GIHE Behind The Scenes: Reckless Yes’ Sarah Lay

Here at Get In Her Ears, we’ve been committed to promoting female identifying and non binary bands and artists for a while now, so we thought it was about time we also focus on those amazing womxn working hard behind the scenes in the industry!

Following our feature with Alex and Phoebe from Southbank Centre , and with Kate and Frankie from PR company Stereo Sanctity, in the third in our ‘Behind The Scenes’ series, Mari had a chat with Sarah Lay from record label Reckless Yes. She’s works ethically with all the artists on their incredible roster, helping them to release and distribute their music, and so much more! So many of our favourite bands and artists are on Reckless Yes, and we’ve loved working with Sarah for a while now!

Find out about all the hard work she does, and her experience as a woman working in the music industry, below…

Hi Sarah, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how it all started at Reckless Yes?
I’m co-founder and head of creative at independent record label Reckless Yes, a music journalist (sometimes for Get In Her Ears among other publications), a former editor, a music PR, author, and a digital content strategist. I’ve been writing about music since I was a teenager and I think I was about 16 when I first said I wanted to run a record label. I loved not only discovering new bands but supporting them to get where they wanted to go, helping them work the business side so they could be creative. I did little bits of music management here and there over the years as well as putting on shows and having a whole separate career doing digital stuff, mainly in the public sector, but the timing wasn’t right until more recently to become a record label.

Reckless Yes is in its fourth year now and is a label which works ethically with artists, making sure they are paid and treated fairly, supported by a membership as well as music fans, and generally here to disrupt the industry. My co-founder Pete Darrington was a professional musician, and while we’re both from the same small city and knocked around the same scene for twenty years. The first time we really chatted was when he wrote an article for the publication I was editor at (Louder Than War) in late 2015. We quite quickly decided we were going to put on some shows together – with a bit of a difference – and that grew within a few months to becoming a record label.

It was a bit of a surprise when it happened. We’d talked about maybe doing it one day somewhere in the future, but it ended up happening much sooner than we thought. Reckless Yes is an attitude as much as a name – so when opportunities arrive which feel outside of your comfort zone, that’s when you say a ‘reckless yes’ and see where the adventure takes you. We did just that to starting up as a label. When we knew we were going to be putting out records there were a few bands I definitely wanted to chat to about working with. LIINES were at the top of the list. I’d been covering them for a while at Louder Than War and loved their sound and what they were about. We saw them play a tiny show in Sheffield in March 2016 and they joined us shortly afterwards alongside a raft of others. 

We’ve put out more than fifty releases since then and have had about twenty five bands through our doors. Our roster is like a family, definitely a community, so it’s amazing that so many bands have chosen to stay with us and see the benefit of being part of what we do. We’ve also done other stuff around releasing music; we’ve published books, put on shows, and managed bands including LIINES. We’re really starting to get into our stride as a label now with a membership supporting us and our releases reaching bigger audiences meaning brilliant opportunities open up for the bands. 

It’s really important to us both that we aren’t exploiting the artists  – they’re the only reason we exist after all – and are working on how the label can be a force for social good as well as a way to release and promote music. We have some really exciting things coming up for us and our roster over the next twelve months. 

Can you explain a little about what your job as a record label entails?
Overall as a label we’re here to support artists to release their music, find people who love it, and achieve whatever they deem is success. At a practical level it’s about manufacturing and distributing music, promoting it, and opening up opportunities for artists. As artists can do all of that directly for themselves we believe the value of a label is giving access to the bits which are harder to do DIY or take longer to build, help artists scale so the business of being a band doesn’t diminish the creativity needed. For music fans and our members we’re here to be a trusted source of curation. Reckless Yes is also here to challenge the bits of the industry which serve themselves before artists or fans, and to find ways to make new technologies work to the benefit of creators. 

We’re a really small team so my individual role within it is broad. It roughly separates into me looking after everything on the promotion and marketing side, including looking after our members, while Pete looks after the production side. We take a shared approach to A&R and make decisions about the roster together. We’re just starting to take on more team members to help us now everything is growing. 

My day-to-day can be quite varied: everything from strategic planning and financing for the label as a business, through to coming up with and delivering the PR and digital marketing, as well as looking after the membership community we’re growing, keeping the roster up to date with what’s happening beyond their own releases, looking after and developing the brand and our divisions, and trying to keep on top of the accounting. We’re very hands on and still true to our DIY roots so I also do all the mailing out of orders – I can be down the village Post Office one day, and negotiating a partnership with a supplier for something to happen on the other side of the world the next! 

