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ON AIR

12:37 LA

15:37 NYC

Not Live

A Candid Conversation: Women In Music And Media

Half Moon Editorial and Annabelle Kline-Zilles discuss the representation of women in music

Marissa Duldulao, Writer

Marissa Duldulao

Writer

As women navigate through the world, there are many struggles we face that are not commonly spoken about, especially in the music industry. As a journalist myself who aspires to have a long-term career in the music and arts industry, I can say that women in music and media experience a lot of under-recognition in a male-dominated industry. However, the perseverance of women and their passion for their work in music is truly incredible, even through all the obstacles we may face from stereotypes, sexualization, to feeling alienated and underrepresented. 

I sat down and spoke with one of our DJ residents, Annabelle Kline-Zilles who is also an artist manager and founder of That Good Shit, where she does artist interviews and music curation. We discussed the feeling of empowerment from female artists and the emotional intelligence of women in addition to ways we deal with negativity and how we can break barriers while working in the media and music business. Annabelle gave such amazing advice across all of these topics as she spoke from her own experiences as a music- enthusiast and content creator. As women in music journalism, we both believe there is still a strong need of support and upliftment within our community to break through every barrier. 

Today, we're going to be talking about women in music and women working in the music industry. And first, I just want to talk about women, whether you're an artist or you're working in the media, and how we constantly struggle to be truly seen just for our talent as some people will sexualize us, degrade us, and assume we know less than we do. The first thing I want to ask you is when you started out with That Good Shit and just doing content creation, were there any challenges you faced as a woman?

Marissa

Something I noticed really quickly when I started making my TikTok videos is that a lot of males in my audience couldn't seem to comprehend that a beautiful woman could really have good taste in music. If I had a low cut top or something in a video, I’d get so much more attention on that versus on my music taste. So it definitely just shows where a lot of attention from my male audience was going. I also felt that, because I was talking about certain areas of hip hop, like Griselda, and people were like ‘this girl doesn't know what the fuck she's talking about.’ People were just coming at me for just being a woman enjoying that music. And I was like, ‘just because I'm a girl doesn't mean I can't like this kind of music,’ you know?

Annabelle

It’s kind of just a reflection of them. They'll think that you don't know anything just because it's something that they only think they’re passionate about.

Marissa

Yeah, like I don't have to know every fact and every detail to be a fan of this music.

Annabelle

Even younger girls look up to women in music and I think it's so important to be a role model for viewers, readers, and just being an inspiration to younger girls that are either aspiring to be an artist or journalist so it's just important to show them they could be this too.

Marissa

Absolutely.

Annabelle

Currently there’s amazing female artists out there taking over the scene like Karrahbooo, Anycia, even Naomi Sharon who just got signed to OVO and that's truly inspiring for younger women who want to be artists. Growing up, were there female artists that inspired you?

Marissa

From the time I was really young, I was the biggest Hannah Montana fan in the world. I grew up watching Miley Cyrus do her thing and I think she was one of the biggest inspirations for me. Just seeing a girl who's a little bit older and seeing her succeed was always so inspiring to me and she made me want to be a rock star.

Annabelle

Yeah, she was amazing. I would watch her show all the time. I was like, ‘she could be a rock star and have a normal life at the same time? That's the dream.’ Was there ever a moment where you knew you wanted to make something of your own, while just running it yourself?

Marissa

So, about four or five months into making TikTok videos about music and starting to see traction from it in January of 2021, that's when I decided to start That Good Shit. And I kind of just had this revelation one day that my music taste had value and that I could create something special out of that. It started as my own music blog and I just made the Instagram page. One night I was just like, ‘you know what? I can kind of do whatever the fuck I want. So let me start my own thing.’ And, also at the time, I had just graduated from college and it was the midst of covid and I couldn't get a job. I was tired of waiting for a company to give me money and a career path. I was looking at all these people that I looked up to like Tyler the Creator, Sean Brown, or Cole Bennett and seeing all them start their own thing just based on their own passion and taste. Once I kind of had that revelation, I was like, ‘why can't I do the same thing?’

