The Table is the freshest Podcast that offers up a leading foresight into Women's contributions in the Music Industry throughout the past and present.
Focusing-in on a curated program of female guests and thoughtful discussions surrounding the workplace's ebb and flow, Victoria Banks and Sarah Defors create a snug environment to discuss the vulnerable margins encircling the Industry—which we might not have known about otherwise.
"I wanted to bring the conversations I'd been having behind the scenes for years about gender into the open," Victoria explains. It's part of the ethos she has developed as a professional Songwriter who manifested herself through the touchstones of being a producer, engineer, and musical composer—having even performed behind every instrument for her last album's entirety.
Sarah Defors is the Nashville-bred Country song sweet-heart turned Sync Music and Pop Maestra, and together with their impassioned and combined spirits, they navigate the narratives of captivating guests like Emily Shackleton, Mickey Guyton, Sara Evans, and Noreen Prunier for season one. They've already established a festooned following, and have made it their mission to get Woman—and anyone who wishes to learn more—to join the conversation over at "The Table."
Join the conversation today and discover "The Table" here.
Hello ladies of The Table, and welcome to BuzzMusic. What has been a driving factor behind why both of you, as young Artists, decided it was time to blueprint something like, "The Table," for the benefit of the women involved in the industry today?
Sarah: For me, I’ve been in the industry since I was 15, and throughout my career, I’ve had experiences that made life, creativity, success, and overall sanity far more difficult to obtain and sustain - just because I was a woman. In college, I studied Communications with a focus on social justice, and the conversations we’d have about how to move society forward as a whole were my favorite part. I missed that when I moved to Nashville full time. These conversations have been going on behind the scenes with women and every other minority in the industry for a very long time, but it’s still taboo to discuss. People are afraid to shake things up and anger the people in charge. We wanted to bring these voices to the forefront for everyone to participate in, and benefit from. If one of us rises, we all do.
Victoria: As far as I’m concerned, it’s long overdue. I’ve been working inside this industry for over 20 years, and have encountered systemic discrimination throughout the time that I’ve been here. Women just don’t have an even playing field with men in many areas of entertainment, and especially within the country music industry where I work. Like most discrimination, it’s not usually purposeful or aggressive…it just stems from a general lack of awareness, or a misunderstanding about the way things come across or the negative effects that specific behaviors, expectations, or policies might have on women. We need to talk about this openly, for the benefit of men and women alike, in order to bring that awareness that is needed. And women need to hear each others’ stories because it validates their own experiences, helps them recognize the ways in which discrimination can occur, and gives them tools to deal with it when it happens.
What's stood out as the most profound lessons you've learned as hosts during the taping of Season 1, and how do you think this will benefit Season 2?
Sarah: One of the biggest things I learned and adjusted for very early on was how different the experiences of each woman were, and further, how differently they all perceived their experiences. Some were extremely conscious of all the little things that impact their lives and careers. Some told us they didn’t think they had much to discuss. Some said they noticed the issues presented when you’re a woman but were able to, for the most part, ignore them and push through, and so on. Each woman and her path was so very unique. Yet, even when they thought they didn’t have much to discuss, we found that the more we chatted and provided a safe space to speak, the more they opened up - whether or not they knew they had so much to say. We learned very fast that nothing pushes forward a sometimes uncomfortable conversation than simply like sharing your story - especially when you've been trained to smile and deal with it. Learning this has made us both infinitely better interviewers, and has opened up our eyes to perspectives and experiences we didn’t understand before. Especially as season 2 highlights more diversity in the industry, we feel far better prepared to tell all stories, not just the ones we understand firsthand.
Victoria: In season 1, we spoke with a variety of women who work in many different areas of the music business. They all had their different coping mechanisms and strategies for how they deal with the double standards or disadvantages they have faced in their journeys. Some of them choose to downplay or ignore those experiences…others dwell on them and get angry…others use them as motivation to bring change. But the more we talked, and the more we opened up with each other, the more I learned that we all have shared many of the same experiences. So season 1 has given me both a vocabulary for and an understanding of the recurring issues that seem to arise for many of us. That’s going to help me ask more pointed and insightful questions in season 2.