What’s your favourite part of your job?
Without a doubt it’s working with the artists and other creatives, and being part of the community we’ve built. It’s absolutely a privilege to support such fantastic musicians who are also wonderful people to know. I learn so much from them all and it’s an honour when someone trusts you with the art they’ve made. I love finding ways to get it to people who might fall in love with it, for who it might become their favourite song or the band that gets them through something  – it’s magic and different every time. And I love working out with Pete how we keep Reckless Yes growing into a label which disrupts the industry but stays committed to working ethically, and lives our social and environmental values. We don’t want to be just another record label, or in this purely for our own personal gain. We don’t just want to say stuff is important but not follow up with action, or have ideas which don’t get implemented.

I guess it all boils down to my favourite part being connection, having the opportunity to turn possibilities into reality, and using my skills and experience to build something of value. 

And do you have a least favourite part…?
On a personal level, not really! There are definitely worse ways I could be spending my time or jobs to have. 

Anytime the respect turns out not to be mutual – while thankfully rare – is pretty horrible to work through. Right now there’s little personal financial reward (we put back into the label) so when someone is shitty, dismissive of the effort taken, or money-grabbing, that’s a real kicker and hard not to take personally. More generally it’s frustrating when an artist doesn’t reach as big an audience as we believe they should – not because they aren’t amazing or we haven’t put the effort in but because mainstream music is set up for such a narrow sound and type of artist. 

And it’s disheartening to see so many artists getting a bad deal and being undermined by an industry which relies on them. That might be on a wide scale, like streaming payments or live fees, or down to there being plenty of people around whose enthusiasm and skill starts and ends with taking the money. There are artists who are unscrupulous too and while they’re unlikely to have the reach to screw someone like Spotify over or even be someone we’d work with, it’s disappointing to see people with poor values or actions continue to get coverage and support. 

The industry will only change if individuals stand up against what’s wrong, so my least favourite part is seeing people turn away from the hard conversations, or the tricky work, and the status quo be maintained through inaction. 

Reckless Yes is home to some of our favourite bands and artists (including Bugeye, Captain Handsome, Eilis Frawley, Grawl!x  LIINES and more!), How do you normally go about choosing who to work with? Do you get in touch with them, or would they normally approach you?
We’re glad to hear you love so many of our bands – we do too! Our roster is more like a family than a business, and the records we’ve put out (or are working on now) are genuinely among our personal favourites. We’ve only signed a couple of artists after an approach to us, and the rest were artists we were aware of already and wanted to work with. A lot of those we discovered through my work as a music journalist, or through other bands nudging us toward them. 

We also love blogs like Get In Her Ears, for championing new music and introducing us to lots of ace artists and tracks. That DIY network is so important to bringing the right people together at the right time. Eilis Frawley found us through recommendations after asking on the Loud Women Facebook Group, Turkish Delight were recommended to us by a Boston label and blog Iheartnoise who just thought we’d love them based on what we were playing on our old radio show. We really value recommendations like that. 

We definitely tend to be more proactive than reactive in building our roster though. Pete was given some advice when he was a musician which has really stuck with us and been born out by our experience as a label: if you’re sending out demos you probably aren’t ready for a record deal. We’ve found this to be pretty true, especially when there is so much artists can do for themselves without a label these days. So, even with artists who’ve contacted us and we’ve ended up working with then we’ve been aware of their music beforehand as they’re out there doing things for themselves and are looking for a partner to help them grow, not a company to do it all the work while they reap the rewards. They’ve also looked at Reckless Yes and our roster and can see why they are a fit, and say something about why what we do appeals to them – we don’t ever want to be contacted as part of a blanket email to as many labels as they could find contact details for. 

We aren’t just looking for amazing music when we consider an artist – although this is a key factor! – but also their approach. Artists who are building something and making opportunities for themselves, and then are also a match with us in values. We only work with artists who hit all three of those markers.

It is also noticeable that a great percentage of the artists on your roster are female-identifying/non binary, which obviously we’re super pleased about! Is this a conscious decision on your part, or does it simply work out that way by chance?
A bit of both. We’re committed to supporting under-represented artists, and we both find that the most interesting music around right now is coming from non-male musicians. More than half of our current roster identify as female or non-binary. And it’s not been hard to build our really amazing roster at all so we know that when something like festival line-ups continue to be male-dominated, the issue isn’t non-male artists being too hard to find, it’s either laziness or sexism on the part of the promoter. 

We’re also committed to making our roster a safe-space so we’d hope that those who identify as something other than white cis males feel we make a good home for them (and that the white cis males who are on our roster or who work with us also feel at home, but know it’s part of their role to be an ally to others). We want to hear and support individuals’ experiences as well as release and promote their music. 

The roster could still be more diverse – in sound and in the artists making the music – and this is something we’re working toward and are completely open and welcoming to hearing how we can do better. 

