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Life and Work with Emily Twombly

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Twombly.

Emily, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I moved to Los Angeles for work ten years ago from Boston. After a series of all of the place jobs (non-profits, museum work, office job), I found a home working at Origami Vinyl. This re-sparked my interest in working in the music industry. I also learned how to DJ there.

Growing up, the DIY music scene was a huge outlet for me. It was a way to make like-minded friends from different cities and gave me a sense of belonging in a community of misfits. Starting in high school, I was booking my own shows with friends and in college, that translated to living in a giant punk house and throwing shows in our basement.

Through Origami, I became friends with the folks at FYF. When Origami closed, I got hired to work with them full time. After a few years though, FYF shut down due to sexual assault allegations against the owner.

Out of that though, at the beginning of 2018, two of my colleagues and I started our own promotion company called This Is Who We Are Now.

I’ve been lucky to find a really wonderful community of like-minded people in Los Angeles. My friends and found family inspired me and my partner to start an event called Presence. We hold it every few months (when our schedules allow). It’s a showcase of queer artists, performers, musicians, zine makers, and craft makers. Each time, we raise money for a different LGBTQ oriented organization – i.e. Los Angeles LGBT Center and the Trevor Project.

I went to art school in Boston for bookbinding and screen printing and have since been trying to develop my work and figure out my voice through zines, paintings, and drawings.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not smooth at all. I’ve had a series of bosses who were just not good men. That alone was a struggle to deal with. The music industry, among many other industries, is still very male-dominated and it can be hard to make your voice heard if you’re not directly in a position of power.

My advice to other women is to form alliances and find your people within your industry. There will always be boys clubs, there will always be straight-washing in every industry but when you find your people, you have a team and it helps to feel less alone. My girlfriends who are also in the music industry have gotten me through lots of frustrating situations just by being there to listen and to empathize.
I’ve also tried to learn how to make my voice heard. I still haven’t mastered this but it’s so important to speak up and if you aren’t heard the first time, keep repeating yourself because your voice matters.
Also, keeping a balance of hope but also a healthy dose of cynicism helps.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am an artist, DJ and concert promoter.
I’m very proud of all the work I do. Presence has been such a fulfilling event – it feels like a community.

This Is Who We Are Now was born out of a tumultuous situation but my colleagues and I all felt so strongly and passionately about putting on shows that we could stand behind, we had to make our new company work.

We all have been inspired by music and specifically going to shows when we were younger. It’s so important for us to create spaces where people feel welcome and inspired. We want people to have unique experiences at the shows we put on.

There’s a wealth of academic research that suggests that lack of mentors and networking opportunities for women has materially affected the number of women in leadership roles. Smart organizations and industry leaders are working to change this, but in the meantime, do you have any advice for finding a mentor and building a network?
Ask for help when you need it. Don’t assume that people are going to know you need help and reach out to you… you have to seek out your mentors. And don’t be afraid – people are happy to bestow what they know if they are asked. Especially in Los Angeles, people get so wrapped up in what they’re doing, it takes a nudge to get them to take their blinders off. Don’t be afraid of being proud of what you do and who you are. I struggle with staying confident in what I’ve done and what I’m doing – especially in the presence of people who are seemingly more accomplished than me. Stay confident in your work and in yourself and your confidence will be noticed.

Also, BE NICE TO PEOPLE. Not just to the people who can help you but to the people who you meet along the way. It goes a LONG way.

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Image Credit:

Image of me by Vickki Acuna

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Will

    January 7, 2019 at 03:22

    Emily is the very best!

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