Name: Fiona Campbell
Bands worked with: Hinds
FEMMUSIC: How did you become a tour manager?
FC: Through Punk and necessity. I’ve been a touring drummer for many years, I originate from New Zealand and landed here on tour playing drums in a band called The Coolies in 2004. I then moved to the states in 2005 and continued to help bands from New Zealand tour around, I would go out with them and perform rudimentary tour manger duties, but was mostly there to party. I began working along side a promoter Todd P in Brooklyn and for the next 6 years worked booking and running shows across about 50 different DIY venues including Market Hotel, Silent Barn, Monster Island etc etc, we would also put on a week long all ages free festival in Austin TX during SXSW and it was through all this I started to learn alot about organizing bands. I also interned for a kiwi woman who booked for Eclipse Booking who worked with Sunn0))) and Om so that’s where I learnt alot about the language of show contracts. In 2008 I started playing music again after mostly sticking to helping book and run shows, I started a band called Coasting, and also joined two other bands that toured extensively Vivian Girls and Chain & The Gang, the latter I still play in. All of these bands are self managed and I joined Vivian Girls as their third drummer because I had seen how crazy hard they toured and that’s all I wanted to do. Around then I moved into a punk house called the Dead Herring in Brooklyn that had shows twice a month as well and we had alot of touring bands come thru from all over the world. This time last year, things were getting quiet on the drumming front for me and I wanted to go visit my best friend Madison who plays in Coasting with me, she lives in Memphis and works for Goner Records at was going to be at SXSW. So I posted something on facebook asking if anyone needed a drummer or a tour manager because I knew I would go nuts at SXSW not having a job, gotta have a job, and Joan their manager wrote me. I meet Joan years ago, he put on shows for Vivian Girls and Chain & The Gang in Spain when we toured there, and he told me about this new band he had that was coming to SXSW, he had also been to some of the shows I used to help run their and knew I was well acquainted with the insanity that is South by. I think drummers make naturally good tour managers, I know quite a few of them, that coupled with the kiwi wanderer in my blood, and years of touring specifically with women I think I was a good choice for Hinds.
FEMMUSIC: What are the biggest challenges of being a tour manager?
FC: Being the hub of communication can be tricky, you are the point person between the managers, the label, the band, their PR people, the venue and the booker, trying to make sure you are hitting everyones’ targets and keeping everyone happy can be tricky. The basics are always the biggest challenges and goals, making sure you, the band and crew are all feed, hydrated and getting enough sleep so you can be functional (or at least pass for functional) human beings.
FEMMUSIC What challenges does being a woman tour manager present?
FC: Mostly power dynamic issues where people do things that they wouldn’t usually if they were dealing with a man, I don’t think they are even aware of it half the time. At more than a quarter of the shows last tour the first person I approached at the show would say “Oh hi are you the merch girl?”, it makes things awkward because when I tell them I’m the Tour Manager they get flustered as the assumed power dynamic they have approached me with flips. Every time it happened the person was apologetic and you could see they even surprised themselves they made the assumption, so I think it’s interesting the assumptions people make about other people’s positions by how they present. I know I would be treated different if I rolled in a business suit and clip board, but that’s not me, and I’m not about to fake a “lean in” attitude just to make it easier for other people to recognize my position.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry, have you been discriminated against?
FC: Across the board as a booker, tour manager, musician, festival coordinator, I’ve had issues with being taken seriously. Stage managing as a woman has been frustrating, I’ve had weaker moments where I’ve resorted to employing a male co worker to deal with other men when you’re in a time crunch and you know that they will respect him or you and get shit done faster. Ugh, then you think about it all the time, so frustrating. But being a female musician and just being visible can be straight up dangerous, you laugh it off and don’t talk about it alot because it’s annoying you just want to be musician and not a female musician, but I’ve had my share of threats of psychical and sexual violence online and that’s definitely something male musicians don’t experience as regularly. This gives me an edge though especially timing for an all female band, I can clock a threat in two secs and know exactly what level of action/non action is needed in a way I don’t think it’s possible for a male tm or even a female tm who hasn’t been a musician can. I have to rely on those instincts from all those gathered experiences to make those decisions as any woman does shutting down a situation and assessing how the rejection is going to affect their safety and their environment.
FEMMUSIC What one thing would you like to change about the music industry itself?
FC: One?! Jesus, there are so many things…….but I guess just more women!! And that takes a lot of hard work on the grounds of conditioning early on, not just encouragement later on. I’ve been getting into hardcore music more lately, I always loved it, the politics, sounds and lyrics always resonated with me but physically I was so not invited to the party. There’s such a massive female lead hardcore scene happening in Olympia and Boston right now and when I’m at those shows I watch how differently people act in the audience when women and girls are on stage, and I think that goes for all genres and parts of the industry, it shifts attitudes. Music is so inartistically entwined with capitalizing on youth and beauty which can lead to dangerous behaviors and attitudes towards women in bands, I feel like the more women involved in the industry the more we can advance towards the music and our communities rather than being stuck within the confines of gender politics, it’s BORING. Haha.