How the #MeToo Movement Could Make Music Festival Season Safer

When I was 16 my most essential possession was a small backpack. It was made of a simple worn-in cloth, the fabric comprised of a colorful rainbow of stripes. The colors weren’t overtly vibrant, instead dulled, to give the desired vintage effect. It was a small bag and would fit no more than a cell phone, smoking pipe – concealed in the secret pocket I had prepared in the side wall – a purse, and on beach-going days a small, portable stereo. I had a friend who poked fun at how I always looked ready for a grand adventure. Although adventure was the outward identity people perceived, the backpack was a tool of quite another design.

This small bag was my weapon of armor. It created an innocuous barrier between myself and anyone who might try to add some unwanted grinding to my experience at a show, backyard concert, or festival. The more unwanted and aggressive the attention, the more I would flail the bag from side to side, an effective tactic that kept strangers away, and kept these experiences centered on the music.

For women who attend live music events, it’s common knowledge that while entering into a venue or festival grounds comes with many highlights, there’s always the underlying threat of machismo aggression. Although women have known this (and far too many have experienced it first hand) for years, it has taken festivals and venues longer to wise up and take ownership over the responsibility they have to ensure a level of safety within these spaces.

As far back as 2015, Vice Media started taking notice of these violence at festivals, running an article on Broadly that detailed the extent of the problem, then revisiting the topic again in 2016 with an article in Noisey that outlined some basic steps toward alleviating it. Also in 2016, NBC News covered the growing aggression of sexual violence taking hold in festivals globally. And just last summer, The Guardian posed the question: “Are music festivals doing enough to tackle sexual assault?” Even as they praised grassroots efforts being implemented across Europe, they recognized that there’s still a long way to go.

Now, as we ease into our first festival season in the wake of the #MeToo movement, current efforts are coming into sharper focus. A TeenVogue article published after this year’s Coachella stated that, out of 54 women interviewed, every single one of them claimed they had, in some way or another, been sexually harassed. Instead of waiting for festival policies to change, fans and femmes are creating their own safe utopias, in hopes that mainstream festivals might catch up to grassroots consent training.

Sex educator Emma Kaywin has started to work with smaller festivals on the East Coast to create consent-based teachings for volunteers. Working closely with the consent programs at Brooklyn’s popular art and performance space House of Yes, Kaywin has seen first hand what effect teaching participants of musical experiences can have on the overall safety of an event.

Currently studying for her doctorate in health education, and previously working as the sexual health columnist for Bustle, Kaywin turned to working on consent programs when she began feeling unsafe at clubs in New York. “I stopped going to a lot of parties, because I would just go there, get groped, get triggered and leave,” explains Kaywin. “I just wanted to be in spaces that felt safer.”

In her work with festivals, Kaywin has organized a two-hour long training, which includes information about recognizing microaggressions and how to respond. The training also focuses on intervention – more specifically, how to identify consent violations on the dance floor and how to intervene in situations of violence and intoxication. Those who have taken the training become “space guardians” of the dance floor. It is the job of these guardians to work as professional bystanders, and their purpose is twofold – to act as watchdogs who can intervene before an assault occurs and potentially remove the offending party, and to make themselves available as a trustworthy advocate for someone who feels unsafe.

While these trainings, and the idea of “space guardians,” can be easily implemented on dance floors at smaller festivals, the issue still remains – how do organizers make larger festivals, like Coachella, safe for everyone?

One campaign working with staff and fans alike is Chicago-based advocacy campaign #OurMusicMyBody. The organizers of the campaign work in conjunction with Chicago-based festivals, including Lollapalooza, to address problematic relations between fans and security.

“No one should be told exactly what they should do,” says Kat Stuehrk, co-organizer of #OurMusicMyBody, when discussing what advice she might give to a survivor. #OurMusicMyBody focuses on teaching security staff to first, believe the victims who approach them, then ask before acting what it is the person wants to have done.