How did the two of you initially encounter each other amongst the Music Industry's chaotic environment, and how do you reach out to and find guests for "The Table"?
Sarah: Victoria and I both met through a songwriter retreat about 5 years ago. I was a young writer there to learn, and she was the amazing hit songwriter I got to share space with for an afternoon! She was actually a co-writer on my first huge Country hold for a major artist! Over the years we crossed paths many times at retreats, writes for artists, at events when I worked behind the scenes in the industry, and just around town! When we decided to do this, we simply each reached out to our own connections and emailed women that we knew, worked with, and admired. To our joy and surprise, nobody has said no yet! As we book more and more, we also may send the occasional Instagram DM or connect with guests through referrals or cold inquiries.
Victoria: I met Sarah in two different settings: she was a collaborator with me on a coach songwriting session when she was fairly new in town, and she was also a staff member for a local organization through which I worked to educate aspiring songwriters about the business and the songwriting process. I didn’t know her well, but we did hit it off right away and have some pretty insightful conversations, so when she reached out to me about starting the podcast, I didn’t hesitate to work with her. As far as bringing guests to “The Table”, she and I have both used our personal connections to invite collaborators, coworkers, and friends to be on season 1. Now since the podcast's release, we are being approached by potential guests who are asking to be a part of it. We think that’s a good sign!
Do you feel like the Podcast improves from one episode to the next as a constant growing experience, or is it more of a collective reimagining each new season concerning format and aesthetic?
Sarah: Every episode is so unique, we try to keep a balance between pre-planned questions and topics, and letting the conversation ebb and flow. We put a lot of thought into the order of our guests, trying to keep certain themes or discussions as linear as possible. But, each episode can stand on its own, and the order they’re presented in is not the order in which we recorded them. Our first interview was actually the last to be recorded, but we found it was the most relevant and set up the rest of the season the best. As the season goes on you're presented with a new perspective each week, but we often discuss similar stories. Sometimes we stick closely to what we plan, and other times we only squeeze in a question or two before getting caught up in the magic of our guest. This is why we end each episode with the same “rapid-fire” questions, it’s a great way to tie each guest together.
Victoria: Each guest that we talk to has such a different background, a different career path, and different stories about their journey. We usually begin with a fairly standard format and set of questions in mind, but then we follow the lead of the conversation, going where the guest takes us, while still trying to touch on the main questions we had in mind. In the end, each episode is capable of standing on its own as a single listening experience. But we also learn as we go, and the questions we ask our guests to reflect that.
How do you imagine "The Table" will grow over the next year, and what do you wish for your audience to ultimately gain when joining the community you've created through your Podcast?
Sarah: We hope to grow a large and diverse following that embodies our values of community, kindness, courage, and lifting up others. It’s our goal to include as many people as we can from all areas of the industry and all kinds of personal and professional backgrounds. One day, we hope to be able to do live recordings and host events to bring everyone at our "table" together. Already we’ve had fans reach out saying this was exactly what they needed to hear. Many of them are women who have grown frustrated with their own treatment in the industry and the lack of discussion of it, but we’ve also found many men who listen as a way to become better allies. This is exactly what we want. "The Table" is not just for women, it’s for everyone - minorities of all kinds, allies, and those who want to help but don’t know where or how to start. We want our audience to gain a sense of community and feel not only seen but like they have a place to be heard - a place that values their voice and will do everything possible to create positive change.
Victoria: I think the growth of “The Table” is going to happen organically: listeners will create more listeners. You can’t listen to our first guest episode (with guest Mickey Guyton) without feeling moved, outraged, motivated, and inspired. We laugh and we cry with our guests, and our listeners will do the same. One listener posted her on social media that she felt “seen for the first time” after hearing the podcast. It’s that kind of “where have you been all my life” feeling that I think will set “The Table" apart and help it grow, because when something makes you feel that way, you can’t help but talk about it.