“The main thing is to be confident and self-assured because you’re going to have a lot of male energy trying to tell you that you’re not welcome and you’re not good enough. As long as you believe in yourself, everyone else will too..Take up space, use your voice, and stay strong.”
By day, Courtney Myers works as a full-time children’s illustrator. She reigns at night — like some kind of nocturnal creature — further delving into her creativity within the music industry. She is the creator of Rock Coven, a new music blog that strives to set itself apart as a publication that showcases the hottest new rock acts, while promoting more diversity within the genre.
The path of a creative is never easy; unwavering in the face of adversity, Courtney pushed through the negative chaos and ignored the naysayers who said a career in the arts was an impossible feat. This was a difficult path to endure, but she charged forward, never giving up, and putting all of her heart and soul into her work, with the strong determination to make her dreams a reality.
Courtney shared her creative journey and discussed other topics that include her fierce female influences and the challenges that women face in our industry. Read on to learn more about this inspiring artist who is paving her own way in the industry, fighting for equality, and seeking to spread diversity by raising more awareness of the female artists who are new to the scene and are yet to be discovered.
How did you get started in this industry?
My first real ‘professional’ dive into the music world was when I launched Rock Coven back in November. The blog was a manifestation of a lot of different things — I love writing and don’t get to do any in my day job as an illustrator, and I’m aggressively passionate about rock music and discovering small acts. The boredom of lockdown was a real catalyst for me to get started. I had so much time to reflect on where I was at, where I wanted to be, and how I could get there. Prior to Rock Coven, I had done some merch design for my friends cleopatrick, which is something I hope to do a lot more of in the future!
You currently work full-time in illustration and then work on Rock Coven at night. How did you get your start in graphic work, and how did the idea come about to manifest the blog that would later become Rock Coven?
I work full-time in illustration as a kids animator. We have Teletubbies, Snoopy, things like that. I’m really lucky I’ve got a full-time job doing something I enjoy doing.
I studied illustration at university a few years ago and moved to London. London’s got a really good scene in terms of music. I don’t really have any friends around here, so I just started going to gigs on my own, which seemed really scary at the time, at its core, but I made some friends. I just started getting into it a little bit more and met some artists – kinda like networking, but not really because I didn’t have anything to offer at the time — it was just like, “Hey, I like music.”
At night, I run Rock Coven. There was a lot of back and forth about the name. *laughs* I wanted to make a blog and I was just thinking, “I don’t know if that sounds too cringy..” I was like Rock Coven, and I just wrote it down and thought it looked cool. I was just like you know what, let’s go for that one. And I thought you can have all the imagery centered around witchcraft and empowered women.
But yeah, I didn’t really get into rock music until I was quite older than most people I would say, because my parents listened to stuff like Motown. I think a lot of people grew up with Oasis and Led Zeppelin, things like that, but I never did. So I had to discover that for myself.
It was a bit of an experience; my parents were like “Why are you listening to all of this stuff? We have this.” and I was like “That’s exactly why.” *laughs*
I was about 17 when I first really got into it. I never thought that I would really follow it professionally in any kind of way because I thought, “Well, I can’t play an instrument or anything, so there’s nowhere I can go.” One of my friends that I met at a gig, she used to run a blog, which ended up quite successful and they sold it on. I was at a gig with her last year and she said, “Oh we used to get free gig tickets for writing about stuff.”
I was like, “Nooo, free gigs, that’s amazing!” *laughs*
So that kinda sparked the seed and obviously we’ve had lockdown here in England for almost a year now, so I’ve had a lot of time on my hands. It just ended up happening like that.
What initially sparked your interest & made you want to pursue a creative path in the music industry?
Music actually came to me a bit later in life than most people I’d say – of course as a kid all I wanted to be was a ‘pop star’ but I didn’t really find my musical niche until I was about 17 and streaming sites like Deezer and Spotify made it way easier to discover new stuff. When I heard Royal Blood for the first time, (“Out of the Black,” 2013) it was like some kind of spiritual experience, and my thirst for similar sounds has spiraled out of control ever since – so it seems only fair to share my discoveries with the people!
