Meet The Parents: Ian Sweet’s Jilian Medford Was Born Listening To Tracy Chapman

Meet The Parents: Ian Sweet’s Jilian Medford Was Born Listening To Tracy Chapman

When it comes to having a kid in a band, the stereotype is: the parents are none too happy. That is certainly not the case when it comes to Lisa Saltman, mother of Ian Sweet’s front person, Jilian Medford.

Ian Sweet released its emotional purge of a record, Shapeshifter, in 2016 on Hardly Art, and Lisa has been cheering Jilian on the whole way: from her first record as a kid to her first guitar to her first LP. TIDAL spoke with the mother/daughter about those early dabblings with music and why you won’t run into Lisa in the grocery store.

Do you have a background in music at all?

Lisa: I have no musical background — just a love for music, which I think Jilian’s father and I instilled in our children. I don’t know where Jilian gets it. Maybe it came from exposing her to music at an early age when she was still in the womb. One story that comes to mind is when I was giving birth, she came into this world listening to Tracy Chapman.

What is it like having a musician as a daughter?

Lisa: When Jilian was accepted to Berklee College of Music in Boston, she was excited to go, but then hesitated! I did do the parent push for education — but it was all about the music! Jilian might think differently, but I believe this is where she truly blossomed — not only by going to school, but being away from home, meeting musicians from all over the world, etc. She has always accomplished what she has set out to do with such determination! So upon graduation, without any hesitation, off she went to the Big Apple! So to answer your question…I am her biggest fan, I so admire Jilian and it gives me great pride and joy to see her following her dream.

What do you tell the other parents when you run into them at the grocery store and they ask about your daughter?

Lisa: First off, you’ve got the wrong mom — I hardly go to the grocery store now that there are no hungry kids in the house (except when the band comes into town) — you are more likely to run into me at an art opening! But when asked about Jilian, of course I can’t help but ramble on about her…wouldn’t you? She’s amazing! Most people want to know how she is, where is her tour taking her and when will she be in Los Angeles next so they can see her. And of course all of our friends and family remember her playing one of her first songs at her Bat Mitzvah! So they are excited to see her now and excited for her! Not to embarrass her or anything! But that’s what us moms do best! Can’t help ourselves!

Do you like your daughter’s music?

Lisa: Are you kidding! Of course! All the music makes so much sense to me — it really feels like an extension of who she is. To me the lyrics and melodies are so expressive; they are a narrative of her life – but relatable to so many people — because we all are human beings just trying to figure things out. Even at my age! Her music is complicated but beautiful, sensitive but strong – all bundled together very much like Jilian herself. I am really into her lyrics! They seem to have much deeper meaning if you listen carefully — or maybe because I’m her mother. When I hear something, sometimes I say to myself….I remember that or I know where this feeling is coming from. I think about how much music has helped Jilian get through some challenging moments in her life and I find myself crying happy tears!

What advice would you give to parents of aspiring musicians?

Lisa: Always encourage, never discourage. My mantra to my children has always been, “Find what you are passionate about, that passion will lead you to success.”

What did your mom teach you about music?

Jilian: My mom bought me my first CD, Confessions by Usher, followed by Let Go by Avril Lavigne. My mom got me my first guitar (a sparkly blue electric squire Strat). My mom took me to my first-ever guitar lesson. My mom is the most positive influence and supporter in my life.

Both of my parents have always loved music but never were musically inclined…My dad introduced me to Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush at a young age and my mom was always listening to Tracy Chapman, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith. My mom was always dragging me to museums and gallery openings. One that really sticks with me was seeing Robert Mapplethorpe’s work at a young age…and thinking…”Oh, maybe my mom is cool?”

I feel like my mom did a very good job of introducing me to the weirder side of art and not being afraid to embrace it; it encouraged me to try new things and not be afraid of how other people would perceive it. I am very lucky to have an extremely encouraging parent who is by my side through all of it.

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