Narragansett’s Greg Lato has gone in many musical directions during his career. He was raised on vinyl records from his dad Vinny who is a jazz saxophone player and he’s also a member of the MTV generation when the channel actually showed music videos on the TV screen. He’s delved into the singer-songwriter aesthetic while also venturing into the pop and country styles. These days, Lato is doing something a bit different by putting out children’s music. His latest installment in this venture is the album “Create My Own World” that’s coming out on July 24.
We recently had a chat about the making of the album, working with a Grammy winning musician on a song, having more musical freedom and his plans for promoting the album after it’s released.
Rob Duguay: What inspired you to put out an album geared towards kids?
Greg Lato: My kids. Since I became a father, they just started giving me inspiration by just doing what they do. I would follow them around the house with a guitar while coming up with ideas to funny things, so that’s how it kind of started. I actually wrote one song that I turned into a book called Try, so once I did that I started getting ideas to put together a whole album. That’s how it kind of started.
RD: You had Bill Harley on the track for “Two Slow Snails” in the album and he’s a bit of a legend due to him winning a few Grammys and being an icon for children’s music. How were you able to get Bill involved?
GL: I was so excited when he agreed to collaborate on a song with me. What happened was I had met him at the Rhode Island Children’s Book Festival last year and I actually opened up for him during the performance part of the event. We started talking and we exchanged information, then after the event I had the idea for a song that I thought would be perfect to bring him in on. I emailed him and asked him, it was a while until our schedules linked up and as soon as that happened I waited for him to agree to do it, which he eventually did. We then scheduled a time for when we could both get into the studio and that’s how it happened.
RD: The music in “Create My Own World” has a synthpop aesthetic to it while also incorporating a few spoken word tracks. What made you want to take this approach? Did you have a lot of keyboards around at your disposal?
GL: I demoed all of the songs in my home studio first before I brought them into an actual studio. It was just tools that I had at my disposal at home, where I have a lot of keyboards along with a bass and that’s how I started creating. What I was able to do with this album is to really play around with different genres that I’ve always wanted to do in one project. I wasn’t able to do that when I was doing the pop rock adult stuff before. I was able to draw from many different influences, including the pop stuff that’s always there in my music, and do whatever I want which became a blank canvas.
RD: It’s a cool listening experience due to how catchy everything is but the different sound elements makes it really interesting. You’ve also written music for film, TV shows and commercials. What do you find to be a major difference between making music for either of those outlets versus making music for an album?
GL: When you write for TV and film, a lot of times you have to tailor it to whatever you’re given and whatever project that you didn’t originate. With this project, it was all from me. Whatever I wanted to do, I could just play around with it and it gave me a lot of creative freedom that I normally wouldn’t have with writing for TV and film. I think that’s what made it the most fun for me.
RD: COVID-19 has affected the way albums are normally released because live music is barely existent these days, so you can’t do a proper release show. Do you plan on livestreaming or doing virtual events to promote the album after it comes out on the 24th or do you plan on sharing the link to Create My Own World around on social media on a regular basis?
GL: Because of the lack of gigs that I can do, I plan on really working with social media and probably doing more music videos like I used to do back in the day. I used to do a lot of music videos that had characters and I had fun with that. I may be doing more stuff like that in the future just to get more exposure. Whereas before, I was always playing at schools, libraries, bookstores and auditoriums and obviously I can’t do that with everything that’s going on. I have to find more creative ways to try to get the album out there.