I was lucky to meet some of the women from This Could Go Boom! a local label focused on facilitating the musical careers of women, trans and non-binary people, through work with the band The OSYX. Today I’m introducing you to Ara and Robzie.
Ara is the co-founder of This Could Go Boom! and a member of The OSYX. She teaches music to height-challenged humans (aka the nursery school set) as well as “I play soccer for kicks. I’m a beekeeper. I drink bourbon”. While Robzie aside from being on the label’s board is a drummer who plays for various projects, but the main band right now is The OSYX.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
Ara: I sang in youth choir as a kid. Then for a good many years I sang in the shower. When a family member took up guitar lessons I snatched their instrument at night and began putting together tunes. Around that time some drinking friends began a slipshod cover band. Those limitations lead me to open mics through which I met a ridiculous amount of talented people creating new art where art begins. It was magic. It still is – that sense of newness and exploration. Over all I’d say I fell backwards into it and continue to sink deliriously and quite contentedly through the field, the weight of expectation and necessity of sustainability not yet having taken the wonder out of it all.
Robzie: I have always been drawn to music and have been playing since the age of four. I eventually got into a band it seems each project lead me to the next.
What is a day in the life like?
Ara: I’m still working on my project management skills. I try to click off the more mundane tasks, like shipping, updating data and social media actions early so that when I’m moved to create something I’m not hindered by the deadline items. If the inspiration doesn’t come I can always practice music which usually triggers the muse, especially if I have to walk out the door in 15.
Robzie: Some days busy and some days slow. Balancing the schedule and making sure enough money is made is a daily concern. As a drummer, I have to go to a my usual rehearsal spot to practice.
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
Ara: That’s almost impossible to answer because it’s highly dependent on the situation. Performing in Ragnar Kjartansson’s “Woman in E” exhibit at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum was a highlight because I was working exclusively with 16 other women performers, musicians, curators and staff for a three month period that overlapped the 2016 election. It was an emotional roller coaster and definitely prompted a course correction.
Robzie: Our nonprofit label is by far the coolest/favorite thing I’ve worked on.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
Ara: I’ve only recently been able to articulate my frustration operating a nonprofit and playing music. Coming from the corporate world (I spent 12 years in marketing and PR) the rewards and parameters for success we’re more clearly defined. As long as you did your job well you were pretty much guaranteed an upward trajectory. Being a musician feels more like an unending road trip punctuated by amazing experiences and unforgettable nights. Having a partner still firmly grounded in the 9-5 allows me to pursue music and causes I believe in without the burden of putting a roof over my head or feed my family. We actually joke that I’m the nonprofit arm of the family. It’s definitely a privilege.
Robzie: Making money!
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Ara: Like 99% of independent labels, This Could Go Boom was started on a whim – albeit by very capable people with good intentions! So I’m not sure we’re in a position to give advice quite yet. In fact, if you have any tips we’re all ears. Oh wait! Passion. You have to have a passion for it because you sure as hell aren’t going to get rich off it. Oh, and the podcast Other Record Labels has been quite helpful.
Robzie: The best advice is being receptive to other musicians, projects and organizations in your community. I would never have had this opportunity if I didn’t eventually do so.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Ara: I am a collector! But not in the obsessive “High Fidelity” sense. I’m embarrassed to say that once CD’s came along I tossed all of my vinyl in the next yard sale. It wasn’t until I went all-in for The White Stripes that I started amassing records again. My collection reflects my passions – both fleeting and ingrained. Nearly every record has a story – or moment – to go along with it. I’m not precise or meticulous about it by any means. If it moves me deeply I know I want to touch it, hold it in my hands. The exception being some Third Man Records tricolor 7″ that I briefly got caught up in, though a couple of those have pretty great memories attached to them too. I help moderate a vinyl forum focused on all of the insane tangibles that surround Jack White‘s empire. I covet my Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water and 7″ Hand Springs by The White Stripes.
Robzie: Yes. I used to collect old records to use in production and beat making. That’s where the appreciation started.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
Ara: Small runs of vinyl are costly, in part due to the set-up costs. From a label/artist’s perspective, it’s still hard to move vinyl without a significant degree of momentum or buzz, and that’s usually going to cost you. As a nonprofit we’re hyper vigilant about how we spend funds because every dollar has to benefit our artists. For this reason we won’t be able to put out every release on standard vinyl – at least not until we pick up momentum. The good news is that there’s a small industry of lathe cutting shops popping up which will allow us to initially offer a super limited number of records for every release. Having your music immortalized in wax (or more accurately but notably less romantic, melted PVC pellets) is indescribable. We want to give every artist, their family and their closest fans the opportunity to have that memento. This way we can take pre-orders in advance of the release and have them pressed to order. As a vinyl nerd I already know that I want every TCGB release on a piece of vinyl so that I can hug it before giving it a listen.
Robzie: I’ve noticed that A LOT of projects are releasing their albums with vinyl as an option for fans. I heard that vinyl is outselling CDs right now and that’s exciting to me.
Tell me more about what you’re listening to right; or anything else you’d like to share:
Ara: Due to having the attention span of a hyperactive puppy it changes minute to minute. Right now I can’t get Les Filles de Illighadad out of my head. And I’m really enjoying This Is The Kit as of late.
Robzie: I’d like to share that our nonprofit label is looking for more board members, volunteers and allies.
Find Ara & Robzie:
This Could Go Boom!: @thiscouldgoboom
The OSYX: @theosyx
This Could Go Boom!: @thiscouldgoboom
The OSYX: @theosyxband
This Could Go Boom!: www.thiscouldgoboom.com
The OSYX: www.theosyx.bandcamp.com