Interview // The Grey Estates' Lauren Rearick

by JamieHallaman
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on 11 March 2016 in Features


Lauren Rearick is the woman behind The Grey Estates, a wonderful new music blog from Pittsburgh. Rearick is now entering a new chapter of TGE and has just issued a glorious cassette compilation called Sugar Rush - 11 perfect covers from a group of under-celebrated female and gender-neutral bands, tackling material as eclectic as Devo, Patsy Cline, The Cramps, TLC, The Bouncing Souls, Fleetwood Mac and more. It’s a bizarre but beautiful thing.

The comp was a bit of a hit with us at S4M and we invited (the endlessly nice and relentlessly passionate) Rearick to talk with us with about new music, sexism, the perfect cover version, opportunity and personal victories.

Congratulations on the Sugar Rush compilation and the acclaim you’ve been receiving. You’re not a label in the traditional sense, could you better explain the origin of The Grey Estates?

Thank you! The Grey Estates was started because I was sick of being told I couldn't write about music. It probably first started in college when I told professors and friends it's what I wanted to do, and I found it continued when I would reach out to my favorite publications. I knew I had the experience and the passion, and the desire to spend endless hours sifting through submissions so I figured I would start my own blog. It started out as something my mom would post about on her Pinterest and now three years later we're here!

You co-released the compilation with the Negative Fun label, how did this working relationship come about?

Negative Fun was responsible for some of my favorite releases, especially when it came to female bands. I had this idea and I knew Chris has always been so supportive in all my endeavors, and so many of his artists were interested in being on it that it just seemed a perfect fit.

The big theme here is covers. Do you have a favourite cover version of all time?

The 'Possibly Maybe' cover that Owen Pallet and Ed Droste did always freakin slays me.

Do you have a kind of dream cover version? One artist that you’d love to hear tackle a specific song?

I love terrible pop songs, like “Maneater” by Nelly Furtado so probably someone covering that....maybe Museum Mouth. I already told them this though, so I'm only waiting.

You’ve used “Powered by Girl Power and Dreams” to describe TGE in the past. Was it important to you that all eleven bands on “Sugar Rush” were female or gender-neutral?

I loved using that to describe it until people started thinking we had no males on staff, which we do and they kick butt! Yeah, it was really important that all the bands were female or gender-neutral because I feel there's such a lack of representation of female and gender-neutral voices in music in general and as a female it was important for me to really help share their voices, even in this small way.

Sexism is pretty prevalent in all areas of the industry, which is something you’ve been known to highlight via social media. Do you think there’s something about the music industry or music journalism in particular that invites or caters to misogyny?

Most of it I feel has to do with the fact that many of these people can hide behind their computer screens or screen names or comments. An artist can call me a cutie in an e-mail or say inappropriate things because they know they'll never face me in person. It's something that's prevalent everywhere, but I think it's especially the case when it comes to what we cover because people don't believe that I listen to this stuff? Once a man told me I couldn't like The Black Lips because I was a I think there's this belief that because I like nail polish, purses and dresses on clearance at Target that I can't also like really dirty, grungy garage rock.

To address the lack of diversity, do you think white/male/cis artists or journalists have a responsibility to step down so that other voices can be heard?

I don't think they need to step down as much as they need to support others. It's also something that readers aren't aware of when they're reading their favorite sites, but just look at the bylines. We should be more open to giving people opportunities or just supporting people in their endeavors. I've been lucky that some of my favorite male friends/record labels are so supportive, but there are others who aren't, and that's something they need to work on. It's way easier to be an asshole than to be kind for some, I guess.

It's also been my hopes and attempts in gathering the staff for The Grey Estates that I give anyone the chance to share their voice or pictures of the artists they love, and that includes a group of talented females and males that I'm so proud to work alongside.

While TGE is a really great spot to discover new music from female artists, you’re pretty inclusive to male artists too. Is your intention specifically to support women in music or just to support music that you love, while giving fairer consideration to female artists than others might?

I like to support any music that I love regardless of gender, but I think for me, there's always a soft spot that's like I can identify with how they're feeling or they get my anxiety or they understand love, so it gets more attention than just an average artist. For me, it's always been about just covering the stuff I love, regardless of gender because I don't get the point of writing about something or sharing something if you don't love it with every part of you.

Any artists that have caught your attention lately?

I have really bad habits of like just finding one artist and then repeating so, Jawbreaker Reunion or Littler or Kero Kero Bonito.

What has been a landmark moment for TGE?

Last year when we held a showcase with Widowspeak, that was surreal as heck because they were the first band I ever wrote about when I started writing or one of the first, so to bring them to Pittsburgh totally on my own was wild. Honestly, every time someone says a kind word or an artist is down to do a feature is a landmark moment because I can't believe that anyone takes me seriously.

Have you been happy with the response to Sugar Rush?

The response has floored me. When I would listen to masters and unmastered tracks I was like this is really good, I hope people like it, but then to read what people say and to see that they totally get what I was going for...that's unbelievable to me. We only have half the copies left and I can't believe that even two people bought it because I'm just a girl working on a Macbook out of her parent's house, walls covered in posters and Grey Estates stuff, so it's always a surprise to me. Someone said to me recently that like they weren't surprised by the response and I shouldn't be either, but I think for so long I've been used to hearing no, you can't do that, that when I've actually done it and to recognize that I have...that's weird to me.

Do have plans to further explore the label side of things and release more records?

I would love to. I need a really long break because I never knew how time consuming and crazy and stressful this was, but you could say that Chris and I are already brainstorming for a future thing, and if anyone knows how to make custom nail polish hit me up. I'd also love to work with some of my friends and favorites like Father/Daughter or Future Oak...because I thrive on feeling busy and stressed so, hit me up.


Read Shout4Music's review of the compilation here and get the compilation here.


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