Whatever you loved during your teenage years is hard to shake. Be it your favorite crop top that made you believe you could be Britney in Crossroads or that Fall Out Boy album that in reality makes no sense lyrically, but at the time was your life. So for those who grew up loving the latter and the other so called emo bands that came about in the mid-00’s, I get it. For those who loved Crossroads, I don’t – but you do you, and I’ll continue on about emo and introduce you to a lovely woman named Babs Szabo.
Music has always been a part of Babs’ life. Her parents were musicians and she went to her first show before she could formally form words. Then when she was just 10-years-old, her parents got new jobs. No big deal for some, but for her that meant packing up and moving from Budapest to the US. It was hard to adjust to everything, and that made her feel like she was stuck out the outside looking in but when she stumbled upon this new found emo music, it helped her get through those whirlwind years known as adolescence.
With an undying love and respect for the genre, Babs teamed up with two of her best friends and business partners and created the phenomenon known as Emo Night: Taking Back Tuesday out in LA. For those not in the know, it’s like “clubbing” for those who like music from The Used and New Found Glory rather than Pitbull and whatever other Top 40 artist I can’t think of because I’m old and out of touch (is Pitbull even still a thing?). Guest DJs that range from All Time Low’s Jack Barakat to Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus take the stage and play songs that former teens of the ‘00s grew up with. The now adults sing and mosh all through the night. If you ever get the chance, it’s quite the scene.
Now let’s get to know more about Babs, Emo Night and find out where she and her boys plan to take it next.
Kendra: You’re causing quite the hysteria with Emo Night, but what was keeping you busy before all this sort of exploded?
Babs Szabo: Before Emo Night, I worked in the music industry for a few years. During college, I was a college marketing rep for Sony, and went on to work at CAA in digital strategy and touring. After that I started working with TJ and Morgan at a creative agency in Silverlake, which is where the magic of Emo Night all got started.
Kendra: We all know women are the badasses of life, so are you sort of the one who takes charge out of the three founders and handles the day to day?
Babs: Ha! Very true. Women are the badasses of life. The three of us split up responsibilities and all handle different aspects of Emo Night, whether it’s booking, creating fliers, handling merch, etc. Morgan and TJ joke that I yell at them a lot, which is very true. We’re just very meticulous about every single thing we do.
Kendra: You three also run Ride or Cry Collective. What’s that all about and how has adding this new venture affected your, I guess, day job there?
Babs: Yes, the three of us recently started a creative company called Ride or Cry Collective. We handle creative marketing, digital strategy, design, social media and content creation for bands and brands. Much of what we do there goes hand in hand with Emo Night, because we’ve done a lot of experimental marketing for the event that we can apply to our clients. It’s a lot to juggle, but we basically work every day of the week, which is totally fine since we love what we do.
Kendra: So I’ve been to Emo Night a number of times, and my friends who don’t live here cannot believe it really turns into a real show with crowd surfing and mosh pits. Honestly, when you threw that first one – what did you envision would go on that night?
Babs: The first time we threw emo night, we had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know if 10 of our friends would come or 500 people. We weren’t really concerned about the attendance, we just wanted to have fun with a like-minded community. I still can’t believe what it’s turned into!
Kendra: You’ve mentioned before that Taking Back Sunday is your band. Have you gotten to talk to any of them about this, given it’s their namesake in the whole Taking Back Tuesday?
Babs: Taking Back Sunday is my favorite emo band of all time. We haven’t had a chance to connect with them directly about emo night, but hopefully one day! I’ve seen them 20 times in concert and got to in interview them for SF Weekly once, which was honestly a bucket list item.
Kendra: Just really quick, what song of theirs will you never get tired of?
Babs: “New American Classic” off the album Where You Want to Be; so incredibly good.
Kendra: Speaking of, for those who go on a regular basis…they will hear some repeat offenders; sometimes during the same night. Have you ever talked about putting a month-long ban on any tracks?
Babs: There are definitely nights where we play the same song more than once, but it has a totally different feel and meaning depending on who is DJ-ing. The idea behind having guest DJs is to see what songs they like and have been influenced by, so it’s a totally different feeling when Mark plays “Cute Without The E” or if Captain Cuts mashes it up with another song. That’s kind of the beauty of the night.
Kendra: You just mentioned him, but someone who literally can do no wrong when they DJ is Mark Hoppus. Do you think scoring him early on has played a big role is getting the guests who can after?
Babs: Having Mark at Emo Night has been such an honor. I definitely think he played a huge part in the interest we received from other artists.
Kendra: Also, when are you getting someone from New Found Glory in on this?
Babs: Trust me, I’ve been trying. That would be the best. Soon hopefully!
Kendra: Guest DJs, live performances, traveling with the event…what’s next to continue to grow with this? Emo Karaoke Sets? (That has been my want since the start)
Babs: We’re brewing some new things for this year. We just want to keep growing this community as much as we can. It’s honestly the best group of people on earth, and I feel so lucky to be a part of it. Bringing Emo Night to different cities has been such a blast, but there have definitely been some obstacles along the way as well. We learn something new every day, that’s for sure.
Kendra: Do you think one day you three will pass the torch to a new generation, perhaps those who grew up with All Time Low, Black Veil Brides, the music today’s teens are finding solace in?
Babs: Jack from All Time Low has become a key figure in our Emo Night clan, so I think we appeal to a younger audience as well in that sense. I think we’ve done a good job at having a diverse group of DJs at our events. So we’ll just keep that going as long as people want to be a part of it!
Kendra: On the finding solace note, this is more than a night out but rather – you and the guys have really created a community. What’s that like, to know you’re affecting lives much like the music you grew up with did/does?
Babs: The community that has grown out of Taking Back Tuesday is truly unbelievable. I’ve met some of the best people since we started this whole thing. I ended up editing together a video from all the footage that was shot in the past year, and found myself in tears multiple times listening to some of the things people in line had to say: the way emo music made them who they are, how it got them through tough times, and how they’ve built new relationships and friendships with people they met at the event. The songs that made us who we were in high school have totally different meanings now, and it’s really nice to celebrate those feelings with such a special community of people.
Kendra: Seeing that you’re the resident emo expert, if you had to make the ultimate emo mixtape, what for songs would have to be on it?