Annabelle

Yeah, that's really inspiring. It's like you know you’re capable of doing something and it constantly motivates you to just push forward with it. I think, for me, even just having a few people telling me my music taste is good made me think, ‘oh maybe I should do something with it.’ Going into college, I didn't 100% know what I wanted to do with my communications major. I was like, ‘should I just see what I could do with news or whatever?’ Then, I thought ‘maybe I could do something with music and media?’ So, it's all about just figuring things out and just going with it. And it's all about continuously discovering yourself, which is an amazing part of life. And once that starts, you just keep going.

Marissa

Definitely, I think it's so beautiful to discover the power that you hold within yourself and to realize that you can bring things into the world and make them happen.

Annabelle

Yeah and it's truly inspiring to see what you're doing and what other women are doing in the industry. Also, you were featured in Rolling Stone’s list of 50 hip-hop innovators shaping rap’s next 50 years. How did that feel for you?

Marissa

That was so crazy; I was really honored to be put on that list because, if you look at the other people on there, those are some of the most important artists and creatives in the landscape of music, especially in hip-hop. I felt deeply honored to be next to those names– I was right under JID and that's one of the greatest rappers of our generation. It felt too good to be true and the outpouring of love and support from my community that came after that was just really beautiful. And I'm just really grateful to all the people at Rolling Stone who supported me and took a chance to put me in that article.

Annabelle

Yeah, that's amazing. That’s a girlboss moment for you.

Marissa

For real. My whole life before I got into TikTok, I had always had this dream in the back of my mind of like, ‘oh, I wish I could work in music. I think people who work in music are so cool and I wish I could be part of that world,’ but I never really felt like I had a place in it and I was always afraid to go for it. So, just to know that two years from starting my little TikTok page that I'd be put on that list in Rolling Stone…if I could tell Annabelle two, three years ago that would happen, like she would not believe it. So it's really just a testament to if you get up off your ass and pursue that dream you have in the back of your mind, you never know what could happen.

Annabelle

Yeah, I agree. Back to what you were saying about not feeling you have a place: when you step into a room filled with known people, how do you deal with any negative thoughts or what would you say to someone who deals with imposter syndrome?

Marissa

Yeah I've dealt with imposter syndrome a lot and it's something I struggle with still, especially as I've grown and gotten these big opportunities. I still step into those rooms and I'm like damn, do I deserve to be here? Also, I'm the only woman in this room. ​​I have a specific memory from how I learned to deal with this. So, I was invited to go on tour with Earthgang last year in February and the first show was in Atlanta. I flew down there, they brought me in, I didn't know anyone. I walked into this green room and it was like 80% dudes in this room and I was standing in the corner terrified and not talking to anyone while on my phone. 

I was just having this internal battle of ‘how do I handle this’ and ‘I don't feel like I deserve to be here.’ I was like, ‘you know what? There's two ways I can approach this: I can cower in the corner and be awkward and shy, or I can step outside of myself.’ And so I would count to three in my head, put my phone in my pocket and I just went around and started introducing myself to everyone. I was deeply uncomfortable. I was screaming on the inside. But that kind of helped me get over my fear of being in that room.

So, the advice I would give to other women in that situation is that when you step into that room and when you're nervous: don't look down and be on your phone. Just take a deep breath and introduce yourself to someone. Go ask them how their day was and connect with people on a human level. You deserve to be in the room and go take up that space. Let people know that you're there. Make them remember you.

Annabelle

For me, personally, I tend to overthink so much to the point where my social anxiety takes over me. I've been in your situation before at a rap show in Brooklyn. I went into a green room alone and it was all men. I was sitting there feeling uncomfortable and I was on my phone feeling like I didn’t belong there either because there were bigger people in the industry in this room. But then I was like, ‘you know what? I deserve to be here as much as everyone else and we're all just humans doing our thing, so it’s not as bad as it seems.’

Marissa

I always like to think: ‘I'm sure a lot of other people in this room are nervous to be here too.’ What I've discovered is that when I just put in effort to talk to everyone in the room and get to know everyone, most of the people around me are really kind people. And there were so many artists or powerful people in music I was afraid to meet, but they actually ended up being so kind and they didn't care who I was.

