Father Interview with Jon Madof of Zion80
Name: Jon Madof
Bands: Zion80, Blivet, Rashanim, Geulah Trio
Websites: http://zion80.com/ http://www.jonmadof.com/ http://www.blivetmusic.com/
QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a musician?
Jon – So young I don’t even remember. My dad plays guitar & since a very young age I was mesmerized by music & anyone who could play it.
QRD – What are a few highlights of your musical career?
Jon – I’ve had the tremendous honor of making music with some amazing musicians including John Zorn, Marc Ribot, & all of the members of my Zion80 band. Zion80 has played in front of 20,000 people at the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival & the New York Times wrote a feature on us. Other than that, I have six albums out on Tzadik Records & recently released one on my own called Blivet. Those are just a few highlights!
QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?
Jon – I think I’ve always known I wanted to have kids. But I never really felt “ready” - I’m not sure if anyone does. My wife & I had been married for a few years & we knew it was time. Once that happened, I might have been terrified, but I was also excited to start a family.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?
Jon – It’s hard to say that there have been negative aspects to it since my family is more important than my career. Yes, there’s the aspects of time, money, & responsibility. But that’s what having a family depends on. The positives have been sharing my music with my kids & knowing that they’re going to grow up with parents who do what they love. It’s not always easy & I currently have a non-music day job to support my family, but it’s all part of the package.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?
Jon – See the above question! I think once you realize that having a family is about something larger than yourself, you gain some perspective & see that you & your career are not the most important thing in the world. Conversely, that realization has allowed me to enjoy making music a lot more.
QRD – Have your children effected the music you make &/or listen to?
Jon – Yes! They have their own tastes & opinions about everything. It’s amazing to see how they react to & love different kinds of music, songs, etc. All of my three children sing & play musical instruments as well, which is wonderful.
QRD – Do you think being involved in music has made your children different than their piers?
Jon – Yes - for sure. It’s a very important part of their lives. That’s not necessarily true for their classmates & friends.
QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from a musical career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?
Jon – Yes! See above about my day job :)
QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on being a touring musician, would you have toured more earlier in life if you’d known?
Jon – Well, now that you mention it, yes. But I don’t regret anything. It’s all led me to where I am now. & it’s funny, but I play more out of town gigs now than I ever have.
QRD – Do you think being a father or a musician has a greater impact on your community?
Jon – That’s a great question. I think there’s not always enough focus on community in today’s world. & community means something different to everyone. I’m very involved with the Jewish community where I live (I’m an observant Jew). Being a musician & father has allowed me to gain from & to give back to that community as well as my kids’ school, etc.
QRD – Would you rather see your children eventually become musicians or parents?
Jon – Both! Definitely both. But they’re their own people & will do what they want when they get older. Mostly I want them to be happy.
QRD – Both family & music seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in. How do you end up dividing your time?
Jon – Time management is something I’m constantly working on. The most important thing for me is to really be present. When I’m with my kids I try not to do music stuff or check my phone. & when I’m doing music I try to be involved in it 100%.
QRD – What do your kids think of your music?
Jon – I think they like it. But sometimes things I do that they don’t like end up being great fodder for inside jokes, etc. My wife makes fun of me for my “guitar face” & my kids definitely pick up on that in a playful way.
QRD – Do you think you could ever do a musical project with your children?
Jon – Absolutely! We jam in the basement now & we’re gonna take it live as soon as it’s ready!
QRD – Any words of advice to young people?
Jon – Hmmm... It sounds like such a cliché, but you don’t have as much time as you think you do. So get to it!
QRD – Anything else?
Jon – Thanks for doing this series! It’s really important for aspiring musicians to see that you can be a well-rounded person & have a family as well as being an artist. The two things are not in opposition. They feed each other.