Lgbtq Challenges in the Music industry – Ms Mada interview
Hi everyone. This is your host, Michelle, and you’re listening to The Mindful Podcast, the show that aims to break the stigma associated with mental health. Today we will be talking about women and the LGTBQ community inside the music industry with Club Space resident DJ, Filipino born, Miami raised Rachel Tumada, aka Miss Mada. Hello everyone. Welcome to the mindful, podcast. Today we have wonderful Rachel with us. How are you? Good. It’s hot outside, but I managed to make it here. Not on time. It’s okay. Nobody was on time. So for those who don’t know you, do you mind introducing yourself or audience telling us a little bit about yourself personally, professionally? Okay, so my name is Rachel Tomato. I go by the moniker Miss Mata, and I’ve been DJing for about I don’t even remember anymore. It’s twelve years now, but I’ve been working in the music industry like around ten years. I DJ and on top of that, working in the industry. I’m the operations director for Club Space in Miami. So I handle the contracts, I handle the logistics, I handle the accounts, payable for DJs and so on and so forth. So I’m in touch with a lot of aspects in the music industry. Agents, tour managers, the artists themselves, and so on and so forth. Yeah, promoters in other cities as well. Okay, so you do it all. And on top of that, you’re a resident at Club Space? Yeah, I’m a resident at Space as well. Nice. Okay, so how did you get into this DJ world, this music industry? When did that start? It started I mean, I didn’t have the aspiration of being a DJ until maybe the end of high school. And it was just a thought in the back of my mind. I went to my first ultra music fest, like when I was 16, and that’s when I was really big into house music. And then when I got into college, a lot of my friends that I had met up there in Orlando, I went to UCF, a lot of them were DJs and they would tell me like, hey, your music taste is great. Why don’t you dabble in DJing? Just come to my house and we’ll teach you. Yeah, exactly. And that’s basically how it started. And then I decided to buy my own equipment and then know, kind of started from there. And it wasn’t until I started frequenting regular parties in Miami, and I’m talking about like, I was going to school in Orlando, but all the DJs I enjoyed were playing in Miami. So every weekend I would drive down to Miami from Orlando and then drive back up to Orlando for class Monday morning. Drive back up. You got to love them. It was passion at that point. It wasn’t until I was frequenting the regular party circuit that I got to meet the promoters of these parties. David De Naise of Lake Miami, for example. He started to take notice that, you know, coming more often. And I told him I was a DJ, and then he gave me my first shot at nice. Okay. Wow, that’s a lot. Did you ever graduate or finish? What degree were you curious? Okay, so I had multiple choices. The last one was Health Services Administration, and then I changed my major again to Interdisciplinary Studies, and then I just dropped out. Your passion art is your thing. Yeah. And my mom didn’t fully accept it until I was able to basically support myself and pay my own bills. She’s like, you know what? If you’re not starving and you’re not homeless, you do whatever you want. Yeah, exactly. Okay, so in the beginning, she was a little hesitant. Yeah. I mean, as usual. Yeah. She’s like, Why are you in Miami again? Why are you here? Aren’t you supposed to be what am I paying the school for? Just drop out. Just tell me what you want. It took a little bit until she saw my name on flyers, on social media and stuff. She’s like, okay, this is serious. Yeah. Is she proud? Oh, yeah, she’s very proud now. Yeah. She was probably, like, half proud, like, five years ago. Okay. Now. She’s like, okay, fine. Yeah. Nice. Okay. Now, when you talk about the music industry, what would you say are some pros and cons of it, of working inside the club or as a DJ or just in general? Well, the pros is definitely the music. People being receptive to that, people enjoying it. Honestly, that’s the main thing for me, traveling. Obviously, I get to see all these places I never would have thought to travel to. Like, I’ve been to Moscow four times in my life. Who could say that? A lot of people can’t. Yeah. I think being immersed in the industry, there’s a lot of people that are willing to give me advice just to say, hey, if you need help with music production or whatever, I’ll show you the ropes. Those are the pros. For me, I think the cons is the touring aspect. It’s very rough. Like, you’re in and out of a city less than 24 hours just for a show because you have to make it to the next show. I think also a lot of people, especially people who have been in the industry for a while, they can be very patronizing, and they treat