As if maintaining a successful business partnership for over a decade isn’t enough for two people, Fatin and Aja Dantzler have also maintained a loving marriage. Known to their fans as Kindred the Family Soul, the Philadelphia duo has traveled the world and raised children as smoothly as the sound of their silky vocals.
Currently celebrating the July 26 release of their fourth studio album Love Has No Recession, Fatin and Aja are able to reflect on their three previous albums and years of hard work with good spirits. UrbLife.com recently caught up with the talented twosome to get some of their hard-earned advice on how to keep a marriage alive, when kids and career often take the front seat in daily life.
How long have you guys been together and how long have you been married?
Aja: We’ve been together about 14 years, and we’ve been married 13 years this September .
How many kids do you have?
Aja: We have 6 children. We have three school-aged children, ages 12, 9, 6; 3-year-old twins, and a 17-month-old baby.
What are your Top 7 tips for keeping a marriage happy?
1. Patience is optimum. You have to have a lot of patience because when you work together, your work life will impede on your personal life quite a bit. You’ll have to deal with certain things that happen unplanned, last minute, and lots of things that will require your patience.
2. Be flexible. Be able to embrace your situation and life as a couple and a family. If you embrace it, you don’t feel flustered by it. Nobody else will. They will embrace it and feel comfortable with it as well.
3. Prayer. Prayer is important. Whichever way that you feel, you need to pray. I definitely think having a spiritual faith is very important. Moments of reflection, whatever you need to feel centered, do that. You and your husband should definitely be in the same place together.
4. Passion. You have to get your love on! You can’t cut the love line.
5. Mom is in charge. [Fatin:] Fathers, let the mother’s know that they are in charge, because that will keep your home happy. Let the wife be in charge, it makes the home run smooth.
6. Dad is the man of the house. [Aja:] As women, a lot of us have Type A personalities. We know how to run it, how to do it, and we’re great at it. But I think that it is important, especially if you’re doing business with your husband, to understand and surrender the fact that your husband is the man of the household.
That is important to understand and respect that. It’s not an indication of your inferiority or “old-think.” It’s important for him to understand and embrace his position, as well as you celebrate it.
7. Laugh together and have a lot of fun. I think that we do get an opportunity to really enjoy one another’s company. Be sure with each other, laugh, joke, and just enjoy each other. That keeps us centered, happy, and in a good mood. A lot of times just sharing a laugh and smiling. I think that really helps to keep things bright and upbeat.
When you make time for yourselves, how do you do it? Date night?
Aja: Unfortunately because of our lifestyle and the amount of children that we have, we’re not able to have a lot of planned kind of thing. We have to get it in where we can fit it in. Sometimes because we have a unique work situation where we get to travel a lot together, that’s our opportunity to catch a movie, have dinner together, lay in bed and watch TV, or whatever the case may be. Those are times when we are able to fit those moments in.
When we are home, I think that we really tend to embrace our family life. When we spend time together, we really try to incorporate the kids. You have to go with the flow; you can’t make it be something that it’s not. If we go around mourning the fact that we don’t have any privacy, I think that it brings negative energy into your life.
The kids are a huge part of our life; we try to have fun with them. Sometimes that ends up being quality time with me and him as well, just a different kind. Not necessarily romantic or physical, but its quality and it feel good and definitely feed our relationship.
When it comes to songwriting, how do you separate your personal life? How do you stop anything too personal from being written or does that even happen?
Aja: We don’t do that. I think that we are extremely honest in our music. We don’t rely solely on our personal experiences and our relationship all in the contents of our song. I think that we are well-rounded individuals that can be influenced and inspired by other things around us as well. I don’t think that there is anything that we really censor.
In the past we may have spoken a little too much personal into our music. We don’t, for lack of a better term, dumb it down on the family stuff. Also Ashford and Simpson, oddly enough, mentioned that a lot of our songs are like conversations to one another as opposed to general or specific to any relationship. That’s how we evolve as a couple, artists, musicians, and as entertainers. That is our comfort level and out own range doing the kind of songs that we do.
