Kids Imagine Nation’s New Concept Album Brings the Drama of a Broadway Musical to Kindie Rockers

I’ve spent too long away from the theater, because the moment I heard the first track off California kindie-rock band — and Disney favorite — Kids Imagine Nation’s new concept album, I felt compelled to listen to the entire thing. And I’m an adult mom — not a kid! 

Best Day Ever takes the listener on a journey through a series of songs about the adventures of three friends (played by KIN performers Rachel, Aaron and Beatz) pursuing their passions in science, theater, music. Is today really “the greatest day”? What are the trio going to do outside? What will they do when they take a wrong turn (and need to break out the compass)? You’ll have to listen to find out.

Fortunately all questions and more are answered in KIN’s Best Day Ever (available on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon), a super-fun album made for family road trips. And if you get a chance to catch them live, do it!

[SEE RELATED: Kids Imagine Nation Swaps High-Energy Live Shows for a Virtual Music Program That’s Fun, Engaging and Whimsical]

We recently caught up with KIN founding member Aaron Bertram to find out more. 

Rockmommy: It’s been a busy year. Can you tell us how KIN came up with the idea for a concept album, a musical of sorts, that takes the listener through the adventures of the three central KIN characters as students? 

Aaron Bertram: This year HAS been busy! We have already performed over 600 shows at Legoland California just in 2021!  When we were ready to put this album together, we wanted to do something different than our previous musical endeavors. Over the years, Kids Imagine Nation continues to evolve, and we wanted an album that is the representation of that evolution with music, interactive elements, and most important, storytelling. What better way to show it than with a musical radio play!? We started with the songs, then wrote a brand new adventure around them, bringing in characters from our web series, and having prominent voice over artists playing some new characters!

Rockmommy: Have you performed this album? What were performances like over the summer of 2021? 

Aaron Bertram: We haven’t performed this album live yet, although we definitely plan to! We have performed some of these songs here and there in other shows; however, we plan to perform them all together, along with the storyline from this album. We can’t wait to bring this entire musical to a live audience one day.  

Performing live again after a year was one of those things… for us and for the audience, where you weren’t quite sure how to navigate everything at first. We were masked, and that was an adjustment initially, but as soon as we got the hang of it, it was super easy!   And it was a freeing moment, because on stage is where we thrive! We did 4-5 shows a day at Legoland. We’ve basically performed 7 days a week for the past 6 months, after not performing an in-person show for almost exactly one year! Talk about going from 0-60!
We wrote a brand new summer show just for Legoland that took advantage of their big stage and huge video screen above us. That included 3 brand new songs (“Summer Of Fun,” “Future Dinosaur,” & “Tyrannosaurus Rocks,” some of our new favorites!)

Rockmommy: You do so many things, from virtual learning performances to live shows. How do you continue to generate content that resonates with young listeners that feels fresh and relevant? 

Aaron Bertram: Thank you so much for your kind words. We are very passionate, ourselves, about the idea that we, as human beings never stop learning and exploring. We love to travel and to explore the arts in all of its many forms. We personally thrive off change and creation… so we feel like: finding new outlets for our love for music and theatre and dance and visual arts and video production keeps our own lives fresh and interesting… as well as provides our friends who come to our shows and consume our content with something new that we hope they can resonate with, or just have fun with.  

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.

Kids Imagine Nation Swaps High-Energy Live Shows for a Virtual Music Program That’s Fun, Engaging and Whimsical

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

It’s not always easy to capture the imagination — or attention — of a toddler or grade-schooler in a virtual music class. My kids love their music teacher, don’t get me wrong, but they are already weary from singing “This Land is Your Land” over a Google Meets connection. It’s chaotic at best, trying to get them to focus.

Aaron B. and Rachel C. of Kids Imagine Nation, a live performance kindie rock act hailing from Orange County, get that. While virtual (aka, “distance”) learning can work academically, music class doesn’t necessarily translate well. 

But their new online music program might just change that.

[RELATED: The Most Danceable Kiddie Record for Ska- and Punk-loving Parents is Coming in September

Like their Kids Imagine Nation live show, the Kids Imagination Kindie Music channel leads little learners through movement exercises, musical instruction, and other hands-on educational activities, which are the perfect supplement to any 2020 distance learning curriculum. 

We’ve only begun to watch them, and I can attest that they’re awesome.

My kiddos and I opted to try out music class, which is live-streamed at 11 a.m. PST on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but available on demand anytime, to check it out. The one we tried — an October 10 Music Class, on demand — kicked off with a yoga-like movement sequence (Aaron growing into a big, strong tree), and featured a singalong sequence, dance time, and a music history lesson on the bass guitar (I had no idea the bass guitar was invented in 1930, did you?!). 

