Spotlighting the important work of those who are changing the landscape of our music scenes without playing a single note…
Before Kat Nijmeddin could accept the position of Creative Director at Pure Noise Records, she needed her soon-to-be boss to do one thing: ask her dad for permission. It was November 2016, and Nijmeddin and her dad were at Ace Of Spades in Sacramento to see The Wonder Years, Real Friends, Knuckle Puck, Moose Blood, and Seaway—“I take my parents to shows pretty often because it’s sick,” she says. At the time, Nijmeddin was a college student and an intern at Pure Noise.
“The person I was interning under was also at the show, and I had him talk to my dad. Like, ‘Can you go tell him that you guys want to hire me and make sure it’s OK, basically?’” she says. “It worked out, and now, I’m living in Los Angeles, working for Pure Noise. But at first, he was super-cautious, because he didn’t want me to live in L.A., live so far from the family. And I still had to teach [my parents] that working in music is an actual job.”
Nijmeddin’s parents will be happy to hear that at the age of 23, their daughter has turned music into not only an actual job but a thriving career. As a graphic designer and illustrator, Nijmeddin has designed tour posters and merch for Jimmy Eat World, Backtrack, Have Mercy, and Knuckle Puck, to name a few. About a year ago, she added photography to her arsenal and is now a fixture at L.A. shows, capturing everyone from Touché Amoré and Terror to Tiny Moving Parts and The Maine.
Although she jokes about having to teach her parents that her work is indeed real work, Nijmeddin says her dad—who immigrated to the United States from Jordan as a child and grew up on classic rock—is the one who got her into music. “When I was younger, he had a huge CD collection, so every night, he’d pick a CD, and he’d make us listen to it and teach us about it,” she says.
He’s also the reason she was able to go to her first show at age 15. She was in the hospital for knee surgery, and as they were giving her anesthesia, her dad said she could have whatever she wanted. “‘I just want to see A Day To Remember!’” she recalls saying, “and while they were wheeling me down the hallway, I started singing ‘If It Means A Lot To You’ loudly until I passed out.”
Today, she says her parents understand her career and music more, and they’re not the only ones who have taken note. Nijmeddin is part of To The Front, a traveling exhibit that showcases the work of women and non-binary photographers and designers. She’s exhibited at two of the shows and designs all the promotional posters. As a young Muslim woman in a predominantly white, cis male scene, Nijmeddin says To The Front is a nice reminder of all the different people who exist in music.
“When I first started going to shows, even now, there’s usually not another person who looks like me. On a rare occasion, there will be another hijabi girl in the crowd,” she says. “Younger Muslim girls will come up to me at shows and are so fascinated that I’m able to be part of the music scene but also wearing hijab and still being Muslim.”
And for those 15-year-old girls who are currently begging their parents to let them go to a show, Nijmeddin can sympathize. “Going to shows was a big deal,” she asserts. “When I was in high school, if the sun was down, I was not out of the house. This one girl tweeted me the other day. She goes, ‘Kat is setting the standard for Arab girls that have to leave shows at 9:01 p.m.’” Nijmeddin laughs. “It’s kind of nice to have this thing and literally break the barriers on this.”
Gallery by Kat Nijmeddin