Last week Sass and Snarl spoke to the CEO of music development and business support agency, Generator NE. With a focus on emerging music and the digital transformation of our industry, their projects Tipping Point and the Digital Union are supporting the talent of the North East by hosting bootcamps, masterclasses, networking meet ups and business programmes and coaching. By Generator applying their innovative business strategies they help individuals and businesses of all sizes to achieve success.
Appointed as CEO in February this year, Matterson has had the challenges of taking on the pressures of a new role whilst battling a global pandemic. As the industry started to crumble and both us as businesses and as individuals started to suffer, Generator knew the importance of helping their region and took action to help the community around them. So, with an impressive start to Matterson’s role as CEO, we wanted to speak about her transition into the agency, her thoughts on fighting the lack of representation in our industry and what we can be doing as creatives to stand out.
Born and bred in Sunderland, Matterson started her new position with the mission to help artists in the North East. Hannah Matterson spoke about the pressures of stepping into the role whilst facing something all too common within this industry, Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome is where self-doubt can override feelings of success to make you feel like a fraud. Matterson told us that although becoming CEO is her proudest achievement, this self-doubt made it harder to know if she was suited as CEO and so having a number of strong female leaders in her working career made handing in the application a little easier and that “you don’t get if you don’t try”. The influence of a supportive community is second to none and can truly show us that nothing is impossible. Whilst on the conversation of women in the music industry, Matterson spoke about asking the question of what someone is proud of and having that element of self-promotion can be uncomfortable, especially for women. When women aren’t getting the credit they deserve, no one sees the potential they can have so it is essential to encourage and guide them onto the next step. Matterson told us that there needs to be more of a balance and understanding about were inequalities lie.
Hannah Matterson’s experience is extensive from fundraising to event developing and with a passion to help artists and communities be the best they can be, we are so excited to see the impact her work with Generator will have. If you have attended our How To Sell Your Soul Workshop where we show young creatives how to fulfil their purpose without sacrificing their passion, you would have heard about all the work the organisation sets out to do for emerging young talent as their programmes are aimed at young and new artists, practitioners or businesses. Matterson told us that they are always looking for the next generation of our industry who are looking to be better and bring the challenge so they can achieve more.
With our Future CEO campaign about to start back up, we loved speaking to an actual CEO about her role and experience! With the inspiring incentive to go build a strong community, follow our curiosity and to empower the women around us, we can’t wait to follow the success of Generator!
Originally from Madrid, UK based artist, Paola Levitch released her debut single “D.” in April this year. The sentimental pop track gained recognition from Abbey Road Institute and BBC Radio Surrey and Sussex as BBC Introducing’s “Featured Artist”. Whilst in lockdown, Levitch released her second single “New Addition” where all funds were donated to the British Red Cross for Covid-19 Relief. The indie style singer doesn’t just stop there as she now is building an EP for early next year. At Sass and Snarl, we have loved seeing Paola Levitch develop as an artist and can’t wait to see all the success she will have in the future! Here is our interview where we speak about networking, music business and music content in lockdown.
How did you get into the music industry?
You know how there’s some things you just know? I always knew I wanted to do music. It was very strange in my case, because I was not brought up in a musical background, my parents weren’t musicians in any way shape or form – but I just gravitated towards it – spent my weekends listening to the charts, writing music. Back when I was in high school (when I used to study in Madrid , where I’m originally from), I used to “sneak” out of class to go into the music studio we had at school and just record stuff and write songs. I guess my music teacher at the time spotted the kind of “talent” I had since I was quite young, or how natural music was to me. He was really the one who pushed me into taking this up seriously, and since he was English, he introduced me to the many opportunities and how big the Industry is in the UK. I took the real step when I moved to London to study music at University and start to build my career as an artist – releasing my debut single last April.
What is the best thing about what you do?
Being able to keep creating. I think people who write music must all feel this way in the sense that it’s not just only a “job”, but it’s a coping mechanism with the world and the most effective and powerful way of expression – or at least it is for me. If it’s hard for me to say something, or feel something, I’ve probably written a song about it at some point, because I feel I understand it and can deal with it better that way.
I would also have to say collaborating with other musicians/ artists/ producers is the highlight of making music for me. I’m so lucky to have so many incredibly creative and beyond talented people around me. Sometimes someone simply adjusting your EQ in a vocal within a song’s mix can make it sound a million times better, just because they have that outside listening ability that you don’t have when you’re immersed in your own track.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I honestly try and not plan or try and see into my future, and just let things evolve naturally like they always do. I know I will be working in the Industry one way or another – I am really interested in the Marketing, A&R and Press side of music too, and I’m soon starting a masters in Music Business Management at the University of Westminster.
I honestly just want to uncover and know as much about the Industry as I can. I know I am only barely gracing the surface of what is a huge infrastructure, so I feel I am not able to make a proper decision about where I fit in exactly in the Industry yet.
One way or another – I will certainly still be making music.
What is your greatest achievement?
I think just having the courage to release something so personal to me as my first single “D.”, and have it be recognised by Abbey Road Institute, BBC Introducing and something as crazy getting three radio plays in less than six months – one of them internationally, in France!
I feel like when you release music, or any kind of art really, you open yourself up completely, you are sharing your most intimate self and truth – and that takes a lot of strength. However, it also puts yourself in a position to be vulnerable; there is a possibility of rejection, of “it’s not good enough” or “no one likes it, no one is ever going to listen to this”. And so I feel I am most proud of taking that risk.
Favourite music experience?
Any live music event. One of my top favourites was a Rex Orange County show from his PONY tour in the O2 Academy in Brixton. I think it was the tour’s closing show, and the energy from the music and the audience was just one of the best I’ve experienced so far.
Your favourite ways to network?
University has been the biggest “network-site” for me. Studying a music course you meet many people who are interested or already in the Music Industry. Also, never underestimate the power of social media. I feel like lockdown especially has had us all adapt to virtual networking, and sometimes sending a DM can spark a really interesting conversation – that is how I got to feature on a French radio.
Recently I attended the Sass and Snarl “How to sell your soul webinar”, and it introduced me (amongst other many cool things) to the networking platform The Dots, which I have started using for networking too.
The hardest part of getting to where you are now and how you overcame it?
