The Kids Are All Right: BT
Kaia watched her father, electronic music pioneer BT, perform before she could walk. Now at 12 years old, she plays the piano by ear, has a beautiful singing voice, and even performed with him at last year’s Winter Music Conference in Florida and his Electronic Opus debut in Miami.
Many will remember BT (born Brian Transeau) holding up Kaia onstage at EDC Las Vegas 2012. To the community, the image represented the reality of DJs growing up and starting families. For father and daughter, it seemed like a self-fulfilling prophecy dating back generations.
“My daughter literally slept on my lap the entire time I wrote and recorded This Binary Universe. That entire album is for her.”
“My mom plays piano, and so did my grandmother, but my great-grandmother was the most musical person in our family that I know of—probably even more than me,” says Transeau. “She apparently played over a dozen instruments really well. She played in church and at parties. I’m pretty sure, genetically, that’s where my aptitude for music comes from.”
Educating future generations of musicians is important to Transeau, who has been an outspoken and accomplished figure in the electronic music industry since releasing his first album, Ima, in 1995. By providing guidance in and out of the studio, he feels accomplished as a parent in the scene.
“Kaia is interested in the story an artist or band is trying to tell. [She also] has a little record player and listens to full albums,” explains Transeau, who recently composed the original music played throughout Shanghai Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. “That makes me feel like I’ve done something right.”
Congrats on your marriage! Can you share the story on how you and Lacy met?
We met by happenstance on Twitter. She had just moved to L.A., and I’d made a scavenger hunt that she responded to. The intent was to play some people [2010’s] These Hopeful Machines before it came out. We met shortly after that, and I was in love from the first moment.
Is your daughter musically inclined?
Yes, she’s been engaged in the process of music and media creation from a very different vantage point from other kids her age. She’s been around the world in studios with us and watched me perform since before she could walk. We are talking about a kid that could punch me in recording vocals around the age of 6. There is a very funny video somewhere of her recording [singer/songwriter] Christian Burns somewhere around that age and telling him he could sing it better.
I suppose the real difference is, she appreciates the thought that goes into the creation of an album. Oh, and she can talk to you about the intricacies of the Beatles albums, what is so great about Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Prince, and a lot of other kickass artists—not just contemporary stuff.
Is she taking music lessons?
If she wants, but so far, no. She’s definitely musically inclined, but we don’t push it. She’s in the studio all the time and constantly spotting my software on records and the radio. She recently pointed out Stutter Edit to me on some country song. But her thing is athletics.
Are there instruments in the home?
There are hundreds of instruments here. There’s not a room without instruments, come to think of it!
“There are so many teachable moments at a festival for kids. It’s a wonderful time to be able to explain the intricacies of backline and production, or how community is vital.”
Do you take her to music festivals or other places you play?
She’s come to many festivals and performances all over the world, from Korea to India, China, Spain and England. At Red Rocks, she was right behind me onstage; same at EDC Vegas, Guatemala—you name it, she’s been and watched. Last year, during Winter Music Conference, we did a sold-out performance at the Arsht Performing Arts Center with a live orchestra. She joined me onstage and did live stutter editing to my voice on “Simply Being Loved.” It was amazing.
Do you have any tips for other parents on taking kids to festivals or into the studio?
I’d say, get as much information as possible about the event. Most events aren’t appropriate for kids in the audience. The backstage areas can be different, especially if you have a trailer and communal food area. If you’re a performer, have your significant other with you always in these situations, so they can spend time together while you are performing. There are so many teachable moments at a festival for kids. It’s a wonderful time to be able to explain the intricacies of backline and production, or how community is vital.
Does she go in the studio with you? Does she enjoy it?
She’s frequently ducking homework, popping in to the studio. That’s the new thing around here. [Laughs] She’s been in the studio with me since she was a baby.
When will you allow her to go to her first rave? What will you teach her about it?
I’ll allow her to go when she is responsible enough. We’ve had many candid conversations about dance music culture. She understands what it is, and what is good and what is not. When she is ready to make safe, wise decisions, she’ll have my blessing to be in that environment with friends. This would be, of course, at an appropriate age.
How do you remain a successful producer, work in the scene, and still be a great parent?
We all travel together whenever possible. We have family meals, and you just show up. Parenting is hard, period. Your constant presence is required. You just give love, teach what you believe, and do your best. I heard something amazing recently: “The way you talk to your child will become their inner voice.” It blew my mind how true that is.
Has it been challenging?
Extremely challenging, because of our extended family dynamic. That said, being a father is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, and even in the form it’s taken, I’d do everything over again in a heartbeat. I love Kaia endlessly.
Do you have advice to those who are already working in scene and want kids?
Whatever you do, have children inside the confines of a working, trusting, loving relationship. That’s the key. And dads, your role is vital. Show up. Love unconditionally, especially when it is hard.
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