Meet Cheska, a new business owner and operator to a music venue and rehearsal studio. She is from East Rutherford, NJ and is passionate, dedicated, & creative. This is her story as a live music professional.
Q: What is your title, what do you do?
A: I’m a co-owner of Angry Papa Entertainment, a new hub for live performances, rehearsals, art and entertainment arts center in Wallington, NJ. We’re a combination music venue (opening August 24th) and rehearsal studio/multimedia art space (opening September). Alongside my dad, I’ve helped build this space from the ground up – and my current role lies in booking/promoting/running shows, organizing community events, handling day-to-day business and finding artists whose work we can display and promote. My main objective is to ensure that we’re an all ages space where someone can play their album release show, film their music video, and display their newest painting.
Q: How did you get into the business you are in today?
A: I’ve wanted to own a venue/studio since I became aware of what a venue was, so most of my career has been working towards that. As a kid, I tried to find any way to get involved with the behind-the-scenes of music promotion, so I took to the internet and got started. I began doing street team promotion when I was 12 (I literally was hanging up/passing out flyers for The Black Parade at my junior high) which led me into the world of web/event promotion. I gave stickers to EVERYONE, started passing out band-branded condoms at Bamboozle, gave out whistles to promote Flo-Rida – you name it, I was the girl outside the show passing it out.
I did this through high-school, pumped it up in college, where I studied Music Technology and learned a bit more about the technical side of everything, while interning in entertainment marketing and volunteering at festivals whenever I could. I also played in a band – which got me inside of many rehearsal studios, behind the scenes at venues, and on the front lines learning from booking agents, promoters, and all of the craziness that goes into DIY show booking. I then worked at a music school for a few years after college, which really got me in tune with my local, up-and-coming music scene and helped me get some perspective on running shows, community outreach, and how necessary it is for musicians of all ages to have a place to play and rehearse.
My dad and I found an amazing property and finally got our ducks in line to start Angry Papa Entertainment, and so the past year has been a lot of construction & planning. We’re finally about to launch, and it’s all a new adventure from now on!
Q: What is the biggest challenge you had to face & overcame?
A: As a woman, sometimes you have to fight to be heard and considered in the world of music. When I was in a band, I would go to rehearsal studios where they didn’t even open the women’s bathroom because they just assumed no girls would be there. So often, I’d play shows and it would be assumed I was someone’s girlfriend or the “merch girl”. However, I feel like with the empowerment of so many of my peers and the hard work that I continue to put in, that it becomes less of a struggle every day. I know that I know what I’m talking about, and while I’m still riddled with self doubt (who isn’t?), there are so many awesome people to look up to who make it all seem more possible.
We may have to work harder to get there, but the more women who make it known that they’re badasses who know what they’re doing are making it easier for each other to kill it in the music world. I know it’s only going to get better with time.
Q: What is your work motto?
A: Make EVERYTHING unique and exciting. I love creating a sense of community behind everything, even if it’s just a themed show or giving the general public input into something like naming a rehearsal room. We all get older and jaded and don’t get hyped on things the way we used to when we were kids – so any way we can keep that magic alive in the music/art scene is super important and a great way to shake things up.
Q: What is the best advice to give someone who is interested in this industry?
A: Learn everything you can from everywhere possible. Saying yes to anything and seeking out volunteer/internship opportunities constantly even when it’s not a curriculum requirement has taught me so much. However, make sure that you value your talents and your time and know that you don’t have to overexert yourself. I’m still teaching myself that one!
Q: What do you like most about this industry?
A: Music f**king RULES. I love that no matter how much you do, there are thousands of bands in your state alone that you’ve never heard of and so many ways to mix and match them. Also, when it comes down to it, you’re helping put music into the world and give people memories and ways to get their minds off everyday life.
Q: What would you want to tell your 15-year-old self?
A: Well first off, I’d be hyped to tell her that I’m doing exactly what she was excited to do in life! I’d let her know that shit’s just gonna get a lot more awkward and sometimes really hard, and that that’s just part of the journey for almost everyone. I’d also probably tell her to chill the fuck out and be a teenager a little!
Q: What does girl power mean to you?
A: Girl power is women building each other up without competition. Hype up your girls, celebrate their achievements, and don’t see things as winning/losing. Everyone operates on their own path and the more the women around you succeed, the more windows open for everyone.
Q: Anything else you want to share?
A: I’m totally looking to start a new punk band if anyone near Bergen County plays an instrument and wants to back up a girl who can yell/belt a lot and writes songs about Danny Devito. I know a place we can rehearse!
And that’s this week’s, Wonderful Woman!
Thank you, Cheska, for being YOU & inspiring others with your talents.