Many security guards who are not trained properly will oftentimes immediately call the police, or take other actions victims are uncomfortable with, without asking permission. These actions further extend misdirected power dynamics, heightening the sense of lack of control a victim feels after an assault. #OurMusicMyBody works directly with security to establish protocol to directly help survivors, and communicate with them openly about their needs and wishes.

“We have folks from domestic violence or sexual assault agencies come in and do trainings for the security and the staff, about crisis intervention and how to respond with empathy, and with options for folks who have had those experiences.” explains Stuehrk.  “Through no fault of their own, people don’t really know what to say or do.”

Another important component of the #OurMusicMyBody campaign is fan education. When given the opportunity by a festival organization, the campaign sets up a booth to teach practices of consent, and let others know it is okay to call out their friends who are being inappropriately aggressive.

Zero-tolerance policies posted on festival websites are the small first steps festivals can take to addressing the issues of sexual harassment. However, it doesn’t hold a lot of weight if fans themselves aren’t ready and educated with response tools, since even the most sensitive security staff can’t reliably watch over thousands of individuals. #OurMusicMyBody is working to addressing these levels of education, so that zero-tolerance policies can be upheld.

“As far as I’m concerned, every single person who is present at a festival, or works at that festival, needs to know what crisis intervention is and have a basic understanding of how to respond to a report of harassment,” says Stuehrk.

Overall, these various approaches are moving towards one thing; education. For a long time, festivals and festival-goers have refused to admit there was a problem – particularly men, who shockingly seem unaware that sexual harassment has been an ongoing issue for women at festivals. Along those lines, many festivals refuse to talk about how they are addressing these issues on their website or to attendees. It is this fear of recognizing the problem, and allowing those unaffected to stay in the dark, that allows violent behavior to proliferate. By the same token, those pushing for positive change must understand the sensitive, sometimes complicated nature of sexual violence, and take responsibility for their own actions in public spaces.

Writer Vera Papisova, who published the TeenVogue piece, also mentioned her little backpack. “This is why I usually wear a backpack in concert settings,” describes Papisova. “It forces distance between the stranger behind me and my body.” It won’t be the symbolic use of these backpacks that ends the abundance of sexual harassment at music festivals. In a post #MeToo age it is the responsibility of the masses to understand their personal role in maintaining spaces where violence towards women becomes unacceptable.

For more information on how to help prevent sexual assault, check out RAINN’s guidelines on bystander intervention.

INTERVIEW: The Hum Ends 2018 Series with Breanna Barbara, Katie Von Schleicher, Mickey Vershbow & More

The final show of the 2018 The Hum series will be this Wednesday at Bushwick’s House of Yes, and curator Rachael Pazdan is closing the series out with a bang. Known for its continuously potent female lineup, the closeout not only showcases some of the most promising women in Brooklyn’s music scene, but also includes indie favorites Thao Nguyen of Get Down Stay Down fame and Mirah as the headlining act. Together, they’ll perform songs from their solo catalogs, as well as their beautifully constructed collaborative album from 2001, Thao & Mirah.

As The Hum series comes to a close for the year, AudioFemme took this time to talk to musicians about where they saw the future of female representation in music. Throughout this past month The Hum artists have often mentioned the double-edged sword of highlighting women with a showcase like this. On the one hand, heightened visibility for women in music is still necessary; on the other, a series like The Hum shouldn’t be treated as a novelty, since an all male lineup would never be promoted as such. While The Hum brings a much needed platform for representation, there is a hope among many of the women we’ve talked to that the need for these showcases will be less dire as the music industry becomes more balanced and open in terms of gender, that perhaps finding this balance will usher in a new era of artists presenting something beyond the current binary.

AudioFemme spoke this week with singer/songwriters Breanna Barbara and Katie Von Schleicher, and drummer Mickey Vershbow, about what The Hum brings to the Brooklyn music community, and their dreams for the future of women in music.

Breanna Barbara

AudioFemme: How did you first find out about The Hum, and how did you get involved?

