The landscape of music has changed. This is a fact which established musicians have had to learn to adapt to as they move forward. But how do artists in the infancy of their careers navigate this new terrain? We discuss the advantages and drawbacks of this and more, with four-fifths of the podcast collective: Time of The Month (or TOTM for short). As the name suggests, this podcast is engineered by women and highlights the importance of knowing who you are in the music industry.
In their second episode entitled "Pay, Politics & Part-Time Jobs", TOTM discuss the realities of living in two worlds: life as a creative where things seem glamourous and the everyday life of having bills to pay. Because, applause doesn't pay right? Well, not yet anyway. Have a listen to that above and enjoy our interview with Ruby Wood, Emmavie, Marie Dahlstrøm and Carmody, below. (The full podcast line-up also includes Laura Misch).
So TOTM, where did the idea come from to start it?
Emmavie (swoops in): Are We Live.
(Other girls laugh)
Ruby: A girls’ version of Are We Live. (A podcast by Tom Misch, Jordan Rakei, Barney Artist and Alfa Mist, who the girls are good friends with).
Marie: I think first of all, it was Laura’s idea to do a podcast. And I think we were kinda inspired by the guys so we just got together and said: let’s do it; we do have a bit of a hard time doing it every month…(other girls laugh)
How did you all meet?
Emmavie: I met Ruby through Dornik. And then I met Marie at a show. I liked her style (indicates to Marie), you were swagged out; you weren’t overdressed but you looked great and then when you started singing I was like: who is this person with this voice. And I thought, hold on, we need to work together.
Marie: I met Laura because I had a session with Tom and she came up to me and was like "Omg I love your music!" Emmavie met Carmody at Alpha’s rehearsal in an underground studio.
Ruby: I just think it’s really good that 5 female artists can just come together and support each other without there being any competition or negativity.
Marie: You don’t see girls coming together like this very often.
Why the name TOTM?
All agreeing: It was between Laura and Barney and it stuck.
Marie: It was gonna be THAT time of the month but that sounded too period-y so that was dropped.
Why do you think people need to hear what you have to say?
Ruby: I would have loved something like this when I was growing up. People I admire and aspire to be, talking about the trials and tribulations. It’s not just this glossy world. (On the podcast) we talk about having to have a part-time job. It’ll hopefully be beneficial to somebody also coming up.
In your second episode: Pay, Politics and Part-Time Jobs, you speak about the realities of being artists “on the come-up”; it makes you think: artists don’t have it all i.e. applause doesn’t pay.
Ruby: Especially with the Instagram world where you just showcase your finest moments and people may not think you have any struggles.
Following on from that, what do you think about getting lost in the social media sauce in 2017? Is it difficult to see another artist doing well while you're struggling?
Marie: I would say for me it used to be difficult but now, I honestly don’t give a fuck. And I mean it from the bottom of my heart; I actually don’t care anymore. My view on music has changed so much; I just wanna do things that make me happy with people that make me happy. It’s so easy to get yourself wrapped up in comparing yourself to others and getting bitter about it but that’s not spiritual and music is sacred so if I can’t keep it on that level, then it’s not for me. So I had to make that decision very consciously or else I would get wrapped up in it. If someone else is doing well, great: but that’s not my journey. And plus, I don’t need to justify it because I am not competing.
Emmavie: It comes after going through all of the struggle for social media fans; being worried about what I am putting out there and how people are perceiving me. I’m not a massive social media fan so I’m not watching a lot of people thinking I should be doing different. I just had that fear that I’m not involved so it was just the fear of missing out. And there’s also a lot of pressure to look a certain way and I can’t always post fantastic pictures; like I don't have a photographer following me round because all of that is money and where does that come from? It just came to a point where I thought: actually you have to create your own social identity and not everyone is going to be a model everyday or in the south of France taking a selfie, and the next day being in Dubai at a show. That’s not me, like I’m in my room making beats so much. And if I’m not in my room, I’m DJ’ing at a bar or something - just keeping it quiet. But I think people relate to that. Not everyone wants to be watching a Kylie Jenner personality.
Do you think though as an artist you have to be online in order to connect with your audience?
