BEST OF 2020 #3: International Women's Day (Pixie Weyand, Emmy Mack & Annette Geneva)
To mark the 2020 edition of International Women's Day back in March, I had the fortune of cornering three utter music industry powerhouses into having a chat about their place in the musical realms: Emmy Mack, aka the ferociously talented vocalist for rap rock electro mutants RedHook, Pixie Weyand, aka the dynamic director and owner behind Brisbane's iconic live venue The Zoo, and Annette Geneva, aka a prolific and in-demand music photographer and writer responsible for capturing the magic of a horde of rock and roll royalty.
When I spoke to these incredible humans earlier this year, little did I know it was just on the precipice of the COVID-19 pandemic and impending lockdown in Australia gripping hold on reality, and decimating the music and live event industries amongst many others. But the inspiration and drive bubbling away behind each of these sensational women is timeless, and their journeys and achievements transcend pandemics, roadblocks and industries. Whatever your passion in life is, and whatever phase of you career that you're in; come dive into the important moments behind these three wonder women. I personally was so inspired and pumped by Emmy, Pixie and Annette's stories, and I hope you get the same enjoyment revisiting this feature.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: March 8 2020
Every March, International Women's Day pops up with a flourish of tributes and quotes, offering a day born of a desire to demand civil, social, political and religious rights for women. From its early roots in the 1840s with women banding together to protest their prevention from speaking at an anti-slavery convention to its official recognition by the United Nations in 1977, International Women's Day has since striven to celebrate women's achievements while also reflecting on progress made along the way - and the work still needing to be done.
While extraordinary advances have been made for decades, the ultimate fact remains that no country has yet achieved gender equality. And while we need more than one day to make a dent in the staggering statistics stacked against women around the world, International Women's Day offers a reminder and a chance to reflect, to call for change and to ultimately acknowledge the women who have come before us - and those who are shaping the future for the next generation.
And with today officially marking International Women's Day for 2020, it is with great pleasure that The Soundcheck shines the spotlight on some incredibly hard-working women who aren't just talents in their own right, but are also inspiring, revolutionising and igniting the Aussie music industry on a daily basis. Come jump into the worlds of venue owner and A&R whiz Pixie Weyand, rock queen and music journo Emmy Mack and music photography and writer extraordinaire Annette Geneva.
PIXIE WEYAND - Owner/Booker - The Zoo
A&R - Sony ATV
Taking the reigns of one of Brisbane's most beloved live music
venues The Zoo, the incomparable Pixie Weyand is a one-woman machine: but she sure as hell ain't no one-trick pony. In addition to carrying on the legacy of Brisbane's The Zoo being independently owned, operated and booked by females for the past 25 years, Pixe has also over the years founed the artists-first initiative Feed Music, worked in the mines, modelled, managed various cafes and bars, started a fashion label, worked (and continues to do so) for Sony ATV and won the 2016 Telstra Queensland Young Business Woman of the Year - all while fitting in an overflowing gig schedule to satiate her ongoing musical lusts.
And while this amazing lady has left an eye-watering amount of achievements in her wake in seemingly a short space of time, it's safe to say the story behind this industry powerhouse and all-round amazing human is one laced with passion and prolific creativity that has seen Pixie weave her magic touch into an overwhelming success story some could only dream of. But behind the accolades ultimately lies a woman who has made her own luck by following her heart and working her ass off, and today she offers up a peek into her musical and professional world.
music industry journey
Ooo it was a bit of a windy path to get to where I am, but like most people in the industry - music is in your blood, you can’t help how much you love it.
I was born into a musical family and grew up surrounded by weekly jam sessions in our back yard and living room, our house was always full of people bringing around all kinds of instruments, growing up I think I tried to play every instrument I could get my hands on. I remember getting up at the crack of dawn to watch Rage and trying to memorize the order of all the songs and racing home every afternoon from school to tape the hot 30 countdown on cassette. Dad made us listen to Double J, pretty grateful for that now. I guess you could say music was a critical part of my childhood.
I am a big believer in the law of attraction, I never knew exactly what I wanted to do but I knew it was always music. I was born in Townsville far north Queensland so there wasn't really any direct pathways or even consideration that a sustainable career in music was a
thing. BUT as I went about my life I made choices that inadvertently included music in some way within everything I did and slowly but surely things became more clear, but by no means was it a direct, maybe even a bit of a seemingly senseless pathway.