Breanna Barbara: Rachel and I have been in touch for some years now. I used to work at Le Poisson Rouge as a server and I think she started booking there shortly after I left. But it felt like a full circle when she reached out about the Hum.
AF: What musical projects are you currently working on?
BB: Right now I am taking my time, soaking up some life and working on new material for my next record, possibly to record this fall/winter.
AF: Who will you be collaborating with for your performance at The Hum?
BB: We’ve got Alix Brown on the bass, Dida Pelled on lead guitar, Lyla Vander on drums and Lida Fox on the keys. They are all badasses.
AF: What has the collaboration process been like?
BB: It’s been really good so far – every one has their own style and it’s been fun playing each other’s songs.
AF: How does a showcase like The Hum affect your musical process?
BB: It’s definitely been expanding the way I write. I think playing with new people and their music makes you a better musician all around.
AF: How do you see the musical community of Brooklyn affected by The Hum?
BB: There is such a strong community of musicians here in Brooklyn and The Hum really shows that. All of the women I am playing with are bosses, front women, hustlers; it’s really inspiring to be in the same room with them and just hang out. And the Hum has brought us together. That’s really cool to think about.
AF: In the future how do you hope to see women in music represented differently? 

BB: All I can hope for – and not just in music but in general – is for any/all shame or insecurities that society/patriarchy has ingrained in any of us will continue to disintegrate. Because to me there is nothing more powerful than a woman being vulnerable and speaking their truth. And I think what the planet needs more than anything right now is more femininity.

Katie Von Schleicher

AudioFemme: How did you first find out about The Hum, and how did you get involved?

Katie Von Schleicher: I knew Rachael from playing at Manhattan Inn quite a bit while I was just starting out. I was asked to do the Hum a couple of years ago, then, and have followed it since because it was a really incredible experience, doing a one-off set with new collaborators who have since become my good friends.

AF: What musical projects are you currently working on?

KVS: I have my project, Katie Von Schleicher, which takes up most of my time at the moment. I’m in a band called Wilder Maker who have an album out this July. I play in a band called Coffee and just played a few dates in the UK in Sam Evian’s band. I’m also working on producing some things for friends of mine.

AF: Who will you be collaborating with for your performance at The Hum?

KVS: I’ll be playing with Julie Byrne, whose music is so beautiful that I feel a bit intimidated. 

AF: How does a showcase like The Hum affect your musical process?

KVS: I don’t feel immediately comfortable doing something off-the-cuff because I don’t have a history of improvisation, so the Hum takes me out of my shell a bit. It’s a gamble and you don’t know what will happen exactly, and that’s a good thing. It’s one night and a 25 minute set, but it informs so much of my thinking afterward. I’ve also played in mostly male-centric bands. In my experience with The Hum, I’ve found we have to get deeper with one another really fast, trying to get on the level of musical and interpersonal understanding without having years of previous chemistry built in. But my collaborators have been such excellent communicators that I’ve found a real bond with them, and realized how important it is to develop a rapport, even if there isn’t much time. When you do something so brief you rely on instinct, and this process has honed my instincts more, made me feel more confident about intuition, which is invaluable.

AF: How do you see the musical community of Brooklyn affected by The Hum?

KVS: Rachael developed this series at a pretty crucial time, and in the past few years I’ve seen the community here become so much more egalitarian in terms of representation. The Hum has been woven into that, and has probably bolstered it a lot. 

AF: In the future how do you hope to see women in music represented differently? 

KVS: I feel confident that everyone should and will be represented more. It’s already happening but we have much further to go, of course. In, say, rock music, men have a lineage intact, and they grow up knowing they can become a part of that, almost as a rite of passage. I want to see anyone who’s underrepresented grow up feeling that sense of belonging and then taking their place in it, too. It’ll take a generation to set that precedent.