me like yeah, it’s kind of like they’re nice, but then there’s kind of like a backhanded thing to it. I don’t really know much, but I do know more than they think that I do, so there’s that. But yeah, that’s basically that. It’s been a great yeah. Honestly, it beats a nine to five, and I’m happy doing what I do. I love what I do. I can’t trade it for anything. That’s amazing. I mean, that’s a secret, right? If you love what you do absolutely. A job. Yeah. You never work a day in your life. That’s amazing. Okay, what are a few ways in which music has impacted your life or how it has impacted in the community in general? What do you mean impacted in the community? Let’s start with how has it impacted in your life personally? Music? Well, in my life, I think I can attribute a song to my mood in a certain way can be impactful in the sense of changing the way that I feel. And I think that’s one of the most powerful things about music. That’s the thing that it can do. Or if you’re feeling sad, you could put on a sad song and then you just write it out. Yeah, exactly. It’s catharsis. Another way that has been impactful for me is inspiration. Like, I’ll hear a song that I’ve never heard before that’s different, but it’s also very I don’t know, it intrigues me and it makes me so I don’t know, so inspired to get into the studio and be like, okay, I know what I want to mirror, but make it my own. And that’s one of the rare things of music. That what it does for me. So when it inspires me that way to be in the studio, which nowadays I’m not because I’m working so much. Yeah, I try to take those into consideration, those moments. That’s a lot of impactful in general. Yeah. I think I can attribute a memory to a song. If I hear a song, I’ll be like, oh, wow. I remember driving with my mom, too, because my mom used to listen to Ambrosia and the Eagles a lot. So if I hear a song of theirs, I’ll be like, oh, this reminds me of when I was a kid. Like, driving to church with my mom. Of course. And we all get that, too. Yeah, exactly. Smells, too. It can just bring you back. Yeah, it can bring you back in the community. I can only assume when you play as a DJ, how it affects other people in general. Well, that’s what I mean. Okay. Well, hopefully whenever I play, I hope people enjoy it and don’t hate what I play. They do. There’s a lot of people that you can’t make everybody happy, and that happens. I see comments on my social media sometimes, but I think it’s a testament to what we do every weekend at Space. People keep coming back. And in the community, the community changes every year because there’s new faces always. But there’s a lot of the older friends that are there for years that I see them all the time. It’s like a family reunion every weekend. So that way of it being impactful in that community, in that sense, you’re doing something right. Yeah, exactly. Same people keep coming back. Yeah, same people keep coming back. And it’s like they’re lawyers now, the doctors. There’s no limit. You know how they say, like, oh, you’re over 40. 50 years old. Why are you at the club? No, they love the music. Yeah, I see it. Yeah. Okay. So would you say music is your main artistic outlet? Do you use music as an outlet at all? I do, definitely. It’s one of my main forms of expression, I guess. However, if I’m feeling a certain way, I can’t relay that. Let’s say, for example, I’m kind of sad at something. I can’t relay that into my music at a show because then everybody’s going to be sad, and then it’s like I’m not doing my job correctly. However, if I’m in the studio by myself, I have the freedom to have the creative freedom to play whatever I want, make whatever I want. So it’s not strictly to electronic music. I can make Lo Fi hip hop if I want to. I can make something dreamy if I’m feeling it at the moment. But yeah, definitely. Music is my main artistic expression. Yeah, that’s great. I love lo fi hip hop. Oh, me too, girl. I’m going to send you I’m going to send you a playlist. I didn’t even know I liked it. Somebody else played it, and I was like, what is this? Can you send me that playlist? Yeah, I listen to it a lot when I’m over electronic music, if I’m over house music or techno or whatever, I’m like, okay, I listen to that. I get through what I need to get through. It’s like, very soothing, very no, very relaxing. That’s amazing. Okay, so I wanted to talk to you. Women in general have difficulty gaining entrance and acceptance into this industry. Right. It’s traditionally run by men, particularly. The entertainment industry has long been dominated by men, and women have left on the fringe, making it difficult for roles as yourself to be creators or decision makers about the way that they’re represented. Have you felt or seen a difference due to the fact that you are a women in this industry? And yes, absolutely. I think it’s changed