LOEB About Her New Kids Album!

Did you know that ’90s alternative nerdy sweetheart songstress Lisa Loeb is now a MUTHA, and has produced several kids’ music albums? Her best known song title is “This Pancake is Disappointing.”

I admit I did not know this, until now, either. But it makes sense in the universe. Loeb’s lullaby voice, pop stylings, and gazing-in-the-eyes video choreography are as well-suited to the moods of the smaller set as the moody flannel-clad “kids” she reached with her breakout single “Stay.” (Everyone pause for a moment and think about Reality Bites Back for a while, just close your eyes and it will come. And, now Winona is playing a mom on TV, too! Time is a circle.)

MUTHA got our hands on Loeb’s newest kid-pop album, “Feel What U Feel”—or as my five-year-old daughter, Lola, insists, “The Bread CD.”

Lola’s full review? “I loved it because of the things that they say.” Agreed: Loeb’s tunes are catchy, but it’s the pro-social, emotional-intelligence messaging that will make feminist mamas want to put these songs into their playlists. This is a new year where we want some songs that will get kids thinking about how to take care of their emotions, and own them. I’m fond of the opening track “Moon Star Pie (It’s Gonna be Alright)” because that’s what we tell them, right?  (I’m trying to tell myself that, too). But my favorite bit on the album is actually a cover, of “It’s All Right to Cry,” immortalized by Rosey Grier in Free to be You and Me. Marlo Thomas’ patriarchy-smashing record was played in my parents’ basement on continual repeat, and I sing the chorus regularly around our apartment. Hearing Loeb’s voice, instant nostalgia from my days of high-school, trill the lines of a childhood emo favorite, is a trip.

Also out now is Loeb’s video Nursery Rhyme Parade, streaming. I put it on while brushing out and pig-tailing up the kid’s hair the other day, which is an otherwise painful ordeal, and said child was contented, particularly delighted with the interstitial stop-motion animation between sing-a-longs.

Once you’ve checked out the above, here’s my conversation with Lisa about balancing motherhood/creativity/fame and all of it… – Meg Lemke

MUTHA: Tell me about your kids–how would you describe them each in a sentence?

LISA LOEB: It’s hard to bottle it all in only one sentence per kid, but I’ll give it a go. My daughter is smart, thoughtful, creative, kind, and has a great sense of humor. My son is curious, friendly, sweet, energetic, and fun.

MUTHA: When did you start producing kid’s music?

LISA LOEB: I started making kids music about 15 years ago when I put out my Catch The Moon record with Elizabeth Mitchell.

MUTHA: What are three things you’d tell any new mom who wants to keep a creative life with kids? 

LISA LOEB: Make sure you get enough sleep so that you have the energy to go with the flow of what’s going on. Have materials on hand, like paper, crayons, paint, brushes, glue, and newspaper, but keep your eyes open for unexpected materials or projects that appear around you unplanned, like making a car out of an egg carton or making doll houses out of everything in the recycling pile.

MUTHA: What did you expect before you had kids–and how did that change after?

LISA LOEB: I didn’t expect anything in particular, but having kids has been an amazing experience. I’m so glad that I get to know my kids and see them grow up.

MUTHA: Do you and the kids sing every day? What music do they love that you do (or don’t) love yourself?

LISA LOEB: We sing in the car like people in a car, not like a singer and her kids. They have playlists on the iPhone that have songs that they have discovered, from Daft Punk to Weird Al, disco Star Wars to Adele, Queen to Cyndi Lauper.  I have opened my mind and ears because of my kids and have started to like especially certain pop artists that weren’t on my radar and some kids music too. Lots of people give me their kids music CDs and we try them out in the car.  Sometimes on first listen I’m done, but the kids want to hear them again and again, and certain songs take repeat listening for enjoyment to kick in.

MUTHA: What was that first family music tour like, compared to your alt-rock first time out?

LISA LOEB: The family music tour was a little difficult. I remember playing in a huge sunny field in downtown NYC and most of the families had situated themselves on the borders of the huge field because that’s where the shade was. I had to be more broad and large than I am in a small theater. I had to accept moms running after kids to put on their sunscreen and hats. After lots of concerts, I figured out that outdoor gigs tend to be more unfocused for the audience since there are so many things for them to deal with, but if it’s a seated venue, like an outdoor amphitheater that’s shaded or an inside space, it’s easier for all of us!

MUTHA: We hear so often about “celebrity mom says this…” type advice, which is typically impossible for anyone without five nannies and a mansion. How have you avoided the “celeb-mom” stereotypes?

LISA LOEB: I’m not sure how I’ve avoided it. I guess I feel more like a working mom than a celeb-mom. My mom is my role model and she was a stay at home mom. I make sandwiches, drive my kids around to school and activities, spend a lot of time cleaning rice off the floor and picking up shoes and single socks around the house constantly. It’s just in my bones. I do try to use the help of babysitters and family members whenever I can. When the kids were really young we did have a full-time nanny, which enabled me to do my work thoroughly as well as spend as much time as I can with my kids too. I had a lot of advice from other parents, who told me that even though you might have a nanny, make sure you spend as much time as you can with your kids.

MUTHA: Speaking of “fame”—what does it mean to your kids to have a mother who is a recognizable figure, how have you seen them take on this aspect of your family life? 

LISA LOEB: My kids have seen it here and there when people stop me in public places to speak to me. I think they see it as a friendliness and something kind of special that people know my music. Since we’re surrounded by a lot of performer, musician, and actor parents in Los Angeles, I think they see it as one of the jobs people have more than something out of the ordinary.

MUTHA: What do you hope most for this new year?

LISA LOEB: I hope for creativity, activity, involvement in the community, time with the kids, lots of time outdoors playing, making music, breathing, reaching, and growing as a person.

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About the Author

Meg Lemke is the Editor-in-Chief of MUTHA. She is also the comics and graphic novels reviews editor at Publishers Weekly. Her past roles include as chair of the comics and graphic novel programming at the Brooklyn Book Festival, series editor at Illustrated PEN and curator of youth and comics programs at the PEN World Voices Festival, and program development for the French Comics Association. She has been a book editor at Teachers College Press at Columbia University, Seven Stories Press, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Her writing has appeared in The Paris ReviewThe Seattle Review, The Atlanta Review, The Good Mother Myth, and Seleni, among other publications. She lives with her family in the dense mother-zone of Park Slope, Brooklyn. Find her @meglemke and or read up on her formative years at Lady Collective.

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