Mickey Vershbow

 Audio Femme: How did you end up getting involved in The Hum?
Mickey Vershbow: I first played The Hum three years ago and I was at the time working for Tom Tom Magazine. Tom Tom got asked to play The Hum and do a percussion piece. So I was in a group of four people who put together a 20 minute percussion piece, that was really fun. Rachael Pazdan mentions this also, and I love it. But I actually ended up meeting my girlfriend Katrina at that show. So The Hum definitely occupies a special place for me. I’m really excited to play it again. Especially with Mirah, who has been one of my favorite singers since I was a teenager.
AF: Will you be playing any new songs with Mirah?
MV: Yeah! I know we are doing new stuff. I don’t know that she specifically wrote them for The Hum or not, but we have been working on new stuff that we want to play at The Hum. This is more just a group of people that don’t play together that much, coming together to play songs from Mirah and Thao’s catalog.
AF: What other projects are you working on right now?
MV: I just finished making a record with a band called Animal Planet. That record just came out on Ba Da Bing. My main full-time gig is with a band called Kat Cunning. That’s definitely my main gig right now, because I also tour manage for that band. I also play with this artist in New York named Miles Francis. There’s a parallel between both him and Kat, because they are real entertainers. They have a concept behind how they want to perform their music and for me as a drummer that’s really fun, because you kind of just sit back and know that everything up front is good.
AF: How does having access to an all-female based showcase like The Hum affect the Brooklyn, music community?
MV: I think it has a tremendously powerful impact on all of us who get to be a part of it. You just end up making connections that change your life. I mean obviously I can say that. But aside from whether it’s on the level of meeting your partner, and your future bandmate, or just meeting so many people that next time you need a guitarist you have a woman you can call. I feel like without people like Rachael, or Mindy at Tom Tom, who are out there creating this network for us to all find each other, it’s really hard, because you just randomly go to shows and you’re like oh cool the bass player is killing it and she’s a girl, and I would love to work with her, but that is so random and chance. Whereas to be able to network in an environment where you know you’re gonna meet women, there’s something empowering about just feeling like we all have this way that we can get connected with each other. So I’m really grateful to Rachael for continuing to do it. Also I’m getting to discover so many amazing musicians who I don’t think I would have discovered otherwise. Especially because women just don’t get the coverage in other outlets that men more easily do. I don’t necessarily want to make that statement, but I think it’s obviously kind of a thing that happens. So it feels like The Hum creates a platform for us to get more visibility to each other and to new audiences.
The Hum to me is really one of the best things happening in New York right now. It’s so community oriented. It has such a clear concept that benefits a community of musicians, that can do amazing things together. Especially as someone who very often forgets why I live in NY, when I get to play The Hum, I think, “Oh yeah, this happens here.”

INTERVIEW: Latasha & Shasta Geaux Pop Bring Hip-Hop to The Hum This Week


The Hum Series’ House of Yes takeover continues this Wednesday, when Brooklyn music lovers will get to see some of the best female-identified performers in the local hip-hop scene, expanding the typically rock and electronic music oriented curation to a whole different genre. This is the second-to-last performance of the series, which has so far seen the likes of Jessica Lea MayfieldBunny Michael, Xhosa, L’Rain, Lou Tides, and many more. This week’s hip-hop oriented bill features Oshun, SassyBlack, Latasha, Lawlyse, and Shasta Geaux Pop.

Headliners Oshun, a hip-hop, soul duo originally hailing from Washington D.C. and now living in New York, spoke with Nylon Magazine about The Hum. The two said that “being a part of The Hum Series is an opportunity for us to show solidarity to creatives across the spectrum. It’s us saying we support art and all the beautiful souls that create it.” Singer-songwriter-producer SassyBlack, echoes that sentiment in the same piece, telling Nylon, “It is important to have showcases, festivals, and events that focus on the greatness of women, female-identifying, and non-binary artists. Our stories are important and need to be heard as often as possible.”

In the last few weeks we have spoken with a number of The Hum artists, who mirror the reflections of Oshun and SassyBlack. The appreciation for this series and its dedication to women in music is a constant statement these musicians have to share. This week, we talked to rapper Latasha and and performance artist and singer Ayesha Jordan, a.k.a. Sasha Geaux Pop, about what they’re looking forward to in this week’s performance.



