How a bunker was turned into a safe heaven

Back in March 2020

…We don’t know how this pandemic will unfold. Probably, it will just be a matter of a couple months and by fall we are back to normal. Either way, we will have to postpone the Europe tour…” – Said the publisher Suzanne of Mark Cawley’s latest book to me. I was supposed to be his opening act on his Europe book tour starting in two weeks until mid April. Next to that, my manager Lee, my lawyer Bob and me were negotiating with 50/50 from Sony New York to have me join their team as a singer/songwriter and possibly be a small supporting act at the World of Dance Tour. It would have meant the world to me – Especially, since I already wrote the single, EP and album within a month – ready to be released. But also this got postponed, the negotiations eventually got suspended and I was off on my own- again.

So, here I am– in my hometown Zurich, Switzerland,  with broken plans, a lot of time on my hands – and no job. Initially, I was only here to do my General Education classes to save some money since it is way cheaper to study in Switzerland than it is in the US and then go back to California to continue my studies at the California Institute of the Arts. Going back to the US was out of question in an unprecedented situation like this. I was thinking about applying to Swiss studios as an assistant, but talking with some local musicians discouraged me from doing so. Many are still not aware of their biases towards women let alone queer women or women of color. And honestly… I am tired of always trying to explain things that I consider common knowledge like why asking me “where I really come from” is just inappropriate. Or why it makes me feel uncomfortable when a male audio engineer asks whether I am currently dating.

FYI it makes me feel uncomfortable, because there were plenty of opportunities in the music industry I didn’t get because I wasn’t down to date the audio engineer or the producer. So, I am back to not knowing what I should do. I called Johanna and talked with her about how I feel. Johanna and I, we know each other since the 2nd grade of high-school. It wasn’t until the 3rd grade that we became really good friends, but we didn’t leave each others side ever since. She knows how hard I worked, how many risks I have taken and how often I straight up failed not only in music but also in life. Nevertheless, for some reason she always saw something in me and built me back again. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have been able to do as many things as I ended up doing. And I am grateful. 

Back to our conversation: Her response to my thoughts was -as you might imagine- that she would support me in anything, even in music, I just have to keep in mind that she doesn’t know a lot about the music industry. 

Eventually we came to the conclusion that the discrimination I am facing is something plenty of other people face.

And this is the spark for what’s to come. We need a recording studio for women, queer people and people of color. A place where people who face discrimination can feel safe and can forget for once their daily struggle and just focus on creating art. But this project would need people, funding and expertise. I called my life-long mentor René.

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