The Oot n’ Oots are a Kelowna-based children’s band, who are well into the process of making a big name for themselves.
The band, which is just coming off the May 25 release of their second album, Electric Jellyfish Boogaloo, was recently nominated for Children’s Artist of the Year at the 2017 Western Canada Music Association Awards, and for a 2017 Okanagan Arts Award due to the strength of their debut album, Songs and Tales from the Great Blue Whale.
The band consists of brothers Gabe, Matthew, Ari, and Ezra, and Ezra’s 11 year-old daughter Ruth, who, despite her youth, could probably give Stevie Nicks a run for her money in terms of pure vocal strength and control.
We thought it be fun to know more about the up-and-coming group, so we sat down with Ari, Ezra and Ruth earlier this week.
KCN: So Ruth, let’s start with you. How do you like being in a band with your dad and uncles?
RUTH: They’re hilarious. I just love hanging out with them. We’re always laughing and coming up with something new, and we love writing songs together, so it’s really fun.
KCN: And although you are primarily a children’s band, your music tends to have an older, rock n’ roll sound, so when you’re writing your music, who are your influence?
ARI: You know we do make music that is suitable for families, but really first and foremost, we consider ourselves a rock n’ roll band, so really, we draw influence from sort of the history of rock n’ roll, but we pay special homage to the originators. We love Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Little Richard.
EZRA: We’ve got a punk rock song, a glam rock song, we’ve even got a hair-metal song, so it really runs the gamut of rock n’ roll history, but ya there’s really something about that original rock n’ roll founding era and the energy of it, of which I don’t think has ever been matched in popular music. Ever.
KCN: You guys are also just coming off the release of your second album, titled ‘Electric Jellyfish Boogaloo’. Now that sounds very Beatles-y, but where did that name come from?
EZRA: The electric jellyfish is a character that is sort of like a teacher that teaches you about just being, being for real, and being in the moment, and the electric jellyfish taught us this dance, the electric jellyfish boogaloo, which Ari put into lyrics, and he sings about it on the album, and you know, it’s a very freeing dance to do.
KCN: Can you show us?
EZRA: (Laughs) Ruthie, want to show us the dance?
RUTH: (Laughs) Uh…
EZRA: Come on, let’s do it.
*Reporter’s note– What followed can only be described as pure swagger and funk, and was a life-changing experience for everyone in the room.
KCN: Wow. That was awesome. So you guys are back in Kelowna for a little while, but you are in fact in the midst of a tour which will last well into August, so if anyone is looking to come see you play, where can they go?
EZRA: We’re playing a bunch of festivals this summer. We’ve already done couple of them, and the next one is going to be all the way up in Northern B.C. in Smithers for Canada Day weekend and midsummer festival, then in mid-July we’ll be at the Starbelly Jam in the Kootenays, then closer to home in mid-August. Ruthy goes to summer camp in the middle of it, but after she gets back from summer camp, we’re going to play at the Roots and Blues Festival in Salmon Arm, which we’re especially excited about.
KCN: Wow, lots of big names have played there.
EZRA: Ya, it’s a great lineup this year. Michael Franti & Spearhead, and the Family Stone, which is one of our favourites, if you remember Sky and the Family Stone, Believe Sly is not with them anymore, but his daughter is fronting the band, which is cool.
KCN: Now Ruth, you’re only 11 years old, and believe it or not, most 11 year-olds are not fronting and touring with a band. Do you ever get nervous when you’re performing?
RUTH: I used to, but now it’s just like I’m up there, and I kind of get more nervous when I have to actually talk to people or when I have to talk to the audience, that’s kinda when I freeze up, or even in interviews like this.
KCN: So this is just torture for you, hey?
RUTH: (Laughs) I’ve said that in interviews before, but ya!
KCN: So this has been great, but let’s finish off with a game. A lot of your songs are about food, so let’s play a game we call Yum or Yuck! We’ll name a food, and you have to tell us if you think that food is yum, or yuck. Here we go. The first one is cookies, but WITH raisins.
All three: Yum.
KCN: I agree. Alright the second one is olives.
All three: Yum.
KCN: Really? I’m sorry but I just can’t agree with that. Next one is cheesecake.
All three: Yum.
KCN: I agree, but this game is too easy for you guys. Ruth I know you’re a big fan of Halloween, and I hear you went as Weird Al Yankovic last year, so how do you feel about candy corn?
All three: Yuck.
KCN: Really? You see, I’m yum on that one. I don’t understand.
Ezra: Well you don’t like olives.
KCN: That’s true I guess. OK, the next one is black licorice.
KCN: Not a fan, Ruth?
RUTH: No way.
ARI: I even like the salted kind of black licorice.
To watch the entire video interview go to kelownacapnews.com and to get the band’s new album Electric Jellyfish Boogaloo go to Spotify, iTunes and at theootnoots.com.