Latasha defines herself as an artist who “finds resonance in speaking on spiritual, social and cultural experiences in her music, promoting a much needed agenda for those looking to find inner peace, specifically young women of color.” As someone who was part of the first iteration of The Hum, she speaks to the changes it has made, and how the stage as become more welcoming to a wider mix of genres.

AudioFemme: What was your first introduction to The Hum?

Latasha: I actually did The Hum show two or three years ago, when [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][curator] Rachael [Pazdan] first started The Hum. I think I was one of the first artists to actually get on her bill. Rachael and I have been good friends ever since, so I’m here again ready to throw it down for her on the show.

AF: What’s been your experience watching The Hum grow?

L: I’ve been to one other one and I’m really just proud of how Rachael is taking up a lot of different, beautiful artists to be a part of it. When she first started it was really oriented to bands and more electronic, and it wasn’t really a hip-hop scene. I feel like she’s starting to open up to that world, and I’m really excited about that.

AF: Will you be performing any new pieces made for this residency?

L: Yeah. Me and my DJ [Lawlyse] do a cool little freestyle moment every show, where she just starts a beat and I start rapping. So we’ll probably do something like that for this show.

AF: How do you think the hip-hop community benefits from The Hum?

L: I think it’s an amazing experience for hip-hop, just because I personally find out about so many other artists who are in the city that I would have never known about. Especially women artists – in hip-hop of course it’s very male dominated – so we don’t always get to hear about the other amazing women who are out there. Or we do, but we don’t get the chance to work with each other or on the same stages. So this is really a great opportunity for that to happen. I’m also a big fan of Oshun, who is the headliner of this bill. I’m really excited to see what that is going to be like for the audience, to see diverse women taking over the stages, and I think for hip-hop it’s just about time to have all of us be sharing stages.

AF: What kind of effect does a showcase like The Hum have on your music?

L: For me it’s just really inspiring to be surrounded by so many amazing talents. I remember the first time I did The Hum. I performed alongside a few other artists who are in the electronic world, and also in country. It was just really interesting to have me, a rapper, and then someone doing electronic music, and someone doing country music and all in one space. For my ear it was just really important for me to hear how that could work together in a show.

AF: You experiment with some visual elements in your music and shows; can you talk a little about that?

L: I have a performance art piece that I’ve been touring with called “Olive Dream.” It’s pretty much a multi-media performance piece that has documentary with visual installations of the parts of New York City that I grew up in. It includes dance and rap and poetry and monologue, all mixed together to create this world of my understanding. I’ve been doing that and it’s really exciting. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do that for The Hum show, but I’m definitely gonna give you guys a little piece of that for the show.

Shasta Geaux Pop

Shasta Geaux Pop is the alter-ego of performance artist Ayesha Jordan, who created her over-the-top persona as a way to score acting gigs while living in Atlanta, developing the project further in collaboration with director Charlotte Brathwaite after moving to New York. Partly inspired by the drunken antics of early-aughties It Girls like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, Shasta Geaux Pop is known for her energetic satire which pulls inspiration from classic ’80s ’90s hip-hop. This is her first appearance at The Hum.

AudioFemme: Your work is both musical and theatrical. Can you talk a little about the performance aspect of what you do?

Shasta Geaux Pop: It’s an hour long performance event and it’s highly interactive. It’s kind of like going to a basement get down party with music. There are songs about food, about Kegels, and being drunk and famous. It’s just a ruckus hour of laughter. We sneak a couple surprises in there that kind of catch people off guard. So that’s the theater piece.

AF: Are you going to incorporate your theater pieces into the show on Wednesday?

SGP: A couple of little things. I’m gonna throw some sneaky bits in there. I think we are gonna add in a couple teasers so people can get an idea of what we do outside of just music. It’s not just songs; it’s very much audience engagement and trying to activate people in a way that they are not often activated at a show. It’s not like “stand there listen and enjoy;” it’s a little deeper than that.

