Introducing: shesaid.so Montreal
The new addition to shesaid.so’s international growth
This month we are excited to announce the launch of a new shesaid.so chapter: Montreal. The local team is headed up by Flora Garnier and Lola Baraldi, so here we get to know them a bit better, as well as hearing their aims for the new local chapter.
Tell us a little more about yourself and your music career journey to date.
Flora: I’m a proud artist manager of a band of 8 guys (yes, 8) and 2 incredible women artists called The Brooks, La Bronze and Sara-Danielle. I’ve been working in culture since 2009, going from film production to managing professional dance workshops to coordinating tours for soul, funk and jazz artists and working in different festivals. Native from France, I moved to Montreal 5 years ago and joined the Ambiances Ambigues team, where I’m still working as International Business Developer and Artist Manager. I also facilitate training for Quebec artists and producers to navigate the French music market through my involvement with ADISQ, the Québec Association for the Recording, Concert and Video Industries. Lifelong music lover and former clarinet player, I’m passionate about connecting people and making projects happen.
Lola: I currently work as Partnerships & Virtual Platform coordinator for MUTEK Montreal, learning tons about this virtual event-production pivot we’ve had to adapt to. I started working in music in 2017, writing articles covering the local electronic music scene; I realized how writing was an enjoyable way to connect with people, and complement their work by articulating it. Since 2017, I’ve worked with venues, labels and artists in Montreal and a little bit of Mexico City, in a variety of communications and events-related freelance gigs. Recently, I’ve been interested in learning more about music cities and cultural policy, and sit on Montreal’s Night Council, the mediating body between the government and the night-time economy.
What inspired you to be involved with shesaid.so?
Flora: As a woman in the industry, I have to continuously make the space to express myself and advocate for my artists. I feel how much I could and can benefit from spaces where I could freely ask for advice and mentorship — I want to be able to create those spaces. Montreal is an incredibly creative city, yet sometimes it’s a bit of a bubble — I feel like shesaid.so is a great way to kickstart connections towards new people, places and partnership opportunities for the local scene.
Lola: Feeling the potential and openness in the room while at MEETSSS (shesaid.so’s first conference). Within a very short time span, people seemed comfortable sharing what they knew about their field and about themselves. It was inclusive. Things that were considered vulnerable elsewhere were spoken about openly, and shown for the strengths they were. I feel like many people who might not always move so freely through industry networking events were comfortable and communicative — and I really wanted to learn how to create such an environment, because that type of openness and comfort is a motor for creativity. Given Montreal’s vibrancy — the next move was obvious!
How would you describe the music scene in Montreal?
Montreal’s a rising cultural and tech hub, powered by great public funding opportunities for the arts, a summer season lined with all sorts of festivals, and cheap — but quickly rising — rents. Musically, there’s a wide palette of different styles and scenes (indie, DIY, electronic, hiphop, metal…) at times divided along Franco-Anglo language lines. Historically, Montreal’s been a hotbed of music movements, in huge part thanks to its immigrant, queer, black and POC communities — Little Burgundy was a rallying point during the jazz age, downtown Montreal shone during the disco era, local promoters built a strong rave scene in the 90s… Music is in the DNA of the city.
The city isn’t so big, which eases community-building, building bridges, and the visibility of different scenes. There’s a real momentum here, a willingness to experiment — but we’re also insular at times, disconnected from other industries and markets. It’s a transient city where many artists, students and others come and go, which makes for a dynamic creative scene.
While Montreal’s quite progressive compared to other places where some of us have lived, there are still many divisions that affect equal opportunities and the wellbeing of those making the scene. It’s a settler city on unceded land — and we’ve yet to see adequate support and understanding for the production, diffusion and understanding of traditional and contemporary indigenous music. Lastly, the pandemic has hit some of our smaller venues harder, which makes creating pathways to preserve local talent even more important to us!
Why did you want to form a chapter in Montreal?
We saw an opportunity for building bridges — within the different subcultures and between Montreal and other cities. There are lots of really great groups and collectives already nurturing the scene from within, working towards professionalization of the sector, greater visibility of underrepresented and underserved artists, harm reduction…we want to add to these efforts and chime in to create connections to other cities beyond Montreal.
The Quebec music industry went through its #metoo movement summer of 2020, and we’re still feeling those ripples — there’s a real need for non-judgmental spaces of exchange which don’t replicate structures of oppression. While the solution is much larger than just us, we hope to contribute to it.
Up until this weekend, the 6 of us had only met on Zoom! We’ve really been brought together by these common objectives. Coming from very different backgrounds — music marketing, inclusive HR, artist management, DJing, event production, label management, graphic design… — it’s been fascinating to assemble our perspectives on the best way to do this.
What are your hopes for shesaid.soMontreal?
To provide a common ground of exchange between artists / industry members experiencing similar situations across completely different music scenes, who perhaps would have not met if not for a shesaid.so event. To be facilitators, to link people with solutions (in which men are included!). Most importantly, to create an organisation that can host not only our own ideas, but the ideas of others, and mobilize our resources to connect these ideas with professional and personal development opportunities. We’re flexible and want to grow along with the suggestions, needs and ideas of the local community.