The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Malachi Graham - ETLFront and Center: Ear Trumpet Labs Business Manager and Americana Singer-Songwriter, Malachi Graham

By Gabriella Steffenberg

Malachi Graham is a perfect example of a woman in the music industry who wears many different hats day in and day out.

From fulfilling multiple responsibilities at her family’s business, Ear Trumpet Labs, to being a recording artist constantly creating new material, Graham is doing what she loves most every day.

Visit Ear Trumpet Labs for more information on their amazing work, and keep reading to learn more about this week’s Front and Center!

WiMN: What are your primary responsibilities at Ear Trumpet Labs?

MG: I love working at a small company because I get to wear so many different hats. I essentially do everything but build the mics — we have a fantastic team of three craftsmen who handle that. I designed the website, manage our social media, keep up with accounting, take product photography, correspond with our customers and resellers, design our ads, and ship microphones.

My favorite parts of my job are working with our artists, shooting performance videos when they visit our workshop, and developing the story of our brand; our mics are quite different from anything else on the market, not only visually but in terms of how they can be used on stage, and figuring out how to tell that story has been incredibly rewarding.

WiMN: How long have you been working in the music industry, and what originally drew you to it?

MG: I’ve been performing for seven years, and I got started because I had stories to tell and I fell in love with entertaining people. It was my performing that inspired my dad to start designing and building microphones, a crazy hobby which became our family business!

I’m also a manager at heart, so it’s been amazing to help build a business from the ground  up and have my hands in every part of the business. The best part of working in the music industry is engaging with passionate artists and performers, and providing them with tools that help them put on an even better show.

WiMN: You have a unique story-telling aspect to your songwriting. Tell us about how you write from multiple perspectives.

MG: My academic background is in history rather than music, and history is all about who is telling a story and why they tell it that way. As a songwriter, I’ve always been fascinated by the opportunity to channel untold voices into songs — I’ve written about 1930s film stars, Civil War soldiers, disgraced politicians… When you’re working not just with words but with melody and rhythm, you can’t be removed and distant from your subject.

Songwriting demands engagement and empathy, which might be why I love writing songs about complicated, unlikeable women. I get to grapple with the way women have been represented in music to date and how they would tell their own stories.

WiMN: Tell us about the process that went into recording your debut EP, Selfish?

MG: We recorded everything together to tape in single takes in two days at Blue Room Studios here in Portland, which is an awesome old house wired up to function as a recording studio. It was messy and fun, and the songs feel more live and honest to me because of it.

WiMN: What’s one piece of advice you have for fellow musicians and music industry businesswomen?

MG: There are a lot of similarities between running a small business and making a career as a performing musician, and for me the crux of both is having a trusted system to manage my tasks and priorities. Everyone working in the music industry is so passionate — I think if you can combine that passion with reliability, you are sure to succeed.

I don’t know what I would do without my favorite task management software (my favorite is OmniFocus), which handles all the different projects I’m juggling at work as well as the dozens of little tasks required for every gig, letting me focus on the music.

WiMN: What upcoming projects are you working on this year?

MG: In addition to continuing to grow the business at Ear Trumpet Labs and touring with my band, I’m getting ready to release an EP this spring with my synth pop side project, Small Million. I’m really excited for the year ahead!