Might sound a little clichéd, but I honestly feel like sometimes the biggest thing stopping you from going places is yourself. The hardest part for me was just letting go of the fear of “what if no one ever listens to me?” or “what if my music is actually sh*t?” and releasing that first single. It was hard to stop trying to make it perfect, but there came a moment where I just had to let it go. I think everyone in the Industry, whether you are an artist or not, feels like that sometimes, especially women – let’s stop doubting ourselves. Have the confidence to believe in yourself. If I got here in less than 6 months, where would I be if I had started 6 months earlier to that? Or even a year when the song was already finished and I was just dragging it along? Sometimes you just have to let it happen.
What content have you been loving?
I’ve been loving seeing artists uploading raw, un-edited videos of covers or their own songs to Instagram, and the casual “Instagram lives” where they perform a “mini concert”. I think in that sense, lockdown has given us a more natural version of these big artists we are used to seeing on professional sets in music videos, now letting us into their own space.
What women should we be looking up to right now?
If I’m going to stick to music for this one, obviously SZA cause she’s a badass.
But a bit closer to home, I really admire London’s singer songwriter Joy Crookes. I recently attended a webinar where she was interviewed, amongst three other amazing creators, and I loved her energy and how she is finding her voice in the Industry through embracing her roots. I have always been really into poetry, so I also love how raw and sincere her lyrics are, and her amazing story-telling ability.
What advice would you give to creatives starting out?
Surround yourself with people that are doing what you aim to do. The type of energy and people you have around you is so important. Seeing someone that is pursuing similar or the same dreams as you will make you bounce off their energy and push forward towards achieving your goals.
How can you stand out in the music industry?
Own what you create. Believe in yourself and put out your truth with no shame.
Or attend the Sass and Snarl “How to sell your soul” – honestly they have better tips than I do!
Do you notice a lack of equality and representation?
At Sass and Snarl we can’t get enough of championing creatives and people following their curiosity and SHEWOLF is exactly that. We spoke to Founder Kate Carrau about her forward thinking and innovative blog and podcast that sets to empower creatives that break down barriers and challenge the status quo. You can find fashion, music, art and many more in all different types of pretty pastels with interviews with Band of Skulls, Jade Emperor and Amaroun. In this interview we speak about new talent, crazy experiences and some great organisation tips!
Whatmade you start the blog?
So, I started the blog after having to quit my dream job in fashion because I became extremely ill with glandular fever and suffering a nasty infection after my endometriosis operation. I was in a bit of a sorry state and even though I was being told to rest up, I couldn’t just sit there day in, day out doing absolutely nothing. There’s only so many documentaries I could watch haha. I began to think about what creative things could I do, I was painting as it was but I wanted to do something that might push me into a new direction considering I knew it would be a long time til I could start working full time again. I decided to start a blog where I could write about everything I was passionate about and one documentary I’d come across during this time, was about the so-called “shewolves” of history and this got me thinking about the purpose of this blog. Being a SHEWOLF is anything but a bad thing, in fact it’s about being able to strike out on your own or with a pack of like-minded individuals, and being true to yourself and I started to think about the women who have influenced me as I grew up and how in a way they too were shewolves. I wanted to reclaim the name from the old ways and bring it into the new, plus my mother’s family name is Woulfe and it’s always resonated with me, so it all fitted together very nicely!
What sets you apart from other blogs?
I would say the fact that I champion the creatives I write about is what sets me a part from other blogs. I am a firm believer in community and that’s what I bring, I’ve been told many times that I’m really able to get into the minds of the artists I talk about and I’m able to get their thoughts and ideas out there so well. I bring something different to the table, this blog isn’t about myself and it is in no way skin deep, yes I put my art out there but other than that? I don’t like to talk about myself per say, for me, it’s about giving a platform to the people who are changing the world, one song at a time, one painting at a time, one garment at a time, one campaign at a time.
Your favourite part of doing what you do?
Meeting and talking to new people! Any new band I come across or contacts me just gives me such a buzz! I love listening to new music and seeing the talent out there! The podcast really did bring this alive for me and I’m just itching to get it back up and running again so I can get everyone into the studios and really have a damn good chat!
What new talent should we be looking at?
Oh there are so many!! Honestly the underground movement is well and truly booming right now! One artist I’ve been loving recently is Amaroun. She’s 100% someone to look out for. Every single song she’s released this year has been an absolute banger and I know she’s going to make it huge. She has released a song each month so far this year which is a journey into her life coming out. Its such a beautiful way of telling a story that’s so important, whilst making music that just makes you want to move!
What content have you been loving?
Content wise, I am really loving the work that Gina Martin does. I love her Vitamin P stories which I tune into daily because it give me LIFE! It’s where she collates all these really lovely tik tok videos that just put a smile on my face, and with how intense things are right now, I believe it’s so vital to have some spaces within that where you can breath, and Gina’s platform is so great for that. She also talks about subjects that really matter and her latest podcast with her sister Stevie is just brilliant!! It’s called, “Might Delete Later” and it’s all about the ups and downs of social media.
I grew up as a music journalist and I know we all have some pretty crazy stories, what’s your favourite story/experience to tell?
Oh there are so many stories!! I’ve been hanging out in the music scene since I was an early teen, running away to London every weekend. One time I was at a gig in London with my friend and her older sister who was seeing a certain rock star, even though he was with a massive celebrity at the time, but it was a mad night. I met Amy Winehouse who was SO lovely and really did make the room light up. I remember looking out of a window to hear someone shouting and it was the girlfriend of the said rock star in another room along the hall, she was pouring wine out of the window. I was expecting a tv next but that didn’t happen thankfully haha. It was one hell of a night and a little insight to the British music scene at the time which didn’t deter me one bit.
Do you have any advice for young journalists wanting to start their own blog?
One piece of advice I’d give to starting a blog, is to only stick to subjects you’re super passionate about. Do not follow the status quo and trust in what you do. If you lose trust in yourself, then you won’t like what you’re doing.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In 10 years time I will have my mini empire. Yes I am manifesting here…but I have huge plans for SHEWOLF. In 10 years time, the clothes I design will be everywhere, the gig nights I plan to do next year will be known as the most notorious nights in London, bringing the underground to the foreground. It’s all about moving the platform forward, to bigger heights. I hope I have a shop by then, a creative hub that everyone and anyone hangs out in and where those who work for SHEWOLF are paid a salary, and be able to learn every aspect of running a business. The more experience I learn, the more I can pass on and that’s paramount to me, when it comes to employing people, I want them to thrive, not just survive for the sake of having to pay rent and bills. I want SHEWOLF to be a stepping stone for anyone involved.
