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Kesi Smyth - 604 Records

Where were you at in your music career when you had your first child? Was there much discussion about how that life choice would affect your career within the music/entertainment industry?

To be honest, I was at a point in my career where I was experiencing intense burnout. I had just wound down one of the biggest campaigns in my career. It felt like a very natural time to step back, focus on my family, and reevaluate my professional goals. I was anxious about what the affects would be on my career within the industry but returning from mat leave with fresh ears and eyes on the industry was exactly what I needed.

As a working parent in the music industry, what are some of the biggest challenges you are facing?

I don’t think it’s specific to this industry but balancing my career goals with parenthood is a never-ending challenge. I would say trying to keep up with travel and in person events while battling mom guilt for being away from home or calling on a limited support network for childcare is a big challenge.

What is one small change within the industry that could make a positive impact for working parents?

I think just open conversations and acknowledgement about what it’s like to balance family responsibilities and career advancement. We work in an industry that is on 24/7. When we discuss the challenges openly, solutions can be found. The positive impact Zoom created in terms of work/life balance and the normalization of kids being in existence while working was immense. There are other advancements to be discovered through conversation.

How do you find support and community with other working parents in or out of the music industry?

I have found support depending on different life stages. When my kids were babies, I had colleagues who would offer sleep training advice or suggestions on groups or activities to take them to. Now that they are older, I have a community of moms (neighbors, friends, school contacts, colleagues) who I rely on for all kinds of advice or just for an outlet to rant about the daily juggling act we are all managing!

What’s one specific example of an organization/venue/company doing something great to help support working parents?

I have to say.. The company that has employed me for nearly 20 years (604 Records) has been crucial in providing me stability and flexibility while I evolved into motherhood during my time here. Having the reassurance that I can drop everything to attend a doctor’s appointment or deal with family care is so valuable. I have a boss that is concerned and will check in when one of my kids is ill. I have coworkers that offer understanding, patience and/or help if I’m ever in need. I feel very supported by my team and that means the world to a working parent.

What could a music event (festival, conference, etc.), do or provide to make it easier for you to participate?

It would be great to have networking events for parents in the industry! There are lots of resources to share and tips for travelling or working with kids.

Can you shout out another music mama doing great things?

Some of my mentors and collaborators are Julie Baldwin at 604 Records, Sandy Pandya at Art Haus, Helen Britton & Shauna De Cartier at Six Shooter, Tao-Ming Lao at Blue Crane.. there are many who are doing great things, making moves, and creating pathways for others to follow in their footsteps.