This month, WATK featured Tori Bachan as our Music Mentor! Below are her answers from an interview I did with her back at the beginning of the month. I know you guys will find her stories and advice to be helpful!
Natalie: So Tori, do you want to talk about where you’re originally from and where you grew up?
Tori: I’m originally from Charleston, South Carolina. It’s a fairly small town but like, obviously the biggest in South Carolina. It’s not really close to any major hubs, like Charlotte or Atlanta. But we have kind of our own scene, and my senior year in high school; we do this thing called job shadow day in South Carolina where you get one day and you can job shadow whoever you want and you get the day off from school, you get to see what they do, and I used to always go to this venue called the Music Farm and I’d always go to shows, I’d always buy tickets from the same guy, so finally one day I was like “Hey, I want to job shadow your boss. I want to go into the music industry and I want to job shadow your boss for my job shadow day,” and he was like “Uh, no you don’t!” He literally called his boss up on his phone and handed it to me and I was like “I don’t know what to say, crap!” So , I figured it out and they were like “Yeah, we’d love to have you.” So, that job shadow day and my first, like basically the first time I did anything at that magnitude and it was sold out Owl City.
N: At the venue?
T: At the venue, that night. That was the first time I got to experience anything like that; they kind of just threw me in headfirst, like “you got this!” I guess they liked what I did and they kept asking me back and so I started basically, I guess you could say interning, but I wasn’t getting credit for anything and I wasn’t getting paid, so it was more of like, a volunteer sort of thing. Then eventually a few months in, I started doing like, you know, merch for different shows and I would get paid for it. I did merch for Third Eye Blind when I was in high school – crazy! And it was so much fun, you know, they had me doing different stuff like dealing with PR, radio, for one or two shows. So I basically worked there until I moved to New York for school and my freshman year was kind of a weird one because for the first semester I was obviously getting acclimated to the city and so I didn’t really do anything in the music industry. Like, obviously I kept up to date with everything but I didn’t do anything. I hated it. I hated just focusing on school and doing work-study at my school and so for the next semester, I contacted like an indie label, asked them if they had any internship volunteer positions. I went in for an interview but unfortunately I only had one full day to devote to them and it wasn’t enough, so they didn’t give it to me, which was fine. Then that summer, I did my first Warped Tour. So it was all within kind of a year that I went from working at a venue to doing my first Warped Tour.
N: So, you didn’t end up getting the internship, but you ended getting on Warped tour; what was the connection that helped you stay involved to get the Warped Tour job?
T: So what happened was, I know this is so surprising; I went as an attendee to my first Warped Tour in 2010. Because, you know, the closest one was Charlotte or Atlanta. And it was far, and my parents didn’t really want to drive, so finally like my senior year my friends and I are like, “let’s do our own road trip!” So we went to Florida. We drove down there, we had like our own girls week, actually, and we went to our first Warped Tour! That’s when I started contacting, you know, different non-profits, different companies, and I actually got in really close contact with one non-profit, Defiant Missions, it’s actually now Beyond Poverty, and they needed someone for Warped Tour. So they asked if I would do it and I said absolutely. Because I wasn’t getting paid, I needed to get internship credit for it for my college and it was fine. And it was so cool because when you’re on Warped Tour, you don’t really think about sitting down and documenting all of your cool or weird or unbelievable experiences but doing it for credit as an internship, I had to. So now anytime I would send it off to the professor who was basically like my faculty advisor for the internship, and when I came back to school in the fall, he said “those are the coolest internship journals I got from anyone, and I would actually read them to my wife because they were just cool. No one really gets to say they were in North Dakota one day and Seattle the next, and you do and you get to write about it.” Stuff that you think is lame on Warped tour or tour in general is really cool to someone who’s never done it. So, I really just, for that year, from Warped 2010 from Warped 2011, I just kept in contact and told them this is something I would want to happen. I didn’t get paid which is tough because it’s a lot of work for no pay, but the experience is worth it.
N: So, do you feel like there was anybody in particular you met while on Warped Tour or at the venue that kind of like, really helped you like a mentor or somebody who you could go to for advice and they’d point you in the right direction?
