The duo “Splash’N Boots” (who hail from Ontario) formed in 2003 when Tess and Nick wrote some children’s tunes for a class project at Queen’s University in Kingston. Since then they have been voted "Canadian Children’s Group of the Year", performed over 700 shows in six different countries, and released five CD’s, and two full-length DVDs. Splash'N Boots have been hailed as “the U2 of children’s music,” “the Canadian Wiggles” and “a cross between the Barenaked Ladies and Raffi.
What stands out the most in their live show is Taes (Boots) and Nick’s (Splash) love for their craft. Their enthusiasm and genuine passion for music and kids is contagious and the best part is that adults are not left in the dark - the show always has a little something for the parents as well.
Splash‘N Boots was recently thrown into the national spotlight when their music videos were picked up by Treehouse Television. The duo will also be headlining the Treehouse Roll Play Live Animal Party Tour. It's an all-new family stage show coming across Canada this Fall. The show features live musical performances by Splash 'n Boots and will have kids up and dancing along to the incredible music of Roll Play.
The Treehouse Roll Play Live Animal Party tour kicks off on October 12. For a listing of the concert dates and to buy tickets head over to ROLL PLAY LIVE.
I recently had a chance to chat with Tess and Nick, in between rehearsals for their big tour with Treehouse, and we talked about Fred Penner, performing live, and their dog Lily.
So Splash 'N Boots can be traced back to your days back at Queen's University. What course were you taking that you had to perform a concert together at the local Central Library?
We were taking the course "Theatre for Young Audiences” which focused a lot on performing for children and what to expect from children's audiences. Our final project was to write and perform our very own show. So we wrote a play which incorporated 3 of our own songs and performed it at the library. It was at that show that we fell in love with idea of singing for children and their families.
What was your parents' reaction when you told them that this was what you were going to pursue?
Ha! Well it was a bit mixed reaction. My family has always been really supportive of careers in the arts and music. Nick’s family is also very musical, but comes from a farming background, so I think they were a little concerned about how we were going to pay for anything with this career choice!! Nick's parents did buy us our first car when we were still in university which was a HUGE help (this meant we could stop rollerblading to shows while carrying the guitar and costumes).
The name 'Splash N' Boots - were did it come from?
I remember sitting in a University History class beside Nick and writing down a whole bunch of different band names on a scrap piece of paper and passing it back and forth. Most of them were pretty terrible, and were cut by the end of the class. We still have that list in our scrapbook, because it is good for a laugh. Then one of our first shows was in a gazebo in the pouring rain, and the three kids that showed up despite the rain were wearing rubber boots, so the name originated out of that show.
Totally love the coloured matched yellow and blue outfits you wear...who had the say in that Splash or Boots?
Boots!! Our outfits have gone through lots of changes- it could actually make for a really good episode of "What Not To Wear" if we look at the history of Splash'N Boots clothing. However, despite the questionable styles we have always stuck with the yellow and blue theme. We now have a costume designer who custom makes our outfits, and has several more designs on the way so we can switch it up!
How excited were you when you got to join the Treehouse 'Roll Play Live Animal Party Tour'?
Ridiculously excited!! I can’t even tell you how amazing it is to work with such a talented group of people, both creatively and technically, and working on a brand new show. Also, we get travel in a tour bus, how fun is that?
What inspired you to make children's music?
We both love working with kids, and grew up surrounded by music, so somehow it seemed like a logical step. We also both feel really strongly about the importance of music in children's lives as they are growing up. We feel music should be a shared experience between parents and their children and hope to create that with the songs we write.
What is about performing for kids and families that you love so much?
I love that kids are so honest- they tell you exactly what they feel, and they are so spontaneous that each show is different. We also love watching parents watch their children during the show. Often it’s their first big concert experience so for them it's like seeing a whole new part of their child when they see them bust their moves on a the dance floor and get involved in the show.
Growing up who was your favourite children's performer?
Boots: Charlotte Diamond and Sharon, Lois and Bram
Splash: Fred Penner and Mr. Dressup
What was it like meeting Fred Penner in person?
We were staying at the same hotel because we were both performing at the Canmore Children's Festival. We ended up having breakfast at the same time and sitting together. I was so ridiculously nervous that I turned bright red (which is SO funny in hindsight) I guess it was because I grew up watching him on TV, and then there he was eating eggs with us!! He is an amazingly genuine performer, and his personality in real-life was exactly the same which was amazing to see.
You've travelled all over the world performing....favourite place so far?
Boots: Italy! (although Bahrain in the middle east is a very close second) I love meeting kids from different cultures, and the best part is seeing that they all react the same way to music.
Splash: Australia for me followed closely by Bermuda.
So how did Lily become a part of the act?
When we first got Lily she was only five weeks old and literally looked just like a stuffed animal. We were in the middle of our Fall Tour, so had tons of shows every weekend. Since we wanted her to become really comfortable around kids we started bringing her on-stage for our Lullaby song at the end of the show, where we get kids to go and find someone they love and give them a big hug. I always would go get Lily. She was so comfortable and great with the kids right away, and they loved her, so we started doing training with her at home. She now jumps through a hoop, rings a bell and "sings" on command..well it’s still barking. Sometimes she decides she would rather take a nap in the middle of the stage, which also leads to a comic moment.
Boots: What's the best thing about Splash?
His sense of humour. He can make any situation, no matter how stressful or ridiculous, funny. He makes me laugh every day, and I really think that's the reason we are able to spend so much time together.
Splash: What's the best thing about Boots?
Her passion for everything she does. She is also the most genuine person I know which makes touring as much as we do work so well. I couldn’t imagine singing about barnyard animals dressed in yellow and blue with anyone else.
What can parents and kids expect on the Treehouse 'Role Play Live Animal Party Tour'?
This show is unlike anything we have ever done before and really takes the idea of an interactive concert to a whole new level. From the time the lights go up in the theatre, both parents and children are constantly involved in creating and being a part of the show. Plus we have so many cool technical things happening: big video screens to show the kids dancing, black light bubbles, black light face paint on ALL of the kids, plus a full band backing us up. It's going to be off the hook amazing- we are SO excited.
Anyone you'd want to collaborate with?
Great question. We always thought it would be amazing to do a kids song with Great Big Sea or maybe the Barenaked Ladies....we are big fans of Canadian talent.
Final word is yours...anything you'd like to add?
Everywhere we have traveled across Canada and internationally there has always been that common passion children have for music. They just want to dance and sing. Keep that music spirit alive.. if it’s dance party in your living room or a live concert I think it’s one of the greatest gifts we can give to the next generation.
So to celebrate the launch of the Treehouse Roll Play Live Animal Party with Splash'N Boots we're giving away four tickets to any one of the venues the tour is going, a Roll Play DVD and CD, and Splash'N Boots' new DVD: The Splash N' Boots Show Act 2: A Whole Lot of Awesome.
All you have to enter is to tell us (in the comment field) what your favourite children's performer was growing up. It's that easy.
Yummy Rules and Regs: You must be a Yummy Mummy Club member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until October 10, 2011. Contest open to Canadian residents. Winners will be picked using www.random.orghttp://www.random.org.