Feature by JILLIAN RAFALSKI
Everyone has a story to tell. An authentic story can inspire, encourage, and empower individuals. It can pull an audience in and make them feel connected to a musical artist and other individuals that live in the spotlight. Sometimes these stories can get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but it’s people like Kiera Miller who want to bring them to the forefront. She has made it her mission to guide artists in finding their authentic stories to share. She believes that it’s an essential part of running a cohesive brand. Kiera’s personal “why” to everything she does is: to foster connection and inspire vulnerability, resilience, and change among individuals.
With social media on the rise, our stories have been made more accessible than ever before. Social platforms have the ability to humanize individuals you may not have otherwise had the chance to meet. As a Digital Strategist, Kiera is able to foster connection and inspire vulnerability, resilience, and change among individuals by generating authentic and relatable content for the 2X Grammy award-winning band for KING & COUNTRY and YouTube Influencers the CIMORELLI BAND.
What are your involvements & interests?
Involvements: digital strategist (full-time for a band + helping my friends on the side), launching a podcast where individuals share their personal stories of hardships they’re in the midst of or have overcome! Interests: storytelling, marketing/branding, working directly with creatives, getting to know people (I love meeting new people & connecting friends), all genres of music, managing people’s lives (HA!)
What do you do? How is it related to music?
I work with the 2x GRAMMY award-winning band, for KING & COUNTRY as their digital strategist. My role is to run all digital marketing - managing social media, creating advertising campaigns, and promoting shows/music/all other initiatives. I also coordinate interviews.
Why digital strategizing? How did you find yourself in that realm of work?
Once I started managing artists I really liked that and thought it was the right path for me...my plan was to move to LA, work in dance music, and try to be a successful manager. Then I visited Nashville for the first time and God shifted something inside of me. I didn’t know exactly what I was supposed to be doing once that happened, but after taking a year to really discover my identity, I realized that I was supposed to:
There is a staggering lack of a female DJs and EDM artists. According to an article in LA Weekly, to date, no female artist has ever headlined a major EDM festival. Female DJ Colette Marino emphasized saying that she really doesn’t understand why there is a lack of women in electronic music, but thinks that this absence needs to be addressed. Colette also mentioned that in the past five years, she has seen a significant increase in women in electronic music. To further emphasize this female deficiency in electronic music, in 2016, only 3.2% of the acts at Beyond Wonderland, an EDM-focused music festival, were female-identifying acts. At EDM-focused music festival Ultra, there were about 7.5% female-identifying acts. While this article did note that these numbers had increased from their first analysis in 2014, the numbers are still astoundingly low.
DJ MADDØG, also known as Madison True, is hoping to influence the presence of females in electronic music. Pursuing a passion like producing electronic dance music, is difficult, especially without many women mentors in the genre. Bloomington is lucky to have a strong core of women DJs and women in EDM. Artists like DJ MADDØG have impressed audiences all over the country.
Madison noticed the absence of a female presence in DJing, and aspired to fill the void without being “superficially attractive.” Like MidWay, Madison is working to increase the female presence in the music industry, and inspire women. With her passion for music and unique sound, MADDØG dove into DJing, focusing on a variety of genres such as house, techno and trance. MADDØG is a resident DJ at The Back Door, The Root Cellar, and The Handlebar in St. Louis. MADDØG was born in Atlanta but has since lived in Florida, Chicago, Detroit and Indiana. This unique childhood gave her the exposure to different cultures and genres of music and built her appreciation for it.
“I think when you get into something like this it’s all about your intention. Why are you doing this and who are you doing it for? That sort of thing. I didn’t start DJing because I wanted to be the next Diplo or Skrillex - I did it because there was a clear gender disparity and I wanted to change that.”
Feature by TARYN MCCARTHY
Two passionate college students created a platform to highlight inspiring women in music called “Shut Up and Listen.” These students, Bethany Lumsdaine and Jessie Grubb, first began their adventure with “Shut Up and Listen” in September 2016 on WIUX radio. We at MidWay were eager to talk to Bethany and Jessie and hear from the masterminds behind this exciting and empowering project. Read on to hear more about these wonderful ladies and their development of their project: Shut Up and Listen.
Shut Up and Listen quickly evolved from a one hour radio show on WIUX Student Radio at Indiana University, to an online project & zine. [Just in case you’re like me and needed to look it up - a zine is different than an ordinary magazine. A zine is a “noncommercial often homemade or online publication usually devoted to specialized and often unconventional subject matter (Merriam-Webster).”]
Bethany and Jessie met in high school in their art class. Alluding to their future endeavors, Bethany noted, “we made a lot of crafts together; that’s kind of been our thing, we have projects.”
Following that, the pair started doing youth radio together in high school, which is what lead them to do the same thing years later at Indiana University.
In talking about their radio show, Jessie stated “we just wanted to make a show that featured female musicians in every band that we play. From that we started doing interviews.”
As the number of interviews increased, Bethany and Jessie wanted to document their interviews in some way other than on air. From that idea, they developed their first zine. With their passion and ambition, Bethany and Jessie taught themselves how to use InDesign and Illustrator and brought this dream to life.
In October 2016, they released their first zine, pictured above.
As stated on their website: "Shut Up and Listen aims to create a platform where underrepresented musicians and artists can be heard.”
To date, Bethany and Jessie have created and published 8 issues of their zine, Shut Up and Listen.
When we asked asked what motivated them to continue creating these zines, Bethany replied, “I think I’m always excited to be able to show somebody something new and something that they might not have heard of otherwise. I think that’s the biggest thing... just making it accessible and interesting and covering stuff that feels important to us."
Through Shut Up and Listen, the two get to interview a range of artists. They often connect with artists on the road that are making their way through Bloomington. Bethany reflected on one of her favorite artists that they got to talk to: Yaeji. Following their interview, Yaeji got over 2 million hits on her next music video.
Bethany gushed, “[that was] cool, we spotted somebody...when they were like, still up and coming.”
For the hours of work that Bethany and Jessie put into this project there isn’t much financial payoff - the two stated that they do this just because they love it.
When asked what advice they would give other people aspiring to create a zine like this, Bethany and Jessie agreed: “you just gotta do it!” They said that starting is usually the hardest part, but that it’s a learning process and, as Bethany said, “you can only go up.” She elaborated, encouraging those aspiring to create like her, to just go for it. They both emphasized that you need to be confident in what you are going. To ignore what other people think you ‘should’ do and ‘could’ do, and instead to do it exactly how you want it.
Shut Up and Listen has given Bethany and Jessie a platform with which to share their passions. On the official website, you can view (& purchase) their zines, read and listen to various interviews, reviews and much more. It even features an 11 track playlist of songs produced by women. Just like MidWay, Shut Up and Listen features women in music and shines a light on the wonderful work that they do.
This power-duo acted on an idea and expanded it into an empowering and community-building project. Keep cheering them on through the links below: Listen to their radio show on 99.1FM here on Thursdays from 11AM-12PM. They also upload their playlists from their shows on YouTube here. Follow their Instagram here. Check out their website & zines here.
It’s an understatement to say that the work that Bethany and Jessie have put into this is impressive. You can see their passion and hard work in every aspect of this project, from their zine to their Instagram to their radio show. Keep up the incredible work, Bethany and Jessie! We at MidWay are big fans.