“It’s So Easy Being Green” is a new song by musical artist Esther Crow. Released just in time for Earth Day, the single comes alongside a fun yet socially-distanced music video. The tune urges listeners to help save the planet and it is the first single from Esther’s upcoming album, “All Together Now” (which was produced by Grammy-award-winning engineer, Dean Jones). The album is scheduled to be released on June 25 and the music video for “It’s So Easy Being Green” will come out on May 21st which just so happens to be Endangered Species Day.
Esther recently discussed this album and more via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in music and songwriting and did you always gravitate towards the children’s genre?
Esther Crow (EC): I’ve always loved music and my parents were both classical musicians (both at the Metropolitan Opera House- my mom was a soprano and my dad was first cellist). However, for a long time I focused on comedy and acting until about the mid 2000’s, then I shifted to music. First, I was in a Devo cover band called DEVA, fronted by myself and Chezza Zoeller. That was a lot of fun. Then we formed another cover band with my husband, Dan Crow, and bassist Derek Davidson, called The Electric Mess. We covered a lot of obscure 60’s garage punk and I wore a mop top wig and pretended to be front-man, Chip Fontaine. Chezza moved to LA shortly thereafter and Dan, Derek and I started writing original material, which came pretty quickly. I lost the male persona shortly after I was pregnant with my son Vincent (who is now 7). Around this time, I also had a new wave project called Auto Bonfire, with Derek Davidson, in which we both wrote the songs and I played keyboards. And then after Vincent was born, I started listening to kid’s music and became inspired to write my own kid’s songs. Since three musical projects was too much to handle, once I had enough kid’s songs, I put Auto Bonfire aside and assembled a 6-person band, with 3 female leads (including myself), called Thunder & Sunshine. We put out an award-winning album in 2017 and played all around NYC including Joe’s Pub and Union Square’s “City Summer in the Square”. It was a lot of fun, and I hope we’ll perform together again sometime, but especially after Covid hit, I became more focused on solo material for kids. By 2020, I already had a few songs ready to record, and wrote a few others to round out a full album, which I recorded in winter of 2021 at Dean Jones’s studio upstate.
MM: How does your own family, especially your child, inspire you creatively?
EC: Both Dan and Vincent play multiple instruments (I only play guitar at this point!) and are always inspiring me. Vincent has also started composing music, and the two of us got through the long year of mostly being at home by making music and puppets. We got WAY into puppet making and then making funny little videos with the puppets. Since Dan and I couldn’t rehearse with our band, The Electric Mess, we started playing music as a threesome at home, and making “Crow Family Jams” (some of which are on my YouTube channel). And now that my album is almost out, we’re playing some of my songs at home and seeing what could possibly work as a threesome. I have been playing shows in the park, here and there, with my acoustic guitar. But it’s exciting to have my family join me and really beef up the sound. They may join me for some future shows as a backing band, which should really make the songs more ROCKIN’!
MM: Why did you decide to make “going green” the focus of your latest song?
EC: The short answer is that the climate crisis should be everyone’s number #1 priority as it influences so many other issues- primarily: the immigration crisis we presently face. As adults, it’s important that we change our habits to be greener, and we need to teach our kids to do the same. The song is meant to be a playful way to introduce some easy changes we can start making right now.
MM: What was the thought process behind the music video like and how long did it take you to actually film the video?
EC: I knew I wanted to film most of it in my neighborhood- the Upper West Side in NYC- and chose Riverside Park since I grew up right here, it’s near and dear to my heart. I also knew I’d want to recruit kids from this hood– of course Vincent, and then some of his friends and our neighbors. We chose the date of April 10th and carefully watched the progress of the cherry blossoms and greenery in the park. I asked my friend, David Neff, to be the videographer (his son Max is one of Vincent’s best friends from pre-K, and is also in the video). We lucked out with a picture-perfect day near 60 degrees and partly sunny. It was a dream! David also found the perfect little spot off the beaten path in the park, where the cherry blossoms really stood out. We also included a couple of out–of-town friends who sent us some video clips– including a New Orleans street and a Delaware beach. The filming in Riverside, though, was about 90% of the footage and only took a few hours.
MM: How long did it take you to complete this recent album and what was it like working in quarantine?
