BBB’s expert fan profiles are posted to introduce you to someone I know that is a tireless supporter of indie music. These people absolutely amaze and inspire me with their levels of commitment and passion. They are the first people that pop into my head when I think about going to shows, promoting bands, and just overall passion for music.
Many of you likely know this month’s expert fan in one way or another, and if you don’t, well, you need to fix that. Chelsea Schwartz may be the ultimate expert fan, and she is High Voltage.
Chelsea started High Voltage more than ten years ago and was writing for magazines at a very young age. She’s someone you can’t help but be inspired by with her extensive knowledge base and experience in the music industry. I met her when BBB was still very new and she actually gave me the push I needed to start interviewing bands rather than just writing down what I loved about them.
She is a great supporter of music, and anyone who wants to do anything relating to it. Read on to hear about her background, why she started High Voltage, who her favorite bands are, and what advice she has for bands.
Hometown: Houston, Texas
How long have you been in LA?
I’ve been in LA for eight years.
Why did you move here?
I moved here because I was flying out here about a week or two every month on business and it just became cheaper to live here than to keep coming out.
Who were your favorite bands growing up?
My first show ever was Guns N’ Roses and Metallica. I’m a huge GnR fan but at the same time I was in love with New Kids on the Block. I thought I was going to marry Joey McIntyre. Then I think the first CD I bought was Green Day’s Dookie. I had a bunch of cassettes before that, like my brother had given me a bunch of MC Hammer and Michael Jackson. However, the main thing that launched me into music would be a combination of Dave Matthews Band, Barenaked Ladies and Hanson.
So then, what really launched you into the music industry?
I started writing for Teen People Magazine when I was 14 and my dad was a musician my whole life. I grew up seeing him at various gigs and on the road and watching him struggle. I kind of made the decision early on that I wanted to help people in that situation, but I couldn’t really formulate how I was going to help until later on. Watching Hanson achieve things at a very young age, made me think I could do anything. It didn’t matter if I couldn’t figure it out right then, it would come eventually. It was around 14 that I formulated my motto that I don’t take no for an answer. People said, “You have to be 16 to have a job.” I thought, “Screw that, I’m going get a job at 14.”
When was High Voltage officially born?
High Voltage was born in November of 2003. I was about a year and a half into being a huge OK Go fan. From about six months into being a fan I was a part of their message board and I had met up with three other OK Go fans at a show, by then we had all formed OK Go fan clubs. Eventually, we all decided that we wanted to do something else in music. I wasn’t really part of the conversation, but I made myself part of it. They were going back and forth in the message boards saying, “We should start a magazine. But we don’t know anything about a magazine.” And I thought, “I know everything about starting a magazine and I am tired of having a boss.” So that is basically how High Voltage was formed. A bunch of OK Go fans on a message board. I am the only original member left.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced with High Voltage?
Maybe making people aware of us, however, there are some times where we are shocked at the people that know us. I guess, sustaining a lifestyle off of it, being able to pay bills off it.
Favorite moments while running High Voltage?
Well, there is a total full circle moment coming up. The fall issue will have OK Go on the cover. They were in the first issue ever, but they were not on the cover. This will be the last issue of our 10th anniversary series and they will be on the cover. I’m really excited about it; we’re doing our own photo shoot with them and everything.
Who was on the cover of the first issue of High Voltage?
A band called The Shys. We were actually just online for about three years. Then, my boss at the time, who used to be my boss at Arista Records, had started his own company called High Wire Music and believed in us so much that he funded our first issue to get it off the ground.
What other jobs have you had in music?
I’ve worked in some respects at every record label. I was in charge of tour marketing and digital before there really was a digital. I’ve done a bunch of stuff with different management companies as Tour Manager or Assistant Managers. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road selling merch and doing lights, and really anything you can do on the road. Besides that, I was the Talent Buyer for Viper Room, which led into me starting the Force Agency which had 16 venues around the country we were booking. I was the Director of Live for the company, so I was in charge of the calendar for all venues 365 days a year, 3 to 5 bands a night.
What are your favorite venues?
I think my favorite place ever to see a show is Stubb’s in Austin. It can be indoor or outdoor; I love them both. There was a place in Manchester that I played when I was out with Ginger Wildheart, it was next to this three story punk rock clothing store and it was relatively new, I remember really loving the vibe in there. My ideal venue is like 500 capacity, all ages, and kind of divey inside. That is what I want from a venue.
If you could book a dream lineup for one night, who would be on the bill?
Hanson would open for a co-headlining show with Michael Jackson and Queen.
Advice for bands?
The best thing any band can do is treat their band like a business. A lot of people will get into it with the wrong mentality, that they are chasing after the money. Also, be authentic. A lot of people think they need to sound like something else in order to create a hit. You won’t get anywhere like that. If you aren’t true to you and what your sound is, everyone else can tell. Do what you do best and be professional all the way.
What’s the best live show you have ever gone to?
Two popped into my head, one was Ben Folds on my birthday in Austin. He played for three and a half hours, just him and a piano. It was amazing. He also brought out the keytar at one point as well. The other would be The Black Crowes, but not a specific show, just any of their shows. They are so great live.
Who are you listening to right now?
Nightmare and the Cat.
Find Chelsea (Along with a ton of EPIC musical goodies) HERE: iamhighvoltage.com