What do you think of when the Charleston music scene comes to mind? Male-dominated? Country music? Bluegrass music? I spend a lot of my spare time in the local music scene and I can attest that a majority of musicians tend to be male and play within the country, bluegrass, Americana genres. After taking note of this I searched for more females that are rockin’ and rollin’ in the Charleston music scene. I came across singer/songwriters, Taylor “Tay” Jarvis, Katie Rose, and Haley Mae Campbell. These three ladies are all under the age of 30 and making some pretty big musical waves in Charleston. I wanted to pick their brains and get an insider’s point of view. I posed four questions and got quite an insight.
What are your big dreams for the Charleston music scene as well as your music career in Charleston?
KR: “That we really start embracing all kinds of music, include more women, and we are taken as seriously as Nashville and LA. As for my career, I would love to be playing high-end places every week and be an important voice in our cities music growth.”
What motivates you as a musician in Charleston? What inspires you to continue to live here and create music here?
TJ: “I don’t think there’s quite a female artist here in Charleston that sounds like TAY and that’s what motivates me to pursue this…it truly is one-of-a-kind. I don’t know of many female artists in town writing/recording/producing everything on their own like this TAY project. I think the potential and thought of Charleston becoming a city known for multiple genres (and not just rock/country/folk/Americana) motivates me to stay and pursue what I’m creating with TAY…which is indie/electronic/alternative…oh yeah, and not to mention Charleston is absolutely beautiful and the city alone is an inspiration in its self! There’s always a show to go to, a new coffee shop to explore, new faces to meet, and more.”
What are the struggles you have as a female in this industry as well as in this city’s music scene?
HMC: “Being a female that’s also leaning toward the more country side of the music scene, it can be tough at times. Being a younger female as well, sometimes I feel that event producers and coordinators think I’m easier to push around. I’ve been told I can’t use my equipment because the sound engineers didn’t want to figure out how to hook it up, denied decent sound checks, and the list goes on. But at the end of the day you can’t let things like that get you down, you just have to show them that you’re a force to be reckoned with and stand up for the things you need.”
What would you change about Charleston’s music scene / industry?
KR: “We start embracing ALL kinds of music, genders, and race. Let’s prove that you don’t have to play one type of music to make it here.”
TJ: “I think the music scene and industry are full of genuine and talented individuals. I do wish it wasn’t so cliquey. I feel like there are different groups of people within the music scene/industry that are kind of in their own world and it’s difficult for others to be a part of it or ‘accepted’ in it…unless you have a decent connection or have already been a part of it since the beginning. It brings me back to connections…the Charleston music scene is all about who you know and who you’re friends with. It can be good, but it can also be a downfall for other emerging artists that have huge potential…but have no connections or outlets.”
HMC: “A huge issue I see for Charleston is that of attendance. I’ve heard it a million times from a million people, and seen it myself–people here just don’t go out of their way to attend shows. And I don’t think that’s because the acts aren’t talented, or the venues aren’t promoting, I think it circles back to Charleston being such a tourism center. There’s just so much to do here that a lot of the time, local and even national act performances get swept off to the side in favor of oyster roasts and walking tours. I’m not sure that there’s exactly one way to fix this issue, except for having individual artists fight to make their live shows so enticing that out-of-towners make them a must-see. ”
Huge thanks to these ladies for chatting with me, and shedding an insider’s backstage view. It appears that our Holy City music scene may be in need of a few changes. We are finally getting national recognition thanks to our many accolades; however, we need to keep pushing the envelope in our musical scene. Perhaps it starts with the agenda-setters, event planners, and media outlets pushing local-focused venues and artists over the tourist attractions? We may not have the answers, but thankfully, we have three strong female musicians that are leading the charge. Hopefully, with their big voices they can really start to shake things up.