all photos by Niffer Calderwood
Right up until her April 18th Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame induction, we’ll be paying homage to the one and only Joan Jett, whose influence permeates female musicians of every musical genre – not only with her iconic look, but with her ideals and entrepreneurial spirit. Like Joan, Megan Tweed is a frontwoman, label-head (not to mention marketing guru), and both of them have found success in more than one field regarded as “Boy’s Clubs.” We talked to Megan about her label, bands and recent transition out of the tech world.
First off – exactly how many musical projects are you currently involved with?
So much good music stuffs going on! I’m front woman for two noisy, weirdo- rock bands, The Family Curse and Bad Powers. We are working on writing a new album for Bad Powers, and The Family Curse just finished recording an album that will be part of the Triple Six 7 Inch series coming out on Fainting Room Records this summer.
Fainting Room Records is a small vinyl record label I own and operate in association with Fainting Room Collective (FRC), a Seattle-based arts collective. FRC is a group of folks who all have different strengths and skills in creating or supporting the underground arts. We come together because, like a gang of super heroes, we’re more powerful and can do cooler shit together than we could alone. Check out frcollective.com if you’d like to see our motley crew.
I co-created FRC with Marc Tweed (band-mate, former husband, father of my son, creative inspiration for life) because many artists work alone to create and promote their art, and man, it’s damn challenging, time consuming and expensive to accomplish the many tasks needed to be a successful artist. FRC regularly gets together to spend time talking about these challenges, connecting each other to helpful resources and people, and collaborating on projects larger that any one of us could reasonably accomplish. We choose to invest time into projects we feel are in service to the underground art community (check out PracticeSpaceSeattle.com), or projects that force the hand of collaboration in the name of creating something rad.
Triple Six 7 Inch is one of those “create something rad” projects: A box set of six whoa-good 7 Inch albums from six Seattle bands featuring artwork from six Seattle artists. We’re selecting and pairing the bands and artists, recording the bands, mixing the tracks, curating the artwork, photographing the bands, and releasing the box set on the house label. We’re planning a summer release show at Chop Suey that celebrates the bands as much as the visual artists…and us, it’ll celebrate us with hugs and beer.
How did you go about choosing artists for the project?
We wanted a collection of bands and visual artists that represent a bit more of the fringe of underground Seattle art. Not just weird shit for the sake of being weird to create some sort of marketable image, but art that deserves to be seen, heard, supported, and celebrated despite perhaps not having a definable home or associated scene. There are many platforms for easily defined art to find an audience with, but when you don’t have a bunch of peers or a genre to file yourself under, finding your fans can be challenging.
I worked with FRC members Brandon Fitzsimons, who recorded the bands, and Marc Tweed, who mixed the tracks, to select the roster of musicians. FRC member Laurie Kearney, who owns and operates Ghost Gallery, curated the series of artists by working closely with each band to source the artists and final pieces of artwork.
You recently made a big professional transition as well from the tech industry to PR and marketing. What were some of the challenging aspects of the tech industry, which is a notably a male-dominated field?
Other than being in the minority at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas every year (total dude fest), I have never felt that tech is a dude’s field, and I’m surprised more American women aren’t involved in tech, similar to women in India. Throughout my career I have had some great tech-enabled and tech-centric ideas that I was able to articulate, find funding and support for, build teams to create, and show definable success with. My skill set associated with being successful in tech has less to do with tinkering with circuit boards and more to do with figuring out new applications for technology, and working with tech builders to create advancements in technology allowing it to better meet needs or fit more seamlessly with other tech to open up new capabilities. I have found no gender-specific challenges associated with being inspired by technology. If nothing else, dudes seem happy to have a lady with good ideas at the table.
Tell me about your new gig? What are you excited to to be taking on?
I was formerly leading the West Coast Media practice for Razorfish, a very tech-y digital media, web dev, and consulting firm. Once you understand the tech associated with your industry (in my case the digital media industry) you can change swimlanes with ease simply by understanding the common threads of how tech powers what you are doing. There remains a dominance of tech in my new role leading digital for Assembly, an independent digital and traditional shop with roots in PR. In this new role I’m focused more so on story-telling and the possibilities for how technology can evolve storytelling on digital platforms.
Digital storytelling is brought alive not just by tech, but by art of all types and its ability to communicate. In my new role I will have the opportunity to connect my work in tech with my involvement in the underground arts. Assembly, and its sister company, Edelman, are avid supporters of the idea that we are citizens of the world, and they operate with an expectation that we will bring our worldly involvement to bear on the work that we are doing. I am over-the-moon to be working for a place that loves my involvement in the arts as much as I do. Let’s hope they feel the same way after they see me rolling around in stage grime, screaming, half-naked, and spitting beer.