Captain Festus McBoyle: Bubble & Scrape

Captain Festus McBoyle: Bubble & Scrape

The Covid-19 lockdowns have been hard on many of us, and often overlooked in news and media is the fact that children were part of it, too. Children’s musician – no – make that full-time musical pirate, Rich Manic, aka Captain Festus McBoyle, just released a very 2020 song called Bubble, written from the view of a youngster in his family bubble during lockdown. NZM caught up with Capt. McBoyle, post lockdown styles, to find out more. Made with the support of NZ On Air Music.

As someone who performs a lot, how did the lockdowns affect you emotionally and professionally?

Emotionally, I found it very hard not to be performing, rehearsing, recording and pretty much all the things I really love to do. These things are also how I make a living, so having them taken away was a heavy blow. It did make me realise just how lucky I was having such a great family around me. It also forced me to think outside the box and explore other things, both professionally and personally. I now feel much stronger and more resilient because of it. I now appreciate even more, the very things which were temporarily taken away. I absolutely love my job.

What did you refocus your daily music and work routines to include?

The focus for me was family first. Then came the exploration of digital content, creating film location sets, completing lots of funding applications and of course sustainability grants. Massive thanks to the way in which our government and of course the many industry organisations who helped support us during such challenging times. I’m so very grateful for that support.

Can you tell us about your new song Bubble?

Bubble is a song that was conceived during lockdown. The lyrics are written through the eyes of a 7-year old. It tells of their observations, their challenges and of course the uncertainty during such challenging times. It was recorded with an iPhone as a single take, ukulele and main vocal. The backing vocals and the rain and thunder were also recorded on the phone. Tracks were then restored and mixed by Amos Clarke remotely at Showpony Studio. The track was mastered by Chris Chetland at Kog. It’s a very different kind of song for me. Not the usual comedic value in this one. It’s very honest and very much from the heart. Dare I say it, I felt just a little bit vulnerable sharing this one.

It’s nice to see a little bit of the real you behind the costume shine through in the doco you made alongside the new video. What was your thinking behind that?

This is our second ‘The making of…’ documentary piece to date. We did one for the song Moolah as well. It helps set the mood for the actual music video, and allows people to see behind the scenes, to see the amount of work involved and the many talented people on board. It helps reflect the reality of what actually happens on set. It’s a huge job producing quality videos, but lots of fun. I like the fact that this way, our characters can also be seen off stage and more in the flesh. It’s also a good chance to play and be a little bit bonkers too.

We’re such a creative country, full of potential production team members. How do you find the right team for yourself and your music?

I am blessed and very lucky indeed. We have a small tight and talented crew who are also really good friends. Larissa Lofley has over 12 years experience in film and television and wrote, directed and costume designed this video. She also plays Miss Lucy Drawers in the troupe, so talented. We were very fortunate to have the award-winning Michael Craig as our DOP this time, a real legend. Our secret weapon Eddie Larsen (the Mole) was back on editing duties and he also filmed a lot of the documentary piece as well. He manages to capture some truly magic moments. Our good mate David Holmberg was back on art department. He’s also been known to appear as Mr Cheese (our Rat character) in videos, a complete whizz he is… very lucky indeed.

What was the idea behind the Bubble video itself?

Well, the actual song could be seen as being a little sad. It’s not full of humour like the Captain’s other songs. It’s a song documenting a period in time where we were actually locked down with only our family, or just the people we live with, for weeks on end. For some it was a fantastic time, for some it was absolutely horrendous. Either way, it’s part of our history now. We decided the video should portray a single day in the life of our family or “Bubble”. The idea was to make it as funny as we could whilst still documenting the very things we tried as a family during that time. There were plenty of challenges for us during lockdown for sure, but at the end of the day we realised just how much we loved each other and how lucky we really were.

It’s parents who pick the music for their small children first and foremost. How do you plan your marketing, seeing that you have to get to adults before getting to the kids?

We simply write original music and offer live performances which target kids and adults equally. We’ve found the perfect balance. It’s what we do naturally. We don’t ‘dumb down’ kids with forced smiles and lots of silly hand waving. We offer an alternative to the usual ‘sugary stuff’ that’s on offer to kids and stay true to ourselves as performers and producers. We don’t really follow trends. We aren’t everyone’s cup of tea either, but we are extremely passionate and driven to take what we do to as many people as possible. Yes, we push the odd boundary sometimes but we are very much a family show with something for everyone. “The punk rockers of the kids world” – now that was a quote I really enjoyed receiving… we’re rockers from way back!

Now that we’re back to whatever normal is, what’s on the cards for you?

We have three more music videos to produce thanks to NZ On Air. Working on album number four (‘Wot The Cat Dragged In’), booking in live performance work as much as possible, producing digital content self-sufficiently from home and currently working on an endless pile of grant applications. We have just been signed to The Modern Sky Kids Label in China – headhunted directly during lockdown by them, and we now join an elite group of Grammy award winners and oddballs around the world who are to be fully marketed throughout China territory. We were supposed to be performing in China end of September but Covid delayed that, unfortunately.