Music is emotional. Music is powerful. And music is limitless. Yet why is music often colonized by cis white dudes? Well, I could go into a political rant about global imperialism, but this is a music and film blog, so I’ll just leave you with this interview with Amanda Starling of the podcast Angry Grrrl Music of the Indie Rock Persuasion.
Started in 2016, Angry Grrrl Music highlights “women, femmes, LGBTQ+, and minority movements in the punk rock & indie rock scenes,” and guests span from the musicians themselves to “supporting” members of the music industry like Jamie Coletta of SideOne Dummy Records and Sheridan Allen of mental health advocacy group Punk Talks. What I love about this podcast are the honest discussions Amanda has with her guests. The variety of experiences we as musicians, and music consumers, have, should not be limited to what magazines like Strolling Rock deem marketable–which is often a bunch of dudes–and podcasts like Angry Grrrl Music are doing the good work of uplifting voices that are often ignored or chastised for speaking up.
In this interview, I ask Amanda to expand a bit on the message and goal of her podcast, what it’s like working on Angry Grrrl Music compared to her other project On the Record, and how we can continue to improve the music scene.
June Owatari: What was the genesis of Angry Grrrl Music of the Indie Rock Persuasion? And why even start a podcast?
Amanda Starling: Angry Grrrl Music of the Indie Rock Persuasion started with a long-seated frustration with the way women, minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community are treated within music in general. And viewing of the movie 10 Things I Hate About You for the billionth time (Kat was the feminist badass I knew I wanted to be even as a kid). I knew for a long time that diverse voices in music weren’t getting the attention that was deserved, and I was trying to figure out how I could do something about it. I tossed around the idea of blogging but ultimately settled on a podcast.
I chose a podcast because I felt like though there are plenty of communities like you’d find on Facebook or Reddit-like forums, there weren’t very many audible communities, where you could literally hear diverse voices talk when it came to music. The most you would find is an article with a link to a SoundCloud or Bandcamp of the album, but not necessarily the personal element of connecting to a person beyond that. It was flat text. I really wanted to go a step further and bring a more visceral experience to disenfranchised communities within music scenes.
June Owatari: What inspired and/or motivated you to become involved in the intersection of music and feminism in particular? And what past experiences continue to stick with you that might come out (consciously or subconsciously) via Angry Grrrl Music?
I always had an interest in diverse musicians, and the intersection of music and feminism has always been a part of my music listening experience. I remember first listening to bands like Hole and Bikini Kill as a preteen and slowly making my way into more and more artists.
I had been working on a music site for about a year when I became sort of restless. Few [people, except me,] were acknowledging artists that weren’t white, cisgender, heterosexual men. That comes with consequences that can be seen across the entire industry, from the musicians who are only seen as “girlfriends” that are assumed to know nothing about gear, all the way to photographers like me who can’t get past a bouncer to cover a show.
When you don’t see yourself in the media, you can start to feel isolated. So I decided to speak up for myself and others who aren’t heard now and want to be.
I *loved* the episode with Punk Talks creator Sheridan Allen, and that’s what got me subscribed. Your recent episode with SideOne Dummy’s Jamie Coletta was also a pleasure to listen to. What are some guidelines or guiding principles you have that lead you to seek out your guests in general?
I’m really glad you enjoyed the episodes with Sheridan of Punk Talks and Jamie of SideOneDummy!
When I started Angry Grrrl Music, I wanted to make sure that my audience knew that there are more people involved in music than just a lead vocalist in a band. Women, minorities, and the LGBTQ+ are involved in so much more within the space of music, which can mean booking agents, label publicists, nonprofit leaders, and of course, musicians.
Picking guests has been sort of a chain of knowing really great people and rolling the dice for who will say yes to my “please be my guest!” emails. I’ve had tremendous luck so far and each person who has been on has had a lot to contribute to the scene. In short, I really just look for people who make an impact.
What are some strategies you use to create a safe interview space and showcase diverse voices?
I make a conscious effort to always ask pronouns and give my guests the opportunity to propose topics that they would prefer to discuss. I find it’s really important to listen to the person you’re interviewing–they are taking the time out of their day or evening and giving it to you. And sometimes, that person is really baring their soul to you. The least I can do is offer respect.
Besides Angry Grrrl, you are also a co-host for another podcast called On the Record. What’s the dynamic like between you two?
On the Record is such a fun experience because my cohost, Tyler Holland, is one of my best friends. Tyler actually is a cofounder (with myself) of our project, The Radio Roadies. We really have a unique relationship because we bonded over our love of podcasting and excellent tunes. But I think the best part of working with Tyler is that we are always respectful and open-minded to each other’s ideas. There’s no wrong answer. It’s how can we make this even more awesome.
How is it different or similar to being a solo host?
With co-hosting, specifically with Tyler, I think there’s more playful banter and a sense of teamwork that comes through. We’ll prep our interview questions together before we talk to a guest, so we’re very much coming up with new ideas as we go. That sort of tag team style of interviewing seems to really go over well with our guests, and I think it helps because we present this energy of casual conversation among friends.
When I host Angry Grrrl Music, I often think of it as my time to really dig deep and focus my messaging. I’m using my microphone as a megaphone and I’m passing it to my guest so that we’re both a little louder. The more diverse voices come together, the louder we become.
What separates On the Record from Angry Grrrl Music? How do you determine a guest goes on one podcast and not the other?
Angry Grrrl Music has a lot of intent behind it. It’s a lot more political and vocal about social issues. Most importantly, it’s an audible safe space I’ve been building for diverse members of the music community. I want my listeners to ultimately feel like they can step back from the chaos and hear the voices that support them directly.
On the Record is more focused on musicians and is opened up to pretty much anyone who contacts Tyler and I directly, or whoever we feel like talking to that week. For example, Tyler and I gushed about the new Oso Oso record, The Yunahon Mixtape, for weeks after it arrived. So we decided we’d reach out and talk about it even more with the band itself.
I’ve actually asked different musicians who are familiar with both podcasts which one they would like to be on, since they both live in the same Radio Roadies house. I’m actually reaching a point where a guest will do one and want to come back to do the other, and I think that’s because we have so much fun and engage to where we form really special friendships.
Any upcoming exciting guests or other podcast news you’d like mentioned?
I like to keep my guests a surprise! But Angry Grrrl Music is moving to a biweekly format early spring/summer. I didn’t expect this podcast to develop momentum, so now I really want to deliver the Angry Grrrl Music experience more often.
Three dream guests for Angry Grrrl Music, off the top of your head, now! Go!
Wow, that’s a tough one. I would say Laura Jane Grace, Kathleen Hanna, and Phoebe Robinson.