It’s been more than 20 years since Nick Jr. series Blue’s Clues first aired, and nearly 15 years since Steve Burns stepped down from his role as host of the long-running hit show. Burns is now returning to the kids space for the first time with a new children’s music album, Foreverywhere, created with Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips. The duo aptly calls itself STEVENSTEVEN.
“We’re very interested in music that’s maybe for kids and maybe for adults. It could be either, but it’s definitely for both,” says Burns.
Foreverywhere will be released on February 24 digitally on the STEVENSTEVEN website, iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. STEVENSTEVEN wrote songs on weekends when Drozd wasn’t busy with the Flaming Lips, and recorded them in an Oklahoma studio with a mutual friend.
Burns describes the music on this album as psychedelic children’s rock opera that is very much influenced by his time on Blue’s Clues, where everyone was animated except for him.
“I was the host of a children’s television show and that’s why I wrote a kids record,” says Burns. “My training as a host informed every aspect of my interest in writing for children. Blue’s Clues taught me that you can’t be lazy about the curriculum that you’re writing in a song.”
The album has a lot of elements typical of a children’s record, including a song about potty training, dubbed “Ok Toilet Bowl.” But Burns says he didn’t want the songs to have the fake cheeriness that a lot of kids content can give off.
“If you consider the spectrum of children’s emotions, people write a lot of music for kids to make them feel ‘YAY!,’ and there’s much more to every person than just one or two happy emotions,” he says. “So the criteria that Drozd and I used were based on questions like ‘is this moving us?,’ ‘is it making us laugh?,’ ‘is it making us feel something or inspiring us?’ If it didn’t affect us then it wasn’t good enough.”
Foreverywhere also includes a trilogy of songs about a unicorn falling in love with a rainbow princess who plays guitar. Burns says they talked about making the album entirely a narrative, but after five years of working on it, they were just running out of time.
The children’s space has changed a lot in the decade since Burns left it, and he says he struggled with knowing if making an album was even relevant in 2017.
“It’s interesting because when Drozd and I were writing a record I kept saying, ‘If I’m five, what is a record? Do I care about a record if I’m a five-year-old kid?’ Shouldn’t this be an app?,’” says Burns. “I think that the kids space in general is a malleable, interactive platform as opposed to a television show or simply an album, it has to be something that can be pulled apart and interacted with and played with.”
He admits that this album doesn’t fit into those ideas of being malleable and interactive, but he thinks there is still a place for this kind of music and is hoping kids grasp it. What wasn’t hard to grasp for Burns, though, was a re-entry into children’s media.
“If there was a transition I didn’t feel it. I haven’t been the host of a children’s television show in many years but it just felt very natural to make this record,” says Burns.
Currently, STEVENSTEVEN is planning a single show in Brooklyn after the album drops next month.