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  • Writer's pictureCheyenne M

Deanna DiLandro & Madison Hetterly: Founders of Weird Sister Records

Introduce yourself to us! What do you do in the industry? Where are you from?

Deanna: Deanna DiLandro here! Born in NYC, raised in New Jersey, currently based in San Francisco, CA. Took the leap this year to carve out a safe space to support women, trans and non-binary artists through the record label / collective, Weird Sister. Founded with my badass business partner and friend, Madison Hetterly, our goal is to spotlight artists we love through engaging events, unique storytelling and creative marketing that brings diverse audiences into the worlds of our artists. We also are so excited about the community we’re building and want to share our resources with other women and NGC creatives because all too often women, trans and NGC folks feel othered in an industry that should be more focused on equality. In response to an unbalanced system, we want to bring people like us together so we can grow together and feel supported by a weird sisterhood in a weird world!

Madison: Hi everyone!! Thanks so much for having us:) Madison here. I’m originally from right outside Austin, TX but I’ve lived in NYC for about 9 years now and LOVE this city so much. I co-founded Weird Sister Records with the amazing Deanna DiLandro which I am so incredibly honored and proud to be a part of. Getting messages from like minded people who are excited about what we’re doing and feel like they now have a place they belong is the bread and butter of why we do what we do. Our record label + collective is meant to be a space in the industry where women, trans and non binary artists can feel seen, heard and respected. I love the community we are building and can’t wait to see what else is in store for us! I am also the Head of Marketing at the music venue Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn and am on the management team for the artist Rosehardt so I wear a few different hats:)

How did you get your start in the industry, and how long have you been in the industry?

Deanna: In 2015, I was DJing at 90.3 The Core and was passed along an application for a press & radio internship with Terrorbird Media. This internship shaped and shifted my already continuously developing music tastes as well as my interest in how records are made, distributed and promoted. I was doing press research for Lucy Dacus’ No Burden and I often listened to the records I was researching while in the Terrorbird office. I fell in love with the record (and Lucy as an artist) and got in touch with the label putting it out, EggHunt Records, thus beginning my relationship with EggHunt, my general love affair with record labels and building relationships with artists and their teams. It’s been 5 years since then and in that time I’ve worked with several other music companies and communities, gaining diverse experience, knowledge and the confidence to start Weird Sister.

Madison: I always had a pretty flexible idea of what I wanted my career to be but I’ve always loved music and feminism. Ever since I moved to the city I’ve interned at various record labels, music blogs, management companies etc. and really got a taste of everything. I feel pretty lucky that since I started interning at around 22 each internship/job in the next step felt pretty organic. The people I have met along the way have, for the most part, been very supportive and helped me get to that next step. I recently turned 27 so have been in the “industry” for around 5 years but I hate using that word cause it feels much more free flowing then entering into something elusive- I feel like my experience has been more of a community than industry which I am very thankful for!

How did you two meet?

Deanna: Madison and I met while interning with the music community, The Wild Honey Pie, in the summer of 2017. The entire “intern class” that year was fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be surrounded by at the time- Madison especially. Following that internship Madison started her own blog, Indie Witches, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. I was super proud and inspired by her, so I asked to join her team as a writer since I wanted to help her in any way I could. When I had the idea to start a label last year, I knew I didn’t want to do it alone and Madison was the first person I thought of that might be on board. I also thought she would be so cool to work with on a project like this. I remember, like, soft pitching her the idea for Weird Sister over tacos in Brooklyn one day and her response (basically) was “wow that’s a really cool idea but I have like 17 jobs right now so I’m not sure.” I almost shelved the idea entirely until about a week or so later when she texted me saying she thought about it and said “F*CK IT, let’s do it.” Fast forward to June 2021, we launched the label and are officially weird sisters!!

Are there other areas of the music industry you would like to explore that you haven't already?

Deanna: I’d love to get more into publishing and songwriter relationships. I’m so interested in songwriting and ensuring that artists receive royalties.

Madison: I would also learn to love more about publishing! Tour booking is also something I think I would really enjoy.