AF: Having support from other female artists, and having a space created where that’s possible, how does that differentiate from other experiences that you’ve had performing?

SGP: Well for one, it gives me an opportunity to meet and engage with performers I’ve never met or engaged with before. But also the stuff that I have done in the past has been a combination of hosting and performing. I haven’t done a lot of concert-style performances, because most of the people who are familiar with me have seen the theater piece. They’ll ask me to do a snippet of something for an event. So it’s less focused on women – it’s more just about whatever that event is, or specific to that event. I think a lot of the messages I have in a lot of the songs are directly related to women and our experiences, in a lot of ways. So there’s that aspect of it. It’s bringing people together for a specific purpose, and not just a general evening. It’s nice to have something with an intention.

AF: How do you think that these kinds of nights impact the larger music community in New York?

SGP:  It brings together an audience that is just overall more welcoming, because they are coming in with a certain kind of expectation. They know they are coming to see female artists perform, so there’s already an automatic level of support.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

INTERVIEW: The Hum Kicks Off With Jessica Lea Mayfield & Rachel Housle

Brooklyn will be humming every Wednesday this May with the music of female-identifying artists and their fresh collaborations. Rachael Pazdan, the mesmerizing mind behind Hypnocraft, began curating wildly popular Brooklyn-based pop-up events at venues like Greenpoint’s now-shuttered Manhattan Inn. Arguably her most beloved brainchild, The Hum brings together a varied mix of sounds made by women, and May 2 kicks off its latest residency at the House of Yes in Bushwick.

Now in its third year, The Hum is returning with another run of talented performers, some returning to the residency and others who will become members of this musical family for the first time. Since its inception, The Hum has developed a powerful platform for women to share their talents, voices and artistry, while showcasing Brooklyn’s multi-faceted music scene.

Follow AudioFemme weekly throughout May as we meet up with a variety of artists who will be joining the ranks of Hum performers. This week we shared question and answer sessions with both headliner Jessica Lea Mayfield and Brooklyn-based drummer and second-time Hum collaborator Rachel Housle. Both women discuss the distinct difference between working with women vs. men in an industry that is still very divided by gender.

Jessica Lea Mayfield

Audiofemme: What will you bring to this week’s Hum?

Jessica Lea Mayfield: Two of the things I wanted to do may be happening, but I’m still not sure, so I don’t want to talk about it, in case it doesn’t happen. Whether those things happen or not, I will have Emily Maxwell from Daddy Issues on drums, and Audrey Whiteside on bass, and harmony vocals. Those are some of my favorite bands, one of my favorite lineups, and two of my favorite females to play with. So that alone is gonna be really energetic and fun.

AF: Do you work with them regularly?

JLM: Yea, I used them for a tour a couple months back and it was awesome. Audrey lives in New York and she plays with a ton of people, so she’s always touring. I was really fortunate that she was able to do this, because I really didn’t think she would be. She’s almost always booked.

AF: Have you been involved with The Hum before?

JLM: No. I’m excited to have been asked to be a part of it.

AF: Do you usually get to work with other female artists?

JLM: Over the past year I’ve tried to more. I used to end up working with a lot of men, and I kind of realized I wanted to make an effort to hire females that I respect and female friends and even younger females who I can help give experience to. That has honestly improved my life by like 2,000 percent – having female energy in my workspace. It’s insane how drama-free touring becomes when you get the right personalities together, male or female. Definitely when you have the right type of sensitivities and like mindedness, because you know everyone is trapped in a rolling box together, then they’re backstage, then they’re onstage, then they’re at the hotel. You’re always around each other, so you have to absolutely love the people that you are working with.

AF: Have you been a part of any other female dominated showcases like this?

JLM: I’ve done stuff with She Shreds; I love that magazine.

AF: What kind of impact do you think having those kinds of showcases, and ones like The Hum, has on the music industry at large?

