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Jack Johnson
Inspired by the Aloha Spirit with a style of lazy blues, Jack Johnson is getting enough recognition in the music circuit. This bubble-toed singer has a peculiar way of blending different genres of folk pop and rock with a little Hawaiian touch. Johnsonís first priority had always been surfing, but destiny went a little upside down under the waves of Oahu and landed him into the world of music where he is presently one of the biggest singer-songwriters.

His popularity reached sky high with his new album, which is also the soundtrack for the animated movie Curious George. With songs like Upside Down (which is hitting the charts), Jack was introduced to other genres of music, which led him to concentrate more on soft tunes and lullabies. An exclusive interview with this fun surfer gives us a closer view at why he likes to create his own constellations and what inspired him to work on Curious George.

Is Curious George an album or a soundtrack?
Jack Johnson: Well, Curious George could be placed somewhere in between. Itís very difficult to define it as it ended, having many songs. This could have been like any normal record of mine but since itís got a lot of songs for kids and a huge amount of support and contribution from my friends, it turns out to be something completely different. It kind of feels like a record but Iím not really sure.

How did you end up writing songs for the movie?
JJ: One day, like any other day, I just got a phone call asking if I wanted to write a song for the movie. I said, ďOkay, but which one?Ē To my surprise they told me it was Curious George. I was a big fan of Curious George while growing up, so I thought it would be fun. And then one song led to two songs, then four, then it became eight, and finally the whole soundtrack. The best part about this album is that it was the perfect time. Iíd just had my little boy, Moe, and I thought it would be a lot of fun because Iíd get to spend all my time in that frame of mind. So for the next few months my son and I played with his toys and sung songs!

Did you ever read Curious George to your son?
JJ: Yeah. I got this thick edition that has every book possible in it so when I would be playing with him I would also read out stories of Curious George. And Moe loves Curious George, he also enjoys the movie a lot and this makes me happy.

Did your family, especially your son, inspire you when you wrote these songs?
JJ: Moe definitely played most part of being my audience. Most of the time Iíd play the songs to him and if he would dance to it, Iíd know it was a good one. But if heíd say, ďNo, Daddy. No, Daddy,Ē and walk away, then Iíd know it wasnít a very good one. During the time I spent playing with him I tried to see the world through his eyes. It really helped me write the songs.

Was it difficult to write for kids?
JJ: Not really, because I guess Iím quite used to writing songs the way I do and that just slipped in there. I kind of just tried to write for kids, but it sort of ended up being for both. The melodies Iíd write and the way the band would play it still sounded like our same style, but lyrically it was a little more kid-like.
A friend of mine told me the other day that this one was his favorite record among all the others. He said that he would hear the lyrics and apply them to his own life, even though they were made for the kids. Hearing this from an adult was a good sign.

What does Curious George mean to you and why do you think he is so successful around the world?
JJ: It means a lot to me especially now as a parent. Itís a learning lesson for any parent that every kid is innocent and the mistakes that take place are accidental. Curious George is successful because he represents what every kid gets into, all the trouble just by trying things out and being simply curious about the world. It also gives a sense of association with the character and a perfect example for parents to explain their kidís mistake as Curious Georgeís mistake. The parents end up telling their kids, ďRemember when Curious George did this or that? Well, thatís kind of like what you just did. But you canít always just do anything; you have to be careful sometimes.Ē It applies to everyoneís life.

You can read the rest of our exclusive with Jack Johnson in the May 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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