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33 Musical Dads Discuss Fatherhood

June 19, 2011  |  12:00am
Jason Trachtenburg
The Trachtenburg Family SlideShow

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Name and age of your kid:
Rachel Trachtenburg, age 17.

How does having a child and being a father change the way you approach your career?
Having a child and being a father, et. al, has influenced my overall approach
to, and impact on, entertainment as a whole,and my artistic output in particular, meaning
that there is a greater importance to create useful and meaningful art, poetry, and performance. In other words, make the most of your time instead of your time making the most of you. Parenting is a boatload of work everyday—I’m not complaining, I’m just lettin’ you know what time it is!

What’s the best part about being both a musician and a dad?
Don’t be presumptions! There is no separation between church and state here!
The holistic system of balance teaches us that all is one, and for optimal functionality it is of the utmost importance to combine all elements for the complete experience. Here’s the deal…I am not ‘a musician and a dad’ as if these were two separate entities.
We have combined the experience into a lifestyle that is a complete reality extending into every aspect of our existence. So it’s not a question of “good or bad, best or worst”—I choose not to define my reality in those terms. I like to look at the nuances between the cracks and create my own sense of the perceived ‘good or bad.’

What’s the most difficult part about being both a musician and a dad?
What? This question again? O.K. Let’s reassess. I’ll give you what you are looking for.
People say that I’m impossible to work with. (Google ;Jason Trachtenburg is impossible to work with’...see what comes up!) The most difficult part of being both a musician and a Dad is 1. My daughter likes to listen to music and usually I like the quiet times. 2. Extra laundry and dishes—those can seem like a chore sometimes. Pun intended.

What does your kid think of your music?
A ‘kid’ is a baby goat. My daughter, on the other hand, appreciates my take on popular song and jazz interpretation. I taught her piano chords and a couple of tricks that involve manipulation of melody, drone, and musical movement. She uses those techniques to her compositional advantage. In other words, she knows her way around a song structure.

What kind of music does your kid currently enjoy? Do you approve of her current tastes?
Did you just use ‘enjoy’ and ‘music’ in the same sentence. I’m just being cantankerous now. OK—I’ll try and give you regular answers for this point forward. My daughter likes ‘classic’ rock—(Led Zep, Queen, Beatles.) She also listens to a lot of Quasi, Cat Stevens, and the White Stripes. And, yes, I do approve of her current tastes. (These were the same as her past tastes, as if you were implying that children only listen to ‘children’s’ music as youth.) There wasn’t always separate ‘children’s’ and ‘adult’s’ musics. Everyone could appreciate the current tastes and flavors and entire generations didn’t need to be dumbed down in order to create more disposable product and artistic waste.

Have you attempted to immerse your kid in music? How has she responded?
This is a very one-tracked and singularly dimensional outlook on art! Trying to immerse anyone in anything will only backfire, and as a parent, I learn this one the hard way every day. Just live by example and keep growing, learning and sharing. So, let me answer the rest of the question. My daughter performs on ukulele, electric bass and piano. She also rocks the musical saw, but that instrument can make a father a little nervous. Her earliest musical attempts involve a song she wrote called “Water Dishes and Soap,” and are much more true to form than my earliest musical works. Question 7b also presumes that someone is either a “musician” or “something else.” Let’s change the paradigm. Rachel is involved in acting, political activism, modeling, children’s television (see “Rachel Trachtenburg’s Homemade World” on YouTube), and she currently hosts a weekly Internet radio show on the Progressive Radio Network called “Pure Imagination.” I know she would also want me to mention her all teen-girl bubblegum pop band called SUPERCUTE! They have toured North America and Europe and will be recording a new album with Kate Nash in London this summer.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention our family band—The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players. (Rachel performs on drums). We have a new album out on Tummy Touch records, and it is profound! Thank you for reading this, and remember, as they say, they don’t give you a pamphlet on parenting when you leave the shop.

Tim Foreman
Switchfoot

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Name and age of your kids:
Jett, age 6; Layla, age 1.

How does having children and being a father change the way you approach your career?
Being a Dad is very humbling! You realize very quickly how much personal growth is needed to fill the roll properly. But I think it provides good balance to the often warped reality of being on stage. There is nothing like changing diapers after playing a show for 10,000 people to bring you crashing back to reality!

What’s the best part about being both a musician and a dad?
Traveling all over the world can be an amazing adventure. I’m always thinking up creative ways to bring my family with me, because sharing the adventure with my kids is an incredible experience.

What’s the most difficult part about being both a musician and a dad?
Without a doubt, the most challenging part of wearing both hats is trying to stay involved and connected with my kids when I’m away.

What do your kids think of your music?
They like it. They each have favorite songs of ours, and we’ll have dance parties and practice our air-guitar moves.

What kind of music does your kid currently enjoy? Do you approve of his/her current tastes?
At this age, the music they like is all still basically influenced by what we expose them too. I’ve always thought that The Flaming Lips is the perfect band for the job, because the songs and sounds are so interesting and fun, and both parents and kids can enjoy it on different levels. Be careful with the Chipmunks though—those songs will destroy you.

Have you attempted to immerse your kids in music? How have they
Responded? If yes, what instruments do they play? And what do their early musical attempts sound like? If not, what are they interested in doing instead?

With interests that I hold very dear, such as music and surfing, I’m very strategic in how I approach them with my kids. The goal is to expose them to things that we might enjoy together, without forcing my own interests on them, or pushing them so hard that they hate it. So with both music and surfing, I always let it be their idea. They are always surrounded by it, and I just wait until they show interest and then help walk them through it and have fun. My son likes to play the Rhodes and the electric guitar, and of course every kid likes the drums.

Josh Kelley

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Name and age of your kid:
Naleigh Kelley, 2.5 years.

How does having a child and being a father change the way you approach your career?
Becoming a dad has changed everything about who I am, as a person and in my career. It’s important to constantly work hard, because now I have someone who needs to be fed and clothed (other than myself!). I also have to make sure I take enough time off the road to spend some good quality time with my family. My wife and daughter also come out on the road with me some. We put a pack n’ play in the back lounge and travel the country like a family of gypsies.

What’s the best part about being both a musician and a dad?
The best part about being a musician is that I can wake up every single day and love what I do. Creating and performing music is my ultimate passion. The best thing about being a dad is discovering what it means to love in a completely unselfish way. Naleigh has made me a much less self-centered person. Plus, she’s so fun to be around. She’s the best kid.

What’s the most difficult part about being both a musician and a dad?
The schedule. It’s really hard to be away from my wife and daughter. This is not a 9-to-5 job.

What does your kid think of your music?
Naleigh is more into the Wiggles now than my music. She doesn’t really ‘get’ it yet, but when I’ve performed on TV recently, she points at the TV and says ‘dada.’

What kind of music does your kid currently enjoy? Do you approve of his/her current tastes?
Naleigh loves the Wiggles. And she’s learning her “ABC’s” right now so I definitely approve of that! She really likes it when Taylor Swift comes on the radio too—she always perks up.

Have you attempted to immerse your kids in music? How have they responded?
Yes. Naleigh will come into my home studio with me in the mornings and play her little drums and keyboard. She loves music. Also, I can hum a note for her and she can hum that same note along with me. It’s pretty cool! I think she’ll be a singer.

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