How have you found being a womxn in the music industry? Are there any obstacles you’ve come across because of your gender?
I think my experience may be fairly typical for womxn in the music industry. We’ve found some people wrongly assume the power dynamic at Reckless Yes based on our genders. Some go right ahead and assume Pete is fully in charge and making the decisions, while I’m just here to do the admin and laugh in the right places to flatter egos. They address everything to him, and I become somewhat invisible (and that seems to only be getting worse now I’m over 40). It’s not an assumption we tolerate well and it’s something we both work together to challenge back on. 

As a music journalist I’ve faced the assumption I’m writing about male musicians because I want to fuck them, or that I can’t write about music with as much authority or knowledge as a man. I’ve had personal abuse over working as a journalist – way beyond disagreements with a viewpoint in a piece I’ve written, and that saying “even the least qualified man is a better choice than the most qualified women” has definitely rung true at times. Thankfully not often and it is a view less openly tolerated than it used to be.

The female experience of being a music fan is also often dismissed or diminished and a lot of men working in the industry seem oblivious to the hidden gender obstacles, or how patriarchal structures are bad for us all.

On a different level to that entirely – the #metoo movement was very personal. I’ve not spoken openly about my own experiences, but like so many others I’ve had them and the movement is vital. I was long overdue facing things which I’d experienced while working in the music industry when the movement came along and it was comforting and distressing at the same time to know I wasn’t alone. At Reckless Yes we’ll always support survivors of abuse. 

A lot of gender obstacles are quite subtle, so hard to challenge on while deeply felt. Sometimes it is proactive and hateful, but more often it is casual or ingrained. It’s not always on the scale of assault or abuse, but overtime those smaller obstacles and dismissals do add up. I find it pretty tiring to need to justify my place and my value because of my gender, before I can get to doing the job I’m here to do or sharing what I love, but I also recognise I have a level of privilege as a white cis woman. There’s perspective in understanding that.  

And it isn’t all struggle. I’ve found huge reassurance and support from other womxn in the industry, not just through shared experience but in supporting each other. She Said So, Loud Women, Get In Her Ears, the whole Reckless Yes roster, and individuals like Wendy Smith at Music Industry Speakers, author Jennifer Otter-Bikerdike, artist Catherine Anne-Davies… all these networks, connections, and mutual supporters are so hugely important generally and have been vital to me personally in learning how to navigate work, have the confidence to challenge back and be seen, and see other womxn out there being successful in the industry. It’s really important womxn raise others up and celebrate each success – we’re not in competition with each other after all – and make ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ irrelevant through being visible in what we do. 

Male allies too are important and can really help to make the change happen – I wouldn’t work with Pete if he wasn’t willing to give and share credit, to stand aside so I can come forward, speak out when he sees something wrong, and be open to learning how to be an even better ally. We’re both learning how to do better, be more supportive and take positive actions, all the time. 

Experiences in the industry come down to individuals and we need the supporting networks, the allies, and the challenge, if things are to change and get better for all of us. 

And what advice would you give to other female-identifying people wanting to get work in music management?
You are vital to the future of the music industry so don’t be afraid or not have the confidence to get involved, join or start discussions, and find ways to implement your ideas. Be brave and reach out to the networks that exist to support you and give back what you get from them. Find someone you can be inspired by – even better if you can connect with them and get their advice. Don’t feel you’re in competition with other womxn, or with anyone but yourself really.Don’t feel you have to ‘be’ a certain way to do what you want to. I’m a 40-year-old socially anxious mum of two living in Derbyshire running another business as well as a record label so probably as far away from any stereotype of a music industry professional as you can get. None of that defines me or is going to stop me from doing the work which I want to, or seeing the value in what I bring to the label and our community of artists. 

And look after yourself. Self-care is a radical act in these times; such a necessary one, yet the easiest to pop to the bottom of the to do list. I learnt the hard-way by burning out and I really don’t recommend it. 

Reckless Yes have also recently pledged to ‘Save The Planet’ and to be more environmentally friendly in all they do – can you tell us more about this?
We’re fully behind the Music Declares assertion that there is “no music on a dead planet” and are doing what we can to educate ourselves about the impact making and distributing music has. We’re moving toward better, greener, choices in what we do. Whether that is for for packaging – both the artistic and mailing kinds – the vinyl we press, reducing single-use plastics as much as we can (shrink-wrapping needs to go!), and looking at our distribution to try and cut down on air freight. 

We’re also supporting our artists to make sustainable choices around merch and touring, and pointing our followers and members at information about being a greener music listener. We try and find partners and suppliers who are as committed to our values as us. Our pressing partner DMS have been great as they’re already doing work to source green and sustainable options and it’s been ace to provide a joint membership with Last Night From Glasgow, a not-for-profit label with an amazing roster and an intention to disrupt the industry. 

There’s individual choices we can make too – for me that’s about being more mindful of the impact what I eat has on the environment, or how green my travel choices are, and making the Reckless Yes home office as green as I can. I’m learning all the time – Reckless Yes alumni Nash, of the band Mower, now has a great blog about all this stuff which I learn a lot from. 

