Rockabye Baby! sat down with Leo over a hot cup of Sleepytime tea in our cozy cave. He was nice enough to stop by to share some of his insights into transforming the timeless and challenging songs of Queen, this special album, and the process of creating music that both babies and their parents can love.
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[caption id="attachment_877" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Producer Leo Flynn II photographed by Sarah DiCiccio"][/caption]
Rockabye Baby!: How do you go about creating a lullaby album?
Leo Flynn II: Well, it all starts with getting the cutest sounds. We build up a palette of the most gentle lullaby instruments we can find (or craft): xylophones, woodblocks, celestas, glockenspiels, etc. At that point, we have the basic ingredients of our lullaby "band"!
Then we break down the original song, find out what really makes it tick, and bring to life its key elements-melody, guitar riffs, certain rhythms-with the different lullaby instruments. If we do it right, we come up with a really soothing sound for little ones while maintaining some rock attitude-that sense of rebellion or heartache or humor that always draws the grown-up listeners to their favorite songs.
RB!: What kind of things do you do in the studio to keep you focused on making sleepy music? Did you have any special inspiration for this album?
LF: Producers are generally sleep-deprived people, so having them work long hours on lullaby music is a bit sadistic...
Actually, I did keep pictures of two babies in my family, Michael and Avery, asleep, above my keyboard. That helped me to remember my audience and to play everything softly!
RB!: Were there any special challenges to making a lullaby to Queen?
The scope of Queen's style is massive. The band effortlessly leaped from hard rock to country shuffle to operatic musical theater...sometimes in the same song! I wanted the lullaby versions to be just as dynamic. Like Queen, I wanted to create tracks that were each a world of their own.
RB!: What is your favorite track on the album and why?
LF: I love the way Under Pressure turned out. All the emotions in the original song seem to surface on our little lullaby stage. The song's whole crescendo plays out-from lamenting this big cruel world to refusing defeat and embracing love despite the odds. All the while, the track stays soft and sweet.
So, perhaps our version is about trying with all your tiny might to speak your first word or take your first step. The world might seem set against us, but we humans-big and small-are a defiant bunch!
RB!: What inspired you to be a musician? How old were you? Did you study music?
LF: Genetics definitely play a big part. When I was a baby, my dad used to bring me to his band's rehearsals and sit me on his bass amp when he played. Apparently, the thump of the bass made me a very happy little dude!
I picked up my dad's bass around age 13 or 14, after scattered piano lessons as a kid. My best friends and I put together a band and wrote music constantly throughout high school. That later led to attending Berklee College of Music, where I dove deeply into writing and producing music.
RB!: What are you working on now?
LF: I'm working on some original instrumental material that ranges from classical to pop/rock to funk and dance sounds. I really enjoy blending genres. Rockabye Baby is a treat for me because it combines arranging orchestral instruments with rock songs and rock production techniques.
Next up for me is Lullaby Renditions of Kanye West! I'm really excited to get inside Kanye's music and see what hip-hop will bring to our lullaby world.