I’ve just always been drawing and making things just forever ever since I can remember – in England, they push you to make a lot of decisions early on about what courses you’re going to do, so I chose art. When it was time for college, I was eighteen and I had to decide whether I wanted to pursue university or not. And they put a lot of pressure on you right away. I felt like I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it, so I took an art foundation course. That solidified I can do this for a career: I have options and I’m good at it. I’ve always been a creative person. I get very frustrated if I go a long period of time without making something or doing something. So I’m always writing or drawing.
What excites you to create? What helps you in the moments whenever you are feeling uninspired and stagnant?
More than anything, it’s the music. There are so many people out there doing incredible things and it’s hard for a day to go by without me hearing a song that makes me think, how can I get involved in projects like this? If anything, I often find myself overwhelmed by too many things at once – in those situations it’s best to just switch off for the day. Rest can be productive!
If I ever feel stuck with the blog, I can’t go a day without hearing a song that I love so much that I just want people to know about it. That gets me excited and I hope that it makes other people excited. I think that people can feel your excitement when you put that into a project. Other people’s art helps inspire a lot of the time — whether it’s music, paintings, etc. — just seeing other people doing cool stuff. Maybe I’m stuck in a rut, but if they’re doing it, then I can do it. Everyone goes through difficult periods. For me, I just get so frustrated and I need the creative outlet. I need to keep doing stuff, otherwise I’ll just not do anything for ages, which makes me so depressed. It’s ridiculous. It’s difficult sometimes to be productive all the time. But it’s in my soul.
Since it’s Women’s History Month, let’s talk about the women who inspire you. Who are some female artists that have inspired you and your work?
If I had to pick one person I think is absolutely killing it all the time, it’s Izzy Bee Phillips from Brighton-based band Black Honey. The woman is a walking piece of art, from her music, style, art direction, just everything.
Her whole aesthetic is female empowerment. I feel like women don’t get represented enough. People talk about rock ‘n roll icons, and you’ll think of Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, all those people. And no women. There’s so many female artists out there.
Musically, there’s so many who inspire me: Nova Twins, The Mysterines, YONAKA, Stevie Nicks, HAIM, Saint Agnes, Taylor Swift, I could go on forever.
There’s so many acts coming out of England in particular; I don’t know if it’s just because I’m here and on the pulse of it, but it seems like all of the good music is coming from this area. So I feel really lucky to have that all around me. It’s really inspiring.
Visually, my favourites are Claire Keane, Brittney Lee and Mary Blair – all were key figures in inspiring me to become an illustrator.
Women face so many challenges in our workforce today, and are often misrepresented or underrepresented in the music industry. Inequality still remains a serious injustice. What changes do you think should be made to the industry so it becomes more inclusive? What are some small things everyone can do to help promote equality in our scene?
I think the main thing that people can do right away is look at what they’re listening to. For me, it was a process – I became aware that I was listening to pretty much just white guys and questioned “Why is this?” It was just because I didn’t know what was out there and I had to make a real effort to seek out both POC and female-fronted bands. There’s so many, once you start looking, and it’s a bit difficult in the beginning to find the ones that you really vibe with. But I did.
So the first step is to take a look at your listening habits. Are your playlists 100% white dudes? Then find some female artists you like! I must admit, this isn’t always the easiest thing – and that’s part of the problem. Female-made music is not promoted in the same way as its male counterparts, so you might have to do a bit of digging to find stuff you really vibe with. Following blogs is a great way to make that easier, as we’re doing all the work for you! That’s how I feel about our blog Rock Coven, we just want to push those people to the front and bring attention to them, so it’s easier in the future for people to find them.
Once you’ve found people you like – it’s all about engaging with their content; engagement is key to making it easier for others to find them – by that I mean adding their songs to playlists, following them on Spotify & social media, and liking/sharing/commenting on their posts. All of this goes into the backend of it and makes the bigwigs find them easier. Once they’re in higher positions, then it becomes normal and everything’s equal — which seems really really far away right now, but it could so easily happen. Unfortunately, social media plays one of the biggest roles in the success of smaller artists these days, so your support is vital!