We also give back from the label profits – each month we’re giving to tree planting charities or other good causes. That’s an example really of how our environmental commitments sit side by side with our social ones (you can find them here: http://recklessyes.com/about/social-environmental-commitments/), and our ethical approach to working with artists. We believe in collaboration not competition, looking after each other’s wellbeing, and that a record label can be a force for social good and so much more than a commercial enterprise. We’d love to see more labels and music organisations taking this approach and not just disrupting for their own ends. 

Reckless Yes probably can’t save the planet single-handedly and so much of the future of the planet is in the control of a few big corporations but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our bit, and find the right way rather than the just the easy way, to be a label. 

Finally, as we’re a new music website, are there any other upcoming bands or artists that you’re loving at the moment and would recommend we check out?
Of course I’m going to recommend checking out the artists on our roster – our next releases are from Grawl!x, GodNo!, Bugeye, and Fightmilk. Later in the year we’ve an amazing record from Order of the Toad people need to check out, plus new music from Chorusgirl and Eilis Frawley already confirmed – pretty sure there’ll be other stuff to announce too. 

Away from Reckless Yes I’ve been loving Jemma Freeman and The Cosmic Something, Sink Ya Teeth, Breakup Haircut, Charmpit, Slime City, and of course Dream Nails. I’ve started keeping a playlist of new music as there’s so much good stuff around at the moment – Gold Baby, Jeerleader, HANYA!. I’m a sucker for that bubblegum pop punk sound, so anything from Upset is a winner. I also love seeing what bands come from First Timers Fest each year. We signed Panic Pocket after they began there and we love everything about that festival from the ethos to the music which comes from it. 

I think most of the artists I love Get In Her Ears are already supporting – I’d love to hear more recommendations and particularly love to hear about artists outside of the UK who are doing something different. Guitar bands are great and my love for them is going nowhere but music is so much wider than that sound – if anyone wants to send me links to good stuff on social media, I am open to that! 

Anything else you’d like to mention?
We’ve opened our doors to a membership for the first time this year – as a way to help people discover new bands, save themselves some money in doing so, but still support independent artists. It’s an all round win – all our 2020 releases plus discounts and other bits. You can even do a joint membership with Last Night From Glasgow and get all their releases too. At the moment our membership is mainly men, so I’d love to see more women get involved, or have a chat about how they prefer to listen and buy music as I’m really keen we’re representative not only in our roster, but for music listeners too. 

More about the membership here: http://recklessyes.com/become-reckless-yes-member/

Massive thanks to Sarah for answering our questions! 

 

Catch two bands from the Reckless Yes roster play for us tonight at The FinsburyGrawl!x and Captain Handsome. Free entry, see you there!

 

Photo Credit:  I C Things Photography

GIHE Behind The Scenes: Stereo Sanctity’s Kate & Frankie

Here at Get In Her Ears, we’ve been committed to promoting female identifying and non binary bands and artists for a while now, so we thought it was about time we also focus on those amazing womxn working hard behind the scenes in the industry!

Following our feature with Alex and Phoebe from Southbank Centre, for the second in our ‘Behind The Scenes’ series, Mari had a chat with Kate Price and Frankie Davison from music PR company Stereo Sanctity. They’re both responsible for sorting the press and spreading the word about all the artists on their incredible roster, and we love working with them on campaigns for so many of our favourites!

Find out about all the hard work they do, and their experience as womxn working in the music industry, below…

Hi Kate and Frankie, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you each tell us a bit about yourselves and how you got started working at Stereo Sanctity? 

Kate: I’m Kate. I first got involved in the music biz when I was a teenager and started writing for a few web sites and magazines. Eventually I decided I’d rather work in PR than be a journalist and worked at a couple of different music PR companies before starting Stereo Sanctity in 2012. After six months I started looking for someone to come on board and Frankie was put in touch with me through a family friend. I knew she was the person to hire when she talked excitedly about how much she loves CocoRosie,  who I was working with at that time. They are also one of my favourite bands and one who somehow embody a lot of the things I wanted this company to be about. It worked out rather well and Frankie is still here and soon to be an official partner in the company!
Frankie: Hiii, I’m Frankie. I moved to London after I finished studying at university in Leeds because I knew I wanted to work in music but didn’t know exactly what area of music I wanted to be in. I did an internship at Dummy magazine for a month and then after that I then did another internship at XL Recordings around the time The xx released their second album, which was pretty fun. It was actually my mum who gave me Kate’s email address via a friend of hers who knew someone who ran a music PR company and was looking to employ someone. I then came to London for a little chat with Kate and thankfully she gave me the job and then put up with me for the next six and half years! So thank you mum and thank you Kate. 

Can you explain a little about what your job as a music publicist entails? 

