Sprockster Music: For the readers that might be unfamiliar with Kindiefest, can you give tell us a little bit about the conference and its history?
Bill Childs: In 2007 and 2008, Steph [Stephanie Mayers] and I put together industry showcases -- really parties -- in Brooklyn, hosted at the fabulous Jalopy. We had a ton of bands playing, and a ton of great people just hanging out. We realized that the response to those events showed an appetite for a broader event -- an event to help all parts of the family music industry make connections and learn from each other. So in 2009, we had our first year with panels, and in 2010 we expanded to our current format -- Friday night party and keynote, Saturday panels and showcase, and Sunday public music festival.
Sprockster Music: Can you tell us a bit about how the four of you met and ultimately decided to launch Kindiefest?
Bill Childs: We've all known each other for a number of years with our various projects in the family music world, whether radio, events, PR, label operations, or performing. The formation of the partnership was just organic -- we each brought complementary experiences and skills. Plus, we like each other.
Sprockster Music: What's been the biggest obstacle running Kindiefest?
Bill Childs: At the very first, it was the very real worry that we'd put together an event and nobody would come! Fortunately, we've had great attendance very year. More generally, we all have a ton of other stuff going on in our lives. Especially in the early years, making time to get every bit planned was a challenge. We are a bit more confident now -- we know what we're doing, and that it'll work -- so that's made it easier. But that also means we need to figure out how to bring something new and exciting every year in all parts of the event.
Sprockster Music: What's been the best part of running Kindiefest? Any favorite stories to share?
Bill Childs: For me, it's seeing the community build and coalesce. I love hearing about projects that grow out of the event every year -- bands collaborating on recordings or tours and the like. Personally, the launch last year of kinDIY.org -- a user-generated wiki for family music information -- has been gratifying, and grew directly out of conversations over the years at KindieFest, especially with the amazing Susie Tennant (who will be a panelist this year). And I don't think Spare the Rock Records would exist without KindieFest, and the initial release, Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti, has now raised nearly $50,000 for Haitian relief.
Sprockster Music: I see that Scott Schultz is your keynote this year. Can you tell us more about Scott and why he will make such a great keynote for Kindiefest?
Bill Childs: Scott, who co-created Yo Gabba Gabba and the new Aquabats show, is a visionary in family entertainment. His team created a wildly original program and brought it into existence, becoming very popular while remaining utterly unique. That path is a goal for so many in family music, and his keynote, we think, will be terrifically inspiring.
Sprockster Music: How do you feel about this year's panel lineup compared to previous years?
Bill Childs: We learn more every year, and I think we keep getting the panels better and better, building on themes from previous years. We're also very proud of the breadth and diversity of our panelists this year, with people coming from all parts of family entertainment.
Sprockster Music: There are lots of great panels this year. Can you tell us about some of the topics that will be covered? What panel are you most excited about this year and why?
Bill Childs: The range of topics is pretty broad, with some somewhat familiar basic ideas (TV, marketing/PR) and some new ones (books, scene creation). The one I'm probably most excited for is our final panel -- "The State of Kindie." What we now call "kindie music" has now been around, believe it or not, for over a decade. As the genre becomes a teenager, we thought it was a good time to step back and take the long view, with panelists who have been involved in various capacities for a long time.
Sprockster Music: The genre has been called lots of different things from Kindie to Tot Rock to just plain ol' Family Music. What are your thoughts on the genre label? Are any of these better descriptors that others? Is there one that artists should be using to better position themselves to the market?
Bill Childs: I personally use "family music." It seems to me to be the broadest and most inclusive term -- lots of other labels focus too exclusively on rock, to the potential exclusion of a ton of other important genres. I really don't think of this as a genre of music, so much as an area or neighborhood. And I prefer "family music" to "kids' music," as, at least when I'm programming radio or CDs or concerts, I genuinely aim for stuff that everyone will dig, not just the kids.
Sprockster Music: Can you tell us a little bit about the lineup forthis year's festival? Anyone you are particularly excited to see perform live?
Bill Childs: I think this is the most widely varying lineup we've had -- everything from bluegrass to hip hop to rock to piano jazz. For the public festival, I'm personally very excited for Moona Luna's ska-infused Mexican-American music along with the straight-up rock of Big Bang Boom. During the showcase, I'm psyched for the verging-on-surreal electronica-by-way-of-Iceland music of Elska and Chris Ballew's Caspar Babypants. But it's a crazy good lineup from start to finish for both the showcase and festival.
Sprockster Music: Anything fun that you want to try next year that didn't make it on this year's calendar?
Bill Childs: Right now, we're so focused on this year, it's hard to imagine what else we'd want to do. But we always have more panel ideas than slots, and we do save those, so I'm sure we'll go back to that in planning for 2013.
Sprockster Music: I guess that's it. Anything else you'd like to add?
Bill Childs: Thanks for chatting! KindieFest is the best with lots of people, so we hope everyone who reads this tries to make it out!
Sprockster Music: Thank you so much for the time! Kindiefest rocks.
A big thanks to Kindiefest creators Bill Childs, Stephanie Mayers, Tor Hyams, and Mona Kayhan! KindieFest 2012 will take place from April 27 to 29, 2012, at Littlefield NYC in Brooklyn, New York. 622 Degraw Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue in the Gowanus (Park Slope) neighborhood.