While the music class is designed for learners ages 4 to 8, other content in the Kindie Music program, such as the weekly storytime and crafting classes, are perfect for children ages 2 to 4. All lessons move from one sequence to the next every three to five minutes, to ensure that even the most finicky preschooler can focus. As a guitar teacher, I know this is the only way to keep children coming back for more — especially over a virtual platform. 

We recently caught up with Aaron over email to talk about Kindie Music program, and why it’s a fun way to enhance online learning during challenging times. 

Rockmommy: Tell us about the creation of Kids Imagine Nation’s Kindie Music program. How did this come about? 

Aaron B.: Rachel and I — two-thirds of Kids Imagine Nation — have always been performers and educators. While we created videos and music for kids, we have also been teaching preschool music classes at various schools in Southern California. We would also perform over 200 shows a year at schools, libraries, and The Disneyland Resort. But when Covid-19 hit, and our schools shut down and all our shows were canceled, we needed to adapt.  We took our music curriculum and our love for creating videos, and began teaching online.  It was a way for our schools and students to still interact with us, but it now opened up the possibility that our Kids Imagine Nation fans could participate as well. Right off the bat we offered five music classes, four story times and Friyay dance party every week.  

Rockmommy: One of the biggest challenges I’ve found is keeping kids engaged in music over a virtual connection. How did you curate the content based on kids’ real-life personalities and needs for engagement? 

Aaron B.: This is a great question! There are pros and cons to teaching over Zoom. Being able to see your students is a huge plus, but with that there becomes a lot of distractions, especially when everyone can see everyone else.  We decided right away to present our class like a live tv show.  We know, as early childhood educators, that activities need to be done no more than 5 minutes. So, every 5 minutes we are doing something different, and each section has its own video introduction.  We have the ability to put items on the screen, during class, that we use for games that turns our class into “Active Screen Time.” We also provide a chat feature, where parents can participate, if they choose.  

This allows us to specifically call out names during class. Another tool we use is a polling feature that the kids can use to vote for different things that Rachel or I do at the end of class. We also ask the students to draw pictures that we use during our Fairy Tale Night, where Rachel tells a story and we put the children’s artwork on the screen, live. Because of our years as performers and teachers, we know what to say, and more importantly how to say it, to keep the children engaged, and to make them feel that what they are watching is specifically for them.

Rockmommy: What do you hope to impart with the show? (e.g., life lessons, etc.)? 

Aaron B.: Of course we want to show that music is fun, and encourage the love of performing it, but more importantly we want to provide a virtual place that is safe, inclusive, and empowering.  

Rockmommy: How are you trying to create a sense of community during this isolating time? 

Aaron B.: Because we feature videos and pictures that students submit, and we offer an “interact” section on our site where families can post and comment on other families discussions, a lot of our families now follow each other on social media sites.  Although our live stream network is designed to watch what you want, when you want if you can’t watch the actual live stream, most of our families watch live, and because we talk about what students are doing (because of our chat feature) our students literally refer to the others watching as “friends”.

Rockmommy: What kind of feedback are you getting from your audience? 

Aaron B.: The feedback we receive is overwhelming great.  When we hear from families telling us how our program has affected their lives, it fills our hearts up because we love what we do and we are so glad that other feel the same.

Rockmommy: Any hopes of performing live again? 

Aaron B.: WE LOVE PERFORMING LIVE!  We know it’s coming, and when it does we will be out there!  We are already planning a full country tour once we are allowed to!!!

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

A Summer Playlist That’ll Work for (Almost) Any Kid Under 7

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Pop quiz: What’s the last thing you played in your car? If your answer is Kidz Bop, you’re definitely a parent who wants to make sure your kids aren’t listening profanity-laced tunes while you drive. And/or your name is Nick, and you’re a dad of four who plays the drums. 🙂

To be sure, Kidz Bop puts out some amazing renditions of songs like Cardi B’s “I like it.”

But I sense that what many parents really need more of is good playlists full of adult-friendly songs that you can listen to with the little ones in tow. 

Whether you’re embarking on a family road trip, or are simply tired of hearing “Baby Shark” on repeat, here’s a summer playlist full of seasonal, (mostly) grownup tunes that your kids will love. I can say this with confidence because it’s an actual summer playlist I use for my two sons, both under 7. 

