Between Friends: A Chat with the Founders of Women Sound Off

With their 2019 festival going down next weekend, Carmena and Evangeline share the ethos behind the much-needed platform.

Photos by Kate Dash

To put it lightly, what Carmena Woodward and Evangeline Elder are doing with Women Sound Off is truly inspiring. Both killing it with their own individual careers (Carmena is a successful DJ and Evangeline a mastermind talent manager), the greatness that was born out of their joint minds comes as no surprise. We got to these busy ladies to answer a few questions on how they got started and what keeps them going, dig in below!

Evangeline is wearing Get it While It’s Spot Skirt and Top.

How did you first meet?

Carmena: Evangeline and I met on stage at a day party. I was in the booth watching my friend DJ and I remember her walking across the stage, introducing herself to me and us exchanging information to plan a coffee/tea date. She says I gave her a fake number but I don’t really remember that lol.

What inspired you to start working together?

Carmena: I saw someone who had become an ally with so many amazing ideas, great advice and a crazy work ethic. It was inspiring. The fact that she was also a black women meant I could relate to her in vulnerable times. I just always wanted to be in the roll with her.

Evangeline: Carmena is a true gem. She was one of the only women I saw in the Oakland music/culture scene throwing her own events & pushing her own name back in 2013. It only made sense to create together. We’re yin & yang. I hate working with people who are too similar to me. I like working with women who have different experiences, perceptions and ideas. Plus, she’s badass.

“Letting your voice be heard at all costs. Sounding the fxck off even when they try to silence you.”

How did Women Sound Off come about?

Carmena: We started as Women in Music in the winter of 2017. Evangeline and I had got together for a work session and were just venting to each other about how we wanted to work with more women and celebrate the women working in the industry with us. Before we knew it, we developed the idea for Women In Music, and we just went with it. Fast forward to year three, we’ve expanded our initial mission and now want to celebrate not just women in music, but women across all industries who are hustling like us.

What does the name “Women Sound Off” mean to you?

Evangeline: Letting your voice be heard at all costs. Sounding the fxck off even when they try to silence you.

Carmena is wearing the Snake ‘Em Wait Blazer, In it to Linen It Top and Pants.

How do your individual careers relate to the work that you’re doing for women in creative industries?

Carmena: DJing is the calling that I was searching for, and Women Sound Off has been my purpose. I solely am here to help other womxn reach their full potential to achieve any goals in our community + their careers. I have also been hungry to make this festival just as sick as I do when I’m turning up DJing a party.

Evangeline: There would be no WSO without my experiences in the music industry! As a music creative and business woman, the grassroots and guerilla style approach I took to working with music artists has crossed over to my work with WSO. I didn’t start managing artists knowing how to do it–I just learned the process myself and made it happen. I see no limits or bounds. And when you’re building an intersectional platform for womxn, you can’t play by the rules or what’s been done before.

“Fail forward and never stop working. Your time is coming.”

Who inspires you most?

Evangeline: One of my best friends, Ariel Hershcopf, who passed away from cancer late last year. She was one of my best girl friends, from girlhood to womanhood. She was such a supporter of my career, but little did she know I was her biggest fan. Her resilience & strength continue to inspire me.

Carmena: I’m inspired by all the women in my life. They all have their unique way of living and conquering life. They have been there for me and encourage + support me when it is most needed.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in your career?

Carmena: Fail forward and never stop working. Your time is coming. Appreciate what you have and keep working. Also, self care heals everything.

Evangeline: I’ve learned to never ever model my route or career after anyone else’s. There’s only one me. While I admire so many people, I am finally 100% aware that comparisons don’t get me anywhere. Also, never stop.

What would you like to see change for women in your industry?

Evangeline: I’d love to see more mentorship across generations. I’d love to see more women reaching back to bring up other girls.

Carmena: I would like to see more sisterhood. I want to see others reaching across and down to bring their people up. We are all welcome in these spaces and there is no competition. You never know who will be in the next room with you.

How would you describe your personal style in three words?

Carmena: Simple. Colorful. Fly.

Evangeline: Cozy. Natural. Badass.

What is your favorite song right now?

Evangeline: Stay Tru by Mereba. She’s basically talking about not getting played and that she’s too smart to fall for anything.

Carmena: I’ve been playing out Big Ole Freak by Megan the Stallion and Breakfast in Bed by Rayana Jay.

What would you say to young girls looking to pave their own path?

Carmena: Work hard at perfecting you for you. Never lose sight of who you want to become and don’t do anything you do not want to do. You’re already amazing.

Evangeline: Disregard the rules. Don’t believe everything you’re told because chances are that a man made the rules. So, question everything and remember that you really have more power than you think, especially when you’re charting uncharted territory.

If you’re in the Bay Area, check out Women Sound Off festival next weekend + keep up with them on Instagram.

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