May 9, 2017

Interview: Rachael Pazdan

An interview with Rachael Pazdan, 
the producer behind the innovative series The Hum.

Rachael Pazdan is a true veteran music curator. She’s booked countless shows at venues around NYC and is currently the music director of the venue Le Poisson Rouge. One of her most unique roles is producer of The Hum, an innovative series of showcases made up solely of women that proves to any naysayer that yes, there are more than enough women in music to be included on line ups and that people just aren’t looking hard enough. Pazdan has turned her love of live music into a career, and we were lucky to have her answer a few questions via email about The Hum, how she picks performers, and the future of the series. If you're planning on visiting NYC or are a native yourself, check out the remaining showcases and lineups below.

The Le Sigh: How did the idea for The Hum come about? 

Rachael Pazdan: I noticed a gap in live music and found myself asking where are all the women? Especially when it came to DJs, jazz musicians, improvised music, drummers, and MORE, women seemed totally underrepresented on stage. I also love collaboration, and I was inspired to put something together where women could be seen working with other women throughout a full-length concert. I had never in my life seen an entire night of only women playing music, so it was very exciting to make that happen.

TLS: You've got some great performers and DJs lined up for the event. How did they get involved and what were their feelings on the project? 

RP: When I book the series, I start by reaching out to artists I love, and I cross my fingers and hope they're available. Deradoorian, The Blow, and Adeline from Escort; I just asked them to play and they found the rest of their crew. The Hum can be a great platform in that way, by giving artists a reason to get together and create music with musicians they've always wanted to work with. With other groups, I play matchmaker as best I can and bring people together who don't know each other. For example, I've paired Sadie Dupuis with an incredible duo from Chicago called OHMME. They've definitely never met and will only get a few rehearsals in before their show. It usually works 110% or it does NOT work, but my batting average has been pretty good so far. Artists who are women usually seem pretty motivated to be a part of something where they can explore new collaborations with other women. Most artists get nervous to perform with these new partners live, understandably so, since it usually puts them outside of their comfort zone. But 90% of the time I hear an overwhelmingly positive response from Hum performers, and in some cases I've seen these collaborations turn into friendships and musical partnerships.

TLS: The project was launched in 2015, how has it grown and changed since then? 

RP: The series went through a slow but steady growth the first two years at Manhattan Inn. It developed a following with audiences and musicians and the media began to take notice, so bigger artists heard about it and became involved. It became a cornerstone for the music programming at the venue. Since the Inn closed in November and I was forced to move, the series has gone through a huge growth spurt. Manhattan Inn held a magic that can't be replicated anywhere else. It was so intimate and cozy there, and people really enjoyed sitting on top of other people in the back room. This year I took a risk and moved it to a venue about four times the size of Manhattan Inn, but I've kept certain aesthetic elements of the series in tact, like having the stage in-the-round, for example, and decorating with a ton of candles and flowers, having a special "Hum" cocktail, etc. The moss chandelier has been replaced by a large disco ball. The shows all feature four performances per night instead of three, and we've added a fifth show at Le Poisson Rouge. Instead of me crawling behind a bartender and playing a playlist off my phone at doors, I have amazing DJs spinning at all of the shows. It's bigger and a bit different, but it still definitely feels like The Hum, and ultimately I'm thankful to have been pushed to grow it. We all have the option to rise to challenges or walk away from them, and I can't walk away from this project. I plan on growing the series into a festival format next year, and that will be the biggest transformation the series has seen yet!

TLS: What do you envision for the future of The Hum? 

The Hum will grow into one of the only all-women music festivals in New York City in 2018. Keep your eyes peeled for more on that!

TLS: You were recently named in Brooklyn Magazine as one of Brooklyn's 100 influencers. How does that feel? 

RP: Pretty cool! :)

TLS: What advice would you give to anyone looking to get involved in the music industry? 

RP: See as many shows as you can, intern at places you admire and get as much experience as possible, pay attention to what is going on, and try to find those brilliant undiscovered bands and help them. Most importantly, take (smart) risks. It's not easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding to work in music.

TLS: Anything else you'd like to add about The Hum? 

RP: It's happening! Come out and see the magic for yourself this month at Good Room and LPR. If you’re in New York, check out the remaining dates of incredible lineups for The Hum for the spring!

The Hum Event Dates: 

May 15 | 7:30pm Doors, 8pm Music | 
Good Room
Caroline Rose + Zoe Brecher (Sad13) + Noga Shefi /// Little Kruta + H3R /// Brittany Campbell + Maya Lazaro + Kate Ferber /// Joy Elysse + Bria Monet + Adi Meyerson + Taylor Cannizzaro

Mon, May 22 | 7:30pm Doors, 8pm Music |
Good Room
She Shreds Curated Set /// Arooj Aftab + Julia Easterlin (Hite) + Maeve Gilchrist /// Amanda B. (Crazy Pills) + Jo-Anne Hyun (Toebow) + Rebecca Fruchter (Desert Sharks) /// Joanna Sternberg + Mara Kaye + Virg Dzurinko /// DJ Set by Kitty Cash

Thurs, May 25 | 7:30pm Doors, 8pm Music |
Le Poisson Rouge
Angel Deradoorian + Miho Hatori (Cibo Matto) + Ikue Mori /// The Blow, feat. Clarice Jensen /// Eartheater + Chaos Chaos /// DJ Set by Alejandra Sabillon

Kat Harding is a music publicist living in Nashville, TN, with her loud kitty cat Goose. She often cries when excited at shows and can be found on twitter at @iwearaviators.