One thing that makes my heart happy is seeing ladies supporting other ladies, especially in an industry that is traditionally full of men. Enter Girls Behind the Rock Show - founded by Courtney Siwek and Shelby Chagrin last year, the non-profit seeks to help other girls find their footing in the music industry. These awesome ladies were kind enough to answer a few questions for me, so read on!
Welcome to Mind the Gap, Courtney and Shelby! Thanks for doing this interview!
Let's start off with a mini introduction: If you had to tweet a description of yourself in 140 characters or less, what would you say?
Courtney: Down for horror, fluffy animals, donuts, free wifi and extensive jam sessions on long drives to Instagram food pictures. (That was also my short lived tinder bio)
Shelby: I like Space Jam, no pants, *Nsync and Nelly jam out sessions, sushi, guacamole, 49ers football, and tequila. (I would use my tinder bio but Courtney wrote it so....)
Tell us a bit about your organization, Girls Behind the Rock Show! What is it/how did it start?
C: It was born in 2013 from a fit of personal rage and frustration. I struggled over and over with trying to get an internship or job in the music industry for various reasons. But more often than not it came down to my looks or me being a female. I got fed up with not being taken serious and not being able to get any experience so I screamed and cried to Shelby for hours at 2am in Arizona about this idea. Originally it was a podcast that interviewed women in and around the scene but it's grown into a company where we still interview but want to focus more on getting girls real hands on experience whether it's in their local market or raising money to fly them out to big markets like LA to network their butts off at an already set up internship (or job one day...)
S: Yeah it sucked watching her struggle so much to start after all the years of volunteer work and learning. I had some internship experience through college, but not much so I felt a similar frustration. She wanted to launch a similar project right then and there, but we didn't have hardly any resources or good enough connections to make it thrive like it has. We really fell in love with the idea of creating something for ourselves while helping others.
GBTRS launched in November 2015. What sort of response have you gotten so far?
C: We've gotten nothing but positive responses which was not only surprising to us but also overwhelming because many established people in the scene are all about it. I know I personally didn't expect it to grow to this level so quick where we were already able to have two interns within the first four months and will be on Warped in less than a year of launching.
S: It's been great! Like Courtney said, it's a bit overwhelming cause we're still pretty new in LA, like less than a year new, and we've been able to do so many great things with GBTRS just in this city and with our friends here that we can't even begin to imagine what the rest of the year will pan out to be.
You were recently involved with So What?! Music Festival and you’ll be out on a handful of Warped dates this summer (which is amazing!). How did those opportunities come about?
C: We met Mike through mutual friends on Twitter and Shelby met up with him one day talk about GBTRS and a month later we launched.
S: It was funny because when I went to meet with him I was like "this is actually Courtney's idea but I'm the one you've spoken to before so... Hey." I was so vague about it. Like "yo, we've never met but I have an idea you might be into..." And he was, which was awesome.
What was the experience like at So What?! and what are you expecting from Warped?
C: Very overwhelming in the best way. For Warped I'm not sure what to expect besides a rad sunburn but I would love to be surrounded by men and women GBTRS supporters as well as make connections to be able to take the company on a full tour.
S: I think for So What?! we both were so new to the working all-access component of a festival on a professional level that we got a bit shell-shocked. We learned so much from that experience though and for Warped I'm just hoping we can get some cute merch like sports bras and comfortable shorts in addition to all the fun networking and meeting people.
What are your “real life” jobs?
C: I'm still working on that... Unless you count walking dogs.
S: I've been professionally changing diapers since I was in a diaper so I nanny. It's easier for us to focus on this than add in full-time jobs right now.
Have you always wanted to be involved in the music industry?
C: I've known since I was seven years old when I got my first drum set this was it for me. Music has always been the dream.
S: I think for me I always wanted to be a part of music no matter what. Even as a kid, I was convinced I was the second coming of Xtina or Britney. That obviously worked out.
What advice would you give girls looking to get into the music industry?
C: Know your worth and never doubt yourself. Both men and women can be brutal but as long as you stay grounded and are willing to do anything and everything to get ahead you will find the right people and your dreams will fall into place.
S: What she said. And respect yourself along with the people around you. Go into things willing to do any and all work needed from you. You are never "too good" for a task.
What was the best advice you received when you started out?
C: Take every experience you're given as a learning and working opportunity to get where you want.
S: Anything anyone can do for you, you can do for anyone else. Always be gracious and giving.
And, of course, I have to ask: what are some of your favorite bands/musicians/artists? Who (or what) else inspires you?
C: Currently I'm jamming to a lot of Myka Relocate, Picturesque, Turnover but my forever favorites are Fall Out Boy, Senses Fail and All Time Low. Hayley Williams is my biggest inspiration next to all of my girl friends in the music industry kicking butt.
S: Lately I've been jamming A Day To Remember a ton along with State Champs, Palisades, and always some Jbiebs. But my favorite bands have always been All Time Low, Bring Me The Horizon, The Maine, and Fall Out Boy.
And I'm gonna be cheesy and say Alex Gaskarth has always been super inspiring to me. He's a good dude. If we're talking women though... Bree McGuire from Live Nation has always just been career/life/friend goals for me. We know so many awesome girls who kick ass around music.
[Sam's edit: Their faves are my faves, so now I know who to turn to when I need a music recommendation.]
Now we’ve reached the fun ones! If you could live in any fictional/fandom world, which would it be?
C: Sign me the heck up for The Vampire Diaries, as long as I get to be a vampire with a vervain necklace.
S: I'm off the vamp train. But I will become the Mother of ANY dragon in the Game of Thrones world. Being dragon ladies runs in my family.
QUICK TAKES: No need for long answers here, just hit us with the first thing that pops into your head.
S: Sushi always sushi.
Current thing that makes you RAGE?
C: Taking breathing out of my nose for granted.
S: Some of my favorites being problematic towards women :(
Pop culture-y item that’s coming out soon that you’re too excited about?
C: I am too hyped for Suicide Squad.
S: Gotta agree with that and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a MUST SEE. Also Star Wars in my life forever pls.
Girl crush of the moment?
C: Do they have to be a real person because Penny Lane from Almost Famous is my girl.
S: Beyoncé is all I need in life.
What’s one thing that you love that you wish got more attention?
C: I'm really bummed Acceptance doesn't get more love because maybe if they did they would get this reunion tour moving along.
S: I have a firm belief that The Swellers are the most underrated band of all time because they are just wonderful.
S: I don't know! That's tough... Not really ashamed of anything I do but if I had to choose it'd probably be Say Yes to The Dress. I love weddings. I need all the cake, all the dresses, and all the happy in life always.
One recommendation that a fangirl just HAS to read/watch/play/ingest:
C: As someone who can't grow out of their emo phase Wish You Were Here, Everybody Hurts, and Nothing Feels Good are solid reads.
[Sam's edit: I actually own all three of those books. Definitely must-reads for any one who ever called themselves "emo".]
S: I'm a sucker for good music documentaries or recordings of famous live concerts like The Concert of Bangladesh and Woodstock. But a great biography to read about artistically involved people is The Andy Warhol Diaries. He's 1000% inappropriate and it's insane just how many people's lives and circles were attached at that time.