Laura Simpson - Side Door Access
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?
I was working as communications/membership coordinator for Music Nova Scotia when I was first pregnant in 2008. We had an office on Spring Garden Road where all the musicians would come up to the third floor and sign up by hand at my desk at the door. I remember watching Ria Mae (now also a parent), figure out what her artist name would be and pencil it into the form. I was on the ‘industry’ side of things, but I was very aware that there was basically noone with children at the time when I got pregnant.
“Are you always pregnant?” was an actual questions someone asked me when I was pregnant with my second child 20 months after the first! It was weird for people. I was at Nova Scotia Music Week one time and there was a hotel party that fired up a Marshall stack for an impromptu jam. It hit my brain while I was asleep in bed like a freight train. I just walked into the hotel room, squeezing through all the people and just stood there, FULLY pregnant and they all just quieted down and apologized. (We all had a good laugh about it later.)
As a working parent in the music industry, what are some of the biggest challenges you are facing?
My kids are older now (12 and 14), but when they were younger it made it so much harder to be out at shows that were late or to be away from home for work. It’s one of the main reasons I started doing house shows - bring the music to me and end early! The kids can sleep through anything now because of all the shows we had. My daughter and her cousin actually ‘opened’ for Moscow Apartment (now Housewife).
But all the time our music environments are not set up for parents - late nights, long days, poor or prohibitive conditions for kids and almost always your income is at or below the poverty line. You’re always hustling in the industry and with kids, you’ve got someone else’s life on the line.
What is one small change within the industry that could make a positive impact for working parents?
Pay artists fairly. Just do it.
How do you find support and community with other working parents in or out of the music industry?
I’m so pleased to commiserate and communicate with other parents in the industry and otherwise. When there are drop-ins for parents at festivals and events it’s really helpful to see and be seen and feel supported. I’d say most of the people I hang out with now are parents of my kids’ friends. We are definitely a village raising the children.
What’s one specific example of an organization/venue/company doing something great to help support working parents?
Unison is a godsend. They actually helped us when we were not doing well financially and helped send the kids to summer camp when we couldn’t afford it.
What could a music event (festival, conference, etc.), do or provide to make it easier for you to participate?
All ages shows!
Can you shout out another music mama doing great things?
Jenn Grant. Friggin doing all the things, feeling all the feels and working to make magic.