EC: The actual recording of the album was quite fun, and painless, mainly because we were working with Grammy-winner Dean Jones, who is as easy (and fun) to work with as he is talented. We started in late December, 2020, during Xmas break, with a few songs. We then returned during winter break in Feb, 2021, and were able to accomplish most of the recording. In March, we came up for one more weekend to tie up some loose ends. Each time, we tested for Covid before we went up there, and we kept our masks on for everything except when I did vocals. (Dean has an air filter and we took frequent breaks as well.) Both Lucy Kalantari, who is a featured singer on the song Bees Beavers and Bats, was able to record herself at home (she’s now a Grammy-winning producer, herself, with her own studio in Brooklyn!) and send it to Dean, as well as Anna Sarris, one of the singers from Thunder & Sunshine, who sang vocals on Inchworm.
MM: Out of all songs on the album, do you have any personal favorites? If so, which ones and why?
EC: I do have some personal favorites! I’m a Muskrat is one, because it’s so swampy and rockin’. It’s one of the only songs I had zero weeks to suggest. When Dean sent it, I was immediately happy. Bees Beavers and Bats is another, because it’s not in my regular wheelhouse since it’s a jazz song. I can’t even recall the writing process– but it was a ton of fun, and I also had to do a lot of research on these three creatures (which are crucial to the environment). And I’m so honored and happy that Lucy agreed to sing on it and….WOW. She nailed it, of course! Inchworm is a favorite with all the layered vocal harmonies- Anna’s sweet high voice really comes through. I’m also thrilled that another Thunder & Sunshine member, Leslie Goshko, is represented on Hard to Be Happy (she plays keys) which is a definite favorite because of the social justice message and the fact that it’s delivered by two of my puppets. And lastly, Ocean is very personal to me because it’s a tribute to my mom, who recently passed. I played it for her a few days before she died, and I’ll never forget the look on her face as she listened. I don’t usually use my higher, softer voice, and I knew it would please her. It’s a dreamy song (Dean really added so much psychedelic magic here), and adds some nice variety to the album
MM: What are you thinking music-video-wise for the other songs?
EC: I already have some in the works! The next video will be released on June 11th for Hard to be Happy, with two of my puppets: Bernie the Bee and Moonice the Cow. Derek Davidson- bassist for both The Electric Mess and Thunder & Sunshine- shot the puppets against a green screen. We actually filmed this in January, as I thought it would be the first single, but then opted for It’s so Easy Being Green instead since it’s more upbeat. There’s also an animated video in the works for Bees Beavers and Bats, which I’m super excited about. I’m working with Elena Fox, who is a fantastic illustrator in Baltimore. And lastly, I have an idea for a live action video for I’m a Muskrat. Of course, if I had the time and the resources, I’d make videos of all the songs. Let’s see what happens:)
MM: What’s the best fan feedback you’ve gotten about your music?
EC: That it doesn’t sound like Barney was something a parent once said, haha. But seriously: a few parents have commented that they like my music because they think it’s “rockin'”. I will say the genre has really exploded in the last few years and become much more diverse and interesting (or maybe people like me are finally starting to notice some artists who were there all along). But I digress: I think the biggest compliment us kid’s musicians can receive is if the music transcends age and if the whole family truly enjoys it– not just the 0-5 age group.
MM: How do you hope your career evolves over the next five years?
EC: This past year has been strangely great, in some ways, because I’ve gotten to know so many others in the field. I haven’t even met most of them in person- though it feels like I have- and it’s such a supportive group of people who are truly focused on lifting each other up. I’ve learned so much from musicians who’ve been in the specific genre of children’s music longer than I have. Over the next five years, I’d like to continue to write and record music, as well as make more puppet videos and possibly come up with some sort of web series. I’ve had this in mind for a while, but who has the time? Hopefully, I’ll find some soon!
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
EC: One goal is to continue to work with others in the world of kid’s music, and education, and to influence institutions to create a more equitable environment. There are a lot of pioneers in this industry who are leading the way, like Saul Paul, Little Miss Ann, DB and Wendy (just to name a few) and I plan to get even more involved. So much of the world’s conflict and disparity stems from how we educate our children. Those of us in children’s music and education have a big responsibility- but also a huge opportunity. I don’t take any of this lightly, and look forward to spinning some of these daunting issues we face into musical ideas and puppet videos…at least, that’s the challenge, and the hope.