Man am I excited today. I finally made the purchase of the Amazon Kindle Fire. Truth be told I have an old school phone for texting & calls, so I did not need a smart phone. I am so excited to be able to buy music without connecting to my laptop and being able to keep all the files in the cloud. Once I get it I will report back. This week I have musicians here that will appeal especially to those with young children in the family like myself. Two beautiful and talented young woman named Dina Layzis and Theresa San Luis have produced a classic with ‘DREAMLAND Lullaballads.’ They produced the album without even meeting eachother, it was all done online. I tested the album out on a road trip with my 3 year old and it made for a great trip. Join me today as we talk with Dina & Theresa about the album, the challenge in making music for children, the positive effect of music on toddlers, and much more!
Stoli: Where are we talking from today and how does the warm summer weather effect your creative juices?
We are all in different parts of the US (Dina in New Jersey and Theresa in St.Louis). Regardless of what part of the world or what season we are in, there always is a reason for creativity. Whether it’s the season, a mood we experience or surroundings, each generates inspiration unique to each situation. In music and art it’s important to be able to catch these moments and know when they come along. We are always on the lookout! :) It is almost as if we are trying to catch moments, stop them in time and let in the rest of the world on their uniqueness and/or beauty.
Stoli: How did the idea for ‘Dreamland’ come to be and how did Dina & Theresa come together?
Theresa: I had the initial concept of ‘lullaballads’ in mind and set out on a search for the perfect singer to match my vision. When Dina and I began the project things started coming together quickly. We started finishing each other’s sentences when mapping out the initial idea. We knew that we wanted to create something profound and timeless that would make an impression on children and adults alike. As for the title itself – we wanted the concept to convey an emotion, yet be universally understood, and reflect the spirit of the songs. Dreamland is where people can discover their imaginations. We wanted to bring those to life. :)
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Stoli: How much did Dina’s family encourage and help shape her love to listen & perform music?
I am and will be eternally grateful to my family for instilling in me the love and knowledge of music. Both my parents have truly given me a gift by introducing music into my life and supporting my dream. Music is a necessity to me…just like air or water. I need it to be a part of my life. I feel it in all I do and in the world around. I yearn to always create and hear its sound. I grew up in a household of classical music, with both parents being professional conservatory taught violinists. My father is also an opera singer. In my upbringing, music was approached not as a hobby, but as a craft. I was classically taught with great attention being paid to detail. This laid the groundwork of all I know today. I would not be who I am today without their guidance, support and teaching. I am truly very lucky and so thankful. They gave up a lot in their lives for me ….now I try to carry on the musical torch and make some of their dreams come true.
Stoli: You could have created any type of music, what made you want to create lullaballads for children?
Theresa: I originally composed children’s music, lullabies, dedicated to a family’s son who has cerebral palsy. I advertised my first self-produced album on the United Cerebral Palsy Land of Lincoln telethon as a fundraiser for the organization. I grew in the genre that was natural to me, and my talents were completed by a talented musical partner Dina, whose voice when I first heard it, touched my heart.. Her voice is amazingly dreamy, delicately crafted and perfect for children’s music. Her heart is also one of compassion that I believe comes through transparently in her singing and very appropriately so for children. Our ideas also complemented each other’s when we discussed the project. She also had a unique vision for the album. So, we had a project fall on our laps…and we began our journey all via the Internet. :)
Stoli: Being that you are older than the audience you are targeting, how do you test the music to see if it will be a hit with children?
Theresa: Basically, we used our heart’s instincts to shape the music and lyrics, as we went along we would let various children of friends or acquaintances listen and gauge their reactions.
Dina: I always tried to keep the child in me alive. Call it Peter Pan syndrome…ha ha. I think children see life from a right perspective. They let things captivate them, amaze them and they pay attention to the small things. Having that mindset…I entered into the project wanting to instill all those qualities into our music.
Stoli: How long did you work & record the album and where can readers grab a copy?