Kate: A lot of nagging! There are two sides to it really. There’s the setting up of album campaigns and advising on everything from press shots and biographies, to helping choose focus tracks and release schedules. And then there’s the actually going out and getting press – conveying the information to people in an appealing way, pitching coverage ideas that suit the artist, organising interviews and photo shoots, and then collecting all of the results and passing the feedback to the rest of the artist’s team.
Frankie: Haha, indeed a lot of nagging. And patience. And more nagging. On a more serious level, Kate has summarised it pretty well above here, we help with the set up so all the behind the scenes stuff before a campaign starts and then I think one of our main tasks is to figure out the talking points of a record, what makes it stand out to a point where people will want to write about it.

What’s your favourite part of your job? 

Kate: Music! We’re very lucky to get to work with artists we’re truly passionate about and getting to play a small part in their story is really exciting, especially when it really takes off. I also really love meeting so many different people. PR is a job where you’re talking to everyone – the artist, label, management, agents, promoters and journalists, and that’s something I really enjoy.
Frankie: I love the fact we get to work with so many people and lots of great, talanted people as well. As Kate said we’re in touch with everyone when it comes to releasing a record, the label, the artist, the booking agents, the distributors, the writers and it’s really nice feeling like a core part of all of this. I also feel very lucky as I get to work with some of my favourite artists – bands that I used to put on my playlists before I even started working in the industry – sometimes it feels quite surreal that I’m doing press for them now. It’s also really nice watching an artist’s profile grow and seeing them get bigger and feeling like you’re a part of that growth. 

And do you have a least favourite part…? 

Kate: It can be very stressful. A large part of the job is managing people’s expectations, and it can be really hard when the people hiring you have certain goals in mind, but the people at those publications aren’t interested. We can’t force anyone to write about our bands, we can only do our best to get the music and information to people who are likely to appreciate it. It’s hard not to take it personally when a press campaign isn’t going as well as everyone would like, but experience has taught me how to handle those situations and know that doing my best is enough.
Frankie: Sometimes a record we’re working on might not get the attention it deserves simply down to something like the time of year or week it comes out so this can be pretty stressful. I guess the key for us is to be persistent but not annoying. Sometimes it takes a little longer to build a response and it can be a little frustrating when that’s down to matters that are out of our hands. 

Stereo Sanctity is home to some of our favourite bands and artists (including Noga Erez, Chastity Belt, Tacocat, Skating Polly, Jenny Hval… I could go on!). How do you normally go about choosing who to promote? Do you get in touch with them, or would they normally approach you? 

Kate: Most of our artists come to us through the managers and record labels who we have a relationship with. We’re lucky that some people with great taste like working with us and come back to us regularly with the artists they’ve taken on. We both listen to everything we get sent and make a decision based on whether we like the music, how it works alongside the other artists we represent and if we feel that they’ll be of interest to writers.
Frankie: Yeah, as Kate said, we’re really fortunate in that we work with some really great people and some of our favourite labels who offer us work. If we do really like an artist, we’ll also reach out to them to see if they have a press agent already but most of the time, I’d say it’s normally people approaching us. 

It is also noticeable that a great percentage of the artists on your roster are female-identifying/non binary, which obviously we’re super pleased about! Is this a conscious decision on your part, or does it simply work out that way by chance?

Kate: It’s not a conscious thing, but I guess it’s just the artists we’re drawn to, and the artists that are drawn to working with us! We don’t make decisions based on gender, but it just seems that lots of the artists we’re most excited about  are women and non-binary artists.
Frankie: Yeah this isn’t a conscious decision but just happens to be the case. In terms of choosing who we work with, we largely base it on whether we like and believe in the music – I feel we’re quite lucky in that we can choose what we work on so we’ll only take on something we genuinely like it.

As mentioned, you’ve worked with some pretty amazing bands and artists since we’ve known you, has there been a particular highlight/favourite client of your career so far? 

Kate: Ahh that’s really difficult, there are so many and I hate to pick favourites, but getting to work with heroes of mine like Babes In Toyland, John Carpenter, Wire, Bauhaus and Goblin has been truly amazing. Getting those calls or emails asking if you’d be interested in working with someone of that influence is truly exciting and humbling.
Frankie: I honestly would find it really hard to choose one or a few favourites out of all the people I’ve worked with. We started working with Italians Do It Better last year so have been doing press for Chromatics, Desire, Glass Candy and all their other artists which felt like a real dream come true. Other than that, I’d say working with people like Zola Jesus, Gold Panda, Jenny Hval, Hilary Woods, L.A. Witch & Orville Peck has been super exciting. Honestly, I could go on naming people, but I will stop here!

And is there a particular band/artist that you haven’t worked with yet, that would be top of your wish list to promote in future? 

