To celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s Month, we’ve spoken to a couple of female industry professionals to get their story on building a career in a predominantly male-dominated industry. First one up is music journalist and writer Liz Scarlett.
Name: Liz Scarlett.
Profession and place of work: Staff writer (music journalist) at Future Publishing with Louder, home of Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog Magazine.
How long have you been in your current role? Just over two years.
What can you tell us about the journey that got you where you are today?
So I studied music journalism at university, the degree of which wasn’t actually my first choice. I didn’t know such courses existed – I was going to do English, simply because I found I was good at it and wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, but then during my university interview, I ended up speaking to the professor about my favourite bands the whole time and my love of journalism. They then told me there was such a course and hey presto, a couple years of education, and I graduated into a marketing assistant role at a music college, where I got to review student work, help out with a bunch of creative projects, all whilst running my own music blog.
Then, during the pandemic, Future Publishing were looking for trainee roles. I completely forgot that the company was home to Louder and the magazines I grew up on, so I applied to it on a whim, as I was made redundant from my previous job. After going through the interview process I realised that I accidentally applied for my dream role, working for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock, which is kinda spooky…and seriously crazy. Manifestation and all that! After studying for an NCTJ diploma with Future to help out with my role as Trainee News Writer, (and slogging through many hours of media law study), I got to stay on working for Louder as a full time staff writer. Although I’m still mostly on news duties, I also do features and interviews, for online and print.
Being a female in a very male dominated industry, have you ever faced any challenges / experienced harassment / felt the need to work harder to prove yourself / etc, basically any issues based on being female? How did you experience the industry when you first started?
At my current job, not at all. My team is really mindful of these issues and are mega supportive. At previous places of work however (naming no names), very
much so. I found that male colleagues really were intimidated by you if you shared similar skills. I was patronised and insulted ALOT, and felt like I was in a
competition I simply did not want to be in, all for being a woman. Things got pretty bad at times, and I found myself not wanting to come into work. It was all
the more irritating seeing how overwhelmingly respectful they were to other colleagues, only if they were male. This has happened on multiple occasions.
As for where I am now, I feel incredibly supported, although I find that I’m perhaps not as confident in my work as males in the industry. Plus, imposter
syndrome is always looming. I’m also not always confident in my ideas, which is something I need to change. I think it’s part of growing up as a woman though,
when other ideas (proposed by men) have usually always been taken more seriously than yours. Did your love for music and writing always go hand in hand?
It didn’t, actually. I grew up playing the bass guitar, so for me, music was always about the instrumental side. Even when listening to songs my brain would
naturally focus on the riff, rather than the lyrics or any other component. I think the writing side came when I realised how much I loved talking about music and
analysing it, and then discovering how much I loved reading autobiographies, and learning about the lives of the musicians who have inspired me. In recent
years, my love of music has encompassed more parts than just writing too, such as my obsession with art and design. Music finds its way in about every part of my
When it comes to music journalism, was there anyone in particular that inspired
your writing? (Feel free to recommend books, authors, journalists etc)
When it comes to things like this my mind always goes blank, however music documentaries were always a big inspiration. Some of my favourites are Super
Duper Alice Cooper (the whole visual design of it is also to die for), as well as Such Hawks, Such Hounds, which explores the underground American hard rock scene
from the 70s until the late 2000s. It also looks at psychedelic artwork and album covers. Recently, Brett Morgen’s Moonage Daydream blew my mind. It was very much
like the ultimate union of art and visual music journalism, with a soundtrack that felt almost overwhelming. There’s probably plenty more, but those are definitely a
few of my favourites. As for books, Zoë Howe, the author of Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams and Rumours, was a great inspiration. On top of being a totally cool lady,
and self-professed rock’n’roll witch, Howe has a wonderful writing style that’s really descriptive, powerful, and just a pleasure to read. In any of her books, you
can instantly hear that it’s her voice, and that’s the sort of writer I admire. The type where you can recognise it’s their work straight away.
What’s been a career highlight so far?
Really, just getting to spend each day doing what I love and being creative. Although…meeting Tony Iommi was pretty cool too haahaha.
What would 2023 Liz say to 2013 Liz?
Keep going, things do get better, don’t be afraid to aim high and if boys seem weird, it’s because we live in a patriarchy and everything is fucked – they’re not
better than you. Also see Fleetwood Mac in concert because one day some of the members won’t be here and it’ll be too late. (It is now too late).
Which artist / song are you currently playing on repeat?
I currently can’t get enough of Sleep Token. If you’re not totally sure of the frontman’s vocals (they do sound a bit James Arthur-ey), see them in concert, it’ll
convert you. They’re totally ripping up the rule-book of modern metalcore, and the riffs will knock you to the floor. Plus, they look creepy, which is always good.