Expression And Individuality As An Artist Today: Capitol Hill Block Party Artist Panels

One thing that became very clear as soon as I walked in Grim’s for CHBP’s panels was the closeness of the music community. Everyone seemed to know one another and were eager to catch up. Grim’s was buzzing with artists, writers, local bookers, and radio personalities, excited to either be a part of the panels or to learn from one another. With cupcakes, coffee and a handful with drinks from the bar, moderator Kelly Fleek summoned everyone to their seats for the first panel. Kelly, of Lo Flux Media and the alluring vocals of Spider Ferns, is very involved and extremely talented in her own right and knows each of the panelists personally helping the flow of the panel stay very conversational and informative.

PANEL 1: Band Survival and Strategy In a Post Big Industry World

Panelists: Jodi Eckland of MoWave and Pink Parts, Marco Collins of 107.7 The End, The Glamour and the Squalor, KEXP and VH1, Matt Ashworth of WE Communications, NadaMucho.com and Cap Hill Block Party, Leigh Bezezekoff of Tractor Tavern, Macefield Music Festival and Troy Nelson of KEXP, Killroom Records and The Young Evils

The first panel was full of gems of knowledge from each panelist. The first topic tackled was how an artist should approach the changing industry. Troy Nelson asserts that “We’re back to singles,” saying that staggering singles and releasing a few EP’s before ever releasing an album is the new formula. Making things and always staying fresh and “new.” Leigh Bezezekoff’s insight was more about knowing exactly what you want as an artist and when booking shows, “Three things to look at when booking a show, does it pay? If not, is it a resume builder? And is it going to be fun?” she explained. She also encourages artists to “Spend time going to shows. Get to know and network with other artists.” Jodi Eckland explained flatly, “You don’t sell records unless you’re touring.” and Marco Collins expanded that “A big role in this city is radio.”

Each with their own expertise and experience, their feedback would surely be a shining light for any up and coming artist in the audience. When Kelly asked each panelist if they have advice for artists who want to be noticed by people like themselves, each had their own opinions. Marco had the strongest, explaining that, “I don’t want to sit up here and tell you how to “deal with” us. We are here for you. I mean, don’t be a dick, but there is something cool about being persistent. Be persistent and know that it is okay to make mistakes,” but not everyone is okay with someone coming to their home address to drop off their music (which apparently happened to Marco in the past). Although the consensus was mixed as to how to reach out to them, the general idea was to “Be persistent” and “We WANT to help.”

PANEL 2: Resistance as Art: Gender, Race, Class and Sexuality As The Artist’s Platform For Change

Panelists: Carlos Tulloss of Afro Cop, Screens, EJ Tolentino of Charms, Irene Barber of Dust Moth, Erik Blood, XVII Eyes, Sasha Bolof of Stres, and Emily Nokes of Tacocat and BUST Magazine

The dynamic of this panel was a bit more somber and deliberate considering the topic but no less informative and important to hear. Kelly’s first question struck a chord with everyone, “Does your gender, race, class and sexuality affect your career?” Carlos Tulloss addressed the heartache he dealt with through and since the election saying, “I couldn’t play music for a while …We are having to rethink our music.” EJ Tolentino didn’t miss a beat, explaining, “I don’t see how it couldn’t. That’s basically saying, does being who you are affect your music?” Each panelist chimed in their support, “Art has always been a form of resistance,” Emily Nokes explains and Sasha Bolof pointed out that, “I literally came out to a song that I did. I got really sick of not being visible.” Sasha is a trans woman who came out the the local Seattle community through an article in The Stranger and the song “She/Her Me/You.”

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Luna Reyna

Luna Reyna (she/ella) is the founder of RIZE Entertainment. She is deeply invested in shifting power structures and centering the work and voices of marginalized communities within the industry.