What’s your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement is SHEWOLF, I’ve created this platform off my own back. I’ve hustled to get the studio spaces I need for free, I’ve not expected to get paid for the work I do but I do it because I love it and I know down the line this is going to be a huge success and be the key to my dream life which is full of creativity and opportunities. It’s been so exciting so far. Challenging, but exciting. I always knew I was going to do my own thing whatever that may be and the fact I can say I’m doing it? That’s my proudest achievement.
How you keep on top of your blog? Any organisation tips?
I have a big board which has all the topics I talk about and I have them presented in a monthly calendar. It’s basically a guide line for content so I don’t get bogged down in what to do because I have it right there infront of me. I also figured out when posts are most likely to be seen etc via insights on Instagram and Squarespace and that’s helped out massively to get out the most of my content, plus I use Preview App to test out all of my content to make sure it all looks beautiful before I post on Instagram. I like to make sure I have interviews ready at least 2 weeks in advance too. I find the more organised you are, the easier it is to run the blog without feeling overwhelmed.
The biggest lesson you’ve learnt from doing your blog
It’s SO easy to tell yourself you’re doing a bad job because you see so many other creatives getting their numbers up by just posting a photo of themselves (granted they look cool AF) but it’s easy to tell yourself that your work really doesn’t matter. But it does, I’ve had moments where I’ve really felt like I was failing and then I’ve received a message from someone saying how much they love and appreciate my work. Give yourself time, patience is the key with all of this.
The most inspiring story you have heard
The most inspiring story I’ve heard personally (because there are so many stories of people I admire who have incredible stories and I’ve written about them on the herstory section of the blog…yes shameless plugin there) is the story about a family friend called Jack. He was someone my parents really looked up to when I was growing up and I considered him pretty much like a grandfather. He was a survivor of Auschwitz and he always loved to tell stories. Although, there’s one story he didn’t tell me, my father and Jack’s wife did…Jack escaped Auschwitz when was 7 years of age. The last person he saw was his sister being murdered by the Nazis. The rest of his family had already been murdered or taken away at the beginning of their time at Auschwitz. The last time he saw his sister, he knew he had to escape. He knew he was going to be next whenever the Nazis felt like it and that could be at any moment. He managed to find a sharp object and cut a small hole in a fence that same evening, managing to squeeze through the wires and make a run, a run a for his life. He ran through a wooded area and he didn’t stop. Severely malnourished, he fainted by a lake and was awoken by a man and a woman who had a boat. He didn’t speak Polish, he was German but the couple clearly knew where he had come from and from what he could tell, they wanted to help him. This the first help he’d had in a long time so understandably he was hesitant. Cut a long story short, the couple helped him with food and new clothes back at their home and then he ran away again, fearing that the Nazis would find him or the couple would soon turn him in. Bit by bit, each day he travelled, by foot, through Germany, into Nazi occupied France and then managed to get a boat over to the UK by the end of the war. During this time he was pretty much homeless, living off of scraps, meeting kind souls who now and again helped him but also witnessing some dark things and always being aware that he could end up back right where he started. By the time he was almost 9 he had made it into the UK. You’d never know speaking to him that he had gone through this, he was always so cheery and knew how to make everyone smile and to know this was his story? This is how his life began? It makes me break inside but, the fact he did that, and was still able to not let this world swallow him whole and he would go onto become a successful businessman, and have a beautiful family? That’s inspirational to me, he’s my hero.
The weirdest thing you have done for your blog
I haven’t really done anything weird per say for my blog but, one thing I would say was weird is getting comfortable with interviewing people who aren’t really interested in being there. This has happened only the one time which I am very thankful for, but it was a massive lesson in knowing how to keep a conversation moving when the person would rather be anywhere but…It was a very strange experience but I think it was a necessary.
How is the podcast different to your blog?
The podcast is a more in-depth way of getting to know creatives on a more personal level. Like I said before, I love talking to new people and not the small chat kind, but talking deeply and getting to the nitty gritty of their industries and careers, as well as having a right laugh at the same time. It’s a chance for the SHEWOLF audience to be inspired further to create their own lane in life too, to give them the reality of what it is to be a creative.
We love your cute totes? Will we be seeing n more in the future?
Ah thank you so much!! That means a hell of a lot! Yes, there’s SO much to come from the arts and fashion side of SHEWOLF. I have a sustainable upcycled fashion collection launching in September and I will soon have my art being sold on some local places in London which I am so excited about! Next year I will be launching some pop-up store events too. So in the words of Penny-Lane…It’s all happening!!
With the third issue about to be released this summer, NRTH LASS is a print magazine championing women in the North of England. Founded in 2017 by Jessica Howell and Jenna Campbell, the pair are an inspiration to proud northerners. Celebrating women and their achievements is something Sass and Snarl can’t get enough of! We absolutely love it! So, it was only right for us to find out a bit more.
From Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield to Newcastle, Preston and Liverpool and everywhere in between. You can find their prints in selected Stockists like Colours May Vary and Magma or you can always find it on their site. In their magazines and on their socials, you can find features and articles on anyone from pet photographers to female filmmakers. Each have a story to tell and advice to give which is why this publication is so important.
Read our interview with Jess and Jenna and always remember that it’s not so grim up North!
What made you start this magazine? What was that initial light bulb moment?
Jenna:The moment came sometime in the summer of 2017 as we were sitting in our office kitchen in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire, working as editorial associates for Reuters and trying to work out our respective career paths. We were looking to find female mentors in the north but found that there wasn’t a great deal of coverage on the careers or achievements of women in the North of England. This got the cogs turning and NRTH LASS was born. We knew these women existed, it was just a case of finding them and championing them.
Jess:It really was a ‘write what you want to read’ moment. The lack of realistic viewpoints from people, particularly women, at different stages of their careers drove us to pinpoint exactly what was missing for young people, those making career changes, and with that, how this was all being achieved outside of London. It was quite incredible to us that a publication of this sort hadn’t been created yet – we managed to find our niche purely through having a personal problem which we took upon ourselves to fix. It’s been an eye-opening and fulfilling journey seeing so many women at different stages of life connecting to the content and proving at every step that the north has so much to shout about.
