The Accidental Birth of a Family Music Band

By Michael Berick

family fun - Sunshine Collective

Stephanie Richards and Brian Arbuckle have a bright future as Sunshine Collective. PHOTO BY ISRAEL DE LA VEGA

Stephanie Richards and Brian Arbuckle didn’t set out to make children’s music. When the Los Angeles-based couple recorded the songs for their debut album, Wanna Play, as Sunshine Collective, they just wanted to make an album for themselves so they could, according to Richards, “re-connect with our creative instincts after years of writing for publishing pitches. We had given ourselves total freedom and had a lot of fun.”

When friends heard the bright, bouncy music on Wanna Play, they suggested that Richards and Arbuckle send the CD to the Sirius/XM family music channel Kids Place Live, which they did – a year after the album came out. The channel started playing the album, and, as word-of-mouth slowly spread, Wanna Play became a surprise success in the Kindie music world.

When the time came to make the second Sunshine Collective album, Richards and Arbuckle faced a dilemma: “How do we stay true to the kids and families that embraced the first record, but also create music that is just as unbridled and spontaneous as the first time around?” Richards says they wanted to make music “that adult listeners really dig and respect, and that kids love at the same time.”

The resulting album, Up To Something Good, lives up to its title. The 11-track album exudes a charming warmth powered by hooky songs such as “Love Is The Way,” “Run For The Sunshine,” “The Ride” and “Up To Something Good.” Richards says one particularly song, “Waiting To Say Hello Again,” is special because it was inspired by the couple’s older daughter growing up and leaving her small, self-contained preschool world.

Richards and Arbuckle are looking forward to sharing this new set of tunes, and have found kids to be a wonderful audience. “They listen intently and let the words and music really move them,” Richards says. “It’s wonderful.”

Up To Something Good, which came out Sept. 18, is available on iTunes and you can find out more about the band at www.sunshinecollective.com.

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