Music Insight Series // Mae Krell
As you think about your PR & music release strategy, it helps to have good photos to match! We are thrilled to feature Mae Krell in our Music Insight Series, as they've built their experience as a music photographer, the Editor In Chief of Tongue Tied Magazine & an artist whose debut EP just released this past February. We present to you...
How did you get started in photography and more specifically, music photography?
I have a pretty basic story when it comes to my start in photography. My mom had a film camera that she had taken my and my siblings’ childhood photos on, and she let me borrow it to learn how to take photos. Once I figured it out, I saved up a bit of money and bought myself a cheap camera off of eBay in the eighth grade. From there, I just took photos of friends and learned how to work the little equipment I had. When it comes to live music photos, I got super lucky. I snuck my camera into some shows and shot from the audience. Once I had a small portfolio, my 15 year old self had the audacity to email some online magazines. One of them got back to me, and gave me my first photo pass. The rest is history, I guess!
Can you tell me about what Tongue Tied magazine produces? What kind of content do you produce, and who produces it?
Of course! Tongue Tied is a by young people for young people mag! It’s technically run by me (18, editor in chief), sean (19, lit editor), Dani (18, social media manager) and soon Caro (18, zine editor). We have four sections- Music, Fashion, Arts & Life, and Literature! All the content is created and submitted by all of our amazing readers, and were always accepting submissions of any kind from any young people who want to send us their stuff!
How is that different from most publications?
When I started taking photos, it was rare that I saw anyone other than a large older man shooting in the photo pit next to me. Now, things are slowly changing, and there’s a whole group of non- old men I see regularly, but when I started Tongue Tied, that wasn’t the case. The goal of the mag was to give young people a place to share their opinions, feelings and talents, without limitations of age or sex or gender identification or race or anything else that seems to divide the arts industries.
I happen to know that you got published in Rolling Stone - how did the connection form? What was that experience like?
Yes! I shot the Governor’s Ball music festival for RS a bit ago! It was absolutely wild. I was seventeen years old, with hardly two years of shooting experience under my belt, but no one else knew that. To them, I was just covering the fest for Rolling Stone. It was amazing to be able to do my job without anyone outwardly assuming anything about me or treating me differently, which i’ve (sadly) gotten so used to. The connection is a funny story, actually, I might have to tell you eventually.
You're also a musician, so you kind of represent both sides of the relationship between press and music. What makes a band or a show good to shoot?
Ah! so many things! It’s always good to have good lighting. When the lighting isn’t good on its own, it’s nice to have neutral lights, so you can play with them in post prod. I like to edit photos based on colors each each song sounded / felt like, so it’s always helpful to have a good slate to start with. I also like when you can tell that an artist loves what they’re doing. Whether that comes from them smiling, telling stories between songs, or just jumping around, etc.
Can you tell me about your new EP coming out?
Yes, of course! My debut EP, Anabasis, released Friday, 2/16. It has four tracks on it, and making and releasing it has meant the absolute world to me. The tracks are a representation of what has been going on inside my head for a while now - from dark to light to dark to light again, and everything in between.
What's something that you made a priority with this EP? Did you invest a lot of PR, take to social media, or just focus on the music?
This EP was a bit of a complicated situation. I had two singles out, and then about a year later, I started working on the release, which was pushed back due to some personal stuff involving a short term cross country move. I decided to invest in PR because I knew that the situation needed some outside help, and I've had a really good experience so far! I obviously did my own social media posting / promotion, but overall, there has been a mix of different things in terms of pushing the release.
How did you decide that this was the time to release the EP and tour?
I wanted to get the EP out as soon as possible once I moved back to NYC, so I just focused on doing it as quickly (yet efficiently) as possible. And for tour, I’ve just been wanting to travel and play shows in other cities so bad that I figured if not now, then when? So I called up a friend and we started planning! I’m super stoked.
How can bands be more press-friendly?
Make music that matters to you and be open to talking about why! I run into bands in interviews too often that aren’t willing to open up to press. I get that it’s hard to share so much about yourself with the public, but if you’re writing about it, people are going to ask! So be ready for that. It’s always good to have a good backstory as well- just something eye catching in a press release.
What should a band look for in a PR firm?
People who believe in them, first and foremost. If the firm you’re meeting with hasn’t listened to your stuff and can talk to you about it, there’s a problem. Make sure they know what they’re doing, obviously, be in your budget range, etc. Other than that, I think it’s all personal preference! I like that my firm is local to me, because I get to see my publicist in person and have a face to the name, etc. but that might not matter to other people. Your band, your release, your choice!