CATALYST: How did you first get involved in the music scene?
Eboni Statham: In eighth grade, I started writing music and recording myself singing and rapping. That was my first introduction to music. Even though I didn’t want to do that professionally, I knew I wanted to be involved somehow. Then, when I was visiting and stalking Colorado College, I saw there was a radio station, and I wanted to get involved right away. I had my own show, Hooked on Ebonix. Eventually the events management position opened up for the Sounds of Colorado College. I did a bunch of event planning in middle and high school. So I thought, I like music, I know how to plan, and I am good with details.
What is your role in the SOCC now?
I’m general manager, which means I oversee everyone.
What is the most rewarding part about your job with the SOCC?
Seeing all the final pieces come together after all the hard work you put into it. Also, just seeing people have an amazing time and people showing up to events. It’s truly special. It sometimes feels like you’re not thanked for your work, so when you see people enjoying the show you planned and bonding over music or an artist you brought, that’s just the best feeling in the world, especially when people say “That was the best event ever.” Even if you help bring an artist that someone has listened to, but has never been able to see, that’s really special.
What was the inspiration behind the Music Collective for queer artists, people of color, women, and non-binary folks?
My time working with student bands and musicians at CC has been spent working with a bunch of white guys. That’s super fun, but as I’ve been getting to know people, I’ve noticed that a bunch of people are interested in getting involved or performing and haven’t been able to. My freshman year, Heather Brown had a Half Block class and a workshop called Women in Music. There were workshops for people to go to and conversations about women in music in general. Basically, a lot of people felt discouraged from performing. A lot of times, people are rude to women musicians and don’t know how privilege works in that way. There is sometimes the assumption that women don’t know what they’re doing. Like when I am doing sound for a music event, I’ve been told that I don’t know what I am doing and that they want to talk to the person in charge. Well, I am in charge, I know what I’m doing. There is just not as much respect or opportunities for different groups of people. Because of my experience in the SOCC, and working with CC and the administration, I have experience in event planning and bringing people together, so I wanted to help people who needed help to get noticed. It’s been fun so far. We had the first meeting a week ago. A good amount of people came. We talked about the music scene and what people want to do. We have our first event Friday at Sacred Grounds. It’s an all-inclusive open-mic night, and there will be a performance by Capitana, which is one of CC’s first inclusive bands made up of juniors and sophomores. Ellement is also performing and a bunch of people interested in the collective will also be performing.
Ideologically, what do you find fault with in the music industry?
In recording studios, the technology aspect is very male-dominated and I’ve read articles about how women are not encouraged to participate in that. A lot of times people assume that if you’re a woman, you have to be singer. A lot of times, in the way that men engage with women, you can be a singer for us, but not a part of our band. Or the assumption is that women in bands are just the roadies and just the fans rather than being an integral part of the band. You’ll also see in articles people saying ‘You are good at this, for a woman,’ or ‘you play well, for a woman.’ People sometimes downplay and have different expectations for women in the music industry even though there are so many talented women. They know what they’re doing, but people don’t expect that or downplay it just because they are women. In rock and punk music, there’s a lot of history of women performers being assaulted, for example. That is definitely a hard genre for women to get involved in just because the nature of the music is dominated by men. It can be a definite hindrance for women getting involved in music. I used to play the cello in high school and was one of the only female cellist players. My mom was not that supportive, and I eventually had to give it up to focus on other things. There are just very constrained ideas of what women should do in the music industry. They have to fit molds of being a singer. That’s even the case for a lot of black artists. They can do hip-hop and R&B, but not rock.
How have you gone about being a counter to that discrimination?
When I think about my time in the SOCC, I have used my identity in a way to help others and groups. That is a big part of my role: helping artists here who don’t have that experience, have it. A lot of people say that the music scene here gets really boring because it is the same band over and over again. But for instance, Juwan Rohan released an EP on his own, and we needed someone to open for Homeboy Sandman. So instead of getting someone who performs a lot and everyone knows who he or she is, I thought it would be really cool to see Juwan up there. It was one of his first performances and he did a really amazing job. It was really cool to just see him have that opportunity to open for a really well-known rapper like Homeboy Sandman. It’s about just making sure that people can get those opportunities. It’s been a big thing with the SOCC: doing student showcases. It’s first of all cheaper but also an opportunity for people to get exposure.
Do you want to have a future in music? If so, what will be your focus?
Yeah I see myself hopefully going into the industry. I’m not sure what [will be my focus] exactly yet, maybe event planning or artist management.
If you could pick any three artists to play a show together, who would they be?
This guy named Sango, who mixes R&B and hip-hop inspired beats, Kehlani, and Made in Heights.
What do you do outside of the SOCC?
I recently started playing bass guitar. I might perform at Battle of the Bands, we’ll see. I love writing song lyrics. Also, I like traveling by myself. I did that a bunch in high school, especially when I was visiting colleges. I basically went by myself to look at all the colleges I visited. Even going to concerts by myself. It’s just the freedom you get, like you don’t have to worry about your drunk friend or them not wanting to see that artist.
What was your favorite place or experience you had alone?
I consider myself a shy person, so traveling by myself made me grow up. I had to know how to, you know, navigate around the airport. When I went to China for the first time, I was in seventh grade, it was my first time on a plane, and I went with people I didn’t know. I was forced to get out of my comfort zone. I had no choice but to. It is really rewarding to create your own experiences independent of other people. A lot of times people shape things around others, even if they don’t want to do those things. It’s great to know what you want, and go after what you want, to make your trip successful.