'I wwas the kid no one would sit with — my podcast helps people feel less alone'June 18, 2022
Welcome back to How I Made It, Metro.co.uk’s weekly career journey series.
This week, we’re looking at the alternative music industry from the perspective of 23-year-old Yasmine Summan, a West Bromwich-based journalist, social media manager, podcaster, and TikTok creator.
They’ve been involved in the alternate music scene for a number of years, starting their journey as a YouTuber dedicated to all things emo music, before pivoting to TikTok, social media management, and journalism.
After graduating from their journalism degree at Coventry University, Yasmine worked as a freelance journalist — sharing their alternative music expertise and writing on their experiences as a non-binary person of colour in a white male-dominated music industry — for a range of outlets including NME, Dazed, Loudwire, Metal Hammer, and Distorted Sound Magazine. They also worked as a presenter for Caliber TV, interviewing alternative music talent for their YouTube audience of over 100,000.
But most recently, Yasmine has history, along with radio presenter Sophie K, for their groundbreaking podcast: On Wednesdays We Wear Black. Aiming to create a space for underrepresented voices in the alternative music industry, the show recently won the Heavy Music Award for ‘Best Podcast’.
While working on location at Download Festival, Yasmine to spoke to us about how they made it.
Hi Yasmine — congratulations on your podcast’s recent award! Tell us more about how the podcast started, and what you aimed to do with it.
Sophie is the genius mind behind it all, I can’t even begin to take credit. She came to me with this project because she’s always looking to champion more BIPOC/LGBTQ+ minority genders in alternative music spaces — it’s the thing I love most about her.
The initial concept was born from our own feeling of not being heard. The great thing about our podcast is our voices and experiences touch a wide variety of people.
Sophie speaks as a Black women who’s had to fight to secure respect in her line of work, and I speak from the experience of a South Asian non-binary person and navigating that.
We are the kids no one would sit with, we ate lunch in the bathroom alone. We listened to the “scary” heavy music that people thought was weird.
Can you sum up your day-to-day job in one sentence?
Without being clichè, every day is always something new. Being an independent podcast with no extra help or funding, we both do as much as humanly possible. Social media management, episode recording and production, networking and organising events, creating merch and then packaging and sending out that merch. We are a unit.
What would you say has been the biggest personal achievement for you so far?
People might find it silly but it was such a milestone for me. After writing an exposé for Refinery29 about how emo and other alternative subcultures have very regressive ideas toward race and general beauty standards, that became a top ranking search result for the word ’emo’. When I was younger I remember searching emo and all I’d see were white faces.
All of these people who I desperately wanted to be like and I would — no, could – never achieve the ‘staple’ emo look because from the pin straight Caucasian hair, small button nose, and pale skin look to emo, none of that was achievable for a 14-year-old acne ridden Aouth Asian.
Emo is diversifying its ideals of what ‘isn’t’ and ‘is’ the look of emo, and I’m so proud to be able to say that I helped, in some way, shift those ideas.
What has been the most challenging part of your role and why?
The most challenging part about my own personal job [a social media manager for a leading alternative music magazine] is probably dealing with backlash. Internet circles always seem to circle in on minorities for their mistakes in contrast to white cisgendered men.
I feel like I could spell someone’s name wrong and be cancelled forever, but men get away with murder. I digress… it’s something I’ve learnt to shrug off.
If the tirade of chronically online trolls want to criticise every single thing I say or do, then let them. I know my intentions are good and that I’m trying to actually make a difference instead of screaming on Twitter and doing nothing.
As you’ve mentioned on Twitter, sexism is a big problem in the music industry. How do you deal with it?
It’s tricky for me because, though I am femme presenting, I do identify as non-binary, so I’d never want to overstep and speak on the behalf of women in rock music.
I will say, working with a network of women of colour such as my co-host Sophie, I’ve learnt a lot about the complexities of sexism in rock music and how race and class, in particular, plays a lot into it.