T: See, what I’m the luckiest about is I have a lot of different mentors that I’ve loved more than anything. When I started out it was the two guys that I worked with at Farm, Nick and Chuck. They really took me under their wing, they were like my big brothers. Everyone at that venue was; I was the baby, I was a girl, but I worked my butt off, and they recognized that and it was funny because I was home before Warped Tour this year and Chuck told me, he was like “out of all the interns we had, you were the one that I knew I’d never have to worry about.” You know, that means a lot now that it’s been like, two years since I’ve worked with them. Now they’re like really great friends, but they would always steer me in the right direction, always tell me like, you got to work for free first, that’s just the way it is. Especially as a girl, you almost have to work a little bit harder than you would with anything else and so, they were completely honest about that and I’m so glad they were. And then, when I got to the city, my mentor absolutely was Kristina Grossmann, at Universal Republic, she did Rock for Health and I was following her and her career and everything she was doing when I was in high school and she was absolutely my number one inspiration to do so many different things. Like, she did Warped Tour, I was like “oh my gosh, I’m going to be just like her, I love her so much,” and I actually ended up getting in contact with her I think via Tumblr. I wrote my college admissions essay on her and then I ended up interning at Republic and she’s always absolutely there, number one person who gives me unbelievable advice. She was the person who told me to do Warped Tour 2011, and it just worked and it was so perfect and then I got Warped Tour 2012. She was a mentor and she’s still a mentor but she’s absolutely a friend. Then, for my Warped Tour world, Jessie Owens, who runs a non-profit, she’s in production, is not only such a good friend now too, when I was freaking out wondering if I’d get Warped Tour 2012, she was always there, she gave me the best absolute advice. She’s just absolutely the best; I couldn’t say anything better about these people.
N: So I’m sure you’re on Tumblr and everything and people are asking you questions, similar to how you followed Kristina and asked her questions. If they’re wondering what your secrets are, can you dish some advice on things that helped you that other people can do if they want to work in the music industry or go on Warped Tour?
T: Honestly, the few tips of advice I have are initiative, like actually taking initiative and having unbelievable determination gets you farther than anything else, because if you’re on Warped Tour, or on tour, or working at a venue, or you’re interning, and you do things and you don’t have to be asked to do it, that says so much about you. If you just go, not even the extra mile, but just the extra foot, it does say a lot. Then another thing I said before, I didn’t get that first internship at that indie label that I really, really wanted. I didn’t take no for an answer. It can’t just be no, you have to be like, “okay that didn’t work, what will?” Then I ended up interning at Universal Republic, like things just happen when you’re determined and you make them happen and you don’t take no for an answer, it happens. It really does.
N: That’s good advice. Since you’re a woman in the music industry, have you had situations where people have been maybe condescending or maybe not respecting you as much, you feel, as if you were a dude?
T: Absolutely! It’s really funny when you meet people that aren’t in the music industry; I met this guy one time and he was like “oh, what do you do?” And I was like, “well I’m still in school but I work in the music industry,” and he looks at me and he was like “uh, don’t you think that’s a little much for you?” I looked at him and I was like, “actually, I’ve done two Warped Tours, worked at a venue, I’ve worked at a label, and now I’m working at a live promotions company, so no it’s not,” and I left because a lot, like especially for girls the tough thing is a lot of people will say, “you want to work in the music industry so you can get band guys,” or “you want to do it so you can be popular and know people” and like, that’s, for me personally, not it at all. Like, yeah I know band guys; I’m not dating band guys. Its also because, it’s what I do. When you’re on Warped Tour, the ratio of girls to guys is unbelievable; there are not a lot of girls. Especially because I will say to the ends of the earth that the Warped Tour girlfriends are the best girlfriends you could have, my Warped Tour guy friends are also unbelievable and the only people that can only understand how hard girls work are the other guys in the industry because they all know I work my butt off; they would never say in a second say anything bad about my work ethic because you have to work two times harder than the average guy would because there’s a stereotype, there is a stigma, and until we can change that, you have to prove it wrong. And the girls that are out there for the wrong reasons are the girls that make us look bad, as much as I hate to say that, and I’m not trying to bash other girls in the industry but you have to do it for the right reasons and at the end of the day, I do it because I love music, I love the live show, I love the recording technology, and nothing beats the moment of listening to a record, just in your bed, just listening to it or on the subway or in your car, and seeing that transform to the stage because no single stage moment is the same. No show is the same. As many people think it is, its not. There’s something different every day. That’s the appeal of it. I do it because I love music, not because of the fame and the fortune; obviously you’re working for free, which means there’s no fortune. But, it is tough being a girl but you have to prove it to yourself before you can prove it to anybody else. Like, you’re not going to make it anywhere until you know in your heart that you can do it.
N: So just having confidence in yourself is a big factor?
T: Absolutely! Confidence is number one. Because especially starting out, there are lot of things you don’t know. Being able to ask for help is a huge key. There’s a lot of stuff you don’t know; that’s okay. No one expects you to know it. So just ask! It shows a lot about a person who is willing to ask for help.