Do you think being from the North has shaped you differently? If so, how?
Jess:Being from the north is like being part of a secret society: instead of an elaborate handshake, you only need to hear ‘y’alright’ to know you’re in safe hands. There’s a warmth and willingness to connect with a fellow northerner, a familiarity that you can’t quite put your finger on. There are challenges that we face as a region which we acknowledge but don’t dwell on – we’re not London and we don’t pretend to be. Being from the north has definitely shaped me, mainly by learning to plough on, making my own path and knowing that if I need help, there’s always someone along the way willing to give it.
Jenna:For most people, where you are born and bred has an impact on you and how you see the world. The degree to which this is true varies depending on how good or bad your experience of growing up was and I would say on the whole I had a very positive upbringing. I’m from Stockport, which is just outside Manchester and I am very proud of it; the spirit, generosity and humility. In terms of the bigger picture of growing up in the north, I would say it has definitely impacted my sense of self and my desire to show others what it means to be a proud Northerner. I don’t know if I would be different if I was born somewhere else but I do genuinely think Northerners have an inherent grit, determination and friendliness about them. It’s something I think we both have in us.
Since starting the magazine, what have been your greatest achievements and what are you proud of?
Jess:There have been lots of ‘big’ achievements to note and I’m proud of every step we’ve made to this point. For me, it’s the smaller moments that have made the greatest impact: seeing someone on Twitter shouting about their fellow creative; having a male business owner email us specifically to promote his female employee; sharing in a celebration of a sale for a female freelancer found through one of our articles. Telling someone that you love their work is nice but being able to share that in print and invite them to join a huge northern collective is the best feeling ever.
Jenna:I’m proud that we have been able to create a community and a platform around the magazine, whilst also giving women in the north the confidence to talk about their success without feeling like they are bragging or being ‘too much’. I’m proud of our team work and running the magazine alongside our full-time jobs and I’m pleased that we continue to highlight the achievements of everything else that we do.
What goals have you set for yourselves for the next year or two? What are you excited about?
Jess:Due to COVID, and before that, funding, things have slowed for us a little in terms of our print magazine, with our next issue due to be released this summer, a few months later than planned. Before the pandemic, we were looking to branch out into running events, panels, and in-person meet-ups with our readers and contributors. While they’re all still very much in our future plans, it’s been exciting to navigate our online platform and learning what people are most interested in consuming digitally. There are many online publications we love – Aurelia, Creative Boom, Madhat Girls – and we’re conscious of the valuable space available and being able to offer content that hasn’t been given a platform. Even though NRTH LASS has been established for a while, we’re learning and planning our next steps every time we publish a feature – there’s never a boring day!
Jenna:We’re now just a few weeks away from launching issue three, which is themed around trailblazers and the women making a difference in their communities by creating a space for a more diverse range of voices to be heard and expressed. This is something we are translating into the digital space as we continue to grow our website and populate it with lots of new content, including our Women in The Workplace series, which takes a closer look at how women forged their careers. It kind of comes full circle in that sense. As Jess said, there are more women, of all backgrounds that need to be given a seat at the table and we’re very keen to promote that and make it happen as we keep growing.
When building NRTH LASS, what hardships did you have to tackle? How did you overcome them?
Jess:Primarily, our biggest hardship was the creation of the magazine, both physically and strategically. The physical copy of our first issue was so exciting to see in person for the first time. Neither of us have design backgrounds and at that point, we hadn’t even had our writing published in big publications so bringing writers, photographers, designers and a printer together to create pages of content we’d spent months getting just right was a huge challenge. Strategically, we hadn’t looked further than getting the first issue out, so we had to play catch up for a few months while putting together our second issue. Even now with a few years of experience behind us, at times we’re very much learning as we go, and that daily pressure can take its toll. Putting together a solid editorial calendar has been a great step toward organising our content, social media posts, and most importantly, time for a break. We both work full-time alongside the magazine so finding some space to talk about anything other than grammar, and graphics, and who’s sending out the next Tweet is a must!
Jenna:I think we’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of moral support from our families, friends and those in the indie publishing world and for that I’ll always be grateful. I guess at the start it was sometimes difficult to get some people to buy into the concept, perhaps simply because it hasn’t been done before or people were sceptical because it was quite niche. Getting it off the ground financially was always going to be a challenge as its been predominately self-funded by the two of us. We’re lucky though that three years in we were able to raise some of the money for the third issue through crowdfunding and I think that show just how far we have come and the support that we have garnered.
Introducing a magazine all about talented women must mean that you have heard some amazing stories, what has stuck with you?
Jenna: Definitely! There’s a lot to pick from but I would say the ones that have had the biggest impact on me have been the articles that broach the topics of mental health and wellbeing. Our interview with Anna and Sophie of House of Raglan, a wellbeing brand which focuses on promoting self-love through unique clothing and apparel is one that sticks out. Their sustainable-shirts and jumpers help to tackle the subject head on by donating a percentage of their profit to mental health charities. Kimberley Robinson of Keep Real has also featured on our online platform and she is doing amazing things to support better mental health in young adults in the north. Linked to mental health, in the third issue, I was fortunate enough to speak to several women about the link between self-worth and body image and I often refer back to that when I’m feeling slightly wobbly.
Jess:Two interviews stuck with me for quite similar reasons. One was with Hannah Maia, a filmmaker who used cold water swimming to move closer to body acceptance, and the other was with Emily Nicholson, a pet photographer. Both passionate and truly dedicated to their work, but neither with any knowledge as to their own talents. They’re not racing to be the best of the best, they just love their work and in putting their time and energy into it, have created impactful work that expands further than the images or film they produce.
Has creating this magazine helped you with your personal growth?
Jess:Massively and not just in terms of the skills I’ve picked up along the way. Professionally, the magazine has been a huge driving force in allowing me to reconsider areas of work where I find the most enjoyment. It’s opened doors purely by being a talking point in interviews and provided me with so many opportunities to connect with people across different industries who I wouldn’t have usually come into contact with. Like many, one of my biggest fears from a young age has been public speaking and although I still can’t say it’s my favourite part of the magazine, having a topic I’m so passionate about is such an important tool to properly convey my thoughts and connect with people across industries.
