INTERVIEW: The Cuddly Koalas — family initiative creates hip hop for the kids
In the current world of mainstream hip hop music, there are two things you can be sure of. Firstly, so much of this music is rarely child-friendly, and secondly, it can be seen as intolerant and offensive to many. However, Perth-based hip hop group The Cuddly Koalas breaks these boundaries.
While you wouldn’t associate their name with the likes of hip hop, The Cuddly Koalas represent a wonderful initiative. The Cuddly Koalas are a family collective consisting of 4-year-old Nikita, hip hop aficionado Gajan Maheson and Anajana Ganjon, the family’s songwriter. They focus on creating children’s hip hop music and promoting untraditional families, multiculturalism and diversity. Adoption and mental health are also amongst the topics they tackle.
With this type of entertainment being close to unheard of in the realm of hip hop, I was extremely excited to hear that such children’s hip hop entertainment existed. I knew I had to jump on the case.
What made you and your family want to create a hip hop music group?
I have been creating hip hop [music] ever since I was 18 years old and now, we have a young family — namely my 4-year-old daughter Nikita and 8 month old son Ari. It was so perfect to sing hip hop again but for a much younger age group.
What was you and your wife’s musical history prior to The Cuddly Koalas?
I was representing an original hip hop act called Urban Sound with my brother back in Sri Lanka. As for Anjana, she used to write poems when she was a teenager.
Why choose hip hop as the primary genre for children’s music?
Firstly, it’s catchy. It’s easy to learn and rhyme words. It also gives children the opportunity to rap and dance as well.
What are your sentiments on untraditional families, multiculturalism and diversity?
Our message to the community is to accept rainbow families and other forms of diversity as part of our society, while also respecting their beliefs.
Which of your songs do you think represent these ideas the best?
Our songs such as ‘Jamerah and her Dads’ and ‘Dylan and his Mums’ best represent these ideas.
Has there been any backlash regarding the topics of gay marriage and rainbow families?
Yes, in fact. With the songs ‘Jamerah And Her Dads’ and ‘Dylan And His Mums’, they communicate the concept of children living with same sex parents. Our debut music album Happy Families aims to reflect the diversity of Australian children, embracing all manners of race, religions and family situations.
How has your band’s musical career progressed since September 2018?
It’s been great so far! We are able to make and play our music to local early learning centres, council events and primary schools. Our songs have been played on community radio stations across Australia and overseas — including Kinderling Radio, Radio Active Kids and 89.7 Twin Cities FM.
What are some ways people can get involved with The Cuddly Koalas?
People can get involved by liking and following our ventures on our Facebook page, The Cuddly Koalas.
What are your hopes for 2019?
To launch our debut album, make positive music and spread love to kids and their families!