Tell us about yourself in your own words.
My name is Tara Jayne. I am a vocalist in Canine, and I run a record label called One Brick Today (OBT) which is centred around helping to provide visibility and a platform for queer people and women in DIY. I’m from Melbourne and I moved to Sydney 6 years ago. I work as a bike mechanic full time, run the label in my free time, watch way too much Buffy and play not enough Magic The Gathering.
How old were you when you started your own record label and what inspired you to do that?
I was 19 when I first started a label. I wasn’t playing in bands at this point and running a label was the way I chose to get more involved in the DIY music community. I made a tonne of terrible decisions, and very quickly realised the shows I was booking and the records I was releasing also contributed to the straight / male dominated scene that I already felt isolated within. I burnt out pretty hard.
I started OBT in 2011-ish. I wanted to start fresh and be super intentional and specific about the bands that I was releasing records of, and the people that I was bringing out to Australia for tours.
I wanted the label to be completely centred around women and queers, something that’s constantly lacking within the music industry. I wanted to help contribute to creating space and platforms for people’s marginalised identities to be celebrated and seen, for bullshit stereotyped gender roles to not have a place within these shows, for people to be able to pick up an OBT release - perhaps not even knowing who or what the band was about, but to know that they were supporting voices that are so often drowned out.
The feeling of being invisible in a scene you feel so passionately about, can be enough to distance yourself from it altogether.
Making connections with others that have shared experiences in the world, and are a part of the same sub-culture is so important.
What attracted you to heavy music and made you want to be a vocalist in a band like Canine?
I was always more interested in heavier music growing up and felt like the amount of women I saw playing in those kind of bands was so minimal at the time which was a huge deterrent for me getting involved - pairing that with being shy and not knowing how to play any instruments, doing vocals in a band never felt like it would be an option. When I was 19, 3 of my friends were playing in a band called Majorca. The band had already been playing shows for a year, and I knew all their songs - so when they asked me to join as their vocalist, it was a super easy process. I had 3 really supportive friends who had space and patience for me giving it a go. The first time I practiced with them was the first time I had ever in my life screamed - turns out I could do it, so just stuck with it. I would have never known it was possible without those friends’ support a decade ago.
When I moved to Sydney, my best friend and I started Canine and it was a dream come true - the absolute best people and such fun music to play. I feel very lucky to be part of it and screaming in a band feels really cathartic.
Did you have to do anything to teach yourself how to do it safely and not hurt your voice?
I definitely learnt from my mistakes early on and from repetitively fucking myself up. I never knew what I was doing, and I still don’t realllllly know. It just got easier over the years and my body has subconsciously adapted. Who knows ? I never took the time to really figure it out properly.
You’ve done a lot of international touring - what would you tell bands that want to do a similar thing?
I’ve spent a lot of time over the years booking tours for international bands here in Australia. It’s meant that I’ve made a bunch of connections with like minded folk in bands around the world, who have then extended the same invitation and support for my bands to travel and play internationally. It’s been an immense privilege being able to tour on the other side of the globe, but its just come down to friendships and support within the DIY community at large.
What sort of themes do you explore through your music and lyrics and what inspires your songwriting?
I write about people who inspire me to keep living. I write about living in the world as a queer woman that deals with anxiety, insecurities, poor mental health and various other factors that affect day to day life and then also things that you can do to combat those hurdles. I write about living as a human on planet earth.
Contrary to what a lot of people think - only ONE Canine song has ever been written about dogs.
What is your creative process and how has it changed over time?
Writing isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I struggle to articulate myself at the best of times so my creative process when it comes to lyric writing is often quite long and super challenging. Over time it’s changed with me as I’ve grown - more life experience and more of a critical analysis of the world around me means there’s more I want to say and write about. It’s gotten easier over the years, but I definitely still find it really challenging.
What is the biggest obstacle you face when running your label and expressing yourself creatively?
Definitely anxiety, deep insecurities and the ingrained feeling that my voice isn’t important and worthy of being heard. I wholeheartedly stand behind all the things the label is about, but I still struggle daily to apply that validation to myself. I think that’s also part of just living in this world where you are constantly questioned and torn down from all the things that you are doing as a woman and a queer person and really having to fight for your art to be seen as legitimate and real. That is one of the biggest obstacles for me.
In terms of running OBT - On multiple occasions I’ve received emails from entitled bands showing their anger and trying to intimidate me into releasing their records or putting their band on tours because they’re “huge fans”, and I’ve been called called a crazy feminist bitch for not having a bar of it. OBT has experienced huge online backlash for its “reverse sexism” (that’s not a thing that exists, stop saying it), for being the “PC police” (stop fucking saying that. Fuck the police always and forever), for just trying to prioritise women (I don’t hate men, stop saying that, and it’s embarrassing to see your band using that excuse when you’re not able to support bands that you think you’re entitled to play with).
All of this stuff is so damaging, disheartening and pushes back against people fighting for equality within our community - and of course culminates in feeling completely invisible and definitely not welcome.
What is the best piece of advice you could give to young women and queer folk who want to make art or music or just be seen and heard?
That you are capable, your voice is important, you are allowed to take up space and deserve to be seen. Go for it and don’t let people tear you down!
Some ideas for others around encouraging more involvement - If you’re in a position where you are booking shows, tours, putting out records, writing zines... TRY to make a space for women/queer folk getting involved, if it encourages at least one person to give something a go, it’s so great!! Seek out bands with women, queer people and other marginalised folk, and put them on your shows, so they have a chance to be more regularly visible.
Everyone has to start somewhere and its 100% ok to fumble your way through it (I do that daily). Support women who are taking part, validate the work they do and show appreciation, because who knows? That could be the catalyst for them to keep growing and getting more and more involved.
Take a step back and let women, gender diverse people, queers, people of colour and other marginalised folk take up space.