What’s been the most challenging part of the job? Has COVID-19 impacted your cycle of work from a merchandise standpoint, Emily?
Emily: Definitely. When the world shut down, it was tough to say if people were going to want to spend their money on merchandise and supporting the arts when they were faced with day-to-day uncertainty. On top of that manufactures shut down which resulted in months of delays, so still I’ve had to be even more on top of scheduling. Thankfully our fan base has been supportive and understanding!
Chloe: My favorite part is that it is always changing: there are always new apps, new algorithms, new trends, new artists, new music and so much room for growth and diversity. Even as a favorite, it can also be a challenge. Marketing and social media takes a lot of time to research and can be a lot of trial and error.
Finally, how do you feel like you’ve made a positive impact, or given a platform to artists whose identities may be underrepresented in bass music?
Chloe: That’s what makes WAKAAN and SSKWAN so beautiful. We were founded because Liquid Stranger was “too weird” or “out of the norm” for people to sign his music. He started WAKAAN in hopes of giving these bass artists a platform to be themselves, and support their visions as an artists. All releases are treated equally here. What we put into one record, we put into them all.
Emily: I try to always relate and look out for our community. When working the merch areas [at a show] I do my best to provide a safe space for everyone. When I’m back in the office and responding to merch-related emails, I work through issues with customers so they can be resolved in the best way possible.
It’s encouraging to see a label look at the diversity of their leadership. It’s a first step to developing a more inclusive and safer space for everyone to thrive in, which is exactly what we want in the PNW music scene. As Oregon and Washington have really begun to grapple with what meaningful diversity and equity means, it’s also critical to consider its presence in our music consumption.
Putting women in positions of leadership should be a norm, not an exception to the rule. For the Liquid Stranger brand, Emily and Chloe have dedicated an incredible amount of time and skill to their profession. Bass music (like anything) is better with more diverse perspectives and voices. While using their own, they are helping lift others up as well.
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