HER MUSIC CLUB IS EMPOWERING WOMEN IN MUSIC
Inclusivity should be a word understood by all ears that hear it. It should be at the forefront of all conversations. Yet, in 2019, within our top leading entertainment worlds, women are still being asked to leave their spot at the table to give space to men, women’s ideas are still being monopolized and controlled by men, and women and men are still not on the same level. For too long there has been a hierarchy of outdated male power, there has been a need and a desire for a female voice- a voice that is strong, that can lay down the facts, and a perspective that reaches all levels of humanity- not just the top few who have made it into the boys club.
In 2018 the phenomenal Creative Director of Latium Entertainment Monique Chavez created Her Music Club with the help of A&R queen at Capitol Records Kate Loesch to “to elevate women in music and celebrate the strength within our community.” Along with a brigade of like-minded powerhouse women, Her Music Club came to fruition to create a safe space for young women artists to feel seen, appreciated and connected. Their objective is to create bridges between established women in power with budding new faces eager for accessible ways to move up in the business.
Her Music Club is giving the stage to women performers to share their art, and women executives to share their knowledge of the industry. These women are forging forward, and they’re bringing their own industry experiences with them. They share the positive and the detrimental. They’re open books, and they show all their cards so they can be a blueprint for how one can move within the unseen levels of power.
Her Music Club brings all walks of life, all levels of power to one open space for panels and conversations. This collective is opening access points to create a future of inclusivity. Her Music Club is here to stay and they’re here to make space for women to be seen, heard, and to know they’re not alone.
Galore had the opportunity to get to know Her Music Club in an exclusive interview below!
Kate Loesch, Jacqueline Saturn, Monique Chavez
Describe what the music industry means to you.
Monique: The music industry is something I have wanted to be a part of since I was a little girl. I’ve always been fascinated with artist development and seeing a record go from a demo to a #1 song. I think the industry is and should always be about the music and sharing an artist’s work with the masses. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of.
Kate: The music industry, to me, is this sort of universal bubble that people from all walks of life can come together and share one thing in common: the love of music
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What does it mean to be a woman in the music industry?
Monique: I used to look at being a woman in the industry as a weakness, but now, especially after creating Her Music Club, I think it’s a strength. We have all started to band together and really raise each other up. If one of my girls has a huge victory, you better believe I’m reposting and telling everyone about it. If I see one of our artists being swayed to do something uncomfortable for her…or if she is really insisting against an idea…I will be right by her side fighting with her. We all are rooting and fighting with and for each other and I’m glad we’re starting to speak up.
Kate: To be a woman in this industry means I am a warrior, a tastemaker. I feel a duty to everyone woman beside me and coming up in my path to help them so their journey isn’t as confusing or abusive as mine has been in the past. We have a duty to each other. Once women start to realize that, we are completely unstoppable.
Photographer: Alissa Noelle
Do you think being a man and a woman inside the music industry is equal?
Monique: No definitely not. I noticed early on that there was a lack of female representation not only as music makers/artists, but as executives.You look at the mailrooms or assistant desks and they’re so diverse… but when you look at the top executives, they are not only men…but mainly white men. Where are we being filtered out? And why? I recently walked into a meeting where not one person cared to acknowledge me because they thought I was an assistant. I’ve been blatantly undermined on phone calls and emails…I often feel like some of my male co-workers, even some younger than me, are trusted more and treated with a different respect because they are men. They have the male clout. I do feel like by creating awareness things are starting to change and men are out here fighting with us. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.
Kate: Absolutely not. Its a big boys club, however a large shift is occurring and people are either going to get right or get left. Women have to work 10X harder for everything we want, or to even be recognized. But women have this innate gift and intuition of working with people & communicating that most men I know don’t have. For those who may not understand what I mean by “a big boys club”, picture a conference room with a long table, women are either sitting / standing off to the side a lot, or their opinion won’t be weighted as importantly as a man’s is when discussing something. When I’m in the studio, I’ve often been mistaken for a girlfriend or a songwriter instead of an executive.
Photographer: Chloe Moore
Photographer: Chloe Moore Photography
Pictured: Founder (Monique Chavez)
What have been both of your experiences within the industry?
Monique: I actually grew up in the industry…my father was in radio for years and a music manager for Pitbull, Ally Brooke, Chamillionaire, Frankie J, Baby Bash, etc. I fell into filmmaking in high school and went on to study at NYU, interning at MTV and Republic Records to try and find a way to combine my two passions. I moved out to LA after school and worked for CAA for a few years. I’m now at Latium Entertainment focusing on digital marketing, management, and content creation. Throughout my career, I’ve had experiences on both ends of the spectrum…There have of course been times where I have been hit on and acknowledged for anything other than being good at my job. I’ve been talked over and have had my ideas credited to the dude who has been doing his job way less than I have. But I’ve also had positive experiences and opportunities that I’m grateful for. I’ve learned from one of the best agents in the business. Industry vets (Hi Julie PIlat!) have taken me under their wing and have become mentors to me. I’ve been able to work with some talented humans and have been trusted in helping to be a part of their art, which is crazy to me. It’s been a wild ride so far and I’m really excited to see what’s next.
