Again Again is a musical duo of singers, songwriters, and moms Jennifer Cook and Anne Montone. The performing duo has created a unique musical style to help children develop harmoniously in both heart and mind. “LISTEN. LOVE. REPEAT.” is their newest album which will be released on October 18, 2019.
The album features beautiful and memorable melodies with lyrics that are packed with progressive life lessons that touch upon topics like untraditional families, being kind to Planet Earth; getting through challenging situations, and more. A companion lyric and coloring book featuring artwork inspired by the music from a dozen different artists will be published in tandem with the album. A percentage of the proceeds from Again Again’s projects is donated to The Harmony Project, a Los Angeles based organization that provides high quality music instruction and social support to children year-round, at no cost.
Jennifer and Anne recently discussed this new album and more via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in music and how come you focus on kid’s music?
Anne: Music was a big part of my household growing up. Throughout elementary school, I played the violin and the piano. My brothers played guitar, piano and bass. While I was more of a Top 40 kid, my parents listened to jazz and classical, James Taylor, Paul Simon and even Italian pop. My 3 older brothers each had their favorites, ranging from Frank Zappa to The Police to ACDC… I was the youngest, absorbing everything! My dad always said he knew if I was in a good mood because I’d be singing. All 3 of my brothers are involved in the music industry in some way, and since I’d been singing my entire life, I figured why not try writing and performing? Fast forward to becoming a mom, I had an audience of one to sing to. When my son was old enough to request songs, he asked for all sorts of topics. His favorite was Dinosaur Party. I made it up one night and was asked to sing it “again! again!” So, I knew I was on to something! Meanwhile, around that same time, Jen was a school teacher looking for songs to supplement her lesson plans. She would write songs when she couldn’t find what she was looking for on YouTube. We had a conversation one evening and realized we needed to join forces… and get the band back together. This time, as Again Again.
Jen: Similar to Anne, I was lucky to have an older brother with some good taste in music. While others were listening to really poppy pop, I also got to hear the Smiths, Morrissey, the Cure, and one of my all-time faves… Pixies. My parents played classical piano music on vinyl and some really amazing Colombian cumbias for us every weekend and during all of our parties (which there were a lot). My parents always asked that we play instruments. I chose the piano and clarinet, my brother chose guitar, trumpet and piano. Fast forward to today … I had been teaching school for a few years when Anne suggested we start producing kid’s songs. She had songs archived. I had songs archived. Since we had been in a band together years ago, we worked well together. My answer to Anne’s question was an easy “yes”. There’s so much teaching that happens through music.
MM: How did you go about breaking into the music scene?
Anne: Jen and I started a downtempo / electronic dance group after college called Elephonic. Elephonic was the best way to break into the LA scene, we did everything ourselves and really learned so much about songwriting, production, promotion, and performing.
MM: How did you meet each other and why do you enjoy collaborating so much?
Jen: We met during our Freshman year at Occidental College and we ended up as housemates for most of our time there.
Anne: I think musically we have similar tastes but also bring different ideas to the table that really do compliment one another.
MM: How did you get the idea for the songs on your latest album and why did you select its title?
Jen: Again Again wanted to fill in some gaps in kids music and add to what we were hearing. For example, Anne and I have blended families that include African Americans, Filipinos, Colombians, Taiwanese and Laotian members. So, we wrote a song called “Families Come in Blended Ways” that talks about how beautiful a bouquet of flowers can be when it comes in many colors and how a cake comes together with a variety of ingredients. On another track of ours, “Wrap Your Arms Around Your Family”, we talk about all the amazing combinations a family can come in; families with two dads, families with only one grandparent as head of household, families with step parents.
Anne: The title, LISTEN. LOVE. REPEAT., is definitely a command. We want you to listen to our music, love it so much…that you’ll repeat it again and again. Our band name (Again Again) is also a nod to how kids, when they like something, want to hear it over and over. The songs really arrived organically. We look to see what topics we’d like to have in our homes and then take it from there. The very first song we recorded was the ABCs in Spanish and English, mostly in part because when Jen was looking for the Spanish version of the ABC song (with the melody we all know and love) she couldn’t find one. So, we made it!
MM: Of all the songs, have you any special favorites and what can audiences expect from your concerts and live shows?
Anne: As I mentioned earlier, “Dinosaur Party” holds a special place in my heart because it was created for my son when he was very little. I also really love the message we’re sharing with our song “Families Come in Blended Ways,” especially because I have my own little mixed-race family. Our concerts are fun! We have simple choreography and love to get the kids to participate by asking loads of questions throughout the show. “Bubble Gum and Cheese” is a fun way to end too! My oldest brother, Jay, actually wrote the original version of that song. We loved it so much we asked if we could change the lyrics to be more kid-friendly. It is so much fun to be able to create music with family!
Jen: I love “Be Well” because I know how hard it must be for kids with serious illnesses to feel included in things with their friends. I also love “Camping Song” because my fam’s a family of campers and we love the message this song teaches about respect for nature.
MM: What are you most looking forward to regarding the release of the album?
Anne: I am excited that we have a companion coloring and lyric book to go with the songs!
Jen: Again Again is so grateful… we have some amazing visual artists that contributed to our coloring book. We hope this can be a useful tool for teachers and parents to kickstart some important conversations with their kids.
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future of your career?
Jen: Again Again is here to be a resource for parents, teachers and kids and bring people together through song. Ultimately, with each song, we hope to help children build confidence, respect differences, be kind, be a leader, show care and be aware. So, kids feel loved, that someone’s listening, and that they matter.
Anne: Yes, Again Again’s message is one of love. We have a long list of song topics that we’ll write and sing about so we can get our second project out into the world. Of course, we want to hear our songs on the radio and tv & film, continue to play shows for families… But if we’re able to inspire kids and spark loving conversations about real topics within communities, we’ve done something really special.
Jen: Some song topics on deck for our next release include: being the boss of your own body, being in a resource family (foster family), transgender friends, the loss of a family member.
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
Anne and Jen: Again Again supporters, if you have any topic suggestions please email them to us at email@example.com. We want to hear what content you feel needs to be talked about through music. Thanks for all your support!
“LISTEN. LOVE. REPEAT.” and its accompanying lyric and coloring book will be available at iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, and other digital outlets through CDBaby, and at Again Again shows. To learn more about Again Again, visit their Facebook and Instagram.
Meagan J. Meehan is a published author, poet, cartoonist, and produced playwright. She pens columns for the Great South Bay Magazine, Blasting News, and Entertainment Vine. She is also a stop-motion animator and an award-winning abstract artist. Meagan holds a BA in English Literature and a MA in Communication. She is also an animal advocate and a fledging toy and game designer.
Meagan is a contributing editor to Kidskintha writing on Toys, Games, Entertainment, and other topics that are happy and fun!