now. I think there are more women in the industry than ever, and there’s a lot of women in the industry that you don’t see. I mean, you see the artists, you see the DJs. And it wasn’t until that I was working behind the scenes, working with Davre, doing the bookings, that I got to see that many agents, many of these artist agents are women. They’re women, and they’re top of their game agents, highly respected. But this is the thing. These are the women that you don’t see. And now it’s more female DJs than ever. And I think back then, if you would have asked me this question, if it’s impacted the way that I got into the industry, like, ten years ago, I would have told you, yeah, it’s difficult. You have to earn your place, you have to earn your stripes. They’re just going to look at you and be like, oh, they only put her on the lineup because she’s just a girl, of course. And so it’s been different over the past ten years. You’ve seen an improvement nowadays. I mean, now the Stigma is like, oh, this girl takes pretty pictures on her social media, and she’s an influencer, and then she became a DJ, and that’s why she’s a DJ. Oh, yeah. That stigma is very prominent right now. So you identify yourself as somebody part of the LGTBQ community? Correct. Yeah. You identify yourself as well? I’m gay, bi, lesbian. I mean, I don’t really put a label on it, but right now I’m in a lesbian relationship with my partner. I did identify as bisexual. I had a boyfriend before I met my partner. Okay. But I’m in a lesbian relationship. Yes. How long? She’s going to kill me after this one. We’re going on twelve years, almost twelve years will be in February. No, March. Sorry. So march a long relationship. Yeah. Amazing. Yeah. Basically the length of my career. Right. You met her at the beginning, coming from Orlando. Yeah, exactly. I was actually traveling back and forth from Orlando to Miami and to shows, and then eventually we got together, and then that made it more of a reason for me to drive down all the time, but yeah, we connected through music. I was a DJ before I even met her, but it was the catapulting of my career that she was there for some. Absolutely. So, as you already spoke about being a woman in this industry, what about as a gay, lesbian women in this industry, how have you navigated that? I think honestly, a lot of people assume my sexuality. I’m not so outward with it my privacy. I like to keep it private unless somebody asks, hey, are you with somebody? Or whatever. And I’ll tell them like, oh, no, I have a partner, I have a girlfriend. Or if I introduce my partner, because sometimes she’ll come to shows with me, I’ll introduce her as my partner. But it hasn’t been difficult for me to navigate. I haven’t felt any animosity, I guess you could say, or any discrimination. I think it’s a lot more accepting now. It’s a lot more accepting now than it was before. And I think back then, yeah, I probably was a little bit more closeted with it. I’m still a little bit of a tomboy, but that’s basically what it was. It’s a boys club. You’re trying to fit in with the DJs, which are mostly guys, and it was more of getting hit on because they thought I was straight. And then I was like, no, man, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Then they’d be like, okay. Then they’ll treat me like one of the guys, you know what I’m saying? There’s no in between. There’s no in between. Well, you’re breaking the stigma nowadays. Everybody’s breaking the stigma. There’s more hang out. Oh, absolutely. Talks about it. Yeah. Why couldn’t they do that years ago. It would have been so much easier for me. Well, for everyone, I feel, right. Oh, my God. For sure. Well, in general, do you feel there’s a lack of visible LGTBQ women in the music industry in general, or just in electronic music or in the industry? The music that I work in? Both, I guess. Work in will be the expert. Well, now, in general, I think it’s a lot more accepting. I think there’s a lot more visibility when it comes to electronic music. I’d say, like, festival lineups, party lineups. You still see more male dominant, but even the LGBT community involves gay men. But when it comes to LGBTQ women, no, I think we still have more to go with that. But you have women like Maya Jane Cole’s, Honey Dejan. They’re killing the game right now. And then you have party brands like Glitterbox, which are focused on LGBTQ parties, and they’re one of the best party brands in the world. They’re like advocates. Yeah, they’re mental health. They’re always talking about it. Yeah. You know about them. Do you use your platform at all to advocate? No, I don’t. And I think I could in a sense, because of my status, but I don’t really I keep that part private. But at the same time, I do advocate for LGBTQ rights. I’m not an activist, and I don’t call myself an activist, because I don’t. But I do