Carmody: Yeah you definitely do. And I find that the more you post, the more the algorithms favour you. But sometimes, you just wanna switch off and that’s hard. I find that we’re just selling each other a fake story of life and that upsets me a bit. Because sometimes I see artists and say: ah mate, you’re smashing it seriously, you’re doing this and that. And they’re just like oh no, I’m feeling so shit about this, I don’t know what’s going on here. And I’m like, oh okay. It didn’t look like that online. But obviously you can’t be like oh he’s just fucked me over. I think there should be a better balance somehow. But I don’t know how that would be negotiated because it is tough. But I do see some artists who are like I’m having a really tough time, here is my new single.
Marie: One thing I am trying consciously to not do is post pictures of my friends. You know how some people are religious about that when they are artists? They are so consumed and I really find it unattractive like: no.
Carmody: I posted a picture of my dog and got so many unfollows
(Emmavie - it’s the people who are allergic to dogs - hahahaha)
On that point, do you think you need to have a balance about showing your personal life vs your music life?
Marie: I think so, but I think people love to see personal life stuff.
Emmavie: There has to be a balance because there are some people I want more music from but then they realise they get more attention from doing more real-life stuff and more jokey stuff. It depends on what you’re following a person for. There are some people who you enjoy one thing about them but then maybe you don’t enjoy the other stuff that they enjoy posting.
Do you think it will get to a point where you’ve reached a level of success and you won’t use social media at all or very little? (like Frank Ocean or James Blake).
Emmavie: It depends on whether you’re a personality. There are some people who you follow more-so because of their character than just their art and I think those guys (Frank and James) they don’t have a persona that they are projecting; they’re all about going to the studio and making songs, spending much more on their art. And there isn’t much more that they could share with people.
Ruby: I have this thing with my partner all the time because he is really anti-it. I think it’s your self-expression.
Marie: I think it’s really like a confidence thing. Because I used to be like oh what should I post and now I’m just like, I really don’t give a fuck, I just post and I don’t think about it. And if I think about it, I snap out of it and say you’re being ridiculous just post it.
Now moving on from social media, what are your most memorable live experiences to date? (Either performed or attended)
Carmody: My most fun gig was when I was in Paris in November supporting Tom because Parisians are so on it. I assumed they would be too cool for school (I dunno, maybe that was a bit racist of me) because they were all so sleek you know? But they were all screaming before we came on and some people were singing the words and that’s never happened before. They were just the most beautiful crowd. And America too; they’re just so amazing like properly vibing. I don’t think British People really vibe at gigs anymore.
Me: Are we too reserved?
Ruby: We with (Submotion Orchestra) played Outlook Festival where we were supporting Lauryn Hill; it was a 2,000 year old Amphitheatre and it was just brilliant. Submotion’s music really works with the sunset slot and the sun was going down. It was a great moment.
Marie: I met Erykah Badu in Denmark in my big Badu-ism period where I was like: she’s a God. And I was right at the front of the stage; after the gig I was like pulled over (the barrier) by the drummer. He grabbed me and put me on the side of the stage and we went backstage and she was sitting at a table with about 5 people and her children. And we just got talking about getting to know the people that listen to her for an hour. I was so in love. That was a big experience for me.
Emmavie: The night I’ve felt the best about where I am in music and why I am doing it, is when I did Koko with Soulection. That night everyone was so excited. It had a family feel to it. As I was coming off stage, I came down from the top bit and as I was coming down like every 3 seconds I hear “oh you were amazing”; that day more people had touched my hair than I have ever had in my life - like so many hugs. I just felt a lot of love.
Now speaking of live shows, you guys are doing a joint show soon (on 2nd June) - tell us a bit more about that.
Ruby: Well the Are We Live boys did a live show so we thought we’d do one. (All laugh) Well, they’ve done a good job and it makes sense for us to do a live show. We all have something to showcase and we seem to have a few listeners now so it makes sense.
Carmody: The most important thing as well is to have an all female line-up. I think we (as women) chat about doing things but we don’t do it. And so I feel like this show is taking action and doing rather than just talking. It’s important to me because I still haven't had a session with another woman, you know? Most of the time, I find myself in a room with just men. It just shows how there is still such a problem within the industry.
Marie: I also think, sharing our fans is lovely and doing songs together; helping each other out and showing that it can actually be done.
Ruby: I feel so supported as an artist knowing I’ve got 4 other girls. Like if I’ve got a question, I can just ask. I think the show will be amazing to come to.
Going back to that point about having just men in the room, do you feel like there has been any progression in the industry or not really?
Emmavie: I think it is happening but we can’t see it. I mean, we can’t be at every show or in every meeting. I think it is happening.
