Sound Engineer, festival director and booking agent.
My name is Carla Feuerstein and I am a sound engineer, festival director, boss/booking agent at Firestone Music and part-time musician…it would be easier to say I work in the music industry.
As you can probably tell from my last name, I’m not originally from Scotland. I came to Glasgow from Germany in 2012 to study Sound Production at Stow College (it’s now call Glasgow Kelvin College). I had always been interested in sound and music and my dad, who’s a sound engineer, taught me lots of stuff. But it wasn’t until 2012, when I was already 23 years old and had dropped out of uni that I realised what I wanted to do for a living.
I realised pretty quickly that while college gave me pretty good insight into the theory of sound engineering, the only way to get good at my job would be to go out there and actually DO sound. So I asked more experienced engineers if I could shadow and assist them on the job, volunteered and did the sound for free for some of my musician friends. That was a great way to learn and get to know many different desks, sound systems, rooms and working environments. I soon got asked to go on tour with a few bands and had an absolute ball travelling from venue to venue, getting to work a new desk every night! Over the last few years, I’ve worked at lots of festivals such as Shetland Folk Festival, Wickerman, Electric Fields, Southern Fried Festival and Celtic Connections as well as at many venues in Glasgow on a regular basis.
Around the same time I started college, my friend asked me if I could help him with a few gigs in Germany for his band, The Paul McKenna Band. They had already done a few tours they had organised with the help of my dad and they needed someone who spoke German to phone up and email venues to hassle them for gigs (that’s an agent’s job in a nutshell for you). I was happy to help and before I knew it other bands approached me asking if I could be their agent. So, as I got more and more work, a website and a decent reputation, I decided to officially become self-employed with Firestone Music in 2013. I’ve got 5 bands and a touring festival on my books at the moment, which is enough for me because it means I still have enough time to do sound.
While working as a sound engineer and tech in Glasgow and Scotland, I did of course notice that most of the time, I was one of only a couple of women on site. And while most of the engineers, companies and musicians I have worked for and with have been very good to me, I do often feel like I’m in a man’s world. I did for a while, feel like I had to blend in and basically be “one of the guys” – so I’d try and lift really heavy cases on my own, take part in some really stupid “lad-chat” and didn’t speak up when jokes aimed at me or other women were bothering me. But over time, I realised that it’s not me who has to change, it’s the industry. So now, I ask for help when I need it and tell people to shut up when they’re making comments and jokes that make me uncomfortable. The industry isn’t quite used to women and their needs on all levels yet – the most dramatic example of this would be the accommodation and toilet situation at some festivals (try working busy 14 hour shifts in a muddy field with disgusting portaloos a 10 minute walk away while you’re on your period. If you’re lucky, you get a hotel room to yourself or you’re sharing with the one other female tech. If not, you’re in a dorm with ALL the guys. Enjoy 😉 . Things are getting better all the time though and the more girls and women choose to work in tech, the more aware of our needs festivals, companies and employers will be.
Projects like That’s Sound are great because not only do they introduce more women to tech but they also enable us to form a network. It is very important to have a network of strong successful women in the industry for young girls to look up to. I wish there had been something like this in place when I was at college, because it would have given me a lot more confidence.
Agency website: www.firestonemusic.co.uk
Agency Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/firestonemusik/