First off, you may be surprised I am not getting on the soapbox about “Yo Gabba Gabba,” since my posts always seems to somehow mention this preschool phenomenon. I do love this show, and it is a personal fave. But Gustafer Yellowgold is an organic, indie creation that slowly snuck its way into our household.
The Gustafer Yellowgold character, music and live experience is brought to life by Morgan Taylor. Working on both the illustrations and music for this project, Taylor is quite the everyman. With a background that includes working with members of Wilco, Duncan Sheik, and Lisa Loeb, he is no fly-by-night musician.
His talent for illustrations and storytelling is also on full display on each of the three DVDs, “Have You Never Been Yellow?,” “Wide Wild World” and “Mellow Fever.” Instead of trying to explain the mythology of the cone-headed central character on my own, I will rip it right from his press materials:
Gustafer is a friendly creature who came to Earth from the sun and has an unusual magnetism for making friends with some of Earth’s odder creatures. His best friend is Forrest Applecrumbie, the flightless Pterodactyl. Gustafer and Forrest built a small cottage-style home on the edge of an uncharted wooded area in Minnesota. He has a pet eel named Slim (short for Slimothy) and a pet dragon named Asparagus who lives in his fireplace and loves corn on the cob. Gustafer’s pals, the Mustard Slugs practice their math under the shrubbery.
Still not convinced to go his official site and order all three DVDs? Here are 5 more reasons:
1. This music project is a true original that cannot be compared to anything out there. You can use terms like “a cross between ‘Yellow Submarine’ and Dr. Seuss” (as the New York Times has), but nothing can describe the unique songs and the animated accompanying segments. Morgan Taylor’s cleverly crafted Gustafer mythology melds comedy with subtly-hinted-at real life lessons – all rolled up into sweet pop songs.
2. You will say “I would listen to the music without my kids” and mean it. I know that when I have pitched a kids’ music act to my friends I often utter that phrase, and the veracity of it is sometimes in question. But there is no doubt that with Gustafer, this is actually true. Mixing a few Gustafer songs into the iPod playlist is a perfect accompaniment to a Travis, Shins, Death Cab for Cutie or (fill in indie pop band here) song.
3. It hasn’t been licensed yet. Sure, some dolls and clothing are for sale on the site, but you aren’t going to go into your local toystore and find a slew of Gustafer Band-Aids, bubblegum and building blocks. And while I personally would love a few more licensed items for my own collection, parents who like to avoid this will be happy.
4. His live shows are a special experience. Usually at intimate venues with like-minded people, Morgan Taylor brings the shows to life with tales of Gustafer’s orgin, his daily life and the story behind the songs. Plus, you are just as likely to find parents singing along as their kids and not ashamed in the slightest.
5. As mentioned earlier, Gustafer manages to sneak in a few lessons without spoon-feeding them or talking down to his audience. Quirky songs like “Jump on Cake” shares Gustafer’s love of belly flopping into pastries and cakes while subtly celebrating the value of doing what you love. “Green Heart” tells of Gustafer’s obsessions with a sparkly green heart and how it affects those around him. Morgan Taylor doesn’t shy away from using big words either. I am proud to have a three-year-old who can pronounce and define “oblivion” thanks to the song “I’m From the Sun.” The whimsical nonsense of Gustafer’s world is sure to inspire budding minds and show them is there is no limit to what you can dream up.
If you are still not sold, check out the clips below and you will be hard-pressed not to join Team Gustafer.
Some pics to share: