When Robyn Hardy (Bobs) and Lorraine Pond (LoLo) began writing children’s music together, they didn’t have to look far for their stage names. “Bobs and LoLo were our nicknames in high school,” explains Pond with a laugh. Friends since childhood, the pair grew up studying piano and singing in school choirs on Vancouver Island. Neither one ever entertained the idea of making music for a living.
But one night, after embarking on individual careers in education, Hardy and Pond found themselves discussing the value of music in teaching. “We decided to write a couple of songs,” recalls Hardy. Five songs later, the duo ended up performing for a captive young audience at the B.C. Children’s Hospital. “It was such fun, and we got such great feedback from kids and families,” says Pond, “so we said, why don’t we write some more songs and put an album together?”
The result was Sea Notes, a catchy album of songs about marine life geared to the pre-school set. Still working at their day jobs, Hardy and Pond began performing whenever they could, and soon landed a gig with BC Ferries. “It was insane,” laughs Hardy. “Whenever we had a day off, we were riding the ferry four times a day between Vancouver and Victoria, performing for families.” But they agree it was that experience that allowed them to dream about becoming professional entertainers. “We gave each other a hug, and we quit our jobs,” says Pond. “Our parents were freaked.”
The duo have since released three more albums, along with a DVD of music videos. Whether they’re singing about bugs, rainbows, or the joys of snack time, Hardy and Pond, who are both in their mid-thirties, are always conscious of creating music that is catchy enough to keep kids entertained but sophisticated enough to keep their parents from going crazy. “We want to create content that kids can learn from, but that isn’t preachy,” says Hardy, explaining that the songs generally encourage kids to be active, to connect with the outdoors, and to be engaged in the world.
At their popular live shows, the pair performs loose, easy-to-follow choreography, which children readily embrace. “Getting the kids singing and dancing along with us is important,” laughs Pond, “because the shows are as much about our audience as they are about us.” At the end of the day, they agree it’s the kids that keep them going. “We’re going to keep writing songs as long as we keep having fun and the kids keep loving the music,” says Hardy. “The inspiration is endless.”
• Bobs & LoLo are familiar faces on Treehouse TV, their music videos frequently airing between programs on the children’s television channel.
• Their 2009 album, Action Packed, was nominated for a Juno award in the Children’s Album of the Year category. It also won a Western Canadian Music Award for Children’s Recording of the Year. In 2011, Bobs & LoLo won a SOCAN Children’s Music Award.
• The Bobs & LoLo team includes Hardy’s husband, producer Mario Vaira. “We call him the ampersand in Bobs & LoLo,” Pond says with a laugh, explaining that he helps with everything from songwriting to arrangements.