My son Logan, listening to something on my computer

“Three Little Birds” — Bob Marley

Everything about this song makes me happy. If you’re not burned out on “Legend” from your college years, also download “No Woman No Cry.” 

“Believer” — Imagine Dragons

My littlest one loves the thundering drums and been easily singing along with the chorus. 

“Rock Party” — Kids Imagine Nation

This fun song from the Orange California kind rock trio Kids Imagine Nation calls for some serious dancing. 

[RELATED: The Most Danceable Kiddie Record for Ska- and Punk-loving Parents is Coming in September] 

“Miserlou” — Dick Dale

This surf song is one of my all-time favorites, even without “Pulp Fiction.” Kids will totally dig it too. RIP, Dick Dale.

[SEE RELATED: “How Meeting Dick Dale, My Favorite Guitarist of All Time, Changed My Life”]

“We Will Rock You” — Queen

Stomp, stomp, clap! Stomp, stomp, clap! While some might be offended by this song’s lyrics, my kids love it (and they only remember the first verse anyway). 

“ME!” — Taylor Swift

T-swift’s new one is catchy and uplifting. If you haven’t over-played “Shake it Off” like me, add that one to the list too. 

“Message in a Bottle” — The Police

Who doesn’t love this song? I mean, really? 

“We Are The Dinosaurs” — Laurie Berkner

You might think that this is a children’s song, but trust me, you won’t get the refrain out of your head: “We are the dinosaurs, marching, marching!” 

“How I Love You Sun” — Jessa Campbell & The Saplings

If you like this song, the video is even better! 

“Pony Boy” — Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights

This isn’t a grown-up song, but it’s a super cute little country ditty. And that makes me happy. 

[SEE RELATED: Singer-Songwriter Joanie Leeds on Motherhood, Her Summer Tour & ‘Brooklyn Baby’]

“No Hablo Espanol” 

Backstreet Boys singer Howie D’s first children’s record navigates his unusual upbringing. My kids are obsessed with this song. 

“Firework” — Katy Perry

This song makes me think of the Fourth of July every time.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

Kids Imagine Nation Gives High-Energy Vibes to ‘Christmas Time’

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

I’m a HUGE friend of Christmas music, and have heard probably every popular Christmas song ever made, from the likes of Bing Crosby and Brenda Lee to Mariah Carey and — of course — Alvin and the Chipmunks. I love hearing all of the cool versions of the classics; every song takes me back to when I was little and my dad used his analog cassette recorder and handheld mini microphone to make annual carol recordings.

Kids Imagine Nation’s ‘Christmas Time is Here’ 

And so it was with a caroling lover’s ear that I listened to kindie rock trio Kids Imagine Nation‘s new collection of seasonal ditties. And I was definitely not disappointed! ‘Christmas Time is Here,’ available for download on iTunes since Saturday, is filled with high-energy songs inspired by the trio’s high-energy live shows, plus a dose of holiday mirth.

[RELATED: The Most Danceable Kiddie Record for Ska- and Punk-loving Parents is Coming in September] 

The much-anticipated follow-up to Kids Imagine Nation 2 is infused with the ska-meets-surf-pop spins on classics like “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Deck the Halls” that you’d expect from Aaron, Rachel and Beatz (incidentally, Rachel sounds a lot like Brenda Lee). I thought I was revving up for a Mighty Mighty Bosstones tune during the opening riffs of “Up on a Housetop;” I thought I was hearing Ziggy Marley’s opener while listening to “Gift of Giving,” a song about kindness tucked within a cool ska guitar rhythm. 

Download it now for the road trip to Grandma’s (or the mall) with the family. Or jam out solo with your bad self.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy. 

The Most Danceable Kiddie Record for Ska- and Punk-Loving Parents is Coming in September

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Kids Imagine Nation — an Orange County-based, three-piece kids’ music group with members from ska band Suburban Legends — is releasing its second album, a cheerful party record that should be played while your 6-year-old frolics about in a bouncy house (or in the kitchen). The record, simply titled Kids Imagine Nation Two,  comes out in September. I’ve already listened and can attest that it’s loaded with lots of super high-energy tunes — my favorites are “Rock Party” and the hilarious kiddie workout accompaniment “Exercise.” 

The album is the perfect anthem for Southern California parents who skate or listen to lots of ska, surf rock or West Coast punk fans. Preschoolers will vibe on the good energy. Think of it this way: If Gwen Stefani launched a kiddie music side project, this is what it would sound like. 

Speaking of which, if you’re in Los Angeles, check out the group’s early morning performance at The Grove on October 4, filled with more original songs and stories that entertain and inspire kids.