advocate for those rights. For my rights. Yeah, of course I’ll post about it. I’m not going to be closeted or anything like that, but that activist part of me I don’t have. Well, to each its own. I think there’s a lot of animosity for people like me that don’t use their platform. And I try to do better. I think we all do. But yeah, I don’t want to pretend I’m an activist when I’m not. You want to know what you’re talking about? Yeah, exactly. Posting exactly same. That happens to me all the time. People are like, no, that’s the wrong opinion, that’s the wrong fact, or whatever. And I’m like, okay, yeah, it doesn’t mean you’re buter 1000%. Yeah. We’re talking about social media now. The younger crowds are coming out more sooner than later. Right before, it was more of a stigma. Now they have a lot of support. Why do you feel the young population is still going through mental health issues, in your opinion? Well, I mean, look at social media now. The way that it was when I left high school, it was still MySpace. I didn’t get Facebook until I got into college, which it was like 2008, 2007. And I thought it was super lame because I thought it was only for college kids. I was still on MySpace, and it wasn’t as I don’t know. I think the amount of vitriol that people are exposed to on social media now, it’s a completely different animal. Bullying, harassment. It’s compounded so much with the way that social media is now and with the kids that they just grew up they’re not even grown up when I’m talking about they’re young adults, like teenagers. They’re probably born in 2000 and what, 2002, 2003? And they were thrown into that. We grew up like me and you, we grew up learning how to use social media. And these kids are thrown into the gauntlet, and they don’t know how the world is. And I said this once to somebody that words are like needles, and there’s such a thing as dying by 1000 needles. And if the wrong thing is said, I mean, I don’t know. You never know the effects of yeah, you don’t affect either. And kids, they want to fit in, a lot of them, they hide themselves. I did when I was a kid. I hid who I really was because I wanted to fit in. I pretended I wasn’t Filipino at one point. I had an identity crisis, and I wanted to be his. Like, I want to be Latina. I wanted to be Hispanic because I grew up in Miami. Yeah, I grew up in Miami, so I could barely speak Spanish, really? And I wanted to be just like my friends who were Nicaraguan, Peruvian, Colombian, Cuban. And it had an effect on me. But, yeah, I embraced my Filipinoness now, but back then and on top of that, then you have yeah. The bullying part needs to change. And I think that comes with education and I guess being exposed to limiting social media. Yeah, definitely limiting social media. But letting your kids know, like, hey, yeah, social media is a great tool. The Internet is a great tool. But there’s also this darker side to it that once they find you, you have to be mentally prepared to have a shield. Yeah. You need to have or tune yourself out. Yeah. You need to also have your main support system, whether it’s your family. For some, unfortunately, it might not be their families, but a friend or a coworker, anything. Absolutely. And then everybody in social media needs to go second. And there’s one thing that I’ve learned I learned this from I don’t know. I think it was Tina Fey. I was watching, like, an interview first. She says that she never reads the comments, and I think that’s absolutely true. Never, ever read the comments. Because honestly yeah. It is self care. It’s like, what are you going to gain from know? Because there’s gonna be yeah. Because there’s gonna be overwhelming positive responses. Whatever. Then you get that one person that says a hateful thing and you never forget it. Yeah. You have to be very strong minded to read a bunch of comments and negative comments and still say it’s not okay or pretend or, like, can’t forget what you read. Yeah. Can only imagine after a certain amount just starts getting to you. Yeah, exactly. So I think it’s just better to not read them at all. Yeah. How was your experience? You mentioned that your family supports your music, that growing up you had this identity crisis, the want to be Hispanic. How was your experience coming out as a young adult? Well, I came out just shy of 30, so that was like three years ago. Not really. I guess I’m a young adult, right? No, sort of whatever you want to be. Okay. Yeah. My brother is considered liberal, more open minded. He and I align politically, perspectively. My sister and my mom are like Christian Republicans. So for the longest time, I kind of took a step back and decided I wasn’t ready to tell them. And then right when I was, like, turning 30, I was like, you know what? I’m just going to rip off the band Aid and just let them know. My sister was super supportive. She