Making Awesome Music Videos… for Grown-Ups and Kids! A Conversation with Chris Ballew

Last night I had the honor of chatting with one of my longtime musical influences, and the front man of one of my very favorite bands. For almost 20 years now (whoa!) Chris Ballew has been writing, releasing outstanding albums, and touring with Presidents of the United States of America. More recently, he has focused on making music for children (“zero to five-year-olds,” he told me) under the name Caspar Babypants, a moniker which he actually picked up long before he started making music for children. I’ve long been a fan of Chris’ work with PUSA and his various side projects along the way (Google: The Giraffes, Chris and Tad, Feelings Hijackers), and I’ve always loved the music videos that have been made for various singles through the years; the Caspar project included.

The interview opportunity came up very spur-of-the-moment. Chris is in Australia doing a couple of Caspar shows for the Sydney Festival and he had some time to kill before he hit the stage. Our conversation started by discussing electronic press kits (EPKs), which bands generally create to introduce themselves to record labels, fans, promoters, venues, etc. Though The Presidents haven’t done an EPK for each release, watching the EPK for the “Love Everybody” record, I imagine, would at the very last give the press some quotes to use and get the fans excited about the new album. Chris explained that The Presidents have had to treat every album as their debut album, and while an EPK may help to inform in a very general way, that there’s no escape from the mundane and redundant conversations with press with each new album release.

The conversation bounced from the use of EPKs to the production of music videos. Over time, Chris told me, he has become a believer in rarely appearing in music videos so as to leave more up to the imagination of the viewer. These days, with a musical audience of young children and their parents, Chris describes keeping his Caspar Babypants music videos simple and innocent, while still appealing to their parents who will inevitably be watching them on repeat.

Many thanks to Chris for his generosity, openness, and for all the music that I’ve spent so many hours with over the years.

> Caspar Babypants