Jenna: It’s given me the opportunity to really pursue my passion for journalism and opened so many doors into the industry, which has in turn allowed me to positively impact others and share even more stories. On a personal level, it has shown me that I need to slow down a little bit and try and do fewer things so not to burnout. When you start something like this you don’t have a crystal ball and you don’t quite realise what the impact might be and your life but I wouldn’t change any of it. The process has made me more resilient and better at taking feedback but also given me a new perspective on what matters and where I want to focus my energy and time.
When building your branding, what did you want to convey?
Jess:NRTH LASS has two aims: to promote talented women, and to prove that the North of England can provide the opportunity for that talent to thrive. For us, our contributors and the women we feature aren’t just people we choose for a fleeting article. Every person we come into contact with becomes a part of our collective and we’re constantly looking for opportunities to connect people with each other. We’re not trying to construct our own idea of the north; we’re reflecting the north through our content. We’re always open to new voices, diverse talent, and realistic viewpoints and our hope is that our brand is built upon that foundation.
Jenna:As a print magazine there is so much you can say even without words and we’re very proud of the work of Katie (our designer) has done to convey the aims of our publication; to champion women in the north and dispel the myth that its grim up north. We tend to not dwell of stereotypes and tropes but reflect the narrative that we see in action in the north and the branding reflects that. Contemporary, realistic and with subtle nods to feminism and equality, every part of our brand is about coming back to our mission statement and shining a light on other women.
Describe NRTH LASS in three words:
Jess:Realistic, impactful, encouraging.
Jenna: Empowering, brave, celebratory.
How have you promoted your magazine? Do you have any tips on Self Promotion?
Jenna: We built our community predominantly through our website and on social media and we now have a good-sized community and following on Instagram and Twitter. I think it’s difficult to grow an organic following without being on your phone or computer all the time so it’s a bit of a catch 22 situation. I personally go through bursts of inspiration where I’ll be really on top of it all and we will do shout-outs and collaborations but having worked in marketing and social media I know that it comes down to regularly posting and sustained engagement with your followers. Given that we both have busy full-time jobs, we still do really well. My advice would be just be honest and true to yourself, a little bit of hashtag research doesn’t go amiss either.
Jess:Our main promotion streams are through our website and social media. Having a routine when it comes to promotion is a great place to begin, particularly when just starting out – that can help you stay on track and ensure you’re getting your content seen through the right platforms. If we post an article online, we then need to follow that up with a post on Instagram and Twitter. Knowing your audience is also a key point in self-promotion. As we’ve got a wide-ranging audience (anyone from the age of 16 – 65 and across varying backgrounds), a lot of our content does extremely well on Instagram (if we’re sharing a graphic designer’s work, for example), but if we’re discussing theatre, that content always does better on Twitter.
How do you network in the North? Is it all social media-based? Have you been to any events? etc.
Jess:The north is fantastic for networking events, it’s perhaps a little too good because there’s not enough time to make it to them all! We try and make as many in-person events as possible – even just being in the room with so many other creatives, entrepreneurs and game-changers makes it impossible to leave without feeling empowered to keep pushing forward with the magazine. I think the pandemic has opened up those events to a much bigger audience, primarily if money and accessibility have been factors in not attending in the past. I hope as a creative community we’re able to keep that momentum going to make networking more available to all.
Jenna:We do a mixture really and I would say getting out and about, doing talks and panels is a really good way to spread your message and promote a cause. I am quite comfortable presenting and public speaking is a large part of my full-time job as an editor for another magazine, so I feel more at home on stage talking about a cause that really matters to me than I sometimes do when trying to craft a perfect post for the grid. Speaking for Manchester and Leeds there are loads of brilliant ways to network and meet new people, from events like Glug, Design Recovery, Pechakucha MCR and Ladies Wine and Design, there’s so much going on. The creative community in the north is brilliant, supportive and always willing to lend a hand.
The best and worst things about working in a partnership?
Jess:A partnership is like a lifelong skill swap. At our core, we’re both writers so we’re comfortable with the content we produce but outside of that, we both have more experience in different areas. Being able to utilise our different skills and lean into the areas we each find more enjoyable makes us a really strong team. Living in different cities is a plus point for us too because we can cover more ground but it’s also a downside; having to find time to communicate in a way that’s most productive is a constant struggle and means we can’t push forward with a lot of our tasks until we’ve had that conversation.
Jenna:I’m a bit of a worrier and working with Jess means I have someone to share my thoughts and concerns with. It’s good to be each other’s sounding board and have one another’s backing and support. It’s also very nice to be able to share a project with someone who is very much aligned on the mission we set out on. I guess the challenge is living in different cities and not always being able to meet and put plans into action as often as we would like.
To young journalists who are wanting to build their own printed magazine, what advice would you give and what challenges might they face that they won’t have necessarily thought of and might surprise us?
Jenna: I think start by working out how much time and resource you can put into the magazine alongside your other commitments. I think I dived straight in, which I don’t regret as sometimes we end up talking ourselves out of these projects, but I have at times found I have bitten off a bit more than I can chew. Do lots of research, ask yourself why you’re doing it, is there an audience out there for your stories and look into the costs of print. Also, be organised, buy lots of post-its, make editorial calendars and keep the faith that what you’re doing is important. Oh and coffee always helps.
Jess:I often find that the biggest challenge is having the confidence and self-belief in the first place to put work in front of an audience. There will always be an excuse – too young, not enough experience, too many other publications – and there’s never a perfectly ‘right’ time to get started. I love a plan (my desk is littered in post-its and detailed lists) but starting a venture will always have an element of disorganisation to it. Embracing that and seeing it as a process of ‘learning as you go’ is imperative – you can’t fix something that hasn’t been created yet.
How can people get involved with NRTH LASS?
Jess: We accept submissions all year round to our print and online platforms. The easiest way to contact us is through email at email@example.com. It’s just the two of us at NRTH LASS so we’re always on hand to receive messages and comments on social media. We’re always open to writers, photographers, designers, and of course women who’d like to be featured (or can recommend someone for a feature).
Jenna: We’re always encouraging people to put themselves or someone they know to be interviewed or featured. Similarly, we regularly accept pitches from women who are from, or live and/or work in the north and we would love to keep hearing their stories.
Does having a strong northern accent make a difference when networking and going for job interviews?
