Penniback Records is an independent music label based in Los Angeles, and is currently producing some of the most involved and notable names in California’s local music scene. Run by Julian Montano and Luis Ho Penniback houses groups like Jurassic Shark, Super Lunch, Kuromi, Espresso, Whaja Dew, Clit Kat, Matter Room and many more. They have powerful and inspiring women among their ranks, and this series is about them, all of the amazing ladies that make Penniback Records possible. They’re sound engineers, promoters, artists, musicians, but most of all, they’re activists.
Music is, without a doubt, a male dominated scene, and this is where that changes. Welcome to part one of our series, The Girls of Penniback.
This 20-year-old was first inspired to take the stage in 2015, when Loza and a classmate had attended Burger Records’ Festival, Burger-a-Go-Go, showcasing local LA acts.
“We were there for HOURS just watching all these sick female fronted bands killing it and told each other we had to form a band. A month after that I got my first guitar ever, and her and I started writing songs. Unfortunately her mom didn’t allow her to play in a band, so I continued The Dew, and just two months later I was playing our first show. Whaja Dew is really just a play on words, it’s like, “what’d you do?” So you can shout to a homie, “whaja dew that for!?” When they throw a water balloon at the back of your head.”
Slozza and her band began working with Penniback Records almost as abruptly as the group got together. “I started working with Penniback not too long after I met them,” she states. “In October of 2015 I really didn’t have many friends, so I would go to The Smell alone to volunteer as a sound engineer. I showed up one random empty Thursday night to do sound, and there was just a fat crew of Penniback kids volunteering as well. I met Julian that night (co-owner) and he told me I should come to the Penniback show that was happening the next day. After that we became really good friends, and a few months later booked a sold out Penniback show at The Smell. We’ve just been working with them ever since.”
Not only a killer front woman, she also dominates behind the scenes, working the soundboard for some major LA venues. We asked her to give us some background on how she initially got into the business of sound engineering, it’s not a very common hobby you see a lot of people taking up everyday. Being a double threat in the music scene definitely has its advantages, and that’s something Stephanie knows well. It gives you a whole new perspective, you know all about both the production, and the performance side of the spectrum. There’s so much more to local music than just the faces you see on stage, and not many people really take the time to notice that.
“Sound engineering is the first thing I ever got into. I knew how to set up a soundboard before I knew how to play a chord on the guitar. Being in a band makes it really easy to get around the sound world, also as an engineer and a musician I know what each position wants what from the other. I’ve shadowed engineers at venues like the Observatory and The Echoplex which has been so awesome, but I’m also currently in school for Audio Engineering/Recording Arts, so hopefully the second I graduate I can land a job at one of those venues. Little side note: I was able to shadow sound for a Death Grips show at The Observatory, and that was honestly the most insane experience.”
Being such a strong female force in local music, we asked Stephanie if, in her personal opinion, there’s a good amount of representation by girls in the scene. She replied with an exaggerated, “NOT AT ALL! I am so tired of showing up to these shows and the entire line up doesn’t have a SINGLE female on it. It’s like, I really don’t want to see four sweaty guys playing rock music over and over again. There’s just so many bands out there with females in them that are so sick that could’ve been on the bill.”
What about in the aspect of sound engineering? Why do you think there aren’t more girls in that spectrum of music in particular?
“When in comes to being a woman in the sound industry, it’s real hard. Engineers in general are real pricky and douchey, especially to woman. So I think women are really afraid and discouraged, but honestly some of the best engineers I’ve ever met have been woman. They work EXTRA hard in their field to prove their worthiness, and I really respect it. There’s this organization called ‘SoundGirls’ that’s really awesome and does an amazing job of creating a community for female sound engineers. It’s a website and an organization that brings female engineers together to build a community. They also do a great job of linking various internships and sound jobs in the industry to the website. I’ll be having my first meet up with them soon so I’m very excited to know all the benefits of being a SoundGirl.”
It’s no secret that women have a more difficult time in fields that are majorly male, and that needs to change. It inspires me to know that girls like Stephanie are standing up and taking charge.
Why do you think things are the way they are? Why do you think there are much more men in music and the industry than there are women, looking in a “bigger picture” type of perspective?
“I think the need for male domination in the scene reverts back to renaissance times. They wouldn’t let females be on stage for plays, they would literally have men play women. I believe some people still have outdated minds and really don’t seem to be progressive.”
Any advice for younger girls who want to follow in your path? How do we make people gain an open mind and move over for our future badass women?
“I would say to just DO IT. Literally, I didn’t know anything about any of the things I got myself into, but with time and experience you will get better. I believe girls can change those ideals by just KILLING it in their field. Unfortunately men can be mediocre and still be praised, but if a girl is well known in her field it really gains respect and raises some eyebrows. I would also say, don’t let anything hold you back. I’d be lying if I said it was easy to be on stage as a female since people just want to EXTRA judge you, but as long as you keep doing what you want, you will only keep getting better and better until you reach god-tier.”
With that, we asked Stephanie what she would like her final words to be, and I believe I will end it there. Remember, women are quite literally a force of nature. There is absolutely nothing that we cannot accomplished, all you have to do is want it enough.
“EYES OPEN NO FEAR.”