Carmody: I think it’s getting better. There are more initiatives as well to get more women into music technology. I’ve only had one female sound technician. And it is frustrating as I feel women can do a really good job. I don’t know why women shy away from it. Also I think men just have so much confidence.
Ruby: Emmavie was the first female producer that I ever came across and that really inspired me because up until that point, it had always been men who I’d come across in that role.
Emmavie: I think it also depends on what you see. You always see way more female singers. I feel like it is so easy to believe you can be something if you have grown up around it. So if I always see female singers, in music I will believe that the thing women are meant to be is the face of music and everything that runs in the background are the men. If we saw it more often then we could be like yeah that’s what I wanna do. If I was 14, looking around thinking: what do girls do and I’m seeing women are always “this”. I’ll think okay, I have like 3 options and men see 100 options.
So what do you think can be done, to encourage more girls/women?
All in unison: This (indicating at the interview).
Emmavie: Recording this and putting it out because I think there are loads of moments that all of us have had that this would have been a perfect example of when women are in power or in charge. It’s just people don’t get to see it. I have recorded with a lot of women and I am showing a lot of women to produce; but we’re not documenting it. We’re just having a really good time but we’re not putting it out on a channel. There’s probably loads of people that say: oh I actually want to be a sound technician and I am but you guys just don’t know about me. There probably are thousands of them but we’re talking like they don’t exist.
What does success mean to you?
Emmavie: I think it’s getting a perfect balance of what you really want to do and being really happy first and foremost and things just being comfortable. I think sometimes, money-wise, being comfortable means different things to different people; some people will say: I can’t be comfortable until I get a lamborghini. Just as long as my bills are paid then I am happy; no one is chasing me for anything - nobody hates me. There are no bailiffs at my door. Especially in music where you pay for things but you are living outside of your means just to project a certain kind of lifestyle. As long as you are happy and what you do does not cause any problems.
Ruby: It’s beauty, it’s different for each person. A similar thing, love to know that what I am putting out is a true expression of myself. Just to live so that you don’t have to do a part-time job or sell your soul in any other way. Just contentment in what you’re doing.
Carmody: I guess, earn enough money to be happy but also retain your artistic integrity. Personally, I am quite terrified of labels especially major labels and even the small ones. Because they slowly start gearing you towards this pop thing which “will sell”. I think people are looking for genuine things that are coming from the artist though. Some people are looking for that money-maker. And I guess if I had shit-loads of money but had to jeopardise my artistic integrity then that would not be happiness. But I just think in London, you have to have money. It’s almost as if you have to be rich now; it’s not even about surviving. Like I’d beg, borrow and steal now (even though I don’t steal)
Marie: I think for me, I love music the most and it can’t compare to anything. To me success means like a balance between the things you like and other things which make you a whole person. So not just a one-dimensional character. I haven't found that balance yet but I hope I will soon.
Going back a bit: on the subject of London being too expensive, do you ever think that you could be pushed out of London?
Emmavie: It’s the best place to be for music. If you are anywhere else (in the UK), it would be very difficult to build a career. London is the hub of music in the UK but at the same time it is coupled with a lot of struggling.
On the subject of the value of music, do you think that streaming has devalued music in the sense that everyone has access to it and no one really pays for albums anymore?
Emmavie: I think it made it more possible for someone who wasn’t a superstar to make money. As before, you’d have to get stuff pressed and the studio would also be a large expense. And it meant that after you’d done all the printing of CDs, then you had to sell those physical CDs, you’d have to be really popular to get those production costs back. But now I can be in my bedroom and make money. I think streaming has made it easier to make money at a Grass Roots Level.
Ruby: I do think it’s taken away from the build-up of “oh an album is coming out” and making your way to the shop to buy it.
Marie: I think we are missing the nostalgia of going to the library after school and finding CDs to bring and play.
Carmody: My friend had a house party and she just had a CD player and I was like yes! But I think it has gotten a lot better. As 5 years ago, there was no way of making money in the music industry and I know Spotify gets a tough time but they are so good. They put artists on playlists to help push them and they are one of the best in the industry at the moment. And the revenue is starting to come in.
And with that, it was time to bid adieu to TOTM. Thank you to the ladies for sitting down and letting us know their thoughts. Free on 2nd June? Why not check the ladies out at their joint show at The Montagu Arms on 2nd June; check out DICE for tickets.