Looking back I feel like for me it was always about challenging myself and learning as much as I could on my own. I really struggled in a classroom setting, I need to physically do things to learn them. Life has always been very much a trial by fire & fake it till you make it... I have tried a lot of different things… I started a fashion label & showcased at Mercedes Benz fashion week, worked at the mines as a cleaner doing 70 hour weeks to save up some money, opened a vegetarian café which won a bunch of awards ultimately these things all lead me to The Zoo which had led to working at SONY ATV which I now also work full time.
I have made SO MANY MISTAKES, oh my gosh, so many.... Sometimes I literally don't know how I'm still standing BUT I do work every single day - quite literally 7 days a week. My logic has always been if I stuff up – work harder, if something isn't right – work harder, If I’m having a bad day – work harder and on the flip side if things are great – work harder. Its logic, to me continually working on what I love = moving forward, not doing anything = remaining stagnant.
That sounds intense but I honestly love what I do so much that the hours and time don't matter. Maybe one day but the time to hustle is now.
I guess the moral of the story is there really is no formula and no set pathway – but this is the best thing for everyone because it shows anything is achievable but anyone.
I knew no one, had no idea what I wanted to do, didn't go to any schools or universities… All you have to do is want it badly enough to get in there and work really hard to find a way to get to it.
a day in the life
My life is extremely non glamorous, I think I spend almost all of my time in front of my laptop or computer, if I’m not here I’ll most likely be at a gig o if I can squeeze it in I’ll be in the water having a surf. I think surfing is the only form of separation I get from work.
I think Paul Kelly playing at the Zoo in 2018 was the biggest moment of my life. His music has literally had such a giant influence on me growing up, his lyrics (and Kev Carmody’s) were my first ever tattoo. “From little things big things grow” – I believe that very much.
I have been thinking about this a bit lately, transitioning into a new role at Sony and maintaining The Zoo has been a mega challenge over the past couple of months. I feel like I have spent so many years working towards this intangible something, I probably need to take a second to breathe and appreciate where I am at currently. I would say The Zoo & Sony ATV are my projects for 2020 and beyond.
why women are important in the music industry
The same reason men are important. The music industry is fundamentally a creative space, there isn't a one size fits all solution or box for anything. Half the time I don't even think there is logic in why some things work and some things don't.
Having diversity, inclusion and appreciation for all members of the music industry is so important. It creates this beautiful, colourful world where we all want to work and play within.
the song(s) that changed your life
I don’t knowwww I went through my playlists and my most played songs and I literally couldn’t choose one, I am the worst haha.
I would love to say Paul Kelly but I already used that card in my other question SO I narrowed it to the below tracks that have been on my high rotation forever, I will never get sick of them and each one I loved from the second I heard it:
Van Morrison – Jackie Wilson Said
The Who – My Generation
Fleetwood Mac – The Chain
Pixies - Hey
Frank Sinatra – Luck be a Lady
The Kooks – Forgive and Forget
Stealers Wheel – Stuck in the Middle
Tame Impala - Backward
The Doors – Peace Frog
The Beatles – Come Together
James Brown – Get up Offa That Thing
Dexys Midnight – Come on Elieen
Aerosmith – Sweet Emotion
EMMY MACK - Frontwoman - RedHook (pics by Brooke Harley & Ophelia Symons)
Journalist - Music Feeds, Triple M, Hit Central Coast
The word "overachiever" often has negative connotations, but when you gain your first radioplay, get hand-picked to play Download UK, sell out headline shows, host RAGE, start a festival, get a personal shout-out from Tony Hawk and balance all this and more while smashing the demands of a journalism career - in the space of ONE year; it's safe to say RedHook frontwoman and music industry champion Emmy Mack has a knack for smashing goals and expectations in truly dazzling fashion.
Not just an extremely talented performer who blisteringly holds her own in what as once a heavily male-dominated genre, Emmy continues to spread her infectious lust for life and all things music, flying the flag for diversity, inclusion and all those around her with refreshing authenticity and unbridled joy that reflects the well-earned success this lady has carved along the way.