Now it’s starting to catch on, even within our genre. So many artists are starting to do duets and try that formula, the male/female perspective in a song. In terms of the writing process, we’ve never been afraid to correct each other. I feel like that we are respectful enough of the creative space that it’s not changing to the detriment that you are trying to do. If it’s something that we’re not feeling, we’re pretty honest with each other.
It’s probably easier for us to step up and speak about a creative situation than it is a personal one. If I had to tell him that I didn’t like his pants or something, then that’s probably a little harder for me to say than I don’t like that lyric. We don’t take it personally from each other, not to where it ruins the space and affects our ability to work together.
When it comes to traveling together, how do you manage balancing family time? How do you deal with traveling together without going crazy?
Aja: In terms of dealing with childcare, we have been really blessed where our family has really supported our dreams. When we first started performing in clubs, we had family that was willing to keep our son when he was our only child. We always had family that sacrificed and were a part of our dreams by saying that hey we will help you guys. That really has been in place for the past 10 or 12 years we’ve been doing this. All this time we’ve had family that took in our children when the time came to travel.
Up until the point where they needed to go to school or that they were too old, they did travel with us. So many promoters can tell you that they always seen me with a baby in tow. That has been a way that we have been able to work out a travel schedule. Travel schedule is always tricky, more so tricky now because we have school-aged children, who have school pays and projects and festivals and football.
There is a lot of schedule manipulation that has to happen in order for us to be parents who are present in our children’s lives, at the same time prioritize our job. It’s always essential for me to have a lot of information and to communicate to make sure that those things are together. Yet we still depend very much on family.
Traveling is stressful. My husband drives me crazy because he’s the only person that I know that travels for a living and still wears a belt through airport security. I can’t stand it. The man has to empty $5 of silver change out of his pocket. It’s just the saddest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
However traveling together, going back, sometimes represents our moment to be alone, so it’s not necessarily stressful. We might get into an argument about something silly but nothing really too intense. I know that it’s a misconception that we’re together all of the time, and we’re probably together more than most couples but when we’re at home, it’s a whole different business arrangement. My husband is very busy dealing with the Kindred business, and I have to deal with the day to day home business.
We actually don’t spend as much time under each other as people think. It takes a lot of energy to run both aspects of our lives and both of us are at the helm of that.
Your 12 year old is about to be a teen. Are you ready for the talk and dating and all of that?
Aja: We’ve already had that talk. I grew up in a household where my mother believed in keeping it 100 before people was keeping it 100. She was always really real with us and say hey this is what this and you need to know from me, the person that’s going to give you information to arm you to go out into the world. So I’ve always believed that it was a great philosophy that she had, and I live by that exact same philosophy.
My children are very well informed about the different stages that they’re in. My son is very well informed about the stage he is going through, what he should expect, what is normal, what is acceptable socially and morally. We have those discussions. I think that children are so influenced by many things; it’s not just music or TV. It’s a culmination of that, internet, life experiences, and other children. Everything that they come in contact with is an influence on them.
Also, your children have brains of their own, they are human beings. They have experiences that they can draw from that help them to decide what their opinions are on life. It’s important to listen and talk to your child so that you know what their thought processes are and you know who they are. I think that I know who my kids are and I want to continue to know who they are.
That was very important to my mother when it came to raising me as a teenaged girl. I still didn’t tell my mother everything and I had the cool mom. I know that my children, when they come to talk to me, that I’m the last person on the list. So one, I know they talked about it with their friends before they would ever come to me.
At that point, I recognize what the real is, and I really think that it’s important to [address things]head-on. This is my opportunity, I’m not going to mess it up to be a part of your life when you actually come to me.
Tell us a little about your new project.
Aja: We definitely had a great deal of creative freedom on this record. We are really appreciating the opportunity to make music and really wanting to express something significant about the times we were living in, which is the title of it – Love Has No Recession. Like the intangible things that offers you the love that you have. One thing that people have that won’t waver during difficult times, and it’s actually something that you lean more on and that people normally embrace more so.
Like they always say, family gets tight over tragedy. It brings family together when people are dealing with difficult times; they rely on love because that’s where you find strength. We really wanted cameos on the record that had significant woes as well, but the impact was a great deal. We’re very blessed to have them and hope others see it as well.
Kindred “Magic Happen” video