Jeff Fajans Talks Fatherhood, Music, Creativity And More

Jeff Fajans was able to share his thoughts on fatherhood with me. We talk about his fatherhood journey and the values he looks to instill into his kids. After that we talk about the significance of encouraging creativity with your kids. In addition we talk about his music and why his music was nicknamed, Beastie Boys for Babies. Lastly we finish the interview with the Fatherhood Quick Five. 

Jeff Fajans On Fatherhood 

Art Eddy: What popped into your mind when you found out you were going to be a dad? 

Jeff Fajans: When my wife told me she was pregnant, I was absolutely overjoyed and excited.  I remember being in a state of awe for days.  It made me deeply reflect on our future and who I wanted to be when our little guy arrived and as he grew up.  I knew that my wife would be great parents and that it would be a lot of fun parenting together and doing our best to raise an amazing kid.

AE: What are some of the core values you look to instill in your child as they grow up?

JF: It boils down to what I call the 4 C’s: Creativity, Compassion, Curiosity, and Courage. If my son can approach life leading himself and others with these values in mind, I believe it will lead to a meaningful, engaging, and impactful life.  My wife and I also try to instill an appreciation for diversity and gratitude each day as well through our conversations and often bedtime meditation.

AE: What is something you have learned from your child that they taught you about life or yourself that you would like to share? 

JF: I’ve been inspired by my son to bring more joy and wonder to day-to-day life.  It’s amazing to see how authentically interested and joyful he is about what is happening around him – even “mundane” things that many adults would take for granted like blooming flowers, going to the grocery store, checking out a new place that we’ve never been to, helping with tasks around the house.  Every situation is an opportunity to engage with what is happening in a curious, positive way.  

More On Fatherhood

AE: What is one piece of advice or dad hack you would like to offer to new dads? 

JF: I would say that I believe it is important to be a role model and create an environment for creativity.  Developing your kids’ creativity is not only important for enriching their lives, but also a key skill that will set them up for success in the future – regardless of whatever career they pursue.  There is so much emphasis on rote learning and finding “correct” solutions, BUT more and more success & fulfillment will be about using one’s creativity – especially as many things become more automated.

Being a role model for creativity means pursuing your own curiosities, passions, and creative projects – even if that means just as a hobby.  This shows your kids that it’s great to pursue what you WANT to do (and not just what you feel you SHOULD do, or HAVE TO do).  It shows that it’s good to trust your own interests and pursue something that is meaningful to you, regardless of what other people say. 

Also, it shows them that you can take action and bring your ideas to life and overcome challenges along the way.  It shows them that they have control over their life. And it shows them that they can be proactive and bring fun, joy, or fulfillment into their lives.  When you are creating, you are an active agent in your life – you’re not just passively reacting to it.  This is important for kids to see as a possibility for them too.

Jeff On Music 

AE: Your son is named Hendrix and I see how music is an influence in your life. Talk about why your music was nicknamed by the president of the National Association for Record Industry Professionals, Tess Taylor as “Beastie Boys for Babies.”

JF: I wanted to create a more authentic and raw style of kids music that did a better job of capturing the real experiences, perspectives, and emotions of a developing toddler (NOT the typical rinky-dink kids music that feels a bit condescending and cheesy)

I asked myself, what is going on inside my son’s brain right now? How is he feeling? What is he wanting to do and why? His growing determination, attitude, and high-energy personality naturally led me to create a style of kids music that reflects these same traits. My heavy influences are Jimi Hendrix, Rage Against the Machine, and other hip hop, funk, and rock. The influences all sorta combined in a fun, goofy way that came out in a style that Tess described as “Beastie Boys for Babies.”

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AE: What inspired you to become a musician?

JF: Growing up, my parents would always play different music from my Dad’s diverse record collection every weekend.  My Dad played guitar along to the songs as well.  He would even create fun, silly songs about me and my sister and play them for us.  Music was a special and fun part of our lives. When I was about 11, I wanted to learn how to play guitar as well. I loved it and just wanted to go deeper and deeper into learning the guitar. Along the way, I played in as many bands as I could and learned how to write and produce my own music as well.

AE: How has fatherhood changed the way you look at music?

JF: I didn’t realize how big of a space kids music was and just how much kids music was out there. I didn’t realize how much of it really doesn’t seem to be written from a kids perspective. Rather a perspective of what adults think kids should listen to or want.

Fatherhood also has me thinking more about how I can introduce and encourage learning how to play music for my son.  There are so many cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal benefits of learning how to play an instrument and playing music with other people – even if music doesn’t become their main thing or career choice.  It can really be helpful towards kids’ development regardless of what they decide to pursue.  So, I want to expose him to as many different instruments, music genres, bands & artists, concerts, etc that I can because I believe it will not only be fun and enjoyable for my son – but helpful towards bringing out his full potential and creativity.

Jeff On Creativity

AE: How can parents identify and foster their kids’ unique creative strengths?

JF: First it can be helpful to understand that being “creative” doesn’t just mean being an artist or musician. Your kid IS creative, but it may be in a way that isn’t stereotypical. Creativity can be applied to, and found, in ANY domain.

I’ve done a lot of research on creativity via my PhD program looking at various frameworks and “types” of creativity. Essentially, being able to identify one’s creative strengths comes down to identifying:

  1. levels of interest/curiosity towards a domain/activity [i.e. what is your kid naturally interested in? What captures their attention most? What would they do if they had the choice?], 
  2. natural talents and proclivities towards a domain/activity [i.e. what is your kid naturally good at doing?, or naturally demonstrates higher skill in compared to others?]

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AE: How do you create memories and experiences that last through music with your family?

JF: I committed to making at least one album each and every year of my son’s life until he is old enough to tell me to stop doing so because it’s embarrassing him. A big reason for doing this is to capture the funny memories, stories, developmental phases, and shared experiences of each year of his life.  Each album I make is, in a way, a historical recording of what our family was experiencing.  Looking back on these albums years from now will spark fun, meaningful memories (and will be great for sharing with his future partner when he’s an adult to have a good laugh around). 

The Fatherhood Quick Five

AE: Do you guys have a favorite family movie that you all love to watch together?

JF: My son and I love to watch some of the DC Superheroes for kids movies. Especially some of the ones that are LEGO-ized. My son loves the LEGO Shazam, DC Superhero Girls, Aquaman, Batman, Ninjago movies and series. We watch more series/show than movies.  I think Ada Twist Scientist is great. Hendrix also LOVES the WIld Kratts.

AE: Do you guys have a favorite family song?

Right now these are in heavy rotation, The Encanto album, NSync’s No Strings Attached Album. And I am always playing my own music – MrBoodaddy. You can find it on Spotify here. 

AE: Describe the perfect family vacation.

JF: Exploring some place new. Getting outside and experiencing nature.  Going to new restaurants together.  Being active and getting exposed to new things. We had a really great trip to Breckenridge. We hiked, taught my son how to ski for like 25 minutes. Took him ice skating for the first time. He loved it. It was so cool watching him learn and figure out how to do it using the helper thing. We walked around exploring and experiencing new shops, restaurants, and people. Great times!

AE: First album you purchased was.

JF: First album that I remember purchasing was probably Bush’s Sixteen Stone.  But I remember my friend got me Green Day’s Dookie album that I loved.

AE: What are three words that you hope your son would use to describe you as a dad?

JF: Loving. Supportive. Fun. 

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