Interview: Jordannah ElizabethPosted: August 14, 2012
By Sophie Rae
Jordannah Elizabeth is a music journalist and founder of The Process Records Media Group, a record label, marketing, and publicity firm. She is also a professional singer and songwriter.
How did you start working in the music industry?
I took music classes throughout my life, I’m a classically trained singer. I was always into rock n’ roll, my mom turned me on to bands like Elton John and 3 Dog Night. My dad was always into folk and country. When I was 17 I started managing a band and learned how to play guitar. I went on to record other bands and play shows myself.
You started your first music promotion company, Jordan’s River Promotions, when you were 17. What was it like working in the music industry at such a young age?
I started it with my boyfriend in a small town called Trinidad, Colorado with a company called Raging Beasts Productions. I started out booking one band that I met on my college campus. I went on google and I searched “how do you book a tour?” We got their music on myspace and I started emailing clubs in Colorado and we’d drive and show up and I’d wear a ton of makeup to get into 21+ shows at 17. Why so young? I just had ideas. It’s just my personality to kind of go for it.
I’ve been playing in bands since I was 9 and I’ve faced some challenges as a young, female musician. Have you faced any challenges as a young woman in the music industry?
Yeah, it was hard. Now that I’m 25, I’m finally getting a little respect after doing a lot of hard work. But you know, I’m a black female in rock n’ roll starting at age 17. I was playing acoustic guitar and I had dreadlocks and I’d be on stage and people would just be like, “I don’t understand, what’s happening?” And my music is very experimental, sort of psychedelic. It was a terrible struggle. A lot of disrespect, a lot of abuse, a lot of boundaries being crossed. Major labels wanted to sign me and the big managers were very intrusive and very physical with me at times. I tried to start The Process Records as a Riot Grrrl Record label, but in 2010 I was ahead of my time. The labels wanted me to put out another record, so I made this really weird record that the labels didn’t know what to do with. After all the abuse, I ended up homeless and I had to do a lot of therapy to get back on my feet.
You said you started The Process Records as a Riot Grrrl record label. Why did you want to start a Riot Grrrl label?
I wanted to protect girls from what I had been through. I got into the Riot Grrrl scene when I was around 14 years old, just at the end of it. There’s a huge influx of Riot Grrrl now– Riot Grrrl Berlin is doing really well, Riot Grrrl New York just popped up. I was a few years too early for the resurgence and people just didn’t get it. But back in the day I had safety pins in my clothes, and pink dreadlocks, and I was a feminist and all that. I still am.
How do you choose the bands that your label releases?
When I first started out, I just went for whatever I was excited about, but now I’m a lot more choosy. I have to like their live sound, they have to have a great attitude and be mature. So right now I’m dealing with older, more seasoned bands. Like, I just signed Apollo Heights, they were in this band in the 80s and 90s called the Veldt, they toured with Jesus and Mary Chain and all those guys. I just don’t want drama, I want good bands with good attitudes and good personalities.
Other than The Process Records and your own music, what other projects are you currently involved in?
I have my own radio show called The Process Records’ Psych Nights. I do big interviews with artists like Jason Sebastian Russo of Mercury Rev and Hopewell, Jason Simon of Dead Meadow. I have a blog called TPR-Mag. I am also the editor of thinklikealabel.com where we give resources to DIY bands that want to become professional. We promote education– I’m really big on promoting music education because it’s the one thing that’s really changed my life.
What are you listening to right now?
I was just listening to Galaxie 500. The Flying Eyes are a great band out of Baltimore City. I listen to a lot of jazz and folk. I like a lot of underground bands like Crystal Ships and Black Market Karma. And a lot of Latin American underground music too.
What’s next for you? What are you going to be working on in the next few months?
We have a big album release party coming up for Hopewell, September 8th at the Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn. I’m going to be moving to Baltimore, so I’ll be extending The Process Records from New York down to Baltimore and Philadelphia.
Anything else you want to add?
I just want to encourage young women to follow their dreams and protect themselves. You don’t have to demean yourself, you don’t have to use your body– use your mind. There’s nothing wrong with being sexy, being beautiful, but use your mind, practice your instrument. Be loving, be kind, but don’t take any crap. Never be so angry that you hate men. It’s a male-dominated industry and it’s going to be unfair but never get so angry that you can’t love your friends and respect men. Not everyone is out to get you. If you’re strong and smart, you can have a great experience as a musician for the rest of your life.