Starting with an unmatched confidence to make it in the industry, Jenna Mitchell has found her own way to balance both sides. She tours on the Bass with Nashville-based Daddy Issues, and quite literally runs seemingly all around behind the scenes at various venues and festivals. She was gracious enough to fit us in to her crazy, “Venue Mom” schedule and tell us a little bit about her drive to fill up time, putting her band first, and making artists feel at home on tour.
Nashville’s an obvious hub for music- how did you get your start in the Industry there?
I’ve always been very interested in the music industry so it was sort of natural to come here and start working. I pretty much decided I wanted to try a little bit of everything. So I took a job as an assistant at a management company, interned at a record label, interned at a booking agency, and started selling merch here and there. I held an internship at a music venue in high school and I’ve never loved anything more, so that’s when I decided to try and be a runner.
You call yourself a ‘freelance venue worker’. How many others, if any, hold this position at Exit/In (Nashville) with you?
What I am at Exit/In is called a “Show Rep”. Pretty much I’m there in lieu of the production manager and act as the venue’s representative for the bands and the concertgoers. This involves things like making sure the band has their hospitality, making sure the day of the show runs smoothly, that security has their guest list, and settling with bands at the end of the night. There is one other person who holds this position at Exit/In. I call myself a ‘freelance venue worker’ because I do a little bit of everything, and not just at Exit/In. I sell merch, I’m a runner [another name for a general assistant, an excellent way to get exposure to the industry], I’m a stage manager, I rep shows for promoters or venues around town – it just depends on the day!
How do you maintain the balance between writing, playing, and touring with Daddy Issues as well as working at festivals and venues?
Daddy Issues comes first! What’s so cool about being freelance is that I can tell people when I’m unavailable, and they’ll schedule me around that. I love being as busy as possible so the months where I have little-to-no downtime (like I did in September with working Live on the Green, Americanafest, Exit/In, Marathon Music Works, and playing Daddy Issues shows) are my absolute favorites. It’s a pretty easy balance, and one that I enjoy SO much.
Do you think that since having worked on the other side of artist relations, the way you work with venues as a musician is different?
I definitely thinks it gives me a different way of looking at things. It makes leveling with people a lot easier because I do know what tour is like and how tiring it is. I’ll say that it’s easier to make decisions with the crew and staff because I can imagine how I’d want things to get done if it were my own show or tour. It’s definitely so much easier to put myself in the shoes of the people touring through our venue. I’ve heard that my work ethic is a little different because of this, there’s a little more attention to detail and I like taking care of the littlest things because those littlest things could really mean the most when you’ve been away from home for so long.
Any especially bizarre riders you’ve had to fulfill in your time with artist relations?
One time I had to return somebody’s rental car for them: their personal assistant got my number and didn’t give me any preface but just texted me “Hey we need to return [artist’s] rental car, I’m pulling up right now in a black car. You’ll get in”. It was scary but ended up being legit! The rest of the riders have been pretty regular grocery shops. We had Marilyn Manson play at Marathon Music Works not long ago and he requested to have 2 fire extinguishers on hand “just in case he gets bored” which was funny. I always like being handed something and the tour just says “go find another one of these” which actually happens a lot too. It’s definitely an interesting line of work to be in!
Catch Jenna and Daddy Issues TONIGHT 11/14 in Chicago supporting The Menzingers and Tiny Moving Parts @ The Concord!