We’re All Human: Interview with Kids’ Musical Artist Tunes with Tim

“We’re All Human” is a new album by musical artist Tim Bredrup of “Tunes with Tim” fame. A perfect album for families, “We’re All Human” is a family creation of 11 original songs that range in style from jazz, to rock, to hip-hop. The album was partly inspired by Tim’s sister, Kate Sprouse, who created melodies and lyrics for her toddler daughters. Tim’s aunt, Jenny Graham, also crafted several children’s songs for her newborn grandchild and some of those songs were subsequently added to the album, too.

Tim recently discussed this album via an exclusive interview.

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in music and how did you break into the industry?

Tim Bredrup (TB): Many members of my family are musicians, and my mother started me out with piano lessons at age three after learning about the many benefits a music education has on child development. So, music has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember, and it came quite naturally to me. The musical foundation a piano education provides enabled me to teach myself other instruments like the guitar, bass, and drums, and in high school, I started playing in my first rock band with my friends. After winning our high school battle of the bands, I definitely caught the performance bug. Eventually it became clear my calling in life was to make music. I just needed to figure out how to make a living with music, which was the tricky part. So, when I went to college, I decided to enroll in the music business program at Valparaiso University and got involved in as many musical projects as I could. When I graduated, I accepted a sales job offer from the legendary Steinway & Sons piano company while continuing to play in various bands. My hope was that one of those bands would eventually become successful enough to provide the same financial support as a full-time job. In pursuit of that goal, I met fellow kids’ musician Dave Hamilton (aka Mr. Dave) in 2013. Discovering we had many things in common, Dave and I quickly became friends and he thought I would make a good kids’ musician. So, he “showed me the ropes” as they say, and I never looked back. Dave continues to be an invaluable mentor to this day, and I’ll be forever grateful for our relationship. Through the knowledge I gained from him, I was able to achieve my goal of becoming a full-time musician by means of the kids’ music industry. Besides being able to make a comfortable living, I now also have a job that gives me tremendous joy and fulfillment while being able to work for myself as my own boss. All of which, I quite enjoy.

MM: How did you get involved with Grammy-nominated producers?

TB: I met Jamie Candiloro through Dave Hamilton, who also has worked with Jamie over the years. Jamie then introduced me to Scott Hull. Jamie and Scott have both worked with some incredible artists over the course of their careers like The Eagles, R.E.M., Willie Nelson, John Mayer, Sting, and Steely Dan. So not only was it a thrill to have them be a part of this album, but their expertise and experience brought things to the next level for me and resulted in what I think is a strong, competitive release.

MM: What’s it like to work with your family to create music?

TB: I’ve been making music with members of my family in some capacity for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been playing with my cousin Charley in a band called Fletcher Rockwell for over 11 years now. So, I’m no stranger to the dynamic of working with family, but what was significant and unique about this experience is that many of these songs were inspired by new additions to our immediate/extended family, which was special for sure.

MM: What typically comes first, melodies or lyrics?

TB: If I had to pick one … I’d say melodies, but many times the lyrics or even just the concept for a song can drive the process. Sometimes it all happens at once, and that’s when it almost feels like magic. The self-titled track “We’re All Human” was one of those songs. I was feeling particularly inspired by that one, and it seemed to just pour out of me, almost effortlessly, as if something mysterious was happening and I was channeling it from somewhere else … maybe from a collective stream of consciousness or something like that, who knows? I think the song writing process can sometimes be a very mysterious thing even for the most experienced song writers, which is one of the cool things about writing songs.

MM: What inspired the general theme of this latest album?

TB: Ultimately this album is about Family. Family is everything. Both big and small. From the bonds of small immediate families to the communities of larger extended families to the overall family of the collective human race … we’re all human. And it takes a village, as they say, which is how this album came to be … through the help and inspiration of my family, both immediate and extended.
The genesis and initial inspiration of creating this album took root with my sister Kate, who found herself making up short melodies and lyrics to help her and her two toddle-aged daughters accomplish simple, everyday tasks, such as taking a bath (which became “Rub-a-Dub, We’re in the Tub”) and getting shoes and jackets on before heading out the door (which inspired the concept of “Let’s Get Ready to Go”). So I started to “garden” these song seedlings, if you will, and “grow” them into complete songs with the intention of doing a full album about activities that relate to a day in the life of a toddler-aged kid.
Then I heard from my cousin Charley (who’s in my “adult” band, Fletcher Rockwell) that my Aunt Jenny (Charley’s mom) had come up with some kids’ song ideas that were inspired by her new grandchild (Charley’s daughter). While babysitting, she started to sing songs about learning to be polite (which became “The Manners Song”) and the awkward feeling of having to sneeze (which became “The Sneeze Song (Ah-Choo)”). After hearing I was starting to write songs with my sister Kate for the new Tunes with Tim album, Aunt Jenny offered up a couple of her song ideas to be considered for the album as well, which broadened the scope of the original concept I had in mind.
Aunt Jenny and I had so much fun collaborating together, we started to meet regularly to workshop new ideas and ended up finishing four songs together in total (“When the Baby’s Sleeping,”” The Sneeze Song (Ah-Choo),” “The Manners Song,” and “The Train Song”). My sister Kate helped me write two songs (“Rub-a-Dub, We’re in the Tub” and “Sweet Dreams to You”) and I wrote the other five on my own.

MM: Do you have a favorite out of the eleven songs and, if so, which one and why?

TB: It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the ones I seem to enjoy listening to the most now that the album is finished are the ones that are the most different stylistically from the songs I’ve put out before, like “PBJ,” which is an homage to ’90s hip-hop, and “Do the Wigglebutt,” which is an homage to grunge rock.

MM: What sorts of topics typically inspire your music and how has your style evolved over the years?

TB: Song topics/ideas that translate into teachable moments seem to be the ones that have come to the surface the most lately. However, toward the end of the writing process for this latest album, I was trying to not overthink things and just keep it fun and simple. “Ziggy Zaggy Zoo” was an example of trying to keep things fun and simple. The song has just two chords and is my attempt to bring the sights and sounds of the zoo experience into the imagination through the power of song. In regard to my style evolving over the years, I’ve always enjoyed so many different kinds of music it’s been rather difficult at times to explain my musical taste. I seem to enjoy bands the most who incorporate multiple styles into their song writing. One of things I’m proud of with this album in particular is how eclectic things turned out, as regards musical style. Hopefully that makes people enjoy it more from start to finish, especially parents who may be a little tired of hearing the nursery rhyme-type style that can be common in children’s music.

MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?

TB: Now that I’ve made something of a name for myself here in Chicago, my next goal is to gain more traction on a national scale. I’m hoping this new album will get the attention of families across the country, and once we get to the other side of this pandemic, I can go on tour and play these new songs live for those families with a full band … which will most likely consist of at least one member of my family, it’s safe to say :)

“We’re All Human” will be available at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Bandcamp, and other digital outlets. To learn more about Tim, visit his official website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.