Kids' Music That Doesn't Suck? That's What MrBoodaddy Created for Halloween | Westword

Kids' Music That Doesn't Suck? That's What MrBoodaddy Created for Halloween

A father-son project.
Jeff Fajans (aka MrBoodaddy) and his son, Hendrix, enjoy making kids' music together in the family's home studio.
Jeff Fajans (aka MrBoodaddy) and his son, Hendrix, enjoy making kids' music together in the family's home studio. Courtesy Jeff Fajans
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Kids’ music is annoying. Like many parents, Jeff Fajans experienced the mind-numbing powers of tunes such as “Baby Shark” firsthand after his son, Hendrix, was born in 2018. But the guitarist and former gigging musician, who lives in Westminster, was also inspired.

“We were listening to a lot of kids’ music, and it was kind of driving us crazy," he recalls. "Then it just kind of clicked: ‘This music is driving me crazy. I think I can do something more fun or authentic.’”

Fajans gave way to his alter ego, MrBoodaddy, and decided to create children’s music in his home studio based on his son’s interests and experiences. In that sense, his three EPs are like sonic scrapbooks.

“I took it as an opportunity to reignite getting back my guitar chops and my musical chops and exploring [bringing] that into my life again,” he says, adding that he’s always been influenced by guitarists, including Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. “I can bring in all the stuff that I like to play musically. I see what my son’s into. I can maybe write songs from his perspective as a developing infant and toddler, and make something fun and original and unique that hasn’t been done before. That idea stuck with me.

"For me, it was really freeing, because I’m not trying to become a rock star or write that deep love song or be overly clever with it," he continues. "I’m just writing songs about phantom poop and goofy, silly experiences. No pressure — just fun, catchy hooks with simple lyrics. It was just so much fun to do. It just felt right. It felt like something to keep doing and to document my son’s development and the things he was interested in, and those funny moments that happen each year of his life. I wanted to capture that in a unique way. Even if no one else listened to it, our family would always have that.”

MrBoodaddy has now released Daddy Skeleton, a six-song Halloween EP that takes young listeners on a trick-or-treating adventure alongside aliens who suddenly team up with the Avengers to save Halloween from the evil Thanos, or peers into the mind of supervillain Poison Ivy as she takes over a city with her army of plants. It’s kids’ music, but it’s fun — and decidedly not annoying. Or as Tess Taylor, president of the National Association of Recording Industry Professionals, said during a music-industry pitch session, Fajans makes “Beastie Boys for babies.”

“I think that captures the energy. I’m trying to create stuff that my son’s going to love and remember the lyrics to and get pumped up for when he hears it,” Fajans says, explaining that there are some Rage Against the Machine and AC/DC “hard rock vibes” in the music as well. “It just catches that toddler rebelliousness, that attitude and swagger that emerges. It just fits. My son loves it. He’s a high-energy kid.”

Hendrix, who turns four in December, helps his dad write and workshop songs while banging along on a mini-drum set.

“He loves the beats that are really driving, hard-rocking, with hip-hop influences. He’s a big fan of Kendrick Lamar,” Fajans says. “I can tell right away [if Hendrix doesn’t like a song] — like, ‘Scratch that, next song.’”

The formula for writing a catchy kids’ song, he adds, typically includes a clever hook and repeated beat, such as the recurring “doo” in “Baby Shark.”

“There’s usually some repetitive earworm, like a phrase or line or lyric that's repeated in an interesting way, or interesting to the ear, that hooks the listener — adding in these little weird earworm things, like you’re twisting the words," Fajans explains. "Kids’ songs are fun, because they need to be simple enough so you can hear them and understand them. There’s the repetition. It makes it so it sticks in your head. And just making sure they’re fun. When you listen to the songs, you feel lighter, happier. You feel like dancing. It makes you want to get up and move.”

In “Ninja (Hi-Yah!),” the refrain follows a similar pattern with “Hi-yah, hi-yah, hi-yah, hi-yah, ninja!” Hendrix provides vocals at the end of the track, too.

Fajans says Daddy Skeleton, his third EP, has been “getting a lot of good feedback” from parents and kids alike. “It’s not as rinky-dink or cringey for parents. Some kids’ music is kind of condescending, like they’re treating the kid like they’re a little bozo. … You can tell some adult writing it for a kid is like, ‘This is what a kid should do or listen to,’ versus this is what a kid is actually doing or listening to. Like adults, we’re not listening to songs that are trying to teach us something.”

Fajans is already working on new material, but he knows someday he may be forced to stop writing hard-rocking hooks for Hendrix: “I’m going to do one every year until he gets old enough to say, ‘Dad, you need to stop writing songs about me. This is embarrassing.’”

Daddy Skeleton is available on all major streaming platforms. For updates, follow MrBoodaddy on Instagram.
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