When a shiny spaceship lands in Emilia’s backyard, she meets URR, from planet Goopda, who has traveled here to promote universal peace. The two learn about working together and making the world a better place as they sing their way through the day’s adventures. Children and adults alike will enjoy these award-winning, catchy songs performed by this mother-daughter duo.
R.V.B. - Congratulations on your new upcoming CD release The Spaceship That Fell in My Back Yard. Did you and your mother (Ruth Weber), have a basic concept for the album at first, and then proceed to create the collection of songs, or did the title come later?
E.L-Y. - Thank you! When we came up with the idea to create this album, we wanted to create songs that inspired children to be their best selves by teaching various lessons through song. As we began to create, we re-discovered a song that my mom and brother had written a few years prior, which was The Spaceship That Fell in My Backyard. While listening to this song, we came up with the idea to have this creature come from a different planet, where there are different rules. While we had already been about halfway into the project, from this point on, the ideas grew stronger and more cohesive.
R.V.B. - There seems to be a varied style of music on it, from the title track - which has a pop/rock feel to it - to, Can Janet Come Out and Play? - which has a calypso "Islands" kind of feel. Was this idea to help bring a diverse message?
E.L-Y. - I think the most exciting aspect of making a kids CD is that you can explore many different styles of music. As melodies flowed and we played around with the songs more and more, each track really developed it’s own character. It didn’t begin as an intentional stylistic variation, rather as we played around with the melodies and lyrics, we found styles that we thought best suited that track. We hope that kids will enjoy the variety of the CD.
E.L-Y. - My mom wrote all of the songs and there were three songs that were a collaboration with my brother, Enrico, who served as principal arranger on this CD. I usually came in later into the production aspect of the songs and helped with harmonies and countermelodies, but my mom did the bulk of the composing!
R.V.B. - The song We're Gonna be Legendary makes a very positive statement and it sends a great message to children. What's behind the meaning of this track?
E.L-Y. - With “We’re Gonna Be Legendary,” we wanted a song that was fun and cool that also had a positive message. There are so many songs on the radio that have really great melodies and beats, but have negative messages. We wanted something that kids can sing and dance along to while instilling a positive message. In our storyline that we created, the alien (Urr) has a mission to make Earth a great place and learn lessons to take back to her planet. This song is a culmination of her learning and we wanted the track to reflect the importance of this message. Through the huge stadium feel that we gave it, I hope that comes across.
R.V.B. - Can you give me a brief description of some of the people who helped out on this album?
E.L-Y. - We were very fortunate to have a wonderful team of artists working with us. Our producer, Jeff Silverman, was a wonderful guiding light throughout the entire project. He has won many awards while producing for artists such as Boyz II Men, Paula Abdul, and has extensive work with Children’s Music, including Mattel’s Barbie “The Look.” He brought many wonderful ideas and an outside perspective, which at times was very needed while working with songs for such an extensive period of time!
We had a lot of wonderful ideas stem from our collaboration with my brother, Enrico Lopez-Yañez, who is currently the Assistant Conductor of the Nashville Symphony, but has a big background in recording. He transformed many of the songs into what they are today with various styles, fun instruments, and ideas. He also added many instruments himself!
Our incredible CD art and website was created by Suzanne Parlett, my aunt, who is an wonderful artist and graphic designer. We are so fortunate to have such an artistic family who enjoys working together. Collaborating with each other was a blast and felt very unifying.
R.V.B. - What are your plans for distribution of the album? Would you like school systems to use it, to paint a positive picture of life for the children?
E.L-Y - We signed with a distributor who does a lot of work in Children’s Music and our album will appear in the library catalogue that goes out to all of the public libraries in the United States. We hope to perform in different schools and are already lining up gigs. We feel that this album is a good educational tool and hope to perform in schools.
R.V.B. - You obviously came from a musical family. When did you realize that you wanted to be part of the musical world?
E.L.Y. - Yes, I am very lucky to have been surrounded by music for my entire life. I became a member of a children’s choir before I could read, began playing the oboe in fourth grade, and was constantly exposed to live music. I don’t think there was one pivotal moment for me when I knew I wanted to be a musician because my whole life was music.
R.V.B. - Tell me about a little bit of your musical education. How did you enjoy your learning years from childhood through higher education?
E.L-Y. - I began my musical education very early, being in a choir from Kindergarten and beginning to study oboe in the fourth grade. It was always a family event for me, because my mother directed many choirs and a community orchestra, so those were my first musical ensembles that I was a part of. I still think back to my elementary school choir and band performances with a lot of love and joy. For me, music was always a time to be together. Be it with family, friends, or even strangers, we could all do this one thing together. After high school, I went on to complete a Bachelors of Music at Chapman University with a double emphasis in vocal and oboe performance, and I am currently completing my Masters of Music in oboe performance at the University of Southern California. Every level of music education that I have experienced thus far has taught me different life lessons. I have learned how to be part of something greater than myself, and that’s my favorite aspect of music. And through projects I’m doing now like this CD, I hope I can bring others the same joy that I get out of music and help them become a part of it as well.
R.V.B. - Do you plan on having any live performances of the new music?
E.L-Y. - Yes! We are really excited to have our CD release party on March 24th, which will be our first performance of these songs! We’ll be performing it as a show with a script, props, and even some dance moves! We will then be performing at the San Diego Ronald McDonald House on Sunday, March 25th. We are really excited for that performance as well, because a percentage of every CD sold is going to be donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charity. We have a few other performances lined up as well, which you can find on our calendar on our website www.ruthandemilia.com !
R.V.B. - Are there any other live performance highlights of your career that can you share?
E.L-Y. - In the summer of 2016, I performed as a soloist with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Aguascalientes in Mexico. I was fortunate enough to perform under the baton of my own brother and couldn’t imagine it in a better place than in Aguascalientes, which is where a lot of my family is from. I was also fortunate to perform around Prague in the summer of 2015, while being a participant of the Prague Summer Nights program. The orchestra performed in theaters where composers like Mozart, Smetana, and Dvorak premiered some of their most famous works.
R.V.B. - How do you enjoy your career as an educator and musician?
E.L-Y. - I wake up every morning excited for my days as an educator and musician. It’s very humbling to be a part of another person’s music education, be it as a teacher or as a performer. I couldn’t imagine my life without music and music education and feel very fortunate to be a part of this community every day.
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
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For more information on Ruth Weber and Emilia Lopez-Yanez visit their websites
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