The Hum Founder Rachael Pazdan On Female Disruption In The Music Industry
rachael pazdan

The Hum is a unique all-female collaborative music series where female musicians collaborate, write, and perform new material live, in the center of the room, for the very first time. The Hum’s mission is to highlight the double standard in the industry that makes it unusual for audiences to experience a night of music composed entirely by women

Over 200 musicians have participated in The Hum to date including Kimbra, Kaki King, members of The Cranberries, Cat Power, MIA, and many more. Culture Collide spoke with
The Hum founder Rachael Pazdan on the inspiration for the series, its impact, and where it’s headed.

What is your history with the music industry?
Rachael: Before I became one of the talent buyers at LPR, I was at BRIC/Celebrate Brooklyn for 3 years. During that time I was also booking music at the tiny Greenpoint venue Manhattan Inn (and other spaces) under the moniker HYPNOCRAFT. I was also producing interdisciplinary performances and bringing together musicians, dancers, and filmmakers to collaborate. Before BRIC I worked for CAMI (Columbia Artist Management) and The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College.

What first prompted you to create The Hum, and how did the project develop?
Rachael: I found myself wondering where all of the women were when I went to concerts. It was rare to see a woman playing instruments like the drums or bass, and even more rare to see a band made up entirely of women, and most shows I went to only had one or two women playing throughout the entire night. With The Hum, I wanted to create a platform for female musicians to collaborate, and I wanted to book a show that was made up of entirely women on stage, which was something I had never seen before.

With this being the fifth series of The Hum, how has the support and its influence grown?
Rachael: When I came up with the idea for the show, I never expected it to become a series or to be repeated. It was after those first shows in April 2015 that I realized how unique the idea was and how it was filling a void in the live music scene. As press caught on and more people learned about it, it was easier to ask bigger artists to be involved. To date we’ve had about 225 women participate in the series, and I’m excited to continue to grow that number.

Have you received any reactions that were not positive?
Rachael: There is always a bit of risk when matching up artists, and sometimes it doesn’t work out. Once in a while when I match up artists…I don’t totally nail it. If they don’t get along or aren’t on the same page, it can make their process a bit more challenging. I hope to keep those instances to a minimum, so I try to let musicians put together their own groups now.

In what ways do you wish The Hum will grow or develop in the coming years?
Rachael: I’d love to have some bigger artists participate; some dream artists on my list are Jana Hunter (Lower Dens), Laurie Anderson, Patti Smith, Meshell Ndegeocello, Solange, Merrill Garbus (Tune-Yards), Lianne La Havas, Jill Scott, Karen O, Neko Case, and many more! I also plan on expanding The Hum to include some regular concerts of mostly female bands, as well as panels and workshops. Ideally, I’d like The Hum to be a platform for all kinds of women in music to join forces and collectively create something bigger than our individual reach allows.

How have you been most surprised/affected by this project?
Rachael: I honestly never expected it to turn into something bigger than a Monday night residency! I’m incredibly passionate about this series, and feel that it’s become a personal crusade and a responsibility to maintain and grow The Hum so that it can continue to support women in music.

Do you have a favorite performance from your experience with The Hum?
Rachael: I have a bunch of favorites, so it’s hard to name just one! From this season, one set that stands out to me is the collaboration between Raquel Berrios (Buscabulla), Drew Citron (Beverly), Gabriela Jimeno (Ela Minus), and Gisela Fulla-Silvestre (NOIA). It was spectacular, and the crowd begged for an encore even though they weren’t an actual band and didn’t have any more songs to play!

What makes NYC the perfect place for a project like this?
Rachael: So many musicians live in New York, and so many different genres of music are represented here. There’s an endless pool of talent to pick from. New York-based musicians are also down to collaborate and experiment, which is obviously very necessary for this project. Audiences are curious here as well, and I think people in New York enjoy seeing something different. 

Listen to The Hum playlist featuring past collaborators here:

photo by: Emeri Fetzer; Julia Drummond