Ry Kincaid's sense of humor is perfectly suited to his craft. The writer of soon to be classic children's songs "Don't Eat Your Boogers," "Storytime is Not A Contact Sport" and "You're A Deductible" is also a natural performer, playwright and talented musician. Kincaid makes the kind of music that brings smiles to the faces of kids and their parents -- no easy task. We're fortunate to share an interview with Ry Kincaid on Listen Local.
Introduce yourself. Describe your music for new listeners.
I've been a performer, playwright, and musician for years. I've recently stumbled into my niche, I think, in writing and performing pop songs for kids. There are a handful of established family-friendly rock artists in the Kansas City area: I hope to join their ranks soon.
How long have you been a songwriter? Who were your earliest inspirations?
I've always liked catchy-and-clever rock. The tongue-in-cheek tradition is deep: The Who, Randy Newman, The Police, Ben Folds. I realized there is no reason why rock and roll can't be for an audience that includes 33-year olds and 3-year olds. The kids' albums by They Might Be Giants are top-notch in educational rock.
What are the creative challenges that come with writing songs for kids?
I wrote two educational musicals for all ages - one about aviation history, another about every U.S. President. These are two subjects I knew little about! So I approached my songs that way, letting the audience learn something new with melodies that would stick with them: history with a hook.
Now, it's not just history with a hook. I have songs about colors, nouns, animals, and tax deductibles (seriously) that I want to be fun for kids and their grownups to listen to.
Talk about your recent batch of songs posted on YouTube. Which are your favorites and why?
"Don't Eat Your Boogers" may be my hit single (Ha!).The kids like when I name foods that are acceptable to eat before I sing the title's advice; the grownups like the verse I sing in French. My song about an Appalachian town that loves vegetables ("Cucumberland Gap") makes me laugh. I'm really pleased with "Homes" because it's not a straight-up funny song. I sing from a kid's point of view: he's doing fun things at mom's house and fun things at dad's house, two places that he can always call home.
How has your work as a librarian helped your creativity?
I enjoy doing storytimes at the library because it's performing and educating for people of all ages. I'm showing the grownups how to engage with children through storytelling or just being silly.
It's more fun for the performer and the audience when it's interactive art.
What inspires you about original music (kids or otherwise) in Kansas City?
I have found time and again that members of the theatre and music communities in KC support each other. That's what's inspiring: we're all friends making our art, when it comes down to it. In one of my songs, I sing: "You gotta be nice and not be some kind of jerk. Nice always works!"