I'm Alyssa DeHayes. I am a publicist for record labels, independent artists, and festivals at Riot Act Media. I handle publicity and media relations for a wide range of artists at every stage in the careers, from 4AD alums His Name is Alive and Natalie Prass (newly signed to Columbia imprint Startime) to independent artists releasing their first EP. I also take on consulting sessions for artists who need some guidance but aren't yet ready for a publicist. Over the years, I've collaborated on and lead successful campaigns for Elf Power, Olivia Tremor Control, Bear in Heaven, The Appleseed Cast, and more, and I've provided publicity, media relations, or on-site social media support for festivals like Shaky Knees Fest, Governors’ Ball, and Wildwood Revival. I've gotten to work with labels like Home-Tapes, Asthmatic Kitty, Western Vinyl, Spacebomb, Team Love and lots of great Elephant 6 bands. I also run a two-year-old label called Arrowhawk (BAMBARA, Pinecones, Hand Sand Hands, Dream Boat, White Laces, Feverer, and some other exciting releases this year).
What changes have you seen in the music industry in regards to women?
In general, it just seems like there are more of us. I spent a good bit of my career being the only woman in the room. Now I find myself surrounded more and more by groups of dynamic women. It still feels like a bit of a boys club, but our club is growing, too.
Is there anything you would still like to change?
Sometimes it feels like to be taken seriously, you have to act more masculine, whether it's the way you talk, the way you're dressed... Even worse, sometimes it feels like women are trying to out-tough each other, or use femininity-shaming rhetoric (bragging “I'm like one of the guys.” “I don't really get along with women. Girls are catty.” “I'm not a normal, girl, I'm a cool girl.”) I think there's still a underlying perception that being classically “girly” and knowing a lot about music are mutually exclusive. You see it in the way people talk about “girl-bands” as if they were somehow able to heroically overcome their femininity and play music despite being women. Sure, every culture has their set of social norms, but if a girl walks into a punk or metal show in a dress and heels, she'll likely be judged harder than a guy in nice slacks and dress shoes. Whenever I bring this up, I get “But what about that one artist?” but one or two exceptions doesn't mean this doesn't happen.
There are little things each day, from being told “you probably wouldn't know about that band though,” or being called a “little publicist.” I was interviewed for a potential TV thing about women in music, and the questions I was asked centered around whether I date boys in bands or fight with other music industry women. I did an experiment a while back where I took the excessive smileys and exclamation points out of my emails, and a handful of people thought I was taking an attitude with them. I just don't think a man being efficient and neutral in written tone would have been met with that assumption. In emailing them the way they emailed me, I was taken as condescending.
While I'm surrounded by more and more women in music who are amazing at their jobs, the numbers as a whole are disparate. I refuse to believe that less qualified women are applying for these jobs than men, and if that is the case, it's because the messages young girls pick up early on tell us that being a pretty singer is for women, and working in the industry or being a shredder is for men.
In a recent interview, Bjork said, “Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times.”