Interview 7.0 - Charlotte Abroms

Interview 7.0 - Charlotte Abroms

Dare Studios, a new world class recording studio opening its doors in Melbourne / Naarm, spearheaded by celebrated music maven, Charlotte Abroms.

With its female led cohort, Dare Studios challenges the status quo. It embraces change and cultivates creativity and empowerment for its artists.

My favourite quote from this interview is, "it seems like this fun thing to just play your songs, but you become a small business owner" which can be translated to any creative field. For example, people think, oh you like designing clothes, surely you can make a living out of that? The truth is, designing clothes and running a business are 2 very separate skill sets. Which makes people like Charlotte so important for a creative to survive.

Charlotte recently embraced motherhood, expanding her list of responsibilities between work and family. We were fortunate to catch her during a rare quiet moment to discuss the the support network around musicians and the ongoing transformations within the predominantly male-dominated music industry.

Words by Stefan Delatovic

S+W: I feel like kids are these little engines of activity and joy in your house that are like, remember life can be joy and we can just create stuff and I feel responsibility to do cooler shit or something. 

It’s like at some point in life we stop ourselves from playing. I think when you start doing these things again, you become more creative. I did this really interesting mental health in music workshop a couple of years ago and the psychiatrist running it completely mythbusted the idea of the tortured creative - the concept that you have to be destructive to be able to write good music. They’ve done so many studies showing people make their best work when they’re in a really happy state of mind. When you’re experiencing joy, your creativity is better for it. 

S+W: In looking at your Professional existence, you've done so many different things in this field, but there's this celebratory vibe running all through your work. Is that a fair read? 

It just feels like you're out there going like “I love music and I want to help people do music and I'm just gonna find all the ways to make that happen.”

I come from a creative agency background and that’s really a structured environment. There's often HR and a lot of processes and protocols that everyone follows. I’ve always felt really supported in that world. 

Then at the same time I've always had this passion on the side, which is music, and eventually I turned that into the main focus and became a full time music manager. 

It became really obvious to me seeing the contrast between the music industry and a much more structured environment. It meant I could really hone in on what I’d learnt about structure and support and I could become that person for the roster of artists I managed.

My main goal has always been to celebrate and support musicians. I’ve always loved finding talent within people and helping them achieve their goals by connecting them to the right people, because I really believe that career satisfaction can equal happiness. 


S+W: Is that the grand scheme of being a Manager? Creating that support webbing around a creative human to help them just focus on their bit? 

Exactly like that. Not all managers work that way, but I, probably to my own detriment, took most of the responsibility and the mental load away from the artist in terms of the day-to-day side of things. Like, if an artist I was working with was writing music I’d say “don’t check your emails” so they had more creative freedom. 

If you’re a musician, it seems like this fun thing to just play your songs, but you become a small business owner, and my job is to facilitate all these business dealings in the background. I’m a creative person myself, so I come at it from a creative angle, like how we will market the music, and what campaigns can we run to make the audience feel special? How can we have fun in the process? 

S+W: Have you always enjoyed pouring your creative energy into these collaborative projects and relationships?

Yeah, I do love collaborating. 

I’m loving stepping into a more creative role now that we’re launching the studio with this really small team of people. 

I would say, like, 90 percent of the people that I've consulted with have had pretty big issues when it comes to recording music. It might be that the barriers are financial, for example, maybe they can't afford to get into the studio or they have paid a producer a deposit to work on a song, but it didn't really go in the direction and they lost the deposit and have had to start from scratch. Or they’ve gone with a producer they really like who had a different sonic vision and they’re too awkward to tell them they don’t really like it after all.

I kept noticing this common theme of artists having these amazing demos, but not really having the place to go to or the right people to work with to create a fully formed song and that's what led to finally launching the studio space.

S+W: You’ve talked a lot about inclusion as a fundamental principle of the studio. Can you talk to me about what that means?

Often if you're a woman walking into a male dominated space it’s assumed that you are not actually part of the project and you're like a friend of the band or a girlfriend of one of the band members. I remember walking into a very prominent music venue in Melbourne and there being four guys, crew who work within the venue, who all just shook hands with the session bass player, and introduced themselves to them, but didn't introduce themselves to myself or the female artist. Often the artist is selling out the show.

S+W: Yeah. Ew.

And it was me organising the show! I observed that in those scenarios there's actually not even a point where people make eye contact with me for me to be able to introduce myself. It's like, so deflating. I’ve had a similar experience every time I’ve walked into a studio. I've booked bands to work out of probably ten to twenty studios since becoming a manager and I often don’t feel fully comfortable walking into the studio space. 

I think it's a combination of a few things, one, that I'm not a musician so it doesn't really feel like it's my space. Two, there's so much expensive equipment, that if you don't fully understand how it works it can make you feel nervous,like “Am I allowed to sit somewhere?” Nervous.

Or maybe it’s because I’m often one of the only women in the space.

S+W: Like, “is this the special mixing chair that snaps if I sit on it?”

[Laughs] Yeah. The only way to describe it is that as someone who very rarely feels uncomfortable in life, I have felt uncomfortable when I walk into recording studios. I always kind of justified that as “I'm not a musician so maybe there's no need to include me” but then having opened up about it to a few musicians they're like, “Oh no, that's exactly how I feel when I walk into a male dominated studio.” The space feels dominated. 

And I'm like, hang on, you shouldn't feel like that, you're the artist you're paying for it! You know?

S+W: Yeah!

For me, I think it’s about not having context on how the whole thing works. So you call a studio and it’s someone’s mobile and some guy answers “Hello”.

And you’re like “Is this… the studio?”


“So… can I book it?”

I found it difficult trying to pry these answers out of people. When can the band get there? How many people does it fit? Is there an engineer? It’s intimidating. Is this a stupid question? Can they bring their instruments? I’m not a musician! 

So when we launched Dare Studios, I made the website have every FAQ under the sun. All the so-called stupid questions are there, and all the answers are there in great detail.

S+W: I deeply resonate with that idea of coming into a space that’s clearly very sophisticated and everyone there is so comfortable they’ve forgotten humans exist and I’m there just worried I’m gonna die or break something.

[Laughs] It’s like you’re suddenly in a space where you don’t know if you’re allowed to use the kettle and you can’t remember how to make a cup of tea. I wanted to completely remove that feeling because it is the absolute opposite frame of mind for creativity. It’s the antidote!

S+W: Sam, who made Smile + Wave, said she made all these street clothes she wore were made by men and so eventually she thought “oh I’ll just have to make my own”.

Yeah I was a skater when I was younger, and when you’re 10 and the only girl at the skatepark, you get that mindset from a young age, you kind of get that leadership mentality. 

I can identify with that. I’m not the first, but we’re one of the only female-led spaces and I want women and non-males to feel comfortable coming in and making music in the space, but also learning how to engineer and record music. 

One of the engineers Jono was like “You should learn to do a demo in here” and I was like “I’ve never in my life thought that was a possibility for me”. Ever. And now there’s this little part of me that sometimes wonders “am I about to become a producer?” And that’s what we mean about inclusivity. We created a space that, no matter who you are, you can see yourself excelling in it.

S+W: That’s so wonderful. You set out to create an inclusive space and you’re already directly seeing it happen.

Yeah. I’ve included myself! Obviously I'm only talking about my own experiences in regards to gender, but there are so many other barriers that exclude people from a space. By putting our values on the website we’re attracting the right types of people. There is no ego in this space. It's all about creativity and respect and inclusivity and diversity and no one's going to be judged unnecessarily. Everyone who works in the space is a good listener. It's all just about listening to each other and making good music.

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