Jess:Nine times out of ten, when I tell someone I’m from Bradford, it’s followed up with “I’m sorry”. A few years ago, I started telling people I was from Leeds – a quick 12-minute train journey further afield and I was suddenly being swamped with positive comments about the city. During University, I spent a long time altering my accent so the thoughts and ideas I was communicating weren’t lessened by a Yorkshire accent. Somehow, I thought my own knowledge could be dampened by the accent that accompanied it, and that in itself made me feel like a fraud.
I’m so proud of being from Bradford – a frontrunner during the Industrial Revolution, the firstUNESCOCity of Film, not to mention, Curry Capital for six consecutive years – and having the representation from different regions is so important in all areas of society. Having people relate to you is such an underestimated force and an accent that represents your roots, your city and the community that comes with it is something to be proud of, so don’t shy away from it. I’ve made some great connections just from someone hearing my accent across a room! However, what’s more important is your passion, willingness to learn, and ability to help people from the very start of your business – those things don’t need an accent to be understood.
Jenna:I think in the past, a Northern accent could present a challenge when trying to work somewhere other than the north. Sadly, this prejudice still exists to some extent in many sectors. There is also a degree of cashing in on a regional accent, an element of tokenism that no one wants to pay lip service to as a journalist from somewhere other than the south. I do think this is gradually changing though and writers such as Jess Evans of The Freelance Sessions, who helps women from working class backgrounds secure work in journalism, has spoken about this a lot and I’m really pleased to see women from the north say, “enough is enough”. Where you are born and bred and your accent should never stop you from pursuing a career in any industry and it’s important to not feel like you have to change yourself to fit in or be more “palatable”. Your talent will shine through and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
I have to ask, do you have any music recommendations?
Jenna: I’ve been listening to a lot of Clairo, Little Simz, Joy Crookes, Arlo Parks and Olivia Dean recently. The lyrics are so beautiful and impactful. I would say I have an eclectic taste but I always return to artists like Khruangbin, Tame Impala, DRAMA and Maribou State; anything that makes me want to get up and dance around the kitchen.
Jess:I will forever be a Phil Collins fan girl, but my go-to artists are Vance Joy, Lord Huron, and Bear’s Den. You can also usually find me blasting out showtunes in my Peugeot.
Since Sass and Snarl launched a month ago… I cannot believe the amount of love we have received! I’m sure you all know by now but if you don’t, I started Sass and Snarl because I was fed up of talent in the music industry going unnoticed! I was fed up of seeing the lack of diversity in such a creative space and with our generation quickly taking over, I couldn’t just sit back and let it repeat. So, with hardly any experience but with a lot of built up passion I decided to launch, I’m still not sure what you’d call it, an organisation? A business? Right now, I’m just sticking to side hustle, but it is mine, it teaches self-worth, it fights for equality, and it is a safe space to build a bigger and more powerful music industry.
Thank you for all the support and all of your lovely messages. I also want to say thank you to @BhamBNails, @wearePINS and @ShellZenner for wanting to be in our Instagram Lives and talk about your amazing journeys. Thank you to Jon and Maggie for letting me co-host on BBC Radio Glos and share Sass and Snarl. I have loved building this network of talented women, it might be small, but it is definitely mighty, and it also makes me super emotional so I happy cry on my twitter about it a lot.
All I can say is I’m going to keep building campaigns, teaching self-promotion and supporting talent in our industry! So please keep sharing! I still have so much work to do. I’m still building my branding, my website, my network but this is a marathon not a sprint.
On the 18th of February, the glamourous ceremony went live from the O2 Arena. With artists flooding the red carpet, Lizzo and Billie Eilish were among the big stand out acts. Starting the night off was rising pop singer Mabel and her hit “Don’t Call Me Up”, giving a happy and smiley performance. Out of the nine artists set to feature across the event, Mabel was one of four female performers. You would never think of the huge gender imbalance that the music industry abides by in this situation. If anything, you would think it was pretty neutral. When starting to look deeper into the awards and nominations, only one woman (Mabel) was nominated across all gender-neutral categories such as Song of the Year and Best New Artist. Critical acclaim doesn’t matter when looking at artists but instead their stream and sales statistics which is why the UK top 40 has hardly any female UK talent in it. However, in America, the top four albums of 2019 were all lead by women. I’m sure you can think of who… Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga. With the UK constantly bringing out new talent you would expect a similar distinction.
As of the last few weeks I am sure you will see the amount of disappointing and blunt festival lineups with Reading and Leeds sparking up all the fuss with names like Annie Mac and the 1975 voicing their frustration. Across the 18-artist announcement, only two were female. With hope of new campaigns such as KeyChange, surely the next years to come won’t be as disappointing as they are here to tell the story of it’s not the women needing to step up but instead the music industry’s inherent favour of men. KeyChange gives staggering statistics in their manifesto highlighting this favorability. 16% of songwriters are women, there is a 30% gender divide in the music industry workforce and the gender pay gap at major music companies is still under a 30% difference pay gap. It truly is like something from another century. The gender pay gap is just one obstacle out of multiple women in music careers face. From the historical context, sexism and harassment, technophobia to the most important; the lack of female role models and confidence. The industry isn’t purposefully discriminating against women, when the industry is like sheep, it is hard to shift.
Watching the Brits, the stereotypes contributing to the “gender of music” show how music subconsciously identifies as masculine and feminine. In terms of what instrument someone should play to the aggressiveness of the style and to of course the dress code. It was clear to see that Lizzo and Mabel are stuck in this stereotype. Although Lizzo is a huge advocate for body positivity and self-love it still kept up with the happy pop, dance and smile. Billie Eilish sets this a part with her statement of not letting herself be sexualized by her cool aesthetic of huge unfitted clothing. It is known that female artists need to have “the look” and although we find new talent challenging this stereotype, it is still something A&R across the country use as a defining feature Now not that I wouldn’t want to see Lewis Capaldi come on stage in figure hugging corset, it is clear the same level of expectations isn’t held as tight with the other gender. Women are not given the same respect in these jobs from their coworkers, bosses and obviously the media. Being picked a part for their weight, relationships and life is something you would need an extreme thick skin to survive. And when women can give just as much creative input, you have to ask yourself why?
