Speedy Ortiz on a Safer Scene

In our latest entry of #OnaSaferScene we have Devin and Darl from Speedy Ortiz. We want to thank Speedy Ortiz for contributing to this series and helping contribute to safer music scene.

 


Devin

We appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. Could you please state your name(s) and role(s) within the band?

Devin McKnight Guitar/Keyboard

As a touring artist, have you ever noticed any behaviors that you consider harmful in the scene, especially in regards to harassment and/or discrimination?

My best friend from home just told me 4 years after the fact, that he came all the way up to the Bronx to see me, his comrade and former band mate play, and these white women made fun of him for moving to the music and asked him what he was doing there. He is Indian American.

He grew up in the suburbs with me and listens to Rock music as well as hip hop and rnb among other things.  But we played in a rock band for years together, so I think he of all people belonged there supporting his friend.  He didn’t come to many shows after that one. And I never knew why.

What do you think needs to change specifically in order to help create a safer music scene for everyone?

The acknowledgement by those that have privilege that anyone might want to participate comfortably in the nights events. I.E. don’t be a dick.

What role do you believe the following people should have in promoting a safer and more inclusive music scene?

Fans

If you’re going to dance be respectful of other people’s space.


Darl

We appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. Could you please state your name(s) and role(s) within the band?

Darl’s my name and bass is my game.

As a touring artist, have you ever noticed any behaviors that you consider harmful in the scene, especially in regards to harassment and/or discrimination?

Of course. I think it comes with the territory of playing mostly at bars that mostly contain drunk people. I don’t have any specific examples that come to mind because most harassment or discrimination is contextual and, oftentimes, subtle.

I think everyone sees harassment, but usually in more passive forms, like someone coming behind the merch table when it’s not the right time to do so, or a bartender ignoring you for an excessive amount of time. It’s not always easy to determine what is harassment and what isn’t, and what is directed at you because of your gender/race/age/etc.

So, I see what I perceive to be subtle/passive-aggressive harassment or discrimination all the time, but, in terms of blatant actions directed against others, it happens, but not overtly and often enough for me to recognize the specific trend in behavior.

What do you think needs to change specifically in order to help create a safer music scene for everyone?

Besides venues establishing a system or procedure to ensure the safety of their customers and that their customers can access help if needed, I don’t think there is much to do except let it become a concern in the psyche of the general concert-going public.

The more people are talking about it, and the more people want a safer music scene, the safer concerts will become. No one is trying to go to a more dangerous music scene, so as long as show-goers are actively concerned about the safety of concerts, venues will have to begin following a standard of promoting more diligent safety at shows.

What role do you believe the following people should have in promoting a safer and more inclusive music scene?

Fans

Just don’t touch. Or get too close. But mostly don’t touch.

Musicians

Always have a cup of hot coffee at hand so you can throw it in your next harasser’s face (a la Fast Times at Ridgemont High)

Venues

Just be active about it. Set up a system so that everyone knows what to do if there is an issue of safety, and make sure your attendees know that you are a venue that is setting a standard of safety that other venues should follow.

Are there any places, scenes and/or venues that you’ve noticed to be a safe space? If so, what are they doing that should be emulated by others?

My favorite house venue, Milhouse, has always put a lot of effort into making their basement into a safe space. This includes things such as running a timely show that doesn’t go too late (decreasing the chances of blackout-drunk bros coming by to stir the pot) and controlling where the show-goers go in your venue so that everyone is visible (people hang out in the backyard or kitchen only).

Most importantly, it’s that the people who live at Milhouse support and actively talk about making sure their venue is safe, encouraging other people to support and talk about safe-space venues, thereby starting the dialogue and beginning a higher standard of safety at show spaces.

Are there any particular bands, musicians, and/or organizations you believe are making an effort to help this cause?

Beak>

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Author: Safer Scene

Safer Scene aims to raise awareness and provide education about assault and discrimination in the alternative music scene.

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