Kid listening to headphones

The Producer Parent: Finding Balance Between Babies & Bass

Amber Long

The last time I had inhaled nitrous oxide was while I was in labour with my daughter. Now, here she was, all grown up in Amsterdam at ADE, at a Hernan Cattaneo and Nick Warren show, passing me a balloon full of nitrous. Conflicted and torn, yet amused, 20 years of self-prescribed parenting ethics raced through my mind and proceeded to accept.

With so many new releases in the form of babies from producers around the world, it’s high time to delve deeper into what it means to be the Producer Parent. If you are going to judge me for my opening story, that’s ok. It was a “you had to be there” moment.

On tour with kids

Contemplating parenthood? Newly initiated into the club? You’ll have some moments like this too! Promise!

Parenting is a very personal journey that garners its fair share of chatter. In the end, it is a lifelong relationship between you and your mini-human. Just as with any new relationship, as time passes, you find your own way. Our end goal should be raising healthy, well-balanced, loved, and inspired children, who feel free to create. Everything in between is personal taste.

But what happens when music must shift its place in your life?

Does it?

What does that look like?

Is it a bit unsettling?

It can be.

What better way to get the freshest feedback about being a Producer Parent in 2019 than speaking to some of our very own favourites in the Progressive House scene?

Dale Middleton, Lonya Koval, Jacob Seville, Kilma, qoob and I put our experiences together in this interview-styled piece. It’s long, FYI, so you may have more time to read everything when the kids are napping.

When you are a Producer Parent, every note you make, every mix that gets done, each gig that takes you away from home for even a few hours – it all carries a different weight. There’s more riding (pun intended) on it because you always go home to a sweet, little innocent face and you are their hero. That pushes you farther, more profoundly, and more intently than any Beatport chart position.

Baby with music

How long have you been a parent?

DM: Just over 8 months now, Rex was born in the middle of last summer.

LK: Hi, thanks for having me on this subject, it’s a pleasure to give my insight. I am fresh at this, 1 year and 8 months ago I became a father for the first time and 6 months ago for the second time. So now, I have a boy and a girl.

JS: I’m a very new parent, my boy is just 2 months old.

KT: I’ve been attempting this “parenting” thing for approximately 2 years, 2 days, 2 hours and 22 seconds since the little bundle of joy came into the outside. We can’t forget the 41 weeks and 3 days of being pregnant alongside a good 4 days of laboring.  Yeah, I’m not forgetting that anytime soon.

QB: I am a parent since 2001, its been a long-long time ago.  In 2018 I renewed my parent license one more time. Now I’m proud father of 2 beautiful girls.

AL: My kids are 18 and 20.

Dale Middleton DJ baby with headphones
Dale Middleton’s DJ Rex

How has your life changed since you became a parent?

DM: I think in many ways, mainly that you feel so responsible for this little human now. Everything you do you are always thinking about him and what he needs & wants.

LK: My life changed completely and in every aspect. I can say that I had almost zero responsibility compared to what I have now. My priorities changed, working hours, the way I plan things ahead and of course financially I must deliver different results to support my family, when before I could only think about myself and be satisfied just with what I got.  

JS: Actually my life changed before I became father. It happened few months before childbirth. I started to have a lot more duties, which I was doing with pleasure. And now, when Bruno is with us, I do everything more willingly. They are my family and it’s super important for me to keep them well.

KT: The funny thing is, I’ve become a more efficient, organized and driven individual. I have less time, but I get MORE done. I am still wondering what the heck I did with all that “free time” I had before the kiddo.

QB: My life has changed dramatically. It is a very big responsibility to be a father and you can not ignore that. Less sleep, more action, more attention to everything. Hard to stay focused on one thing. You must be everywhere at the same time. 

AL: I started a family really young so having my kids around was the norm. I used the time I spent at home making music and working on my own art after they went to bed, or alongside them while they played. The priority is always family first.

Kilma & little

How has your music career changed since you became a parent?

DM: Yes, leading up to the birth and since then I have been taking it easy with the music, as I feel this time as a family with him and my wife is hugely important.

LK: I don’t know if it changed so much, I think the main thing is that I am more focused, organised but also must balance things in life and know that the career, as much as it is important, is probably comes second to the parent duties. 

