Molly Neuman — The Collapse Board Interview
You were on a panel at this year’s SXSW called Steady Diet Of Nothing which was targeted at touring musicians interested in maintaining their health. Can you tell me more about it?
Yeah, that was something that I pitched to SXSW last year — if you have an idea for a panel you have to present it and then get people to vote for it then they pick which ones they prefer. It was something that I think about a lot because of my own experiences as a musician and touring and working as an artist manager — working with bands that have to wake up early and do promo then play a gig in the middle of the night, the whole life style is really difficult. It’s hard enough to be a traveller that’s not a musician, who’s not sitting in a van for eight hours a day with limited options and no time to exercise. It’s really, really tough. I don’t want to presume to say that, oh this is so easy you just wake up early and go for a run, eat some fruit and oatmeal, eat organic — it’s just all preposterous but, if you think about it, when you have these windows of opportunity, anything is an improvement over nothing. We just wanted to have that conversation about different ideas and things to try to incorporate when you have options in meals. Things like: what do you put on your rider so that when you get to the venue you have something that’s better for you than candy and chips; exercises that you can do that don’t make you exhausted; reminding people to take naps when they can – that can really give you a boost for your performance and of all the benefits that a different kind of approach can have on your creativity whether it’s in your band dynamics or overall performances. We also talked a little bit about meditation and yoga. It may all sound a little corny to some people but someone can same ‘em, they don’t have to do it [laughs].
Are meditation and yoga things that you’ve personally practiced?
Yeah I try.
How did you first come to meditation?
You just look at different ways to manage stress. I’m just not interested in drugs basically. I don’t find that the conventional treatments for stress and anxiety and all of those things have long term benefits. They bring other issues up. I’d try to just work on myself. I think exercise is key to my overall mental state. If I don’t get to do it, I can feel myself reap the negative effects of that. These are things that I think are worth trying for some people. It doesn’t work for everyone. Many people aren’t interested and that’s totally cool.
For me in my experiences, especially as a musician, it’s the kind of thing that I hope to work on a bit more with younger women who are starting their creative pursuits. There’s a real connection between the approach towards oneself and how that connects you to other people. If you’re in a group dynamic, obviously like a band, you have a lot of responsibility to one another. When I look back on how our band operated it was a lot of me, me, me! I need to win! I need to do this! We didn’t have any other tools, so there is no blame. If you can encourage other people to consider different ways and be a little bit more thoughtful and a little bit more personally responsible there’s a lot of positive resonance from that potentially.
In a previous interview I read with you, you commented how there’s a lot of pressure on women in the industry and women coming into the industry to look a certain way, a lot of emphasis is placed on how they look.
It’s performers certainly. It’s out of control. I can’t deny that I find myself going “Oh I like what she’s wearing” or “Oh I wish she was like this or that” and you just don’t do that for guys. Certainly, in my experience managing a group of four women who were quite popular in different ways and had a lot of media attention, there were extremely horrible things said, like they should really wear this or they should really do that and you know they didn’t say that to any of the other rock bands that were all guys on the label. It’s horrifying and there’s nothing you can do about it except try to protect them and try to protect yourself and learn from it. I have no doubt that that still exists.
I was having a discussion with my friend the other day and saying that sometimes I feel like I’m weird or something because I choose not to use things such as make-up … like I’m not sure why I feel weird but I can’t help but feel awkward sometimes.
Yeah, well I wear make-up. You have every right to make your own decisions, but certainly there’s a level of scrutiny that women have about their appearance and their choices that men just don’t have, they just absolutely don’t. I couldn’t walk into work with messy hair for example. People would go “What’s wrong with you?” yet guys do that all the time, you know what I mean?
It’s just not an issue. That’s just a fact. So what you do with it is just up to the individual [laughs]. I don’t see that changing radically but all you can do is insulate yourself from it a bit, by being confident and working on your own pride and issues.
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I believe in thoughtful in-depth interviews! My blog Conversations with Bianca is my love letter to the universe. I am the 2011 Australian Zine Maker of the Year. My Conversations With Punx Project won an award for Best Zine Produced in Australia (as a series). Marky Ramone once told me “Your heart is in the right place.”