Kate: Haha, wellllll the company name is a Sonic Youth song… I did actually get to work with them a little, back when I was starting out and interning. But yeah, their various projects are obviously top of the list for me – especially Free Kitten (if they ever do another record). There are so many artists I’d love to work with really. PJ Harvey, Bikini Kill, Nick Cave… Marilyn Manson, Robyn, Beyoncé… This could go on for a long time!
Frankie: Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Rihanna. I really love pop music and would love to do press for any of these three but I feel like whoever is doing their press at the moment is doing a pretty good job already, so they probably don’t need a new publicist, haha!

How have you found being a womxn in the music industry? Are there any obstacles you’ve come across because of your gender? 

Kate: Yeah, it’s something I’ve been aware of my whole career. It definitely feels like it’s got a lot better in recent years, but even so, being a woman, especially one who looks young, can make it much harder to get people to take you seriously. Being talked over in meetings, being patronised, other people taking credit for your work, people trying it on inappropriately, finding out male peers are being paid more for the same work, hearing people say that a publicist should be replaced because she’s had a baby so won’t be any good at the job anymore… I’ve experienced or witnessed all of these things and it’s bullshit. In my experience, it was more prevalent in the more business-based side of the industry, so a part of my decision to set up Stereo Sanctity was to get away from that. We’re very happy to work with lots of incredible labels, managers and others who are genuine music fans and, regardless of gender (theirs or ours), treat us with the utmost respect and care and never make us feel like we’re “just women”. I’ve only experienced a sexist attitude once in recent years, and I quit the project before the record was even announced.
Frankie: There’s only been a few times where I’ve felt I’ve been treated differently for being a woman and it’s just been a case of having to stand my ground a bit more. I think we’re quite lucky in that the area of music we work in, and the people we work with are not the type of people who would speak any differently to us based on our gender, but I imagine in some other parts of the industry it may be different. 

And what advice would you give to other people wanting to get into music PR?

Kate: I would say get as much experience as you can – both by writing for blogs and web sites, and by doing work experience placements. If you go to loads of gigs, get involved in the music scene, make yourself known to people who work in the industry, show that you’re passionate and proactive, then opportunities will come to you. The music industry and PR especially is very much about personal connections, and you don’t need to be employed to start making those connections.
Frankie: It’s all about experience and connections – I’d say get out there and meet people, go to gigs and make yourself known. Figure out what area of music you’d like to work in and apply for the jobs. A lot of people I know have had to intern before landing a full time job in music, so just keep an eye out for what opportunities there are and then be persistent. 

As well as promoting some already quite established names, Stereo Sanctity seems to do a lot for newer/upcoming bands and artists – are there any in particular you’d recommend our readers check out?

Kate: I’m really excited about a producer from Mumbai we’ve just started working with called Sandunes, and a Polish producer called Zamilska. We’ve also just started working with Katie Gately, who is known for producing serpentwithfeet’s records – I’m a huge fan of her last record so really excited that we’re going to be involved with the next one. Also, our no.1 cowboy Orville Peck who is on his way to taking over the world. And an LA punk band we’re working with called The Paranoyds. Loads!
Frankie: So many. Orville Peck is definitely worth checking out – 100% my favourite cowboy and just ridiculously talented. BABii is a Margate-based artist we work with who is really god and just released her debut album. Then we’ve got a new London-based artist called Hinako Omori we’re about to start working with who is also very good – expect lots of synth goodness. Also, Sea Change is a Norwegian electronic artist we’re working with at the moment, who is releasing a new album this November and worth listening to. There’s SO many! 

Anything else you’d like to mention?

Kate: Just that we love working with Get In Her Ears – you ladies do an incredible job and we really appreciate all the work you put into supporting up and coming musicians. Thank you!!
Frankie: Yes, thanks so much for having us and for supporting the artists we work with. We feel very lucky to get to work with and communicate with people like you ❤ 

Huge thanks to Kate and Frankie for answering our questions and taking part in our ‘Behind The Scenes’ feature! Find out more about Stereo Sanctity and their amazing roster here

Photo Credit: Jon Mo / @jonmophoto

 

GIHE Behind The Scenes: Southbank Centre’s Alex & Phoebe

Here at Get In Her Ears, we’ve been committed to promoting female identifying and non binary bands and artists for a while now, so we thought it was about time we also focus on those amazing womxn working hard behind the scenes in the industry!

The first in a new series of features looking at womxn Behind The Scenes, Mari popped over to her favourite space in London, Southbank Centre, to have a chat with Alex Shaw and Phoebe Gardiner, who are both responsible for promoting a lot of the incredible gigs and events that are held there.

Find out about all the hard work they do, and all the fantastic events happening at Southbank Centre below…

Hi Alex & Phoebe, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you each tell us a bit about yourselves and how you got started working at Southbank Centre?

