Media / EPK
The Whig Standard
About five years ago, couple Jen and James Mulvale were simply musicians: she a singer-songwriter, he a composer for television shows.
“Then we had children, and it all kind of dried up, looking after the kids,” James explained. “We were getting nothing done artistically.”
That’s when the couple decided to try something different: writing and recording children’s songs.
“Once we started, it was like, there’s lots and lots here for us to work with, and it seemed to flow pretty easily,” said Jen, who, along with husband James, found herself suddenly pondering things like buckles, staying awake (or sleeping), and dinosaurs, among other things.
The result is Amazing Discoveries, a new record by the Mulvales, known collectively as Sweetiepies. The couple release their album Saturday and perform its 10 catchy songs live online that morning.
The couple, who moved to Kingston from Toronto in April, had written five songs when they decided to do an entire album.
“About three months ago, we had this big rush of new songs, and they just came out.”
And they tested their songs from their daughter (they also have a young son), who offered her feedback.
“I remember we played her versions of ‘Little Walkin’ Bird’ while we were writing it and she said, ‘No, no, that’s not my song. You’re doing it wrong,’ ” laughed mother Jen, who also has a background in music therapy. “So now we’re collaborating.”
In addition to writing and recording the album, the couple created a homemade video for each one of them, starting with “Like a Dinosaur,” using items purchased at a dollar store and assembled on their kitchen table.
“We’re learning as we go, too, part of creating, part of songwriting, part of playing is how we learn,” said Jen, “and the dinosaur video was our first shot.”
The couple hope to book some shows in the coming year.
“We’re hoping to get involved with the little arts festivals in Kingston,” said James, who added they might bring in some backup musicians someday and “make it a bit bigger than what we are.”
Kingston-based children’s musicians Sweetiepies are creating original children’s music somewhat out of necessity, but that’s not something you’ll hear them complain about.
“It’s hard when you’re a creative person to accept that a process isn’t working anymore,” says Jen Mulvale, one half of the married couple that makes up Sweetiepies. “As time went on, we built our family we found it harder and harder to do things the way we wanted to, so we started bringing our kids into the creative process. We’d be walking around putting songs together while we were getting groceries.”
Both Jen and her husband James are songwriters; James went to school for music composition and Jen has a background as a singer-songwriter, but has also worked in theatre and art therapy.
This Saturday at 10 AM, they’ll be debuting their new album, Amazing Discoveries, with a Facebook Live event through their Facebook page.
They’ll have their own two children, along with a few of their friends, on hand as they play through all 10 songs of their debut album. All of the songs are original, with the exception of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and even to that song they added some of their own lyrics.
“We started talking about buckles one day with our four-year-old daughter Evie,” muses Mulvale. “We realized that when you’re a kid, so much of your life is about buckles. They’re everywhere you go and people are always strapping you into things, and that evolved into The Buckle Song on the album.”
Things like buckles, and the need to sometimes stay awake during car rides (hence the song Stay Awake), are some of the day-to-day things that have inspired this collection of songs
“The album is kind of this evolution of us re-creating ourselves as songwriters and as musicians, but also capturing this period of time in our lives,” says Mulvale.
After this Saturday’s album launch, Sweetiepies fans of all ages can look forward to live shows in the area next summer. In the meantime, for a visual fix, fans can follow along at Sweetiepies’ Youtube channel.
“We’ve branched into making videos as part of the songwriting process,” explains Mulvale. “Visual media is so big for kids now. We’re not very good video-makers, frankly, but we’re learning as we go. While we’re writing, we’re about the visual elements well.”
As their kids get older, Mulvale is hopeful they’ll keep writing kids’ music and find time to work on “music we would write more ourselves – things that we can’t incorporate into the kids’ stuff.”
The Morning Show with Bill Welychka 11/29/2018