Annabelle

I think women in general are just so powerful in any room, too. And, in music, there’s obviously male rappers that are very good at storytelling with their thoughts and lyrics. But,  commonly with women, they have this ability to just tap into their emotions and deeply express and connect that with literally anything. Does music help you emotionally or personally?

Marissa

Oh my gosh. It's really hard for me to express my emotions through words. And, of course, I talk to my close friends and my family and I can deeply understand those people, but I feel like listening to music helps me understand my own emotions more than anything in the world. Me sending you a playlist will be 10 times more effective in showing you how I feel versus me telling you with my own words.

Annabelle

Yeah, it’s definitely your love language.

Marissa

It is.

Annabelle

I feel like a song can really tell an emotion that you can't really say out loud to someone. I think it’s beautiful how artists like Tyler, the Creator who also has this deep, emotional side that he can just bring out in songs. Even female R&B artists, they just don't hesitate to say what's on their mind.

Marissa

100%, and Tyler, specifically, that man is also a Pisces and I'm a Pisces. I feel like I connect so deeply with artists who are Pisces. Another example is Erykah Badu just because things like chords and little moments in her songs that just really break through the wall of emotion, they really hit me.

Annabelle

It hits so much differently when you hear another artist singing or rapping exactly how you feel. And that's just the beauty of it. And for women similar to Erykah Badu, like Lauryn Hill,I’ve always loved her and the way she evokes emotion.

Marissa

The experience of being alone can feel so isolating, you can feel so silly for feeling emotional about certain things and you can feel like you're over-dramatic for overthinking a situation. I listen to artists like SZA, Erykah Badu, or Lauryn Hill, and I'm like, ‘wow, they're feeling the same things that I'm feeling.’ So, the real power of women who are creating music is that they're making the listener feel like they're not alone in their experience.

Annabelle

Yeah, exactly. And I think there's still an underrepresentation of that for women in the industry. How do you think we can start breaking away from that and stereotypes?

Marissa

I think that it really comes down to having women in positions of leadership. The more that we see women in positions of leadership, the more that they're able to bring other women onto teams because, you know how this industry works, it's very much a boys’ club. A lot of these dudes at the top are handpicking who's getting hired and who's getting these opportunities. The more that we get women in positions of power, the more we can give other women important opportunities.

Of course, there's some amazing men out there as well. It's not an ‘I hate men’ situation. There's so many amazing men out there in positions of leadership who are allies with women. I've worked with men where I'd be putting a show lineup together and they'd be like, ‘maybe if we have one or two more spots, let's make sure they're both women.’ I love that. I'm working with this record store, Loudmouth in Brooklyn, and we're trying to put on an all-women's showcase and Sam, the owner, it was his idea so I'm just really grateful to have those people around me.

Annabelle

Yeah, it's just amazing to see that and how music brings the community together. Just men, women, whoever you are, it's a beautiful thing that music does. I also think it plays a part in how important media and music is when they connect because helping each other tell stories can make such a greater impact. Do you have any advice for young women who want to pursue something creative and something they're passionate about?

Marissa

Yeah, definitely stay incredibly true to your own creative vision and trust your intuition beyond anything else. I don't care who gives you advice or who tells you to change certain things about who you are and what you're doing. Take advice from people you trust, but trust yourself above everyone no matter what. On my journey, I've had so many people tell me to do things differently– they didn't like how I shot my interviews, that my interviews looked unprofessional, or that my drawing was childlike and I needed a clean, sleek design. But I was like, ‘I like the way I do things, so I'm gonna keep doing them.’ And then that's what led to people feeling attracted to the personality of my platform.

So, the best advice I can give is to just be incredibly true to yourself. Always trust your gut and don't be afraid to just be yourself because if you try to conform to what you think everyone else wants you to be, then you're going to present an image of yourself that's not really you.

Annabelle

Yeah, I would also say trust yourself, but be patient too. That's the number one thing I’ve learned career-wise because I tend to be a little bit impatient and live in my head more. But just because it already happened for someone else, doesn’t mean it won’t happen for you.

Marissa


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