Currently riding the RedHook freight train as the lovable mutant pop bunch sit poised for more musical world domination, somehow Emmy found the time to share some of her stories from her music journey so far - here they are!
music industry journey
Honestly I feel like I've just kind of winged the f*ck out of it! I definitely never had a well thought out plan - I guess I just always wanted to be around music first and foremost, so every career decision I've ever made stemmed from that one thirsty desire. At uni I turned down fancy internships at big newspapers and media companies to volunteer at community radio stations and write for boutique metal blogs, then after graduation I consistently shunned stable employment for the chaos of freelance life out of fear that full time work might somehow interfere with my band! I never really thought too much about it to be honest! Just always went with my gut and here I am :)
a day in the life
I'll use an example from last week. Dreaded 330am alarm yanked me outta bed then I got ready at lightning speed to rock up to my full time gig at Triple M/Hit Central Coast at 4am (because who can be arsed putting effort into your appearance at that hour!) Ducked out for a "lunch" break at 930 for a conference call with Team RedHook (our manager is based in NYC so this is the only time of day that really aligns for all of us) had a great chat about plans for the next release and tour announcement. Recorded a quick rock/metal news break for Triple M's new digital station Hard N Heavy (bit of cool stuff I'm doing on the side of my regular Cenny Coast role) finished up at midday then jumped on a train at Gosford to head down to Sydney.
Spent the train ride in band mode doing a phone interview for an online music outlet (which wasn't a great idea because reception on the rail line SUCKS) sending a bunch of emails trying to organise locations for the next music video and then trying (largely failing) to attack the 20,000 emails in my Music Feeds inbox. Got to Town Hall, ducked into the gym to quickly freshen up (Fitness First represent!) then grabbed a much needed coffee & headed to Cobbstar Studios at Paddington to shoot an ad campaign that RedHook are doing for Vanessa Bus & Download Festival to raise awareness about the dangers of texting & driving. Finished up around 530pm then jumped in the car with my drummer Alex to head to Marrickville for band prac. Rehearsed til 815 then I bowed out early to catch the train back to the Coast. Buses were replacing trains between Hornsby and Gosford which meant the trip took even longer (urge to kill, rising!!) walked in the door just after 11pm, crashed straight into bed ready to get up at 330am the next day and do it all again.
On the journo front, interviewing rock legends like Noel Gallagher and Tom Morello would be up there! Also Oli Sykes sharing a review I wrote of Bring Me The Horizon's 'That's The Spirit' album and getting paid actual money to be flown to one of my favourite music festivals (Unify Gathering) to review it were all big pinch-yourself moments in my career… you know, the kind where you have to take a minute to double-check that it's all actually happening and you're not just tripping balls haha.
Then I guess as an artist, the past year has been such a whirlwind of incredible bucket list moments! Hearing RedHook's music played on the radio for the first time, being hand-picked on the lineup for Download UK after releasing just two songs, winning the triple J Unearthed comp to open Download Sydney, selling out our debut Sydney headline show six weeks in advance, getting three songs added to full triple J rotation, playing BIGSOUND, hosting RAGE, touring the country multiple times supporting some of our favourite artists, every single night on tour getting to meet all the amazing people who love our music - we've been so blessed!
But I think the career milestone that I'm most proud of would have to be putting on my first ever music festival last year, UsFest. It was something I never even dreamed I'd be able to do - having basically zero knowledge or experience in event management, promotion or artist booking (cue big fat shoutout to each and every legend who gave me support and advice throughout the whole process). Add to that, the idea for UsFest itself (a heavy/alternative music festival that championed gender diversity while bringing the whole scene together in the spirit of love and awesomeness) was also an idea that sprung from one of the most negative industry experiences of my life. So for it all to come together so beautifully, with big brands wanting to sponsor us, punters packing out OAF on the night to raise almost $700 for Girls Rock! Sydney and all the bands creating such an amazing vibe of positive energy, community, belonging and general epicness - that was one of the most humbling and rewarding achievements of my entire god damn life!
