Meet Francisco Araya and Cecille Simons-Araya

Just when “Momagers and “Dadagers” seem to be getting a bad rap in recent pop culture news, we’re highlighting two of the best in indie music.  Meet Francisco Araya and Cecille Simons-Araya, the proud, happy parents of teen indie rock duo The Potential Lunatics.  The hard-working couple made time in their busy schedule for an exclusive SolShock QA:

SolShock:  What inspired your latest project?

Cecille Simons-Araya:  As the parents of teens who feel serious about sharing the music that they create, we feel serious about supporting them.  Our family values are based around encouraging freedom of creativity. This was a conscious decision that we made as a couple before we started our family.  Cisco Araya and I have been married for 30 years this June. We have two adult daughters that are visual artists/painters, in addition to the two younger musician children. 

Cisco and I got married young and started a family right away.  We had the two older girls who have become more involved with art than music, but were always exposed to different kinds of music and their dad’s music. We had a ten-year gap between the two groups of kids. Emma and Isaac had the influence of our music and the teenage sisters’ music of the 90s.  Emma and Isaac were interested in creating/writing music from very young. Emma tried different instruments before she decided she wanted to play bass.  Cisco taught her bass and she played that for two years, until she was twelve. Then she asked Cisco to teach her guitar. Isaac played glockenspiel and our other percussion instruments from when he was just a toddler. He was 9 when he took a group drum class.  They formed their band because they wanted to perform in public.  They have been playing out now for two and a half years.

Music and art have always been important to both of us.  My dad was a Jazz/Big Band professional musician in the 40s to the 60s.  He also taught music in jr high schools and high schools until he retired in the late 80s. He was very involved with the Musician’s Union.  My mother was a jazz singer and played drums with one of my dad’s bands. All of my 4 siblings and I played instruments and/or sang in school. We even had a family band for a while. We were also encouraged to be creative artistically.

Cisco grew up listening to music and appreciating it too. They had lots of big family parties and there was always live music being played by his older cousins. His oldest sister played clarinet in jr high school and that inspired him to play music.  Cisco started playing clarinet in school when he was 13. He learned to read music. He took that skill and taught himself how to play guitar. Cisco loved the Beatles and decided that he needed a bass player to accompany him. He taught his younger brother Tom, scales, how to read bass music and some songs on a  modified acoustic guitar.  Then Tom bought a bass and a bass book. They started a band together  with a few friends and played at backyard parties all through high school.  Tom had a few bands and then joined Slayer.  Cisco also taught his youngest brother John how to play guitar.  He is in the band Thine Eyes Bleed and is a guitar tech. He’s toured with bands including; Lou Reed, System of a Down, Kittie, Daughtry and currently Slayer.

SolShock:  What makes you radiant?

Cecille Simons-Araya:  We feel fulfilled in helping our children accomplish their goals as well as doing the things we do for ourselves. All four children have  followed their own paths.  We have always tried to see who they are as individuals and help them accomplish what they need to do.  It makes us happy to work together on this project as a family, with everyone contributing their unique gifts.  For Emma and Isaac that means supporting them emotionally, financially and technically in becoming songwriters/performing artists.  I am the manager, wardrobe curator, director of merchandise and photographer. Cisco is the one who finances the whole shebang with his full-time day job. He is the guitar/bass/drum/P.A. technician, head roadie and sound engineer. Even the big sisters help. Jasmine has been the makeup designer, and personal chef. Aubrey has been the hair stylist.  Emma does all the graphic design,(including the logo that I silk screen on the t-shirts), edits and created the website and all the social network sites.

We’ve driven them to the studio and sat countless hours during recording and mixing their music. We’ve taken them to shows and gotten to meet many lovely new people and hear amazing new music that we wouldn’t have heard otherwise. It has exceedingly enriched all of our lives.

SolShock:  What was your most recent happy discovery?

Cecille Simons-Araya:  It is a surprise to discover that in helping our children do what they love, I found something that I love to do too and that I’m good at it.  I had no idea that I could be a manager of a band.  I’ve been a preschool teacher, a childbirth educator and a teaching artist.  I have made and sold my art work.  I’ve been homeschool teaching my children for many years.  I realized that my psychology background and ability to do research has helped me find the information I needed to learn how to do this new task.  We’ve also made new friends and found a new community of people who have been making their independent  music careers, that have been so generous with their help and information. 

For Cisco, his experience as a musician/performer/songwriter/composer has been invaluable in helping The Potential Lunatics.  He is surprised and pleased by how people so young can be so motivated and accomplished with the right kind of support.  We support and encourage them, but the vision, the spirit and the drive for the music comes only from them. We’re honored to be part of it.

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