Finally, money talks. Buy a t-shirt! Go to a show (when it’s safe)! Your financial support will allow your favourite artists to continue putting time and effort into creating. You get cool stuff and experiences, they get paid, they can make more cool stuff, the cycle continues.
Also, when there are more women in those positions in the public eye, then people starting out will see that:
“Oh, I can do that because she’s doing that.”
What do you think is the most challenging part of being an artist today? What do you find the most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect is the perception of it. The ‘starving artist’ trope is really damaging – it makes it seem like art is something of no value which makes people take you for granted, and it also puts young people off pursuing art as a career because they think they won’t make any money.
Last year, the UK government suggested all creatives ‘retrain’ into ‘real jobs’ — demonstrating a complete disregard for our importance in society. At a time where everyone was trapped inside, imagine a world without music, films, video games, or books? Ludicrous.
That’s the main thing: people not taking it seriously.
If you enjoy something and you love it, and you can work to be good at it, then there’s no reason you can’t make money from it.
The most rewarding part is being able to say you do something you love for a living, and getting the “that’s so cool!” reaction from people. I’m often told I’m lucky to be in this position, and whilst I’m grateful, luck has absolutely nothing to do with it. I knew what I wanted to do, I worked hard to get here (despite the naysayers), and I continue to push further every single day.
I did this completely on my own and that’s the empowering thing about it.
Whenever you’re not creating art, what are you doing? Are there other ways in which you get creative or reset yourself so you can return to your work with a relaxed mind?
Outside of my 9-5 job, running Rock Coven takes up the majority of my time. Thankfully, I have my writer, Chloe, who has really taken on the blog as if it were her own, so we come up with content ideas together and split the writing duties pretty evenly. I then make all of the graphics for everything we post which is the most time consuming part, but I do enjoy having that as another creative outlet. On top of that, I’ve always been interested in creating my own music but never really had the confidence to do anything about it. Recently, I’ve started learning guitar and writing my own songs which I’m finding so cathartic! But don’t expect to hear them any time soon, haha.
What advice would you offer other women who are new to the industry and just starting out?
The main thing is to be confident and self-assured because you’re going to have a lot of male energy trying to tell you that you’re not welcome and you’re not good enough. As long as you believe in yourself, everyone else will too.
You need to be really passionate about what you’re doing because it can be pretty cut-throat and if you’re not in it 100 percent, you’ll probably wanna give up.
You just need to know that you’re probably more qualified than they are and you probably know more than they do.
Seek out other women on the same path as you and support each other – there are some great groups out there, I love the Girls Behind The Rock Show (GBTRS) Networking Facebook group. I think it’s really great to have a network of women, just to bounce ideas off and compare experiences with.
Finally, never let a man make you feel like you’re less important than them. Take up space, use your voice, and stay strong.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
This sounds so cliche but it’s true: be yourself. Fully. Embrace all of your quirks. Your quirks are what make you unique, and what makes you unique will make you more interesting to everyone around you. Of course some people won’t like it, but they were never worth trying to impress in the first place.
Again, it’s about believing in yourself and just knowing what you like and knowing that there’s value in that. You become a lot more interesting when you accept yourself.
Describe your biggest dream.
Equality. Crazy right?
My biggest dream is for there to be equality in the world, in general, but we’ll start with music and then work from there. *laughs*
What are your future plans?
At the moment, my main focus is growing Rock Coven’s audience so that we can do more cool stuff – more interviews, more exclusives, maybe some events. Maybe even make some merchandise. There’s so much we’ve been talking about doing. But we just started. I think we need to build up our following of supporters before we start aiming too high. It’s good to have an ambition for it though.
We’d love to grow the brand so that it becomes the place to go for finding the hottest new rock acts and promoting diversity within the genre.
We’d love to grow the brand so that it becomes the place to go for finding the hottest new rock acts and promoting diversity within the genre.
I really want it to become a brand that people know.
“Where should I get my new rock music from?”
Oh, Rock Coven.
It’s just about being known.
One last message for our readers would be…
Smash the patriarchy!
Follow Courtney on her socials to keep up with her latest work! Also, be sure to follow Rock Coven and keep the publication on your radar – many exciting things are coming soon!