You’ve held such a wide variety of positions in the music industry -- how do you think those experiences led to the creation of Weird Sister?

Madison: I think Deanna and I both had a variety of skills and saw what we thought was missing in the industry. The statistics of women in the industry who aren’t artists are sadly SO low and we want to kickstart other women seeing themselves represented in positions of power. We were both getting fed up being the only women in our jobs and wanted to change that narrative so we brought our combined knowledge to Weird Sister.

Do you have any favorite projects you have worked on?

Deanna: One of my favorite projects, aside from starting Weird Sister and working with our current roster, was working the Clever Girls, Constellations, release with EggHunt Records.

Madison: Releasing Sug Daniels’ latest EP, Franklin Street, the first of Weird Sister was definitely one of my faves so far!

Which do you think is more important for a musician’s success: talent or marketability?

Deanna: Success looks so different for every artist so it’s hard to point to one of these as more important than the other. I think that strong music and authenticity is necessary to make an artist marketable at all, so it’s really a mixture of both with an emphasis on ingenuity and human connection.

Madison: I think audiences can really tell when an artist isn’t being genuine. There are extremely successful artists who don’t have a stereotypical “good singing voice” but are able to connect with millions so I would say being your true self and having people connect with what you are saying is what really shines through.

What are some things you look for in artists for Weird Sister Records?

Deanna: Authenticity, personality, unique stories and music that speaks to us.

Madison: Honesty, passion, a clear vision and kindness!!

Do you have any future projects/shows coming up that you’re excited about?

Deanna: This weekend on October 16th at Rubulad in Brooklyn, NY we are hosting our very first Weird Sister Records Halloween Bash! We’re getting spooky season started off right with a killer electronic line-up of Madge x girl_irl, JessX & our second signing, Adi GuerrerX. There will be tattoos, tarot readings, hella Halloween candy and live painting! Costumes are highly encouraged! Get tickets here.

Also, Adi GuerrerX also has their first single, “Queer Sci Fi Fantasy,” coming out on October 29th and we are so excited about them as well as the graphic novel accompanying the release. Pre-save link here!

When did you know being in the business is what you wanted to do? Was there a specific moment where you were like “wow, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life”?

Deanna: I knew I wanted to work in music forever when I started working with artists I really believed in, not only as artists but as people, and felt like I contributed positively to their artist journey. Plus, booking/hosting shows and creating experiences is another way I have felt a beautiful sense of purpose. I’ve learned that bringing people together is one of my superpowers, so I want to host events and build community for as long as I can. Cool music and cool people fuel me.

Madison: I used to want to be an actress (lol) but I never felt fulfilled or happy with what I was doing. I feel like my path to getting to where I am now had some winding roads but since I started working in music things started to just feel right and for the first time I felt really fulfilled with how I was spending my days. That feeling has only grown stronger and stronger and I am excited to see where else the field leads me.

Is there anything you struggled with (or even still do struggle with) being in the industry?

Deanna: Not being taken seriously because I’m a woman is constant and continuously infuriating. Additionally, knowing when to take breaks for the sake of my mental health and managing some of the guilt that comes with unplugging has been a battle. Taking time to unplug and not be subject to constant comparison is so important yet easy to neglect in a fast paced industry.

Madison: Sometimes I feel like I can never unplug. Covid has definitely shifted things but in the virtual world sometimes it feels like things never ever stop so I struggle with finding that balance sometimes.

What is the best part of your job? Why?

Deanna: Building a relationship with the artists and their music. Seeing them flourish and be offered new opportunities. Contributing to their visible growth. Listening to unreleased music. Seeing the artists I work with perform and be in their element. Creating community and collaborating :)

Madison: Being a part of a community and being able to connect artists with each other. Being at a show and seeing the photographer do their thing, the artists performing on stage, seeing my friends enjoying their night, all make it extremely rewarding and I hope to build our community more and more as time goes on <3

Is there someone who you consider to be your mentor in the industry?