Phoebe: I’ve worked in the creative industries since I graduated, or even before I graduated, and ended up specialising in Communications and PR pretty much because I like talking about stuff I love. I had always wanted to work at Southbank Centre. I love it. I performed here in the Royal Festival Hall a few times when I was younger with a choir I was in, and even conducted some of the Orchestra Of The Age of Enlightenment in the Clore Ballroom as part of a school project. When the job came up I had to go for it. I never thought I’d get it as I didn’t have any specific gigs PR experience, but I must have won them over!
Alex: I’ve always been really interested in the arts, and when I came to London to study I was really able to explore more – I see a lot of theatre, gigs and art in my spare time and honestly don’t think I could work in any other sector. Before working at Southbank Centre, I worked for an agency specialising in Arts PR which gave me the opportunity to really be thrown into working on a vast amount of campaigns, from the London National Trust arts projects to fringe theatre. I learnt a lot about managing press and clients in a short space of time, and realised where my passions lay! I really care about accessibility in the arts and that’s why I decided to apply for the role here at Southbank Centre: I get to work on such great gigs by well known and up-and-coming artists and, as a charity, I’m proud to work for an organisation where accessibility is at the forefront of programming here. It’s also  home to so many great youth projects including Tomorrow’s Warriors, Kinetico Bloco, and ZooNation Youth Company. I love the idea of a piece of coverage achieved by me inspiring someone to discover something new. I think experiencing arts in this big and busy capital is so so important and ties us together.

You both work in press for Southbank Centre, can you explain a little about what your job entails?

P: I’m Press Manager for Gigs & Contemporary Music and – working with Alex – we’re responsible for being on top of all the gigs happening here at Southbank Centre and securing media coverage that spreads the word about the brilliant and diverse music programme at our venues (Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, and even on occasion, the Hayward Gallery).
A: As press officer, I share my time and focus between individual gigs, and keeping in touch with external PRs to support all artists coming here as much as possible. Alongside Phoebe, I also look after the day to day logistics of any press elements of a gig, including running the press desk and looking after photographers/filming on the night.
P: We also manage the PR and media campaigns for a tonne of exciting projects across the year, which can be anything from a series supporting emerging artists, to Meltdown – the longest-running artist-curated festival in the world.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

P: I love the days when I’m on my feet, dashing around the site, overseeing filming or a photoshoot, or running a press night. Or navigating backstage with artists, getting them to interviews. I love Meltdown festival; the whole site comes together and it’s thrilling.
A: There’s so many different elements! I love meeting artists and listening to their interviews, but I also enjoy meeting journalists for a catch up and then of course, actually getting to experience the amazing music here.

And do you have a least favourite part…?

P: It’s tempting to want to shout about everything that is going on here when actually we have to think about the larger strategy and the overall story of the programme.
A: There is SO much going on here that we have to be strategic with our comms and we can’t always spend as much time as we’d like on certain projects. I’d love to clone myself so I could make it along to everything!

I’d imagine you have no difficulty promoting such an iconic space, but how do you normally go about approaching press to cover events at Southbank Centre?

A: It really depends on the show – Southbank Centre programmes such unique events that we’re always having to bring new ideas to the table and target a range of audiences which keeps our approach fresh. The breadth of the offering here means one moment we’re working to secure coverage for a global superstar and the next, a completely unknown name – so we have to think creatively and flexibly. It keeps us on our toes for sure! The advancement of digital is an amazing thing (and crucial to our work), but with so much information out there, we also do a lot to make sure all information about the programme is available and easily accessible for journalists. 

Southbank Centre is my favourite space in London (in the world, really!), and consistently puts on an eclectic range of incredible events. How are events normally curated, and such a range of artists and events selected? Is it quite a rigorous process?

A: Our artistic team is incredibly collaborative and we are lucky to have Bengi Ünsal as Head of Contemporary Music at Southbank Centre and Lexy Morvaridi as Contemporary Music Programmer at the helm. They have such an amazing knowledge of the music scene and do a brilliant job at bringing a diverse range of cutting-edge artists from all genres around the world to our venues. Inclusivity and access is at the heart of everything Southbank Centre does, as is ensuring equality across our programme. 

Some of the best events/gigs I’ve ever been to have taken place at Southbank Centre (including seeing JD Samson and Mykki Blanco at MIA’s Meltdown Festival in 2017, Josh Homme at James Lavelle’s Meltdown in 2014, Laura Marling at Guy Garvey’s Meltdown in 2016, and Peaches at Royal Festival Hall last month!) – what have been your particular highlights since working there?

A: How to choose – there’s so much! My highlight here so far was seeing Moses Sumney perform in Royal Festival Hall last year. I was already a fan, but his voice was unimaginable live and he held the audience in a hypnotic trance for his entire set.

Southbank Centre may not be the first place people think of for more heavy/rocky gigs! But it’s hosted some of the most raucous artists including Iggy Pop, Peaches, Nine Inch Nails and lots more… How are these kind of events managed in such a historic, seated space?