Theresa: From December 2011-August 2011 we worked fervently on the project. It was a dream we tended daily to. The writing and completion of 11 songs took us a little over 2 months to complete with some songs carried over from my previous albums. Then with some help from other talented musicians: Andrew Linn and Lance Day- who completed the arrangements and mixing, we were able to complete the project in an amazingly short amount of time. ‘DREAMLAND Lullaballads’ can be ordered simply by logging onto www.lullaballads.com , www.dinalayzis.com or a digital copy may be purchased at iTunes and amazon.
Stoli: Do you have children and if not would you like to have a family one day?
Theresa: I do not have children, but hope someday I may have the privilege of raising a family of my own.
Dina: I would also love a family one day. Maybe we will have to a create a new album then :)…with some music dedicated to our own little ones.
Stoli: How much does music play into the positive development of children & toddlers?
Dina: I believe music can be used boundless ways in a child’s early development. Children are able to react to colors, lights and music before they can truly begin to develop an understanding for the world around them. This time is a window of opportunity. Music can be used to enhance well-being, creativity, emotional development and education. Music makes us react. It stimulates the senses which take part in the development of communication, expression and movement. To a young child music is magical. Numerous studies have shown strong positive correlations between a child’s involvement in music and overall success in school. Yes, there is a scientific neurological explanation for it all, but why not let it be simple and just have parents let a little bit of this magic into their children’s lives.
Stoli: I love the song, “Paint Your Dreams.” What is that song about and who wrote that tune & music?
Dina: It was a melody I had written about a year prior to connecting with Theresa. It was something I had put away for a rainy day. I saw it as something special, but I just could not find what its story was. This is where things go back to looking for inspiration anywhere it may come along. Theresa had sent me a poem she had written about a boy who draws a magical kingdom called ‘Fairyland’ to which he is then transported to. Immediately after reading her work, a light bulb went on and in a matter of minutes the story for “Paint Your Dreams” was written. The album’s artwork, which was drawn by an amazing artist, Olga Ziskin, was also inspired by that song. We wanted the illustrations to give the listener a peek into the ‘Dreamland’ behind the music.
Stoli: What comes first, the lyrics or the instrumentals?
Theresa: Usually the instrumentals come first then, we are inspired with lyrics in a process that’s like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. The instrumental, or picture is there, it’s a matter of putting the pieces together through words.
Dina: The music lends itself to tell a story. Once you have that initial creation – it has its own unique qualities, colors and temperament. By adding lyrics we try to find out what that story is and bring it to life.
Stoli: As a parent I love your desire for a more gentle & loving world for children. How can we as a people and as musicians help stop child abuse and neglect that is so common in the USA?
As musicians we all have to realize that we are fortunate to be given a voice and a chance to reach people in all walks of life. I believe we have a responsibility to use that voice for good. It has become too common in today’s world that music is empty…it has a memorable tune or lyric, but lacks a soul. Young children look to music for answers in their happiest moments and also in their saddest. The impressionable mind of a child sometimes is influenced by outside sources even more than their family upbringing. We have to remember that when writing and aim for the message to leave even a small child with an uplifted spirit, a smile or an insightful thought. As for music aimed at adults – the same remains true. Just because we grow up does not blur the lines between right and wrong. Just as music shapes children, it shapes adults as well. Since adults are the caretakers – the message reflected in the contemporary music of the world is just as important if not more important. We all sometimes get lost in the shuffle of every day life. If you have the attention of a perfect stranger and the chance to convey even a small message – let it be a good one. One thought…one person at a time, we can start instilling change.
Stoli: What is coming up for Dina Layzis and where you @ online?
A lot of hard work in trying to attain my dreams. :) We are currently working on new material that we are both very excited about. It is set of ballads – that are not children’s ballads, but the music still carries over heartfelt intent that we wrote ‘Dreamland’ with. I can be found at www.dinalayzis.com and also at www.facebook.com/dinalayzis . Also, to keep up with our new original music coming out soon, feel free to visit and subscribe to my channel on YouTube @ www.youtube.com/dinalayzis or by simply typing in ‘Dina Layzis’. Hopefully this road is just the beginning of a great journey for us both!