Women in Music: Babs Szabo of Emo Night LA

Babs Szabo, Emo Night LA

Last night I saw The Used perform their self-titled album in its entirety at the Observatory in Orange County. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my entire life. The energy in that room was magical, filled with childlike grins, meaningful glances, tears, arms carelessly waving in the air – pure bliss. I was granted a chance to feel all of the raw emotions I felt as a teenager when this album was released, while the songs took on a whole new meaning 15 years later. For an hour and a half, no one seemed to care about anything except for being immersed in this borderline religious experience.

It’s nights like these that remind me why I work in the music industry.

Emo Night LA started when Morgan, TJ and I had the idea to get our friends together at a small dive bar and sing along to the emo and pop punk songs that we love. Somehow hundreds of people showed up to the first one, and since then it has grown into an event that we throw in about 15 cities.

Emo Night allowed us to start a clothing collection that is proving to be successful and rapidly growing. Seeing photos of Kristen Stewart wearing one of our shirts was definitely a “whoa” moment.

The emo scene is very male dominant. Most of the musicians from the genre are male. Over 90% of our guest DJs have been male, so when we get someone like Tay from We Are The In Crowd, I get really excited. My dream is to have Hayley Williams guest DJ. She is the epitome of a strong, accomplished female. She’s so badass.

Morgan, TJ and I also started a creative agency called Ride or Cry Collective. We work with a number of rad bands, artists and brands to help with social media, digital strategy, graphic design, web development, creative direction, music videos, and more. Before that I worked at CAA in music touring and digital strategy, in marketing at Sony Music, and most recently at a boutique digital company. I studied journalism in college, which translates to the storytelling aspect of social media seamlessly. I also pretty much only wrote about music in school, so it was inevitable that I would end up in this line of work.

I feel really lucky to have had the chance to work with some truly stellar people.

Growing up in Hungary, my parents were both musicians and toured Europe quite a bit. Music was always a key player in my life.

The number one piece of advice I have for anyone is to work hard. And I mean REALLY hard. Starting a business is really challenging. You have to say farewell to weekends and vacations for the most part, but in the end it feels really rewarding. You’re never really off the clock and you’re accountable for every single outcome of your business. And that’s pretty scary. But also very exciting.

The biggest challenge for me is that I battle with depression. Sometimes it’s difficult to get myself to do simple, every day things that come naturally to other people. It’s hard to explain this to anyone who hasn’t dealt with depression. People say, “Just get over it, we all have bad days.” In reality it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain that has to be regulated. I’ve taken all the necessary steps to get better, which has honestly allowed me to do everything I’m doing now. In order to achieve great things, you have to love yourself first and foremost. You have to work really really hard to be the best possible version of yourself. And that’s the toughest battle of them all. Just be honest (especially with yourself!) and kind and all good things will come to you. I really mean that.

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