There have been great strides for women in rock music; we see more women as editors, touring managers, festival bookers/promoters. The next step needs to be an equal playing field for all women.
Women of colour and women from lower income backgrounds do struggle to get their foot in the door. We need to uplift everyone, all of us or none of us.
Do you think your industry does enough to elevate people from marginalised backgrounds? If not, what should they do?
It’s certainly improved. I’m just a baby to the industry. Sophie has spoken to great lengths in our podcast about how she struggled to first get her start due to the barriers of sexism and racism. We now see more people from marginalised backgrounds on the stages and working behind them.
Conversation is the way forward. The more we have these uneasy chats, the more we can learn and understand. That’s what’s so great about our lil pod! I like to call us the emo, POC Queer Eye, it’s a safe and open space to ask questions and learn.
You’re also very popular on TikTok — you have nearly 130,000 followers and over 7million cumulative likes. Tell us about that.
To be totally honest, I just don’t know when to shut the hell up. TikTok is great to post your stupid little thoughts in 15 seconds and watch them over and over and over.
It might be the imposter syndrome talking but I am clueless as to how orwhy people follow me. I am just a silly emo with a loud mouth.
What is it about your TikToks that you think resonates with people?
Maybe it’s the fact that TikTok is so accessible – you can see people from all walks of life who enjoy the same thing as you. I didn’t realise how many emo South Asians there were until a little community of us got together on TikTok.
People resonate with me because it’s nice to see themselves represented in a space they have often felt doesn’t speak for them. And I just make silly little videos that are fun and dumb.
What do you think of the term ‘social media influencer?’ Is that how you’d describe yourself? Why/why not?
I’m not sure how to feel about it if I’m totally honest. We’re in the age where an ‘influencer’ can actually be someone that uses their platform for good. Activists and journalists who’ve built large followings online and help spread awarness to social issues are influencers. We’ve rid ourselves of the 2010 diet tea photoshopped influencer and I really like that.
As for myself? God help anyone who takes influence from my shenanigans! No, but I wouldn’t say I’m an influencer. I feel like there’s more work to be done before I can say I’m that.
An average day in the working life of Yasmine Summan
9am: Yasmine usually starts their day at nine, taking an hour to prep for the day ahead.
10am-12pm: Responding to emails and queries.
1pm-4pm: Audience management across various social media channels, including leading alternative music publications.
5pm: Lunch/dinner break (don’t recommend working this long without food).
6pm-9pm: Editing videos, planning content, and finalising anything else.
How do you organise your time with these projects?
I have no clue! [laughs] I got into all of this because I struggle a lot with depression and anxiety, being able to take on lots of projects distracts me so I’m able to manage all this work knowing it fills the void.
If there’s one piece of advice you could give yourself five years ago, what would it be?
Five years ago, I was 18. I wish I could tell myself to enjoy life a bit more. I was so focused on just making it, just getting my foot in the door and stressing about where I’d be or who I’d be! Things worked out.
Where do you want to be five years from now?
I’m not quite sure. I’d like to be happy. Whatever I’m doing, as long as I’m happy, I don’t mind.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps?
Whatever you do, remember that I am a dumbass and if you do follow me, do so with caution!
What do you love most about your job?
It’s very cheesy, I know. As our podcast has grown and we’ve started hosting events, like DJ’ing Emo Nite in LA or hosting a live podcast episode and DJ’ing at Download Festival recently, being able to see how our podcast has impacted people has given me a new purpose in life.
I remember not seeing many other people of colour at rock or metal shows growing up, being able to look out into our audience and see a diverse range of people from all age ranges, backgrounds, and so on is very heartwarming. I’m glad we can touch so many people in such a personal way.
What do you dislike the most?
I’m usually a miserable sod and love to complain but there’s not anything that comes to mind. Of course, there’s the online trolls. But they don’t faze either of us, the overwhelming love just completely encapsulates anything else we do.
How I Made It
Do you have an interesting job or career journey?
Email [email protected] to share your story for How I Made It.
Source: Read Full Article