Claire Murphy - Guitar Tech for Vance Joy
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Claire got her start the same way as hundreds of backline techs do, by playing guitar and realizing the band thing just was not going to work out. She started out by helping friends bands, asking questions, and working at a rehearsal studio, where she learned different backline gear.

Claire has worked with several artists including The Raveonettes, Therapy?, and The Answer. She even did a tour with the Dum Dum Girls where there was an all-female crew and almost all female band. Claire has also tour managed for bands, but says “there’s nothing like being a backline tech in the wings with the band two feet from you, and the pressure of the gig”.

Claire has been on the road for the last 18 months with Vance Joy and has been giving back, encouraging women to become involved with backline teching and inviting them to shadow her on the road. She shares her time volunteering with organizations working to empower women and has started a facebook group called Shadow me Women, where women can offer shadowing opportunities on live productions on a one on one basis.

There are very few women doing backline, Why do you think this is? 

I honestly don’t know. I wonder about this a lot. I want to think it’s because you just don’t see women in the role, therefore you don’t think it's something that is available, but then why doesn’t that apply to audio or other backstage roles? I think these types of jobs are never looked at as a safe career option, it’s never going to be recommended to you in school if you have an interest in music that maybe you could go be a “roadie". Our culture depicts roadies as party loving, beer drinking, women crazed men, yet the reality these days is you are usually a business savvy self employed contractor whom bands are fighting over to hire. You can create a very profitable business around touring and this should be looked at as a very credible line of work, just the same as we do with accountants or lawyers. Touring professionals at the top of their game are earning the same if not more than some accountants and lawyers, so why are we not promoting this career path in the same way? Therefore if we were to view a career in music like this, and had more of a structure for entry, I think we would attract more women into the industry. It’s still a closed door unless you know someone, which is also true for many other industries, and we need to work towards getting women into roles across all sectors where they are under-represented; in sports, in boardrooms etc. There are plenty of women who play guitar and drums, so I really want to work to promote backline teching as an option for women who love instruments but don’t necessarily want to play in bands.

What’s your favorite part of touring? 

Of course the travel is amazing. We literally travel the world and have everything taken care of for us. It’s something I have to be careful not to take for granted. My two passions at the moment are coffee and working out, so I love being able to find great coffee shops everywhere I go, and buying a bag of beans to take home with me. Also being able to run and cycle around such iconic places as the Eiffel tower and the Sydney Opera House. It’s an unbelievable perk of the job.

Must have skills and tools? 

Time management, sense of humour, organisational skills, honesty. Tools for a guitar tech: wouldn’t leave home without my drill for restringing, wire cutter, TU-2 tuner, short cable. At the heart of it, that’s really all you need in a pinch to do a show!

What’s in your suitcase? 

Multiple black t-shirts, multiple black jeans, appropriate clothing for every single climate (hot, freezing cold, wet), workout clothes, aero press coffee maker, rubber workout band, boxing wraps, yoga mat, flip flops. Depending on the length of the tour, I will take multiples of my toiletries from home so I can feel like the hotel room I’m in is a home away from home.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned? 

The music industry is a small world, try to be nice to people because you never know when you’ll run into them again! However, be prepared to stand up for yourself because we’re still in a male dominated industry and people will try to take advantage of you.

What advice would give to women starting out? 

Just keep on plugging away at it. Sometimes you’re in the thick of trying to figure it out and you’ve no idea how it’s going to work out but it only takes one call or email and you’re on your first tour or your next big tour. It really is all who you know so keep in touch with people, Facebook and Instagram are great for that. Let people know where you want to go, what you want to do, don’t assume they know. Always say yes then figure it out afterward. Ask lots of questions, there is never a dumb question even though we don’t want to look dumb asking it, it’s how you learn. Remember your worth, it’s fine to work for free if you’re gaining knowledge and experience, but don’t get taken advantage of, its a fine line! And finally, remember to pay it forward once you’ve gotten your break!

Why is the EQL Directory Important?

The EQL directory is an important platform for women working in music because there is now no reason to not hire or consider a woman for every role in music. If an artist is specifically looking for a female crew member, this makes it so easy to search and contact women in the specified field, and if someone is looking to diversify their crew, they have everything they need at their fingertips. It’s a huge step forward in progressing this industry to being more equal.

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