JS: I had a break from music production, it was about 2-3 months. I literally had no time for it and had no ideas for music. But nowadays, I work on music almost every day. There are big changes after the break. I think it was necessary for my head to clean up and rest. Now I have plenty of ideas, I think different about mixing, sound creation etc.

KT: I know I’ve been more motivated to accomplish goals. Thing I used to put on the backburner come first. My reasonings, that I would NEVER want my child to think that just because he was born, I didn’t follow my passion. I also find that I enjoy my passion that much more, because it’s my outlet. I can’t stress enough to parents how important it is to have things OUTSIDE of your family life, that you enjoy.

QB: I can not consider my passion to music as a “career”. I still was busy every weekend with my local gigs. Less day time for producing and relaxation but that is pretty much it. 

AL: As my kids grew, my freedom grew, which helped me realize some of my own personal goals. There is no try, it’s always “do or die”. It’s important to be an example for our kids, showing them that their parents are bravely going after their dreams. I’m probably so intense because of this… I have to show them they can do whatever they want in life and succeed if they put their mind to it.

Qoob & his happy hiking baby

Adapting to be a parent musician, how do you manage your time?

DM: For me this is one of the biggest challenges, being able to spend time with my family but then having the time to pop into my home studio and work on music is difficult as well as just having time to chill out and relax. If anyone has a good answer, I would love to hear it too!!

LK: It’s very hard. We all know that while working in the studio, sometimes it isn’t easy to get into the workflow but then suddenly you have a breakthrough and the composition starts to flow. Nowadays though, often when it happens, I must run home, as the babies need me, and I have to take care of them.  While touring I must always be available for calls, plan the trips so that I’ll be home on time, and the needed help will be present at home while I am away.  I also don’t have a lot of time to spend with friends at the moment 🙂  

JS: Now, when things calmed down, I have time for everything. I introduced my self a routine, and I work on music at least one hour a day. Of course, when I start to work on music it usually takes a bit more time. 😉 However, there are moments when you must leave everything and go to your son. There are important things in life and sometimes more important.  

KT: I am clearly better at it NOW than I was in the beginning. But let me start by saying, “Letting go of the outcome.” Plan your day, sure! But expect things may go awry, so try to keep your cool. Some days will be easier than others. Embrace the chaos. For me it’s all in the prep and planning:I prep my content and tasks in advance so that when I have a day, hour, few or even just a minute to do something, it’s ready to go.

Important tasks that need quiet time, I book childcare and make sure I’m camera ready or get in the studio first thing in the morning. No slacking. I only have so much time.

And lastly, I have tasks I can do with or without him. Maybe I am in the room with him, but I can upload my latest vlog from my google drive (which is very neatly organized) and copy that text from the pre-ready file, past, and post! Or maybe it’s reviewing comments from my instagram because I have a few moments.

QB: I have one rule in my life. Catch the flow. Don’t stress yourself and people who surrounds you with time management. It`s your life not a corporate schedule.

AL They covered it ^^ 😊

Kilma’s tiny producer

Any challenges you wish to share?

DM: I’m only new to this so everything is a challenge, but in the best way possible! Even on a day to day basis you can see how he is growing up. Currently we are in a child proof stage Baby Gates, Fire Guard, Plug Sockets, Cables basically anything that can be crawled at and grabbed!

LK: Every day is a challenge 🙂 Financially, mentally, physically, you name it, one thing though – you will almost get used to it 🙂

JS: Pregnancy and childbirth was something new for both of us. So, there were many challenges which we went thru.

KT: Time management. I really had to figure out something that worked for me and than adapt as my child and family situation would change. Maybe hubby had to work out of town and little man was going through a growth spurt. I had to learn to ask for help and be wary of burning myself out. I also learned to schedule and book my content well in advance so that if anything came up, or I was sick, I would always have content schedule and ready to go out. Also, important if you have people flake out on you.

QB: There are so many different challenges that appears when you became a parent but the major one is to accept this fact and get the correct attitude for that. You have to get a feeling that this fact is the most beautiful thing in this world and its NOT a challenge. ITS NORMAL. Go for it and enjoy every moment.

AL: The greatest challenge, at the end of the day, is letting them go when they’re old enough and ready to leave.

Lonya Koval & family

How important is it to have a solid support system in place?