JLM: I have mixed feelings. People will say to me “Oh, I saw your female drummer,” and they’ll name like three female drummers, and go “Well there aren’t that many.” And it’s like no, literally half of all drummers are female. But those aren’t the ones that you see everywhere and hear people talk about, so it’s good when things like this put them out there. But at the same time I think all female musicians strive for a time when things are no longer gendered. We have to fight to just say we exist first, before we even get to that point to where the gender lines don’t exist. Men shouldn’t be the normal thing and women are something different. It’s a weird gender segregation in music that is getting better but its still problematic.

AF: Do you feel inspired in a different or unique way when you are working with other women?

JLM: I think for me, I’ve noticed that playing music with other women that I’m close with, I feel I can be a little more comfortable. You kind of let down your guard, because there is that societal gendered thing in music where when you’re playing with men, whether they realize is or not, they treat you a little differently. So when you’re playing with women there’s none of that weirdness – we’re all the same.  

Rachel Housle

AF: How did you get involved with The Hum?

Rachel Housle: I performed at The Hum in 2016 for the first time. Rachael Pazdan approached me and it was kind of like a musical blind date with me and a few other people. I had a really great experience then, and I got asked back by one of the musicians that I originally performed with at the first one that I did. She sort of hopped on board with the two ladies from Fruit & Flowers, so Rachel Angel had asked me to drum with them. Getting together with them had a total communal feeling pretty instantly. I’d worked with Rachel [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Angel] before and she is currently playing with Fruit & Flowers, so it’s just a total connection.

AF: What is the approach that you took in creating your performance for The Hum?

RH: We each brought in a song that we had written previously. So it was actually cool to hear it played in this group of musicians. It just kind of adds a different life to it. We are also working on writing a song together.

AF: What is that process like for you, to come together with a group of musicians you haven’t worked with a lot and build a brand new piece together?

RH: I feel like at first there’s that moment where you have to break that threshold a bit, kind of break the ice. I feel like personally this time we gelled really well, the conversation was instantly happening, and the music sort of mirrors that level of interaction. So we just kind of dug in and started playing songs that we had sent each other voice memos or recordings of and then after that we got a sense of each others’ playing and musical personalities. There would be these little interludes where we would be playing through these ideas and we didn’t even realize we were doing it.

AF: What do you feel like The Hum adds to the music community of Brooklyn?

RH: I think something like The Hum adds so much. As somebody who plays in different bands, there are a lot of times where I show up to a gig and I am the only person who is not a man, or specifically not a white man, at the entire gig. I feel like there gets to be this very insular environment of dudes calling other dudes to play in bands. And when you can really showcase this entire network of people, not only do you have this one great guitarist who happens to be female on a gig that you know of, but then that person gets connected to all of these other people, and it becomes this network of musicians.

AF: How is the writing process different for you when you get to work with other female musicians?

RH: There is a different flow to it. I think they are more willing to work within the framework that you bring, as opposed to trying to change things right off the bat, or trying to educate you about something, when you’re trying to work through and idea. Which is not to say that all men do this, but I find that men in the room tend to be very used to taking a leading role. So when a woman comes in with her own composition it’s kind of blurry sometimes who is actually leading that moment. I think that it’s more of an equal footing, and a more collaborative process [when working with women].

AF: Is there a different essence that comes out of your music because of that more open collaborative feeling?

RH: I think there is. I think that energy gets transferred into how that song is played, and I think there’s just a whole different set of ideas that you can then follow through. There’s more of an openness to take it somewhere different and special. Now that I know this network of really great, female musicians, I feel more inclined to hire a woman for something that I’m doing. Now that I have all these people that I know, it makes it much more approachable to say, “Oh I really want to bring this person in.”

AF: How has being a part of The Hum influenced your own music?

RH: One of the greatest things is I developed a really cool musical connection with Rachel Angel and we’ve been performing together ever since. So the musical blind date worked out really well. It’s such a great showcase to be able to meet all these women in the same show as you, and make it accessible for future collaborations. It really brings each person to the forefront and highlights their individual contribution, whereas you might feel like you get lost in the background, especially on the drums. I think each individual person is very appreciated and recognized after the show.