Wednesday, May 28, 2014

#TBT: Catching Up With Liz Garo Zine Issue #6

Last summer, we interviewed Liz Garo for Zine #6! Here's the result:

Catching Up With To Liz Garo
Liz has been the woman behind booking all the amazing shows at the Echo & Echoplex since 2001. She has her hands in all sorts of other projects around the city and is a true veteran of the music scene in LA. In 2008, she decided she wasn't busy enough so with her business partner, she opened Stories Bookstore + Cafe. As a fellow woman in the music biz, I've always admired Liz and wanted to pick her brain about her experiences. She took the time out of her crazy schedule to answer my questions. Lucky us! (Thanks Liz!) - Emily

Tell everyone why Echo Park Rising is awesome. 
Echo Park rising is an awesome work in progress and is just going to get better in the upcoming years. The cool thing about EPR is that it's new and bands, businesses, people are still figuring it out on how they can participate. Really it's a weekend where the people of echo park should celebrate the neighborhood and what they bring to it. I'm fine to get it started but really it's about people embracing the idea and figuring out what they can do to participate... Put on an art show, have a house party, dance on the steps of Pazzo Gelato or visit every small business you haven't been too. It's a little chaotic but to me, that's the charm. I'm sure it will change as it progresses but for now, almost anything goes. This year we have over 150 bands and readings and music for kids and art shows and bird walks and even the dodge ball society is doing something.

What were you like as a teenager? Have you always been into the music scene? 
I've always been intrigued with music and for some reason, the "business" of it ... I would read the calendar section in the la times and learn the names of presidents of labels and the players in the biz. I was interested in the music but also how it all came to be -- the behind the scenes of it. I grew up with older sisters who listened to Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix and Van Morrison and I’m sure I was attracted to music on some level because I wanted to impress them but I also liked the "outsider" quality of rock n roll at the time. When I was in high school all my friends worked at Marie Calendar's as waitresses and I was determined to work in the cool indie record store, which I did my senior year and that certainly helped focus my path of wanting to work in the "music biz"
to be honest, I felt like it found me.

Some would say that the music industry is a predominately male world - do you agree or disagree? Do you feel that has posed challenges for you?
The music business is predominately men! It's definitely shifted some to more women being in prominent positions but years ago I remember sitting in a series of meetings and realizing they were always with groups of men. It's a challenge in that you really have to make sure your voice is heard and that you're articulate and that you stand your ground. The music business is more liberal than most businesses but even with that, I think women still have to prove they know what they're doing - and you don’t have the advantage of the boys club thing where dudes go golf or talk about sports - not that women can't do either of those but the guys do hang together. .
Just be smart and passionate about it, do your research and be able to conduct a conversation without gushing about how cute the bass player is (that's supposed to be a dumb joke there)

Do you listen to music at home for pleasure (and not just for work)? What's an album you couldn't live without? 
I do listen to music at home, in the car, etc. There are parts of this business that can be so frustrating that I cant imagine doing it if you didn't have a sincere interest/care about the bands or music. Because sometimes it can be kind of silly so you really have to care about it. I don’t always feel like I know enough about new bands -- there's so many! - I can't site the name of the 4th track on something or know exactly what the lyrics mean but I do listen to as much as I can.
There isn’t just one record I couldn't live without! There are lots - Flaming Lips, Soft Bulletin, John Cale - Paris 1919, Buzzcocks Different Kind of Tension, all the Beach House records, the Cocteau Twins, Al Greene's Greatest Hits, any Velvet Underground. Sonic Youth's song "Teenage Riot" totally hooked me back in to working in music when I was ready to quit and go back to school; I like lots of old honky tonk country and Adele is a guilty pleasure.

Any local bands that stand out to you right now? Who do you think is gonna get big in the next coming year? 
There are local bands that I really like and some of them are ones that play the midnight slot on a Tuesday with only 30 people in the audience. There are some bands that are trying so hard to make it it's off putting but there are others that are just doing what they're doing and really succeed.
Local bands I like MT Ossa, Wildcat Wildcat, Tall Tales & the Silver Lining, Gothic Tropic, Hindu Pirates, Beach Party, Fever the Ghost, Body Parts, Vum; I’m sure I’m forgetting about twenty more...
Big Black Delta is on a roll and will continue to develop; I think Papa and Dawes and Haim will still be heard many years from now putting out quality music; I love Hanni El Khatib and of course Rhye just catapulted this year; I hope Cayucas and Torches develop strongly

Any underdog bands that we should be paying more attention to? Tommie Santee Klaws - totally musical and talented and understated and their weird kind of folk with harmonies can really be so moving and inspiring. It’s very subtle and powerful at the same time.

And not to ignore the other side of all the awesome stuff that you do, what made you want to open a bookstore? I was feeling like I wanted to do something else but wasn't sure what it was; I had worked in book stores and there's always something very romantic and appealing about it. Claudia Colodro, my business partner, and I have a mutual friend who told me Claudia was going to open a store. And I just felt compelled to be part of it, have a cafe and just make it a cool space. It had been something I had sort of always daydreamed about but having a partner in it all gave it momentum so it actually happened. We were originally going to be located in silver lake but Echo Park was the right move.

Do you even have time to read anymore? If so, what are some of your favorite books? I don’t have time to read anymore although I try! I go in the store some times and wish I could just hang out there all afternoon. I'm reading Richard Lange’s (local author) book angel baby right now; before that it was tapping the source - a surf noir book that came out in the early 80s. I love John Fante and Carson McCullers and Raymond Carver. I like short stories a lot, the book "you can’t win" by jack black - not the actor - is one of my faves and one of the store's best sellers. It's about the early American "underground" of hobos and thieves and alienation; it was written in the 1920s I think and just depicts a certain American character that you don’t always read about.

Do you have advice for the kids (specifically girls) out there who are trying to start a "scene" in their neighborhood? 
As corny as it sounds, just do it. Find like-minded souls and put something together. Find a club or cafe or bookstore and set up a show, start a blog, etc. If you're doing something out of love and passion and enthusiasm and creativity people will respond to that. I saw a flyer the other day for a teenage art show and thought that was so great that some kid was getting their peers together for an art show. Don’t care about 'creating a scene' just be a good person, honor the craft and figure out a way for it to be heard and seen.

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