Industry Spotlight – The Doll Skin Warped Tour Crew

Photo: Kelly Fox

In honor of our Roadie For A Day Program with Doll Skin, we’d love to introduce to you the crew you’ll be working alongside this summer!

NICOLE STEPHENS

What made you want to go into music?
When I was 6 years old I watched “Josie and The Pussy Cats” on VHS and thought a band of girls being famous rock stars taking over the world was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Two years later, my mom bought me a guitar and wrote a bunch of really really bad songs, while at the time didn’t have the discipline it took to become a rock star, I still knew I wanted to be involved in the music or entertainment industry in some way when I grew up.

How did you get your start?
I got my start managing events and tours in the world of experiential marketing. Three weeks after graduating college, I hopped on my first tour doing experiential marketing on Mayhem Festival with a non-profit public health organization. I went on to do 5 more tours with them, fall in love with connecting with new people every day, and being on the road. After wrapping my last tour with the non-profit, I dove into that world of experiential marketing tours and gigs, and went on to tour manage for a beverage company in addition to putting feelers out about music related tours in band world.

Photography-wise, I got my start on tumblr a LONG time ago. I started a tumblr blog, bought a point and shoot, bought tickets to any show I could afford, lined up early to get front row and shot photos on the barricade to post along with show reviews. Eventually, I built up a portfolio, bought a DSLR, and domain name for that blog, added staff from around Florida, and just kept shooting shows under that blog until I out grew it and re-branded it into something bigger that is now Speed of Sound Magazine.

What’s been your biggest challenge as a woman in music?
Definitely being taken seriously and having to work three times as hard to even get noticed and be considered for a gig, in addition to having to deal with how toxic the scene can get at times.    

What does empowerment in music mean to you?
To me it means diversity. Music is such a universal art form that brings people from all races, social classes, and genders together. Nothing makes me feel more empowered than seeing women from all ages, races, and social classes succeeding in the music industry.

What are you hoping to gain from mentoring a young woman in music?
I’m hoping to gain perspective from young women all over the country about their experiences, struggles, and interests in addition to doing whatever I can to help them gain valuable experience to push them forward in their careers.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a young girl trying to get their start?
A “no” doesn’t mean never. Remain persistent with every opportunity you pursue and remember you are on your own unique path.

VICTORIA SCHMIDT

What made you want to go into music?
When I was young my parents let me start going to concerts early. I fell in love with the atmosphere and decided that it’s where I wanted to be one way or another.

How did you get your start?
I got my start by street teaming with Fueled by Ramen and My Life VS Your Vacation at Warped Tour and other events. I also started photographing local shows and moved up from there.

What’s been your biggest challenge as a woman in music?
I think the biggest challenge has been getting taken seriously in the industry. It’s always hard to land touring jobs when most crews are strictly guys. Obviously there are exceptions and I can see the “standard” changing and I love it.

What does empowerment in music mean to you?
It means showing your support for one another. Whether it’s sharing a song by another artist or going out to a show. Just supporting one another. 

What are you hoping to gain from mentoring a young woman in music?
I’m hoping to pass down my knowledge and help them bridge the gap to help them get the start in the career they want to pursue!

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a young girl trying to get their start?
Persistence. Never stop trying because I promise you are going to get more no’s than yes’s at times. It’s going to hurt your persistence but don’t stop until you are where you want to be. Even then continue pushing your goals even higher. The sky is the limit.

KELLY FOX

What made you want to go into music?
I think I was “into” music long before I started working in the industry. From the day my brother popped in a bootleg Green Day CD to our family computer, I was consuming music all day, every day. Despite years of trying, I was never able to successfully play an instrument, but I’ve always been content being an observer of music. Fast forward to around when I was 15, I started going to a TON of concerts—I’d usually be at a show two or three times a month. Then when I started having mental health issues, I realized that concerts were the place where I felt happiest, so eventually I figured out how to get a job in the scene. It’s ancient history from there, but I don’t think I ever “went into” music, I think it was always around me.

How did you get your start?
Once I found out music photography was a job after meeting Anna Lee, I literally just sent emails to bands asking for photo passes in exchange for free photos. Openers, main acts, all of them. I met some mentors along the way, but also relied on Google for a lot of wisdom. Once I’d compiled a portfolio, I just sent it out to editors of music publications, asking for a shot. A few said yes, and I’ve worked as a press photographer and music journalist for nearly three years. Getting on tour was a matter of working really hard until the right people noticed it, but being kind, putting my nose to the grindstone, and trying to foster real connections is my general M.O.

What’s been your biggest challenge as a woman in music?
I think there’s something psychologically draining about being a woman in any male-dominated field. I find myself constantly comparing myself to other artists, and wondering if I’m “worthy” of what I’ve achieved, which I don’t think my male colleagues are doing. When you don’t have a guaranteed spot in your field, you constantly watch yourself to make sure you’re not only doing your best, but that your best is better than people who really aren’t even threats. That’s exhausting, and it’s a breath of fresh air whenever I see female tour photographers. They did it, and they deserve their space—there’s a space for me too.

What does empowerment in music mean to you?
Music in and of itself is empowering—the feeling of not being alone can save lives. Unfortunately, a lot of the people behind the scenes, especially women, POC, the LGBT+ community, etc. don’t feel empowered. Ultimately, I think the goal is just people feeling safe and important, but in order to do that, a good place to start is making them feel heard. If the industry starts actually listening to the things we’re saying, rather than frowning and apologizing, we’ll have made leaps and bounds. Once the disenfranchised feel like they can speak out, things can really change.

What are you hoping to gain from mentoring a young woman in music?
Even though I’m young, I’ve been in the industry for a minute. It’s really easy to get stuck in a rut and see the way things are done as the way they should be. I recently had a colleague give me an amazing idea about a way to prepare a resume—I’ve been printing resumes the same way for the past five years, and I never would’ve thought to approach it so creatively. I’m so excited to see such fresh perspectives and to renew my spirit for work. I’m pretty convinced I’ll be meeting someone who will take my job one of these days.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a young girl trying to get their start?
There are some sleazy people in the music industry, but for every person trying to take advantage of you, there are one hundred people who will mentor you, encourage you, connect you, guide you, support you, promote you, and empower you. So when you need help, ASK FOR IT. You aren’t a burden, you aren’t wasting their time, and they WANT to help you. The worst thing anyone can do is say no, so find your people, and ask them your questions.