Featuring Michelle King of Noisy Ghost PR | By Kelley O’Death
FQP shines a light on the joys and heartaches that lie at the intersection of the LGBTQIA+ community and the world of alternative music. While queer representation is often refracted through the prism of normative curiosities and concerns, FQP features queer voices saying whatever they want, however they want. Don’t fear the realness.
In 2013, then-Team Clermont national publicist, Michelle King, joined forces with Ryan Graveface—the mastermind behind Graveface Records, Terror Vision, and numerous bands-you’ve-heard-of—to form Noisy Ghost PR, an “independent boutique music publicity company” based in Austin, Texas, and Savannah, Georgia. Over just three years, King has helped Noisy Ghost build a diverse and impressive roster of artists, including The Appleseed Cast, Xiu Xiu, Night School, Dott, and many more. She describes herself as “just a late-20s music aficionado trying to make it in this world doing something I love.” When she’s not introducing the-next-big-thing to the scene, King spends her time running, biking, and swimming around Austin, crushing triathlons like a warrior, and hanging out on the Barton Creek Greenbelt with her partner and their dogs. “Cheesy, eh?” she laughs.
On Finding Her Path:
Like many of us, I grew up loving music. Obsessing over music. I was the kid in a different band tee every day, likely purchased at a show the night before which my mother drove my friends and I to in her Toyota Sienna—thanks, Mom.
So many of those friends also played in bands. I wanted to be in a band! I guess I was in a few, though we were no good and my contributions certainly didn’t help the situation. I sang, I played a little guitar, I tried out the keyboard at an older age, but none of it stuck. I simply didn’t have the gift for making music. I was good at sports. But I didn’t read sports blogs, I read music blogs. So, how does this make sense? A frustrating conundrum, it seemed at the time.
It wasn’t until after college that I was presented with an opportunity to be involved in music in a way that required skills other than being able to write, record, and perform songs. Rather than plucking guitar strings, I hammer away at a keyboard. Rather than charming fans, I chat up music writers. Rather than create the music, I do my best to ensure that other’s creations are heard. It’s been a perfect situation for me, and I feel hugely blessed to work in a field that I love, even if it’s not what I originally envisioned for myself.
On Being Queer In The Industry:
It’s news to no one’s ears that there has been and continues to be a lot of hate in this world. The music industry is no exception, and the discourse around these issues is unavoidable and necessary. But I would like to say for the record that, in my world, it has been nearly a non-issue. Since coming out in high school, I have had an easy path when it comes to people’s opinions on my sexuality. Perhaps this is luck, but I’ve somehow managed to surround myself with positive people, and to this day, I feel entirely empowered and respected in my life and my career.
The only times I feel I have been treated as less than equal or less than competent are when I was indeed less than equal—say, by the president of a company I was interning for—or indeed less than competent—perhaps trying my hand at something for the first time and seeking the advice of someone more seasoned. None of these situations, I would like to believe, had anything to do with my gender or sexual identity.
I have also been blessed to work with a good deal of LGBTQ artists, and I certainly have never encountered negative feedback from the media regarding the sexual preferences of my clients. Much the opposite, in fact. The number of queer-focused outlets for music discovery are numerous, and while there are publications that still lean their coverage heavily in the direction of straight male-dominated “rock” music, I argue that the culture is heavily shifting away from this.
This is all to say that our society is indeed much more accepting than it used to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to become complacent. I wouldn’t like to refer to it as a battle that we have not yet won, but rather a level of general understanding and equality that we can still improve upon. But it’s not always as bad out there as some would have us believe.
Some Wisdom For The Children:
Keep a concert calendar. Ticket stubs are great too, but what about will call shows and paper tickets you trash? If you’re anything like me, you’ll forget you were at one-third of them. Or maybe just have the vague, “I’m pretty sure I saw that band in high school, maybe at [insert local venue]?” I recommend Google Spreadsheets, but even a paper journal would suffice. Jot down the artist, date, venue, and maybe some notes on the show. Did they play your favorite song? How did you feel in that moment? These are precious memories, and I wish I had more of them.
Listen to all kinds of music. Don’t discriminate. Just because your dad likes it doesn’t mean it’s bad, and just because your friends like it doesn’t mean it’s good. Don’t limit yourself. Old, new, popular, indie—doesn’t matter. Develop a palate for all types of music. Being well-versed in many eras and genres will give you the understanding to not only discern your tastes and preferences down the line, but it’ll make you seem pretty smart too.
And finally, don’t be discouraged if it seems difficult to create a career life you’re passionate about, especially if that involves the music industry. It’s a tough market for all of us right now—musicians, label owners, music writers, PR people, etc.—but there is always more than one way to approach something. Maybe you need to get in good with the right gatekeeper to get that first internship, or maybe you need to try a new path entirely. Perhaps you’d love to be a famous musician—that’s a long road—and you gotta pay the bills in the meantime. Take the job that’ll support you while you find your way. It’s not selling out, it’s being smart. Be resourceful, don’t shut yourself off from opportunities, and always keep hustling.