By Bianca Russelburg, founder of Resonate
It was a dark and stormy night in the spring of 2014. I sat in the studio, red-eyed, catching leaking ceiling drips in my hands.
Well, okay, not quite. After graduating from Ball State University with a degree in audio production, I was in the stormy midst of a post-graduation crisis. For months I’d been working on what was essentially my dream project, an album of modern pop songs recorded as Motown songs. Motown music has always been a favorite of mine; I’ve especially loved the collaborative community of creatives that it facilitated. In a way, this project was an extension of that. The production involved a lot of late nights and coordinating the schedules of over twenty performers.
That particular spring night I’d been mixing the project all afternoon and evening when I was roundhouse kicked in the face with reality. Although I absolutely loved working on that EP, I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. And if this project of all projects was still leaving me unfulfilled, how could I passionately and purposefully continue my chosen career as an engineer? This was a terrifying realization as a recent graduate. If this dream project wasn’t doing it, would anything?
I mulled on these thoughts for the next few days and realized I was missing a crucial element in my life: facilitating change. For years, I’ve been involved with Girls Rock camps, spending most of my time with Girls Rock! Indianapolis; the experience still stands as one of the best things I’ve done with my life.
Teaching these girls that they can pick up a guitar (which can translate to a microscope or hockey gear or a briefcase) and exist in a space that society deems unfit is incredibly uplifting for all involved.
With that supportive and inspiring group in mind, I saw the need for another collective that facilities growth for musicians and bands in the LGBTQ+ community. Combining my passion for recording and the desire to create said community, I started Resonate.
Resonate is a project to increase visibility of musicians in the LGBTQ+ community. Through pro bono EP recording and other resources in media, we not only create more opportunities for the artists, but also a central location for music fans to find people with whom they can identify.
I was asked via Tumblr why this project deals with LGBTQ+ folks specifically. Unfortunately there are far too many instances of LGBTQ+ artists feeling afraid to be themselves for fear of losing their livelihood and fan-base. There are stories of homophobic musicians refusing to work with their peers after they’ve come out, out artists being afraid of losing their fans and their livelihood, artists getting passed over by industry professionals because of their sexuality, and musicians having years of industry experience before feeling fully out and comfortable with themselves.
When I was in high school struggling with my sexuality, I had a hard time finding those identifiable voices that most youth find readily available. I lived in an incredibly small Indiana town, and although I never experienced anything worse than regularly hearing my peers say offensive statements and slurs, others are not so fortunate. When our environments don’t make us feel safe for any reason, it is crucial that we can still look to music (or sports or theater or whatever happens to be our jam) to see people who feel the same way we do. Aside from helping the musicians, one of my goals with Resonate is to also help the young Biancas out there not feel so alone. As Jenny Owen Youngs wrote at the end of her coming out letter:
“I think it is damaging and isolating for young people to look out into the world and not see a representation of their experience. To encounter others who are like you is to know that you are not alone. Even if you never meet them in real life, these representatives help to contextualize you – they are proof that you are part of something.”
This is the first blog in a series by Resonate artists on their music and identities. We’re about to release our first few projects, and I couldn’t be more proud and excited to share them with everyone.
Although Resonate is currently limited to Chicago and surrounding areas, I highly encourage artists elsewhere in the US to apply; that way we can see where to go next! We’ve already begun building this awesome community of musicians, and we would love for you to be a part of it. If you’d like to keep updated on our releases, you can sign up for our mailing list for exclusive updates. Check out the links below for other places to find us!
Artists can apply to Resonate here. We’re currently looking for musicians in the Chicago area.
Links: Twitter - Facebook - Instagram - Tumblr
Bianca’s aforementioned post-grad Motown EP can be found here.
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