Danielle Leonard of Topshelf Records on running a house venue & DIY label (GRRL030)

After a 6 month hiatus, here is episode 30 featuring Danielle Leonard! I met Danielle at the SD Women Music Industry night last year and was intrigued with her work running a DIY record label in Savannah, Georgia where she attended SCAD. She now works for San Diego-based Topshelf Records.  In this interview we talk about the ups and downs of running a house venue, her DIY label Bomb Shelter Records, and one way to foster safety in the music scene.

A warning in relation to our discussion on a safe scene: we talk about PWR BTTM as one example of a band fighting for safe spaces. Unfortunately, since the interview, Ben Hopkins has been accused of sexual assault. For more info and resources, check further down in the show notes.

Apologies for the crackly intro and outro “monologues.” Not sure what happened there!

Thank you to Danielle Leonard (and Marty!) for chatting with me and to all the artists for permission to use their song on the podcast. And thank you to The Fresh Brunettes, who are providing their song “Best of the Worst” as the new Grrl on Grrl theme song! You can find their album Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition on CDBaby.


Download GRRL030 at Libsyn [42 minutes; 39MB] or stream from these websites [iTunes | Stitcher | TuneIn | Google Play]

Show Notes

  • Danielle’s work in Savannah, Georgia with Bomb Shelter (the house venue and DIY record label)
    • Running a house venue: From not knowing what a PA system is to dealing with landlords and BMI
    • “Label” in air-quotes: Collaborative effort among the bands and the folks behind the label
    • Using equipment and facilities from SCAD
    • What they did for the bands
  • Using that experience to make her way to Topshelf Records (based in San Diego!)
    • Differences between working on Bomb Shelter and at Topshelf
    • How supportive Topshelf is – the DIY ethic but in a larger scale
  • Her role at Topshelf – “There’s only 4 of us.”
  • [12:30] Rubblebucket – “Raining” (Website)
  • Missing house shows now that Danielle doesn’t live in Savannah
    • House show scene sustained by those not old enough for bar shows
  • Couple of house venues in San Diego
    • The Habitat – the article I wrote about this in San Diego Jewish Journal
  • “If any city was made for [house shows], it was Savannah.”
    • Collaborative effort: everybody worked together to create this all-ages music scene
    • A few problems: Getting hassled by BMI, landlords, cops
  • Waiting to find a tight-knit music scene in San Diego
    • My own experience with the music scene here
    • Danielle: there’s more opportunity / places for bands to play, maybe?
    • (Whoa, I was 29 when I did this interview.)
    • I hate on Soma
    • “I’m gonna bring the shows to me.”
  • [26:30] Covet – “Pelagic” (Bandcamp)
  • WARNING: This is where we talk about PWR BTTM.
  • What’s a label’s responsibility for creating a safe music scene?
    • Diverse (gender and racial) tour packages and label lineups: No Vacation, Ratboys, Slingshot Dakota
    • I play a clip of Slingshot Dakota’s “Until the Day I Die” which was featured in this episode with Anastasia Rivera.
  • Sexual abuse in the pop punk scene & the importance of diversity to create a safe space
    • Less male-centric shows –> less violence
    • Women on stage being explicit about
    • The entitlement of “dancers”; don’t punch people at shows!
  • [35:45] No Vacation – “Mind Fields” (Bandcamp)


2 thoughts on “Danielle Leonard of Topshelf Records on running a house venue & DIY label (GRRL030)

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