The market decides because does an audience really care? Crowds at festivals aren’t raging about the lack of diversity but more that it’s too long of a walk from the toilets to their tent. Women and girls stood watch the headline acts at Reading and Leeds won’t be sobbing at their lack of role models but instead the beauty of Harry Styles. No major labels are going to be changing the industry just yet but with snarky little comments from host Jack Whitehall about their “coverup” a little can go a long way. Think of grime, it has been in the UK for around 20 years now and no major label has wanted a peep. But the community kept thriving for themselves until all of a sudden, a big A&R man is interested. Women are across the industry, you just don’t see them as much, this does not mean that there is not talent there. The industry needs to take more risks with women and nurture their careers to create the next big stars. If not, we will never know how good it could be.
Live events have so many nicknames, this wasn’t just a gig at a little venue down the road nor a concert with back up dancers forming an army across a stage. This was aspects of each, the connection of audience and artist but both an elevated and dynamic production. Frank Carter is the performance. Every eye, camera, fist in the air was directed at him. Carter doesn’t just take the role as leader of the band but more leader of ten thousand people all stood ready to salute him with their beer of choice.
Alexandra Palace is a venue that being a girl who loves her quirky dingy venues of the north felt well at home in. With its ten thousand people capacity, the layout is a dream. The staff of the bar, the food stalls, cloakroom and security are all a dream. Everything is structured swiftly and easily with even a £1 bus willing to take you to and from the station. The ease and stress-free qualities really do mean that you are there to listen to music, meet new people and have a good time, something we all let slip but something we all really do appreciate.
The night started off with Cleopatrik and Ho99o9. A great response for Cleopatrik across this tour but personal acclamation for Ho99o9 who created a joyously abrasive set that is definitely something needed to be seen again. They brought their love of hip hop and the madness of punk to build a band ready to be talked about! Hopefully, the future will bring them a more dynamic performance to combine all of the already cinematic ideas to create something more fluid.
Following Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes from their first stunt at Download Festival, it is obvious that this was a band ready to shake up the live industry. With a determined and passionate manager, Matthew Greer (ATC Management) every aspect of the band is well in check. With their strategy on building their profit on international tours and dates to creating new bucket list moments for the band, one being the sold-out show at Alexandra Palace. Whilst their brand is taken care of Dean Richardson (guitarist/songwriter) and his new graphic design business YUCK. The bold and minimal artwork that separates them from pervious music and campaigns is really impressive and ca be seen from digital to real world advertising. They worked to “challenge a perception of the band with a modern direction that stood out amongst a genre so eager to rely on the past.” This is something you definitely see and feel during their shows when I think about it now. It was just colour. But colour is so important and was so needed to describe the emotion and story of each movement. There’s a reason why we say we feel “blue’.
When Carter hit the stage, you knew that a true performance was about to begin. The new album, End of Suffering, took center stage and ignited the crowd. A clear drift from their punk roots, Carter became more of a slinky and seductive showman. Classics like Juggernaut left the crowd kicking and punching in a true punk rock form as well as Carter himself. The next song was Wildflowers and something to be admired is the qualities the band strive to teach and educate their audiences. Inclusivity is something that is looked over a lot in daily life. In the music industry the gender divide is atrocious and is something that is being talked about more often than not. If you would love to know more, please read my article on The Music Industry and Its Gender Divide. With festivals such as Statement festival responding to sexual harassment in the music industry in Sweden creating a safe space for women. Although, not the same scale, Frank dedicates “Wildflowers” to a woman only mosh pit for women to enjoy this experience, something so important and commendable. Of course, you’ll find men in their anyway, a few taking advantage of having a lot of women in the same space.
The lighthearted banter was loved across the gig, “You don’t boo me, I’ll get in there with you” and with the classic “oh fuck it” British humour in he got. Of course, to battle his way through the crowd to go see his mum and out of nowhere you’d hear “oi move I’m going to see my mum.” Something that sent the whole venue into bursts of laughter. Frank isn’t afraid to climb into the crowd or on top of. He is “one of us”. Finishing the night with their anthem “I Hate You” never have you seen a punk song about hate fill a space with so much love. Something that becomes so apparent is that Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes is something so much more than the music, than the “gig”. Who knows what the next chapter, campaign or album will bring this band.
As I have mentioned Frank bravely displays his struggles with mental health via Instagram. A striking post from last year that I had found shortly after writing this has completely changed my perception. It was a picture of his face, a little bruised, puffy eyes and incredibly fragile. In the caption, Frank admitted to feeling broken and dehumanised and told his fans that touring and being so physical in his performances, he got “beaten the shit out of”. Of course it’s labelled as Punk Rock and I can only imagine how tiring and relentless it must be now I think about it. In the post he says he does it as it is the only way of damaging himself where no one could stop him. The adrenaline numbed the pain but the worst part of all of this was that he was celebrated for it. Seeing this post of course it brings out the darkness of mental health that no one dares to touch on. How do we really expect this to carry on? Not knowing this at the time of the event, I stood there cheering as he dived face first into a pool of people. As a crowd, it was exciting, amusing, unforgettable! Looking back it is sad, confusing and heart breaking. At the end of the post, Carter goes on to explain his support system which he touched on many times during the show, he revels in the importance of talking about how you feel. Frank shows that even people you look up to still need support and that it is okay to not feel okay. Something we all need to hear, even if it when you are covered in sweat surrounded by other very sweaty strangers. I hope this reality isn’t the same now and that other performers in the industry never have to face this.
Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes are truly a band to admire for their work and the movement they are willing to create. To be open and honest is something we all struggle with but Frank doesn’t just hide behind his music, although the story of the lyrics are strong and powerful, to be able to share in more ways than one is very courageous.
In the UK alone, the music industry is worth £5.2 billion, the growing industry has the cycle of introducing new talent for it to circle around the charts for two months. Out of all this talent, women make up just 21% of artists, 12% of songwriters and 2% of producers. The huge gender divide is not something many would notice; if anything, female artists might seem represented everywhere. Dua Lipa’s hits fill the silence of the radio, Billie Eilish is constantly being painted across the media and Rita Ora somehow keeps returning to television competitions. However, looking at festival lineups across the nation, in 2015 at electronic music festival Creamfields, out of its three hundred acts, only five were female. With campaigns like KeyChange, with their 145 partnering festivals, they have signed the pledge to create a 50:50 gender balance by 2022. You can slowly see the progression this campaign is making by bringing female industry professionals together and using workshops and collaborations to bring out the diversity the music industry needs.