said she already knew. I’m like, why did you tell me that you knew? Waiting for you to say. Exactly. My brother, I had came out to him, like, years before, so he had already known. And then when I came out to my mom, she was just she like she holds on to her faith. I mean, her history growing up really poor in the Philippines, and faith was all she had, so I didn’t push her to accept it, but we kind of agreed to disagree where we were both like, okay, don’t agree about this, but I still love you, and we brought it up and then never brought it up again. But yeah, my family still supports me and what I do, and they still love me, so that’s more than I can ask for. Don’t push it. More than what they don’t really have. No. Than what they can handle. Different culture, different religion is a big part. You definitely don’t want to push them. Absolutely. Corner if they show you love regardless. Yeah, exactly. They still look good to tell them. Oh, absolutely. Yeah. At 30. Yeah, girl. Right now, kids are going coming out as young as 1315. And especially that pressure when you’re younger, it’s a lot more I think I want to say damaging, but it’s a lot more heavier than when you are an adult because you’re paying your own bills, you’re making your own money, you’re living on your own. You don’t know ever happens. Yeah. Independent. Exactly. You don’t know if your family will disown you or kick you out of the house and all these things living hell. Exactly. You’ll have to live with them. Yeah. And I understand that fear. Was that your main fear? No, that wasn’t my main fear. I think I was just kind of like, once I get to college, I’ll write it out. We were still by. I’m not sure yet. Yeah, exactly. It’s like, why are we going to tell them something that my mom is going to tell me? Like, oh, you’re confused. You don’t even know what you want. Yeah. And you hear that a lot, especially now that they’re coming. Younger parents are like, it’s a phase. Yeah, it’s a phase. Right. You think is a phase. Like, through your experience, if you would have told your parents and they would have told you it’s a phase, how would you have felt? You were still kind of figuring it out, right? Yeah, exactly. So I would be like, okay, and then just think, you don’t know what you’re talking about. That was basically the premise of my childhood, too. Like, when I was a teenager, my mom would tell me, like, oh, don’t do this, don’t do that. I’m like, oh, you don’t know what you’re talking about. And then I would later learn, okay, half the time she was right. Yeah. But now when you’re older, say that, not when you’re young. When you’re young, you’re like, I’m always right, you’re always wrong. Right, exactly. That’s the kids way. The adolescent way. Yeah, the adolescent way. Oh, my God. Okay, I think you already answered this, but have you gotten any positive or negative feedback from your fans due to your sexual orientation? You mentioned you’ve had bad comments, but they’ve been for the music in general. Right. For you as a person? It’s been overwhelmingly positive. Like, I’ll post my partner’s birthday or anniversary through a store. I post things. I don’t hide it. I’m not positive. I’m not so outward about it. You know what I mean? It’s been overwhelmingly positive, and honestly, it doesn’t hinder anything about me. I’m pretty open, honestly, I don’t force it, nor do I hide it. So you’re right in the middle, right? I mean, that’s how it should be. Yeah. For me, it comes naturally. And when it comes to your mental health in general, when you’re touring, when you’re dealing with your relationships, everything in general, how do you handle your own mental health? Do you do anything to stay mindful? I guess you could say it’s a lot of if I’m touring by myself, if I’m alone, then it’s my partner, obviously, or talking to my friends, obviously they’re not in front of me. But I have that support system. I do a lot of writing, in a sense. It’s not journaling, they’re just thoughts. It’s kind of like Twitter, but for myself. And I’ll have these diary. Yeah, it’s like a diary, but they’re not as detailed. It’s just like, maybe like three sentences, paragraphs, but they’re like things that I want to remember. And I have my own mantra right before I play. Call yourself. Yeah. And I’m like, It’s going to be fine. Everything’s going to be okay. You’re not going to make a mistake. Yeah, exactly. Don’t panic. Yeah. Hybien myself up. Yeah. That’s amazing. Yeah, I guess that’s like my sort of meditation. Have you ever meditated? I have, actually. I’ve meditated before, but not without sleeping. So you’re like, I’m going to meditate and fall asleep. Exactly. So you’re not there yet? No, definitely not there yet. You have to keep practicing meditation. Oh, my God. Okay. In your opinion, does the LGTBQ community what does the LGTBQ community need more of right now? Are