Small Talk with Jason Scoppa of The Sayers Club
It's time for another edition of Small Talk, our column that features different personalities we dig, giving us the lowdown on their lives and loves with their little ones. For most parents of newborns, "nightlife" is a blur of wakings, feedings and changings - and, maybe on a good night, you eat a bowl of ice cream and pass out on the couch. For Jason Scoppa those precious (a word you only use when they are over, right?) moments are punctuated by staging private shows for Prince or The Black Keys at L.A.'s famed nightclub, The Sayers Club. Jason, the co-creator and curator of Sayers, works six nights a week and has assisted in bringing artists such as Bruno Mars, Capital Cities, L.P., and Rumer Willis (currently in residence on Tuesday nights) into the limelight. In the last four years, he's opened three venues, married publicist Stephanie Fessler and had two kids. For reasons of both passion and practicality, Sayers feels like an extension of the couple's living room - an intimate, thoughtfully designed space where one can see top-notch musical talent and eat gourmet pizza (a family favorite) without any fuss - provided you're on the list, of course. Originally from Detroit, Jason started creating live music nights first at Hollywood's Green Door, then at Bardot, which became the exclusive hot spot for in-the-know crowds until Jason partnered with SBE to open The Sayers Club two years ago. Sayers continues to gain fame, especially for Jason's handpicked "Sessions" on Thursday nights where he pairs artists with cover songs. Another Sayers Club opens in Vegas as part of SBE's SLS hotel and casino in fall 2014. Jason Scoppa My brood: 3-year-old Olivia Faye and 4-month-old Ella James What surprised me most about being a dad: My mom used to say, "Just wait until you have your own kids and you'll understand what love really is." And she was absolutely right. It's fascinating how much you can love another human being. You never know until you feel it. And then it's like, oh, this is why I'm here. It defines you. How parenting changed my work: I'm better at it now. I'm more effective. I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, and I'm proud of my work and the fact that it helps take care of my family. Schedule wise, things have changed absolutely. I used to be at the club from 10 am to 2 am, now I work from home any chance I get (even though I get less done). If there's time to go home, like between sound check and when the club opens, I go home to be with my family. There's never a moment when I'm not working except the time I'm engaged with my kids. Also, we just recently opened a bar and restaurant in the front section of Sayers, which is great for parents because it allows us to add an earlier show. Now you can have dinner, see a show, and be home by 11. As a parent, I love that. Good song for kids: I don't know if it's good for kids but Olivia loves The Neighbourhood's "Sweater Weather" right now. She sings it all the time and inspired me to put it on the set list for this week's Sessions. My second ear: I always test songs on Olivia - when I'm thinking about a song to put on a cover night and I'm trying to decide between two different ones, I play them for Olivia. She's either going to dance or she's not. And if she dances, I know it's got more pop sensibilities. That girl always has a song in her head - and she loves everything, all kinds of music from indie rock to the classics like "Wheels on the Bus." Things I can't live without as a parent: - Hearing my kids breathe at night - it's a sound that I love. I love listening to those kids sleep - it's so soothing and calming. At night when they are sleeping I just sit and listen. And then, I go to bed feeling peaceful. - Stephanie's boobs - I can't live without them and neither can the little ones. - Rocking chairs. I love sitting with both girls in either of my rocking chairs in the house. I am a rocker - always have been. When I stand I rock and I think my kids are cursed - oh, let's say blessed - with the same issue. The last thing Olivia and I do before she goes to bed is reading her stories and having her zonk out and I owe it all to this rocking chair. Things my kids can't live without: - For Ella, it's Stephanie's boobs. That's the main thing. - For Olivia, an iPad. You can go both ways with that thing, but I see her learning so much from that damn iPad. She can open all the apps and I'll get emails for random iTunes stuff she bought. But she learned to draw the alphabet from an app. And there's an app for Candyland, a game I had as a kid that I'm obsessed with and play with her all the time. - Legos. We both love Legos and try to recreate buildings we see. We built a couple of towers last week. - Hummus. I don't think Olivia could live without hummus. She loves hummus. When I was a kid, I don't think hummus had come to the States, at least not Detroit. Favorite thing to do with my kids: We had a great time camping or, recently, renting a house in Palm Springs and just getting away and spending time together. Or going to my mom's lake house in Michigan and seeing the family. Any time we can be with family and I can see my girls surrounded by our extended family is great because we live so far away. But honestly, there's so much wonder to what they do every day that you don't need to go anywhere. Selfishly, the best time for me is the time I get to spend with my kids at the end of the day, everyday. On having two kids versus one: You just have to make sure this little one stays alive. But absolutely, it's harder. No doubt about it. But it's not so much harder, there's just more to do in every facet of it. Best parenting advice I've heard: I'm a worrywart by nature; I'm the guy who wants to sand down all the corners of tables. And I'm constantly saying, "She's gonna fall - she's gonna fall, she's gonna fall. Oh, why do we even have that toy?" My mom heard me freaking out and told me that my worrying about my kids was never going to go away, so I'd better just relax some so I wasn't always jumping around trying to save them. Kids have to fall. But the worrying doesn't go away - it doesn't matter if Olivia is five, ten, twenty, or thirty years old, I'm gonna worry about her. So you gotta just get used to it. If I wrote a book on parenting, the title would be... Learn How to Surf and I don't mean the sport; you gotta be able to surf with the energy. You could read every book on parenting but really it's all about being engaged - just listen and pay attention. It's not that scary if you are really there and listening to what your kids need. You'll be just fine. Or I might also just call it Stephanie because she's really good at this. For more from Jason Scoppa, follow him on Twitter or visit The Sayers Club. Want more Small Talk? Check out our past editions!