DM: This is massively important, both my wife and I have very loving families who love spending time with us and Rex. I’m also extremely lucky that I live in a small village right next to my parents, so we always have willing baby sitters for the odd time when needed.

LK: Its very important to have it even if you are not in music business, otherwise you are in a constant struggle and it is very frustrating.  

JS: I think it’s very important. My fiancé supports me as much as possible. Sometimes, she even tells me to go to work on music! She knows how much it’s important to me.

KT: My husband, my parents, the in laws. These people are incredibly supportive and helpful. I don’t want to imagine what it would be like if I didn’t have them in my life. I see people in healthy relationships thrive in their careers. At times when I struggled the most, I remember being in unhealthy relationships as well. I may have been getting the work done, but these was some sort of turmoil in my life and that had its effects. I choose the people around me very carefully and I am not afraid to make room for others.

QB: As a father YOU MUST be the Solid Support System

AL: It takes a village to raise a child but also to keep mom and dad sane too. My closest friends have been around to watch my kids grow up and have been there through the hard times and the great times.

What is your greatest joy, now that you have a family AND a music career?

DM: Ohh, I think there can only be one answer and that’s family! But I think where as family is Love and joy, music is a burning passion and will always be there no matter what.

LK: When I watch my little babies sleeping, I have a huge smile and wanna run and make music, as I’m so uplifted and inspired!

JS: I can’t mention only one thing. Spending time with my beloved family is a great feeling. However, music was with me since I remember, more than 20 years now or longer. It’s so important to me that my girl had to accept it before we took any serious decisions. I didn’t have to tell her anything, she knew everything already. 😉 Music is my life and I can imagine living without it. I’d be the saddest man in the world.

KT: My greatest joy in my family life would be the quality time and connection, I appreciate that time so much more than ever. When I am at work, I’m working but when it’s time to play, we get right into it. As far as music, I think that TOO I appreciate a hell of a lot more. It’s my release and I can let go of whatever is going on in my life and just performance to my heart’s desire.

QB: It’s different personalities or alter-egos for me. I don’t mix them. I love to be a father and I love to make music. I’m happy that I can have both the passion to my hobby and the fact that I have a great family. 

AL: My greatest joy now is taking them on the road whenever possible to show them all the things they only heard stories about while they were growing up.

Little Qoob starting young

Any advice you wish to share for new or expecting producer parents?

DM: Doubly sound proof your studio and/or invest in some good monitor headphones.

LK: Children will make you feel complete and accomplished, at the same time you ll be tired and busy all the time, but don’t let it stop you creating and developing your music, the contrary, it should give you a new meaning to all this and lots of motivation. 

JS: Everything will come by itself and you will know what to do first and what’s more important.

KT: It’s OKAY to put your career on hold. Whether it’s a few weeks or a few months. It will be there waiting and ready for you, when you are. Don’t be surprised if you hit a point where you’re like, “I might never DJ again.” Likely, it’s a temporary feeling.

I hit a patch where I just had to get good with the fact, I might never touch a pair of turntables again. I exclusive breastfed my baby for 10 months, it was intense. The first few weeks were testing on me. Once I got over that and felt calm, getting back into the studio was second nature. When I was ready, I went in full force. Bigger than ever. And I even surprised myself.

You KNOW you are dedicated when even after that break and thinking it might all end, you go all in.

QB: Don’t make a wrong choice if you will face the fact that you have to chose between your existing, real family and your potential career. 

AL: Expect the unexpected and welcome to the club. Do things your way and it will be the right way. Find balance for yourself, your family and for your art, make time for each and make each a priority. Do you, do what you think is right, even if others disagree. Always love your child because at the end of the day, they will never remember what designer clothes they wore as a baby, but they will carry the stability of being truly loved as their foundation.

Thank you to the Producer Parents who have been so kind to contribute to this article. This piece does not take away from the challenges that producers, with or without kids, face. The music industry is one of many twists and turns that requires commitment and dedication. Nothing is easy.

There’s no denying the growing club though, the Producer Parents, posting videos of their babies playing synths and CDJs that melt our hearts. This new generation leads the way, ahead of kittens, in most liked videos by all of us cheering Producer Parents on, understanding they’re playing at a different tempo on their own personal progressive journey.