you speaking, like, generally or music? Well, I think we definitely need more equality and more health care, social services. I think that more than anything. I mean, you said it yourself, the youth is still experiencing high numbers of suicide rates. I think you didn’t even say that. But that’s exactly the reality of it. They don’t have a support system. They are still afraid. There’s still that bullying. There’s still the harassment of and it’s tribalism when we’re kids because everybody wants to fit in, and whoever doesn’t fit in, you’re the OD one out, so they got to make fun of you. They got to bully you or whatever just to feel superior. Now it’s better. But when I was going to high school or middle school, like, you know, you you knew the kids that were bullied, and you stayed away from them because you didn’t want to be associated with that, which kind of sucks, now that I think about it. Those people I know now, some of them, they’re really cool people, and they powered through that bullying and all that harassment. Yeah. Well, in my experience, I’ve done school counseling, and a lot of the kids bully without knowing that they’re bullying. And sometimes not all cases, but when you sit them down and explain, like, these words are hurtful to the other person and you confront the situation, most of them really stop. So it’s all about, oh, nice knowledge, and explaining to them, like, it might be funny to you. Right, but it’s not. But this girl or boy is crying, going home crying. Right. They won’t show the weakness face. So I’m not saying all cases are like that, but I feel just communication and support. And the same with parents. I’m seeing that they come to me and confide in me, and they tell me these things, and they’re afraid to tell their parents. And sometimes I’m able to talk to the parent and explain to them, I get your religion or I get your culture, but suicide rates are going up for the LGBTQ community, and if your child is going to be a part of this community, they need a lot of support. Exactly. Would you rather be the support, or would you rather to go to a friend that has no idea what they’re doing in life? You’re the adult. Right? Exactly. Most of the times I get good feedback, and I’m able to at least sit them down and talk to them and have that open conversation. I’m not here to tell you what to do, but I’m giving you the facts. Right. And usually that’s enough. It’s advice works. Yeah, it’s great advice, too. And I wish there was more of. That when I was growing up. We need more school counselors yeah. And more mental health support in the school system. Yeah, absolutely. Oh, my God. All right. Well, what a great conversation. I wanted to close out by asking you, what would you tell a young female artist that’s aspiring to be a DJ or aspiring to be in the music industry? Work hard. Especially ask for advice. I mean, now they’re YouTube videos about learning how to make music, which yeah. It’s like, I wish I had this much tools at my fingertips that I would have known about. I still had, like, napster when I was growing up. We remember that. Not a lot of people remember that. LimeWire. Yeah. LimeWire kaza. Yeah, exactly. I just said home Sam without saying home Sam. Girl, it’s okay. We’re both old, but yeah. The resources, the tools that are available now, use them. Learn. You can’t make it unless you have that passion for it. If you’re aspiring to be, like, a superstar, just to be a superstar or celebrity or whatever, don’t do this. Do something that makes you passionate and makes you love what you do. And if music is what you love, then yeah. Then it should follow, right? Yeah, exactly. Everything will fall into place. Also, keep your wits about you and network. And I guess young girls won’t know how to network, but definitely ask how to network. Learn how to network. Yeah. Search for the tools for yourself. Yeah, exactly. Get intimidated. Definitely. Also be yourself. Don’t try to hide who you are because your personality is going to show in your music, and that’s what’s going to stand out. If you pretend to be somebody else, they’re going to just look the other way. Yeah. Like somebody else. That’s something that I’ve learned almost late, as well. Emulating somebody else. And then I was like, okay, I’m going to do my own thing. Exactly. As soon as I started doing my own thing. And now I’m getting a lot more gigs and getting noticed, so it’s worked out for me. More things to come. Yes. All right, well, thank you for coming. Thank you for having me. To the Mindful show guys. Don’t forget to follow us. And, like, we’re going to give Rachel’s information on the link. We’re going to put all her contact info in case you have any more questions in regards to the DJing world music industry, and yes, thank you. I like doing that. Oh, man. That’s one thing that’s to me, I’m sweating, so my water.