Sunday, November 7, 2010

Grammy Nominated Producer, Tor Hyams Launches New Kindicast Blog--ChiIL Mama's Exclusive Interview

Tor and daughter, Sydnie, MC at Kidzapalooza 2010

Tor Hyams is a busy guy.   Lollapalooza turns 20 this summer, and he has a brand new project, KindieCast, just over a week old.   He's got his fingers in many pies, playing music, producing award winning kindi rock bands, and co-producing Lollapalooza with the infamous Jane's Addiction/ Porno For Pyros front man, Perry Farrell.   Oh yeah, and he also has a couple young children of his own, still at home.

We caught up with Tor for an exclusive interview.
ChiIL Mama:   We experienced another fun filled year of Kidzapalooza in August. How do you feel things went?
 Tor:  I think it was our best year ever. It seems like we are finally in the zone with our area.

CM: Has your vision for Kidza changed and evolved over the years?
T:  The overall vision has not changed. It was always intended to be a place where families could bond with each other through music. I think we are now achieving that goal in spades. However, the physical manifestation has certainly evolved in a huge way. When we started out six years ago, we were pretty bare bones. There were some cool activities, but nothing as forward as "Rock Start Video Karaoke" like we had this year. The stage acts have evolved too. The first year I had to beg, steal and borrow to get acts to play, but now they're coming to us in droves.

CM: Next year is the 20th anniversary since the first Lollapalooza, right? Do you have any special anniversary surprises planned that you can talk about yet?

 T:  We do have some very special plans, but it's all very top secret right now. However, I will say that the line-up is a must see. We will have some old pals that will play the stage, but the surprises are unprecedented.

CM:   Kidza & Lolla have extended their contracts till at least 2019, right?
T:  Yes. Thanks to he Mayor and the glorious people of Chicago, we get to stick around for a while.

CM: We've been at Kidzapalooza since it started. In the past five years it's been fun to watch everyone grow up.   Now that your daughter is 10, the upper limit for Kidzapalooza, do you think she'll still want to hang out there in years to come?
T:  I do. As you've probably noticed, we have aged up significantly. There is more and more to do for the older kids (10-12) so I think we can keep her interest for a couple of more years before she's more interested in seeing the acts on the main stages. Besides, I kind of insured her presence by making her an assistant stage manager for next year. I think she's most excited about using the walkie talkie.

CM: This year Sydnie really came into her own, helping more with the MC duties, and even introducing Chrissie Hynde. Is she gunning for your job?
T:  I'm not sure if she's gunning for my job, but I'm kind of gunning to give it to her someday. I'm not sure what my hosting potential will be when I'm 50 so it's probably good to for her to start taking up the reigns now.


     CM: You're involved in a number of projects ranging from producing, to playing keyboards, composing scores, working with the kids' music industry? What's on your plate this year in 
addition to continuing to co-produce Lollapalooza/Kidzapalooza?

T:  I'm very excited to produce Recess Monkey. I will be helping them with their next recording in December. Besides that, I am developing a television show for kids and working very hard on a stage musical I wrote (not for kids).

CM: We're particularly interested in how parents in the arts include their kids in their careers and how being a parent changes or influences their work. Are your children actively involved with any of your other projects?

T:   I love working with my children. I try to do it as often as my projects allow. For example, I had Sydnie (when she was 3) open the "A World of Happiness" album I wrote and produced. Since then, I have had her appear on several albums I have either written or produced and she always rises to the occasion.

I'm not sure she'd want a career like mine (hey, maybe she'll become a doctor!), but it sure is a great feeling to see her face light up when we do work together. In fact, if it weren't for Sydnie, I may never have been involved in children's entertainment at all. It was her birth that inspired "A World of Happiness" to exist in the first place. I wrote the album for her. 

Getting all those celebs on it and the deal with Disney was just a blessing that occurred because the album was made for all the right reasons. Kidzapalooza was sired from that album actually. Gary Oldman asked to direct a music video of the Perry Farrell/Deborah Harry song "The Patience Bossa" and that's when I pitched him the idea for Kidzapalooza. Children bring blessing with them to this world. Our job is to know that and accept the gifts with grace and humility.

CM: The word "kindie" is proliferating fast as a tag for kids‚ independent label musicians and a catch all for kids' alt rock. How do you feel about the term itself?

T:  I used to really dislike it. I thought it was the small picture of a big movement. However, ever since I partnered with Bill Childs and Stephanie Mayers and we called our event KindieFest, I've grown accustomed to it. I'm not big into genre labels, but I do think it helps define this new genre and if it gets us all more press and commerce, I'm for it!

Tor introduces The Verve Pipe 
who have made a foray into kindi rock with A Family Album
CM: Two last questions:   How are you personally making the world a greener place?

T:  There are so many ways. I no longer buy new cars for one. New metal is a serious problem. I only drive used cars and I suspect I always will. We do, of course, recycle and try to support local businesses and sustainable products. Ultimately, though, my family tries very hard to always have our planet in our consciousness, ie to not just talk about it, but to actively be thinking and doing something to help decrease our overall footprint.

CM: Lollapalooza has gotten bigger every year, but it's also gotten greener every year. Tell me about your involvement with Parkways Foundation and the festival's commitment to reduce plastic bottle waste.

T:  Each year, the festival earns a few million dollars for the Parkways Foundation. That's a major commitment to the green effort in Chicago. Our staff (about 600 total for the Fest) no longer drinks water from plastic bottles as we were all issued metal bottle containers to drink from. Kidzapalooza has contributed through recycled art programs. We're all trying, but it takes more than us. We're just there for a couple of weeks all told. Everyone needs to constantly be doing their part to make a difference.

Thanks so much for your time. We're looking forward to many more years of Kidzapalooza.


Here at ChiIL Mama, we're all about featuring creative work people undertake with their children.   Check out KindiCast's debut with Tor's "special guests" (AKA:   children) Sydnie and Lyon.

KindiCast premiers with this description: 
Tor and his special guests, Lyon and Sydnie, rock out with us through lots of upbeat, head-bopping fun in this debut episode of the KindieCast podcast.

Check out the playlist:
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo – Mind Over Matter
Frances England – Mind of My Own
*Sonicbids Block:
Alexandra and the good batch – DEMAND
Ralph and Ralph – Smiles in the Sky
Sweet Colleens’ – The Monkey Dance
Mr. Mocos – GI Joe Married Barbie
Eddy Delbridge – Watermelon Mouth
Brian Vogan (and his good buddies) – How to Fly
*Visit: Sonicbids and submit your act – you could be featured on an episode of KindieCast!
*Special thanks to Secret Agent 23 Skidoo for this episode’s theme song, “Gotta Be Me”

The whole concept is pretty cool.   Subscribe to KindiCast and whenever a podcast is ready, it uploads to your itunes for free.   You can also friend them on Facebook or spread the word on 17 other social media sites whose colorful buttons pop at the bottom of the post.   Pretty snazzy.

For Lollapalooza and Kidzapalooza updates throughout the year, follow them on twitter and Facebook as well.

For more photo filled events, interviews, and give aways, follow ChiIL Mama through Twitter @ChiILMama and "like" our page on Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. Hello from Candy Band - Great interview! Kidza was fab, wasn't it? Hope to see u in Chicago next year. We'll be at the Beat Kitchen with Little Miss Ann on March 13.