Bringing back UsFest even bigger than last year and hopefully completely selling it out this time is definitely high on the agenda! I also reallyyyy want to do more overseas touring, release RedHook's debut EP and just generally get better at managing my work-life balance!
why women are important in the music industry
We need women in the industry to continue breaking down the remaining barriers of sexism and inequality that still continue to linger like a potent fart (particularly at a lot of the highest levels), to make the industry a better and more supportive place for the women of tomorrow and to inspire young girls and empower them with the confidence to pursue their own big music career dreams!
the song(s) that changed your life
I feel like I should pick a song by a female artist given it's International Women's Day, but if I'm being honest I'd have to go with Guns N' Roses 'Sweet Child O' Mine'! I dressed up as Axl Rose and performed this GNR classic at my Year 12 farewell assembly with a band of mates from music class and the whole year rushed to the front of the stage and started moshing their heads off. It was the first time I'd ever gotten to perform in front of a pit of psycho headbangers and I was f*cking hooked. "Yeah, this is what I want to do with my life," I thought. Started my first band a few weeks later and have been chasing that dream ever since!
ANNETTE GENEVA - Music Photographer & Writer
Reverb Magazine Online, Annette Geneva, Freelance
Stepping straight of a plane and immediately into the photo pit at Soundwave in 2009, Russian- born Sydney-based photographer Annette Geneva (aka Annette Sheridan) has never looked back since that fateful day over a decade ago propelled her into the industry.
A dynamic and inspired shooter, Annette has since gone on to capture countless live music moments for the likes of Music Feeds, Reverb Magazine Online as well as through her own individual endeavours which has seen her not only tick off the majority of her own personal band bucket list; but also found her in the pit making pictorial wizardry for everyone from Lionel Richie, Foo Fighters, Architects and countless others (with a photography rap sheet so long and illustrious we could literally fill an entire book with a list of this lady's creative conquers).
But while her talent is undeniable, the rippling creative spark that extends well beyond this extremely talented lady's lens and into each vivacious pic capturing the rock gods and goddesses of our time is but a small window into Annette's creative soul, and today we get to dive a little deeper into her world and her journey in the music industry.
music industry journey
I was a nightclub photographer on a casual basis before I moved to Australia, so once I got here I kind of knew that I had a skill that I didn’t mind using to turn into a job, while still studying. I basically got off the plane, bought a ticket to Soundwave 2009, took my cameras and upon meeting a bunch of my favourite musicians and promoters there, who were super nice - I got an AAA pass and photographed the festival, after that it was quite easy to build connections as the music photographer market wasn’t as over-saturated as it is now.
a day in the life
I’m a routine-minded person so normally if I have work to do I plan my day based on the amount of work I have. Mornings are a pain, so a lot of coffee helps. I normally drop my kid off to school and get back home as soon as I can to do editing or writing about the show I photographed the night before. I normally spend quite a lot of time answering emails and emailing requests to promoters or previous clients. Sometimes I am so busy that I forget to have lunch, but I wrap up my work-filled day just before 3pm and then I spend my time with my kid before going off to shoot another show at night - and the rest is history.
A milestone for me is always the moment when I successfully built a professional relationship with a band or a promoter, the moment when you know that you are the in-crowd now. Whether it be on tour or just a casual phone call of a request to license an image of mine. I wouldn’t call a specific show a milestone - I’m just lucky to be a part of it.
I had to take quite a huge step back in my music photography career at the end of 2018 because I left an abusive relationship and had to get myself back on my feet both mentally and physically. The battle is still going, so this year I would like to do more quality work, rather than quantity. And it’s alright to not be all over the place all of the time.
why women are important in the music industry
Women aren’t just important in the music industry, it shouldn’t even be a question we are asked. Women have the right to be in the music industry because it’s not 1950’s - we can do the same things as men can, sometimes we are even better at them. I have been told so many times that I can’t go on tour with a specific artist because I am a woman and I have been accused of so many things, by other photographers, that I supposedly did to get to where I am now - it shouldn’t be this way. Women have the right to be wherever we want to be, without being singled out on the basis of our gender.
the song that changed your life
Float On - Modest Mouse. I think I just somehow have a connection with this song and I had for years, it always has this feel good vibe about it that makes me feel like everything will be okay in the end. And the lyrics are 100% quotable.
FOR BOOKINGS AND PRINTS WITH THE AMAZING ANNETTE, EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
AND TO CHECK OUT SOME OF ANNETTE'S WORK HEAD HERE
LORDE, LANEWAY FESTIVAL SYDNEY 2014//pic by Annette Geneva
BY TIANA SPETER