25 Aug Claudia Robin Gunn’s New Record ‘Sing for the Sea’ is Perfect for Little Mermaids and Mermen
by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
Auckland, New Zealand, musician Claudia Robin Gunn’s clear, airy voice reminds me so much of Dolores O’Riordan’s and the days of my youth when I’d crank up The Cranberries, one of my favorite nineties alt-rock bands. Yet the water-loving siren’s latest album ‘Sing for the Sea — Little Wild Ocean Friends (Little Wild Music)’ is aiming to engage an even younger fanbase with two dozen rockin’ nautical songs.
Spoiler alert: She wins over both parents (like me!) and little ones in this round. The double album is brimming with tunes about ferries and tugboats, glow-in-the-dark sea life, escaping octopus and a call to save our ocean from plastic, delivered in the form of lullabies, rollicking sea shanties, mirror ball dance parties, and everything in between. My favorites, so far: the peppy “Baby Bobtail Butterfly Squid,” the dance-along “Ferry Song,” and the adorable, heartfelt “Mermaid Parade.”
“The digital album and songbook project is supported by Creative New Zealand, and follows on in a similar format from my last album release — 2020’s Sing Through The Year — and will be followed by a sister album Sing for the Earth this coming October as well,” Claudia tells Rockmommy of the 24-track record.
Note to parents: The digital songbook features all the song lyrics and chords, science notes and activity ideas for each song written by Claudia’s sister Dr. Melissa R. Gunn and illustrations by Elise De Silva, an award-winning watercolor artist.
We recently caught up with Claudia to learn more.
Rockmommy: Your new album ‘Sing for The Sea’ is so dreamy — and, wow! There are so many songs. Have you always felt a connection to nature?
Claudia Robin Gunn: Thank you! I think I have always felt more at home in the bush, and by the water than anywhere else. New Zealand is a land of trees, mountains and ocean all around. I was a city kid but my city is full of nature — pocket parks, streams at the bottom of the garden, orchards in the backyard, beaches on all sides.
Rockmommy: The songbook is a really cool accompaniment to the music. How did you come up with that idea?
Claudia Robin Gunn: I was inspired by Dolly actually — I saw her book ‘Songteller’ a few years ago and I loved the idea of sharing the stories behind songs, especially for kids so they know that songs come from somewhere, and they could make their own songs too.
Combining some non fiction and activities as well as the lyrics to make the music more of a resource for teachers and parents was the idea — for this album my friend Elise has painted every creature or ecosystem for the book and my sister Melissa (a scientist and YA author too) has written all the accompanying material. Yay for teamwork!
Rockmommy: You have a second album coming, too, Sing for the Earth. Are you more of a sea person or a land lover?
Claudia Robin Gunn: I think I’m a mermaid who has come ashore ha ha! I wasn’t a good swimmer as a kid, and big waves always knocked me over. Then I learnt to scuba dive and I felt right at home. Now I love paddleboarding and snorkeling as much as hiking and mountain biking. My sister is the real nature expert though, so I’m lucky to collaborate with her on this project. I’m excited to share all the animal stories we are creating in Sing for the Earth — it’s very much a sister album to Sing for the Sea — as they are both about environmental awareness and helping kids to connect with unique and amazing wildlife above and below the waves.
Rockmommy: What inspired you to create this album?
Claudia Robin Gunn: I’d seen how passionate my kids and their generation are about conservation and environmental justice. Issues like biodiversity loss, plastic pollution, habitat destruction and climate change need every kind of advocate, and who better than kids themselves? We are in the UN Ocean Decade, and I think if kids can connect with stories and songs about nature, they may be more likely to grow up with knowledge and inspiration to create the future they want to live in, perhaps becoming scientists, communicators, and champions of our oceans and marine life.
Rockmommy: What’s your favorite track (and your kids’ favorite track)?
Claudia Robin Gunn: I think mine is “The Loneliest Whale” about 52 Blue — I just really want that whale to find a friend. It’s a metaphor for anyone who walks their own path in life, and I hope kids find hope and courage in that story. My kids fav is Inky the Octopus — it’s a funny but true story about the octopus that escaped from its tank here in New Zealand, by squiggling down the drain pipe when its tank was left open. Animals are so smart!
Rockmommy: Any shows or touring news to share?
Claudia Robin Gunn: I just did a weekend of shows at our national Maritime Museum to launch the sea album. Next school holidays I’ll be taking both the sea and animal songs out to meet some fans, and for my friends around the world I’m working on a new series of live streams soon. One day I’d love to really truly tour my albums — but virtual is still a helpful option that is accessible for a lot of families in these times, and for artists like me who live on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! I’ve had quite a few requests to come visit communities around NZ and even write new songs about topics relevant to their community, so that will be a fun puzzle to work out 🙂
Rockmommy: When we first connected, it was during a time of great uncertainty revolving around a pandemic that was fairly new. And now, well, we’re living in a new world! How is life treating you and how have you adapted?
Claudia Robin Gunn: I’m still adapting I think, like us all. Since all of last year’s show bookings got cancelled, I was so grateful for the silver lining of having this recording project to work on, thanks to the support I received from Creative New Zealand.
Now I think I have got the recording bug — and am way more confident at tracking my demos and workshopping songs. It’s also lovely to be part of a connected community of artists all trying to make this world a little brighter for children — so I feel like that is a massive beautiful silver lining from all of the uncertain times we’ve been through.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor of Rockmommy.