Kate: I truly worked my way up by starting off throwing events for artists in NYC at a streetwear storefront in LES. Then I interned at both UMG and Sony Music until I landed a job with Epic Records in 2015 immediately after college graduation. I have seen & experienced a lot in this industry, the good the bad & the ugly. I’ve felt lesser of myself, I’ve felt like my voice doesn’t matter even though I have a lot to say, and I’ve felt dumb in many instances. For instance, I’ve often haven’t been acknowledged in a studio session with the rest of the guys. Or I get hit on. I’ve also had people take chances on me and been put in positions to win but it isn’t without a lot of hard work & maneuvering politics. However, I am blessed to have come up with some incredible individuals who have my back and all want to work towards the same goals which are creating impactful art and music with friends.
Kate Loesch, Smiles Davis, Monique Chavez, Julia Fong
Photographer: Meesh Photography DJ: ZUM
How long have both of you been inside the music world?
Monique: Since I was born…
Kate: I’ve been in the industry since 2014 when I started interning & throwing small events for independent artists in NYC but my life was heavily influenced and immersed in music since I was a little girl. My mom is a big hippie and would bring me to shows all over. I was wearing tye dye dresses and dancing on my moms shoulders to BB King at 4 years old …
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Was it easy breaking in and garnering the respect you deserved?
Monique: No, and it still isn’t. One thing I will say is, you definitely have to put in the work to get the respect. I’ve noticed people complain for having to put in their dues and work…. I worked every internship, every assistant job I could. I worked my way up through the mailroom driving around mail, picking people up from the airport and taking them to meetings…Even now, I still work endlessly and sometimes I do things I don’t necessarily want to do, but will work for our artists any way I can. No matter how much respect I think I deserve, I think we will be continuously fighting for that.
Kate: I wouldn’t say it was easy, but in each position I was put in (internships, assistant positions etc.) I worked my ass off & it propelled me to the next level. If it hadn’t gotten my foot in the door at a young age, and worked my ass off, I don’t think I would be in the position I am today. I quickly asserted myself as a power player who gets shit done, and I am unapologetically too real sometimes ha. It wasn’t without a fight though. I am naturally a fighter and don’t take no for an answer easily, so I always pushed thru and tried breaking down barriers. In terms of respect, I fight for that every single day.
Photographer: Meesh Photography
Artist: Addie Sartino from The Greeting Committee
What have been the highs and lows?
Monique: The highs are definitely seeing the artists you work with shine and get the recognition they deserve. The lows, for me, are probably feeling really alone in this industry – like no one is being treated or feels the same way I do.
Kate: The highs have been being apart of legendary careers and projects, working with incredibly talented individuals, and making a lot of great friends out of it. The lows have been sexual harrassment, disrespect, my opinion not being as valued as the men in the room, being counted out and realizing that a lot of this stuff is smoke & mirrors. I think the hardest part about being a woman in this is wanting to speak up, but knowing it could hinder your position because you’ll be told you’re too “assertive”, which I have been told many times in many different ways.
Photographer: Meesh Photography Artist: MACK
Let’s talk about “HER MUSIC CLUB” how did this group come to be?
Monique: I was at what seemed like my lowest point in my career…I felt misunderstood and had never really spoken out about any of it. I went to dinner with a few girls in the industry and just left all my feelings out on the table. We all ended up talking about our experiences in the industry and what we wanted to see change. I left that dinner feeling so empowered and wanted to be able to create that moment on a much larger scale. At the time, Kate and I both worked in the same building, so I went downstairs to her office and pitched her the idea. She told me to go for it and said she’d be there every step of the way – and she has! We grew with countless women on our team: my mom Deby Chavez, Julia Fong, Julie Pilat, Smiles Davis, Lauren Camp, Madison Vickery, Liz Pennock, Brooke Marcimo, Becky Lopez, Ashley Dingess, Maddox Wells, Tawnia Almarez, Deanna Villarreal, Katie Stone just to name a few – and now we’re here!
Kate: One day about exactly a year ago, Monique came to me with this idea of organizing an event or a platform for women in music to come together and feel safe. I told her just DO IT, and that I will help and support her in full. Next thing I know she planned the first event and that is now Her Music Club! Monique’s spirit and ideas continue to amaze me.
How would you describe “HER MUSIC CLUB”
Monique: Her Music Club is a community and event for women in music to come together in support of one another. Through our events, we want to create a safe space to network while also featuring upcoming female artists by giving them a platform to perform in a room full of tastemakers. We also having panelists and key speakers come out to the event to have important discussions and empower others in the room.
Kate: A an event-based platform & safe space for women to be unapologetically themselves while also networking and forming relationships on a personal as well as professional level.
