Dads Who Rock!

Brady Rymer with his kids.

Parents know that kids love repetition. So when it comes to children’s music, our house is filled with the tunes that are not only kid-friendly, but catchy and children-approved. I had the pleasure of listening to three artists music who also happen to be fathers. And these dads rock! I interviewed three dads who have albums being released, won Grammy Awards, have summer concert tours and who continue to be inspired by yep, you guessed it, their own kiddos. Here is what they had to say…

Brady Rymer 
Album:
“Just Say Hi!”
Father of two: Gus and Daisy
Home: Long Island, New York

How has making music changed after becoming a dad?
I was filled up with an amazing amount of love, inspiration, passion and creativity. I found myself wanting to express my new experiences. The amount of love that you feel for your kids is in the work. It’s a fun, challenging, rewarding experience and with that comes lots of meaningful things to write about and share. My song “Road Trip” is a good example of that. It came from taking the first family trip and how much I was looking forward to sharing that experience.

How do your children inspire your music?
Sometimes we’ll all be sitting around after dinner and I’ll get out the guitar and we’ll all make up songs. Or later on in the process, after I’ve recorded the tunes, I’ll get them singing on a song or two. I’ve managed to have them sing on each one of my albums (and their crazy, creative, warm and wonderful lives continue to provide plenty of material). There’s a song on the new album called “Pet Song” that I wrote that after dinner one night with my kids. We were singing about our beloved pets, Jack the frog, Lucky our dog and Sweetie the bird.

What makes children vs. adult music so different?
The lyrics and subject matter differ. I keep the music pretty much the same as what I’d write for a grown-up tune. The hook and lyrics need to be something that communicate and feel fun to a kid and keep them engaged. The song needs to have just the right spirit; not too syrupy sweet and no too hard. Just fun and playful enough. It also needs to be something I’m passionate about and a song I can relate to; if I’m not inspired by what I’m singing, the kid’s won’t be either.

What are you trying to accomplish while writing children’s music?
The catchy hook and the universal, engaging lyric! There’s nothing like the honesty of something a kid says; if it can turn into a cool, catchy hook and tune, that’s awesome. I like playing around with many songwriting approaches just to keep things fun and interesting. When I heard my son scream, “I Found It!” as he was looking for a lost toy, I knew I had something.

What are you hoping to express in your music?
I would never have guessed that writing and performing for kids and families would be so rewarding and fun. Being inspired by my kids and family has enabled me to paint a little picture of what this time has been like. The songs, like the ballad, “One True You,” bring back memories and a feeling of being young, starting a new family and being with my kids as we grew together. I hope my music conveys that spirit of love, compassion, humor and community, and that listeners will draw their families a little closer as they’re reminded of how special it is to be a family.

Check out Brady Rymer and his little band at Lollapalooza August 2 and 3. They perform in the Kidzapalooza area and kids admission is FREE.

Lucky Diaz, of Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band
“Aqui, Alla”
Father of one: Ella
Home: Los Angeles (born in Miami, raised in San Antonio)

What was your music like before becoming a father?
I’ve been making music one way or another for the last 25 years. Before being a parent, I was only working with pop stars and singer-songwriters. I never considered making music for children. The moment I had my daughter, Ella, I was inspired in a completely new way. I wanted to share the experience of music together. Making it, listening to it and teaching her about the music that’s come before: Beach Boys, The Beatles, Motown, ’50s Doo-Wop and everything in between. Basically, anything under the sun! Out of those shared musical moments, came the Family Jam Band’s very first songs. I wanted her to see that music could be created easily. Now, I mostly create music for children, which takes special consideration and care.

How do your children help with your music?
Ella helps me create music in many ways. She could be inspired by a certain subject such as funny words or animals, which inspires me to write songs about those things. She sometimes guests on our albums singing. Most importantly, I would say she is our number one beta tester for new material. She’s usually brutally honest about whether or not she likes something. For better or for worse!

What makes children’s music so different from adult music?
When I grew up, there wasn’t much of discrepancy between children’s music and the Top 40 of the time. Subject matter seemed to be more innocent or hidden if it was salacious. Families would be able to listen to the radio together more so than today. I feel these days some Top 40 songs are not appropriate subject matter wise…for my kid, at least. They have plenty of time to be adults later on. I want to extend the magic of childhood with our music, even if it’s only for three minutes at a time.

What inspires your writing?
I just write what feels good to me. I love a great hook. I love the funny things Ella thinks of and says. I love for our songs to be rooted in emotions. But at the end of the day, I just write what moves me and what I think may move families and their children.

Do you think that you also write tunes that parents will like or won’t get tired of hearing it 100 times?
Ha! I would like to think I write songs that anyone can and wants to listen to. I find many parents telling me they play our albums on repeat only to find themselves singing along and not realizing they’d been listening to children’s music the entire time. I’d really like to consider it just music. I mean, Coke recently featured one our songs in their summer campaigns. It was a sweet ‘first love’ kind of song. When I wrote it, I just remembered myself being 12 years old and falling in love. I think that’s something we can all relate to.

If you want to see Lucky Diaz and The Family Jam Band, they will be performing at 4pm on June 20 at the Land of Nod (North & Clybourn location) but you have to click here to RSVP.

Danny Weinkauf
“No School Today”
Father of two: Kai and Lena
Home: Long Island, New York

As the long-time bassist for They Might Be Giants, this is your first solo kids’ album. How has being a father impacted your work of making music?
Being a father has made a huge impact on the way I make music these days. For one, I’ve learned to work in spurts of time. I grab 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, put ‘em together and hopefully wind up with a song. Also, my son Kai is a great singer so I often ask him to sing on tracks I’m recording. In addition to that, having kids has reminded me about how fun it can be to discover something interesting for the first time. My kids’ love of dinosaurs enabled me to write my song “I am a Paleontologist” based on our mutual interest in them.

While writing a song, are you going for catchy beats or things your child says/does?
Yes to both. I am a huge fan of pop music like the Beatles so I always want the sounds melody to be catchy and memorable and I also incorporate things my kids say and do. I recently wrote a song called “Driving me Crazy” that is told from a kids side of things and another called “A Song About Anything” because one day my daughter said, ‘You would sing a song about anything.’

What makes children’s music so different from adult music?
Well, this depends on the music. I personally write music that’s not for toddlers but rather for elementary school-aged kids up to 80-year-old ‘kids.’ I try to write music that I myself would enjoy hearing and then make the subject matter something that I think kids would be interested in or can learn from or both.

 

All three of these dads rock. The music is upbeat, and my kids gave all three bands their stamp (or stomp) of approval. Hopefully, you’ll be able to share these tunes with your kiddos and take them to a few concerts this summer!

Christine Bachman

About Christine Bachman

Christine Bachman is founder and president of Plan It PR, a public relations and marketing firm. The mother of five shares tips and survival stories in “Play Dates and Power Lunches.” Ms. Bachman started working public relations after a long career in broadcast journalism, which included work as a television anchor, reporter and producer.