If you have children or have babysat for a friend or family member, you have probably endured the nails-on-a-chalk-board “kiddie” tunes that end up being played on repeat. You know, the ones that make something like a kid screaming, sound soothing in comparison?
Well what if there was a kids’ show that combined childish themes with a more universal pop/rock sound? What if they were heavily influenced by Weezer, The Ramones and the best of the ’80s? It just happens to exist and it’s called Pancake Manor.
Pancake Manor is a Victoria-produced music video series for preschoolers that features music, puppets, humans and occasionally, angry bananas. They recently surpassed the 100 million view mark on YouTube (the creators were flown down to use the studio facilities at the YouTube Space in Los Angeles as a treat), and they are in the top 60 most-viewed education channels. You may have been watching the Pancake Manor channel with your kids for years and never realized those puppets could be right next door…
WHO HAS A HAND IN IT?
This success story is led by a couple named Billy Reid and Reb Stevenson who do all the singing, puppeteering, acting, shooting and editing.
Billy is from Victoria and is a former CBC television host who had some early YouTube success with his comedy channel “Very Tasteful.” He’s also written original music and jingles for CBC Television, Kellogg’s, MTV, Public Mobile, McDonald’s, the Science Channel, and The Comedy Network. Billy writes and records all the original music, illustrates/animates and edits the Pancake Manor series and performs both Zach and Reggie puppets.
Reb Stevenson is originally from Parksville and a former travel columnist with the Toronto Star. She also keeps a blog called The Life Nostalgic and has made videos for Canada.com. She is the primary cinematographer for Pancake Manor, provides the voices for females and occasionally appears as “mama”.
AN 80s FLAVOUR
“Our goal is to make kids’ music videos that won’t send parents running for noise-cancelling headphones,” commented Reid. “ When we were kids we both loved Top 40 pop. After all, it was the glorious heyday of Madonna, Michael Jackson and, oh heck, let’s give a loving nod to Gowan as well.”
They make over classics like “Old MacDonald” and “Five Little Monkeys” by adding a bridge or chorus which most children songs don’t have (which may be why they drive us crazy), and they produce complete originals.
They’ve just released an entire original album called “Colors” (American spelling because most of their fanbase is in the US). Each colour gets its own song and they just uploaded “Red” on Wednesday, the first of the colours series.
“We’re honoured to have just received a grant from Telus Storyhive to make a 100% animated musical video for our song ‘Blue’,” commented Reid. “The grant enables us to try something completely new; hiring a professional animator to squash our puppet characters Zach, Reggie and Lulu with a steam roller (digitally, that is) so we can see them as two-dimensional cartoons!”
Re-find your 80s spirit and stay tuned to Pancake Manor’s YouTube channel or jam out to their songs on iTunes or CD.
Visit www.pancakemanor.com for more info