Vanessa Reed, founder of KeyChange, knows a lot about working at major music companies as she was CEO of the PRS Foundation for 11 years funding new music and talent across the nation and now she has taken the role of president and CEO of New Music USA. The 30% Gender Pay Gap is something Reed said has played a hugely important role and calls the lack of women in the business something from like another century. Reed has helped bring festivals like Oslo World to have a 60% female representation and Statement Festival, a woman only festival launched in Stockholm in response to sexual assaults at other Swedish festivals. Punk act Frank Carter also works to dedicate his songs and setlists to women in his audiences with songs just for women to crowd surf to create a sense of community and safety at his shows. When watching The Super bowl, Demi Lovato was angelic singing the national anthem and two very impressive Latina women took over the half time show to deliver an incredible performance. With the recent drop of the Reading and Leeds lineup, Radio DJ Annie Mac was appalled at their “blatant lack of want” to represent women in the music industry huge. Other music professionals such as Matt Healy from The 1975 claiming to stop playing gender-biased festivals showing how this is more relevant than ever.
The Grammys is a huge part of the industry where artists are honored and celebrated but A new study from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, “Inclusion in the Recording Studio?,” finds that women are mostly absent from the Grammys. Only 10.4% of Grammy nominees from 2013 to 2019 were women, and for the first time in seven years, a woman was nominated for Producer of the Year. (Spoiler alert: she didn’t win). Success stories we have all heard is Billie Eilish who won five out the six awards she was nominated for including the big four! Eilish is an artist we should all look up to at the very young age of 18, Billie has been praised for her talent that was created in a tiny bedroom and still is! Not big studios, with technology that looks like it was made for space but just a laptop and a microphone. She now battles stereotypes with her statement style as she doesn’t allow the press and media to inappropriately sexualise her like many other female artists currently in the industry.
The meaning of this article is to highlight the success women have had and the change that has already started but also to inspire and build future generations of women looking to venture into this fascinating and dynamic industry. Women need to work together and support each other to create the change needed to develop a gender balanced music industry. A start is looking at something as small as an Instagram account. Shesaid.so is an Instagram account set to build relationships and advertise marketing jobs across the UK and America. It is so easy to get involved with and can perhaps turn into something bigger. Small and simple changes is what can build an industry of representation and respect where inclusivity is key and music is at the heart of every step.
Our first ever campaign! Encouraging shameless self-promotion is one of our main aims at Sass and Snarl. In the music and creative industries, it is so necessary, especially when women and ethic minority backgrounds are not getting the representation. We want to teach you about the time when you should forget about being modest, the times you should forget about being humble. Now I am not saying to go grab our megaphone and to shove it down everybody’s throats, I know they define it as a bit aggressive, but like not that.. A huge part of doing self-promotion PROPERLY that people don’t realise is actually supporting others. If you can support others, you can support yourself. But if you just support yourself, it is not going to work.
The point in our campaign was to get noticed whilst at home and to share work and talent that deserves attention! Each day we post a form on our story asking a different question! So, Monday was what achievement are you proud of and why? I have loved hearing your responses and seeing all of the projects you are working on. A huge bit of feedback I have got back from people who have taken part in the campaign is that it feels good to be unapologetic about their achievements and give themselves a shout out for once. Self-Promotion truly is a form of self-care that we can all adopt into our professional careers as well as personal lives. Know your worth, be proud of what you do and just don’t stop!
We will definitely be doing similar campaigns again and for our first campaign in lockdown whilst we’re still all confined to our houses, I am so happy to see how many people got involved and enjoyed joining the Sass and Snarl community. Thank you so much for supporting our Sass and Snarl journey, we have so many huge plans and ideas that we can’t wait to share with you. All I can say is keep it up! Don’t stop now! Keep up with our Instagram to find more self-promotion tips and career advice purely to help you to breakthrough into the music industry!
A lot of people started messaging me telling me that they haven’t started anything yet or they’re not sure what they want to do. If you are feeling the same, please message me! We can talk over email, dm’s, over the phone… I am here to help. You need to start now, done is better than perfect! Trust me, everybody is bluffing it. A huge part that might be stopping yourself from taking that leap is comparing yourself to others. Our platform is aimed at a younger demographic, so we see a lot of people in the same situation. You are not alone, sometimes you just have to do a bit of everything before you figure it all out and we can help you start!
The big three major music labels. Sony. Warner. Universal. A huge part of our industry, something more artists dream of being signed to. I know I have certainly sat down thinking about sitting in one of their high exec jobs. But there is an issue. I’m sure we have all seen music festival line ups and their atrocious gender divide. If you’re a fan of Sass and Snarl, you have to know about my love for Vanessa Reed and her work with KeyChange who are working internationally to have 50:50 gender representation at music festivals. But should we be blaming music festivals? Yes, but not solely. They are only signing the best our industry is giving them, the ones that will bring more fans and money. If women aren’t being represented 50:50 in our industry and among major labels, yes festivals could do better but so could everybody else.
When speaking to the manager for Enter Shikari, Ian Johnsen, we spoke about artist representation at independent labels. He sent me the longest list of women that he works with, that are on his team and that inspire him. Now we always knew the more corporate things get, the whiter it is but I say this kind of laughing to myself that it still exists. It needs to change. I was so happy to hear amazing and talented women putting their stamp into music through these independent labels that it inspired me to see what the artist representation was like. Artists are the foundation of our industry, if that isn’t equal, what is?
Last week I sat down and went through every single artist represented under Sony, Warner and Universal to see how diverse their rosters are. Every single label’s roster had around 50% white male artists. The other 50% was split between women in music and artists from minority ethnic backgrounds. After looking into this further I wanted to know how many of these were both a woman and from a minority ethnic background, the highest was 10%.
To read the stats, find our Instagram and please share. This is a conversation we need to be having now! At Sass and Snarl, we work to educate. When I was speaking to PINS, we spoke about the lack of women in our industry and they suggested to bring this into education so that is what we are going to do. We have plans to go into schools and show young girls their worth! Our generation and theirs will be taking over this industry in a blink of an eye so let’s teach and preach for it to be fair. The music industry should be a safe place to harvest creativity and talent. Change is needed. Support is needed. Representation matters.
If the music industry isn’t going to represent us and let our talent be noticed, then we will just have to do it ourselves. We are lucky to have social media to take control over our own promotion. Self-Promotion has never been so important! So, follow our journey with Sass and Snarl to create a more diverse music industry.