Rooting for the best can get old – unless of course the best is Michael Phelps, but the other 99.9% of the time we love to cheer on the underdogs. That’s part of why Liz Imperiale rediscovered her love PR. For a time, music was just a love of hers that came from what she’d considered hobbies; booking and promoting local shows, and running her own webzine; Bucketlist Music Reviews. All of that intertwined with her love of the underdogs and yearning to help bands get the most out of their careers landed her in the PR seat and today she’s a driving force at Panic State Records, and the latest woman in our series to dish about her start, the rise of social media and more.
Kendra: When you were growing up, what music made you feel something more about it? Like it wasn’t just something to listen to, but a sort of lifestyle?
Liz Imperiale: Haha! When I grew up I was surrounded by many different genres/styles of music. I’m really grateful my family was musical. My father used to take me for car rides and play America or Elvis, and explain to me what all the songs meant. As a teen, I was heavily into the whole “grunge” era; Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney etc. I was obsessed. It was a lifestyle. It got me going to shows at a very young age. My first show was Soundgarden in a small arena here in Montreal at the age of 14 (1994 – you do the math…haha). I also used to make my high school buds mixtapes of music I think they might dig.
Kendra: How would you compare where you are in your career today to what you wanted to be doing say, 10 years ago?
Liz: I graduated in Media/Marketing/Design in 2003 and became a full time graphic artist. I loved it, but I burnt out from it. I was designing for a company I didn’t support. During this time, I had the hobby of booking/throwing local shows and promoting local shows. But that was just a hobby. I didn’t think at the time I could include music in my career that I could live off from. So no, there was no way I thought I’d be doing what I’m doing now. I love it!
Kendra: With the rise of social media, the publicist’s job just may be the hardest at a label. Would you say it’s one of the more stressful parts of the whole big picture?
Liz: Being on both sides of the spectrum myself, social media is a blessing. I think it has helped bands tremendously get some great exposure, and that’s all I ask/hope for. My job is to wake outlets up and remind them of bands they could potentially be missing out on. I don’t think this job will ever be affected by social media in that sense. There is so much out there, it is easy to miss out.
Kendra: With that, how do you think your job would be different today if we didn’t have this boom in social media?
Liz: I really don’t think so. The only one’s it would affect are the bands trying to make a name for themselves I think. A good publicist doesn’t give up on who they believe in. It’s tough at first to get someone listening, but once you do, it’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Social media or not – the job remains the same in trying to get your artists recognized/promoted.
Kendra: Do you take the same approach for every band when you start to tackle their PR game, or do you have to adjust it depending on the band?
Liz: It’s best to adjust it with every artist. Every band has a style that some media outlets may not be down to promote. The reputation also plays a big roll. Sometimes bands will tell me their hopes/dreams and luckily a lot of them I work with are total sweethearts and have very realistic goals for themselves. The one’s (just like any business man/woman) who strive for the highest right away usually are set for failure. It’s always best to take baby steps, be patient with yourself, never give up, and keep working to make yourself as awesome as you can be.
Kendra: Are there any exciting things happening for Panic State in the next couple of months that you can share?
Liz: We currently have a fundraiser going on with one of our bands who are intersectional feminists, strong supporters of the LGBTQ community, and animal rights advocates. They are a Cali-Hardcore band called Stay Wild. They are absolutely incredible human beings with strong beliefs. 50% of our merchandise sales go to The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
We also have some new releases coming so stay tuned! Visit the newly designed site.
Kendra: We’ve all had a little (or big) panic attack in our lives. With that, if you had to make a mixtape to help aid someone panicking, what five songs would have to be on it?