What is the objective of “HER MUSIC CLUB?”
Monique: Everything we want people who come to Her Music Club to feel is exactly what we want to feel. It’s like creating this community gave us a space to express ourselves through conversation…through music…and we want to be able to empower others through that. We also just want people to know they aren’t alone. To me, the worst feeling being in this industry is not knowing other people feel the same way you do. If we speak out and are honest about the issues and struggles we have to face, then others will speak out and we will not only be able to empower each other, but we will be able to create change. Another beautiful thing about Her Music Club is when you look at our events, the crowd is pretty evenly split between men and women, and that’s something we’d like to see reflected in the industry.
Kate: The objective is to bring women together from all walks of the industry to show everyone that we are power in numbers and we must work together & support each other.
Why is this the ultimate time to produce such a needed support system?
Monique: I think I can speak for a number of women in the industry when I say that after reading the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative for women in music – it was very clear we needed to create change. I also think women, myself included, felt empowered after the #MeToo and Times Up movements. These women weren’t afraid to speak out against inequality anymore and there is power in that. It’s like we, as a community, became this female force. We found a powerful moment in time where we could really help each other – and we aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
Kate: We feel that with the #MeToo and TimesUp movements, women are speaking up more than ever about inequalities etc. in the workplace, and in order to keep pushing this initiative forward, we need to keep driving the momentum & keep breaking thru the glass ceiling TOGETHER! We also understand that not all women feel as comfortable as others to speak up, so having a safe place that they can belong is just as important to us.
Photographer: Chloe Moore. Panelists: Sherin Moustafa, Kate Loesch, Kittens
How does it feel to have fostered an equal safe space of creativity?
Monique: Man…insane. I went to lunch after our last event with a woman who reached out to us through our socials (Helen Bromfield) and she told me after years of working in the industry, walking into our event was the first time she ever felt like she belonged. She honestly made me cry. I also tell people I thought this was going to be like a book club – maybe full of 20 girls…and to see it’s growth just lets us know this space is not only needed, but genuinely wanted. We are so happy and want to continue growing the community.
Kate: There is honestly no better feeling in the world to see other women genuinely inspired and feeling heard. I feel like I am living in my truth and purpose, and I am just so thankful to Monique for creating this and allowing me to play a large part in it. I have often felt like maybe I don’t belong in this industry because I just see & feel things differently than a lot of my peers, and this industry will truly challenge your inner strength, but with Her Music Club, I feel nothing but love and understanding.
How’re you using your platform to educate and support budding female artists?
Monique: We didn’t want to stray away from music at our event, so we decided to have upcoming female artists perform. In the past we have had Dana Williams, Kat Dahlia, Ally Brooke, Ivy Adara, MACK, Asiahn, and Addie from The Greeting Committee perform- and the idea is to put them in a room of tastemakers as sort of a showcase, hoping in some way, they are noticed and can be helped further in their career…even if it’s just gaining new fans. We also have IG takeovers on our socials from different women in the industry (A&R’s, songwriters, producers, digital marketing, etc) to educate and empower women who are looking for insight in a way that’s different than coming out to our events.
Kate: We hope our platform shows women that they don’t have to sacrifice their beliefs or morals in order to get ahead. They don’t have to accept intolerable behavior and actions from men in order to be heard & seen. If they don’t get you, come to Her Music Club because we promise that WE get you!! The more our platform & community grows, we hope you form more allies as well.
Photographer: Chloe Moore Photography Artist: Ally Brooke
As women we see and understand the unequal treatment of power and the hierarchy within certain worlds dominated by men – but how do we open paths of dialogue with the men that need to be educated and put in their place?
Monique: I think men need to be willing to listen. I have had to put a few men in their place and sometimes their reaction shows they had no idea that what they were doing was wrong. I think it can be scary to stand up for yourself because we don’t want to be seen as over-reactive or dramatic, but we need to hold ourselves accountable too. How are we going to create change if we aren’t willing to have these difficult conversations? I also think through our community and others like She Is the Music, She Writes, Girls Make Beats, Community Reboot etc, we are creating awareness and we are making our voices loud so that men can’t ignore us anymore.
Kate: I think it starts by just doing it. These conversations are never easy or comfortable, but the more they happen, and the more we openly talk about it, the larger the conversation becomes. It really comes down to men not understanding, they’ve never felt or been in the positions that women have been so we must educate them and ask for their help.
Photographer: Meesh Photography Pictured: Artist Asiahn (middle) with Khari Alamin and Taryn Kaufman
Where do you see this sanctuary of trust going in the next month, 5 months, 1 year, 10 years?
Monique: Oh man…In a year I hope we have ventured off to different cities. In 10 years? Maybe a label? Distribution? I’m honestly open to anything!
Kate: I only see it growing. I feel the presence of women in the industry, and in most executive roles will only increase. This sanctuary of trust is for life, so we need to start hugging each other and building each other up more than ever.