Women In Music: Emily Kelly

It was a “deep, deep passion for music and writing and some serious naivety” that Emily Kelly attributes as to why she took her love for music and explored it professionally. She founded Deathproof, and is the current director of PR and creative for the collective who are proudly behind music related events, social media accounts, tours, and your favourite new releases. As one current example, Emily is very excited about the new West Thebarton album “Different Beings Being Different” and suggests that we all go and listen to it.

Emily’s early musical roots are her dad’s collection of Huey Lewis, James Taylor, and Fleetwood Mac records. In her words, this fledgling love for music was then “morphed by my brother’s Silverchair, Nirvana, and Green Day CDs, refined by my partner’s Strung Out, Boysetsfire, and Less Than Jake adoration and then perfected with my six year stint at indie label Shock Records”.

I reached out to Emily and other women of the music industry after witnessing some aggressive social media exchanges on the topic of gender imbalance in the scene. I wanted to know, directly from those involved, whether musicians or behind the scenes, what their personal experience was of this, if they felt inclined to share it.

Emily shared that she had felt actively discouraged on many occasions while working as “an enthusiastic promo assistant”. When she asked for fair remuneration for her hard work, she and others around her were taught to consider themselves lucky with their less than minimum wage, because they could be easily replaced. She shares that being young, female, and desperate to keep her job was also behind being vulnerable to accepting inappropriate behaviour as “normal and a bit of cheeky fun”.  Though she felt unsafe in some of these circumstances, Emily says that she felt safe at gigs and in mosh pits, admitting her six foot volleyballer stature meant she felt she could fight back.

“The boys club mentality has always been rife in music, but I feel it’s being dismantled now.”

Emily shares that she routinely felt overlooked because of her gender. “The boys club mentality has always been rife in music, but I feel it’s being dismantled now.” With this subsequent dismantling, Emily’s advice for women who are keen to be involved in the music industry is crystal clear: “There’s never been a better time. Get stuck in NOW.”

By way of support, Emily has established for herself a small group of friends and industry peers, that she turns to for “a beer and a back pat” whenever she hits upon doubts or fears about what she’s doing with Deathproof. She finds inspiration in observing what others are doing in the scene, sharing that she feels “energised and encouraged” by the successes that she sees female peers achieving in the direction/operation of their own businesses. She has respect for those “still slugging it out” that she’s been connected to since her days in working for a label. “Almost without exception they are wonderful people who have a unique understanding of the industry and have found their own place within it.”

Emily is inspired by those who take a stand in the scene. “There are a small group of people who are being VERY vocal about injustices in the industry and they are being attacked routinely because of this. Their voices are much maligned and they suffer personally because of their outspoken and ‘extreme’ attitudes but they are singlehandedly morphing our industry for the better, so I see them as role models even though many of them are much younger than me.”

Despite its challenges and darker moments, Emily has hopes for the music industry of the future and keenly describes her impressions of it. “Many our our clients and peers are actively seeking out opportunities to support and promote previously underrepresented factions of the community and I don’t believe this is a fad. I feel like this will lead to these marginalised groups finding extremely strong representation in the music world and hopefully RUNNING more businesses and calling more shots.”


Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it. [Loved the read? Shout Kel a latte.]

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