A: That’s a good question. We have such a fantastic events and production team here who are the best in the business: they rise to every challenge and are experienced with dealing with the more high energy, daring gigs like Peaches in Royal Festival Hall last month! The venues themselves – despite being amazing historic buildings – are constantly updated to ensure the set-up is top of the range and able to accommodate musicians from all genres. As you’ve noted, we’ve seen everything from Nine Inch Nails to the hypnotic music of Stranger Things! The refurbishment of Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room in 2018 very much focused on improving access and infrastructure to enhance the experience for audience and performers alike.

Some of the spaces within Southbank Centre have recently been refurbished, can you tell us a bit about what changes have been made, and how this has affected the space?

A: Key for gigs has been the ability to transform the Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer into a 1000 capacity space making Southbank Centre one of the only venues providing 2am licensed music on the South Bank. It’s now home to Concrete Lates – our monthly late night event in partnership with Boiler Room. In November, one of the stalwarts of the London jazz scene, and key member of UK jazz renegades Sons of Kemet, Theon Cross, will perform with a large band as Concrete Lates joins forces with EFG London Jazz Festival.

How have you found being womxn in the music/event industry? Are there any obstacles you’ve come across because of your gender?

A: I’m lucky enough to work with inspiring women all around me – in management positions within the press team, in the programming team and in the event management team. They all encourage me to aim high and prove there need not be a ceiling. It is noticeable to me though that there is a big inequality present in the music industry still. I’m very aware of my privileged position here in that sense, and that I am very lucky to work for an organisation that is so conscious of equality within their workforce. I do feel it’s so important that initiatives exist like PRS Foundation’s Keychange, and that we all take responsibility for helping others into the industry. Southbank Centre also hosts a regular industry Women In Music breakfast which I think is brilliant – you always leave feeling empowered and part of a growing community of powerful women!

And what advice would you give to other people wanting to get into the events industry?

A: Just to work hard and be willing to put yourself out there. People underestimate the value of being open and friendly too – you never know when you might want to reconnect with someone you’ve met in the past.
P: Network, ask advice, find a mentor, do your research!

As well as hosting events from some of the biggest names in music, Southbank Centre seems to consistently champion newer artists (as with your futuretense showcase), are there any upcoming bands/artists who’ve played there recently that you’d recommend?

A: Southbank Centre is really committed to developing artists and supporting the creative industries. We had the launch of futuretense with BBC Music Introducing earlier this month – a new initiative for audiences to discover their next favourite band for free, every Friday from 6pm – and I was blown away by Nikita Bassi’s performance. She had the most beautiful, powerful voice and her music was a brilliant fusion of cultures. I’d definitely recommend a listen and and booking to see her live now before she breaks.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

A: Thank you for taking the time to speak to us! We love working with Get In Her Ears and look forward to following this series.
P: And come on down to Southbank Centre! Over 40% of our programme is free, so we’re always encouraging people to come take a look at what’s going on; you never know what you might discover.

Thanks so much to Alex and Phoebe for answering our questions and being the first of our ‘Behind The Scenes’ feature! Find out more about everything going at Southbank Centre here.

Photo Credit: Jon Mo / @jonmophoto

Premiere: The Wild Things – ‘Loaded Gun’ (Behind The Scenes)

Having received acclaim from the likes of Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and Amazing Radio, West London band The Wild Things have also achieved success touring the US and have been featured as BBC London’s ‘featured artist of the week’. Now, having built a reputation for their energy-fuelled live shows and their very own ‘Wild Things Bawl’ live nights, they are back with a brand new video. And we get to have an exclusive peek behind the scenes of its creation…

Directed by Marcus Maschwitz, who has worked with Fall Out Boy, Bring Me The Horizon and 30 Seconds To Mars, the video for ‘Loaded Gun’ contains stylish black and white footage of Sydney, Cameron, Rob and Pete preparing to unleash another impassioned slice of infectious indie-rock to our ears and eyes.

With the exclusive behind the scenes footage containing snippets of the pulsating beats, throbbing hooks and rich, raw grit of Sydney’s vocals to be found in the powerful new single, we cannot wait to see the final cut very soon!

Of the track, Sydney explains:

“‘Loaded Gun’ started in our studio with a simple riff. Every time Cam played it, I heard the phrase Loaded Gun over and over. It felt too badass and too fun not to roll with, so we worked on bringing each section of the track back to that motif. The mental image of it is so striking that it really informed the direction of the track. It quickly became our live set highlight and hasn’t been out of the setlist since! It’s so exciting to come on and bust it out because you know immediately everyone’s gonna sit up and pay attention.

‘Loaded Gun’ is out 17th November, and you can watch the exclusive behind the scenes video here:

Catch The Wild Things live at Power Of Solace’s Rock Against Violence event on 16th November.

 

Mari Lane
@marimindles