Deanna: I wouldn’t say I have a mentor in this industry, but I have learned from so many talented people in so many corners of my experience. Someone that comes to mind immediately is Shane Dutta, who I also met at The Wild Honey Pie when I met Madison. He has worked in various facets of the industry - A&R, management, publishing - and is someone who is incredibly hardworking, has impeccable taste in artists/people and a distinctive understanding of how to bolster them. He is also such a gifted writer and can articulate how music feels far better than most, which helped me learn that being able to do that, although challenging at times, is so important to support artists properly and must be practiced. He is someone who is always willing to give advice and is just all around good energy. That was something I valued so much when I was starting out because he was never anything but optimistic and interested in being helpful. Shout out Shane Dutta- you da best.

Madison: In most of my jobs I have worked with all men, but I am very thankful to say I have worked with some really great guys who have helped empower and encourage me throughout my journey. I remember when I interned at Good Eye Records the founder Mike said to me “Why don’t you start your own blog? You should go for it!” Which was what inspired me to start Indie Witches:) I also interned at 22Twenty Records and they have been so encouraging of our record label journey and connecting us to other like minded folks/people who can help us. One of my other bosses, Gabe at Crooked Letter, has also always been a listening ear as I navigate this crazy industry and has shown me so much kindness and encouragement along my journey which I have been so incredibly thankful for!

Sadly I’ve never had a woman mentor (but hope one is in my future!) but I am so thankful for the guys I know who have supported me along the way!

What advice do you have for women who want to get their start in the music industry?

Deanna: Reach out. Don’t be afraid to bother people. Follow your instincts and take some risks. Remind yourself of your worth. Go towards the music you’re passionate about and people that make you feel seen/heard. Trust yourself!

Madison: Your voice and opinion matter ALWAYS and if there are people who are trying to silence you, they are not worth your energy. Find people you trust and listen to you. Share your story, someone out there needs someone like you!

Have you ever been turned down or not taken seriously because you were a female in the industry? What did you do when put into that position?

Deanna: I have not been taken seriously several times while at certain jobs and each time I’ve spoken up to the best of my ability but still left the jobs because ultimately they no longer deserved my time or energy. The most recent offender, a director (a man), tried to tell me that the Weird Sister business model can’t work because it doesn’t include men. He then offered me a role in the film even after our lengthy, heated discussion about why he’s wrong. I declined the role and tried not to throw up in my mouth. I plan to continue proving him wrong!

Madison: This was actually at a restaurant I was working at but one time a boss told me I was working too hard and to just stand there and look pretty… It’s honestly pretty hard to speak up in situations like that and don’t beat yourself up about it if you aren't able to. But know you’re better than that and hopefully leave the place if you can! I left pretty quickly after that haha.

What are some of your other hobbies? What do you do in your free time (which we know can be very hard to find)?

Deanna: I’m a songwriter and artist in my own right, so I work on that in my free time. I also love making time for friends and new adventures. On top of those things, I have also really been loving taking my dog to the beach so I can watch him dig in the sand. He digs himself a trench and then just sits in it. It’s such a spectacle sometimes that casual passersby will tell him that he has done great work. They are right. It’s literally the best thing ever.

Madison: I just started skateboarding and it’s my new obsession. I followed sooo many women skateboarders on instagram and it’s honestly a really inspiring community. Shout out to Nina for teaching me!!

Who is your all-time favorite artist?

Deanna: If I have to pick just one, it’s Patti Smith.

Madison: Ooooo that’s hard!!! Phoebe Bridgers is pretty high up there. We are the same age and born just a few days apart so I feel pretty spiritually connected to her and her music makes me feel everything at once which I love.

What is something you can't live without?

Deanna: Laughing & my friends.

Madison: My love Joe and my dog Bowie <3

First concert you went to?

Deanna: All Time Low in 2007 at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

Madison: Aly & AJ at the San Antonio Rodeo

What’s something that you always have on you?

Deanna: My sense of humor.

Madison: A little bit of sass.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Deanna: I see myself living in a converted bus so I can travel freely and work from anywhere. I also see myself owning a venue to make Weird Sister a physical space for gathering, live music and making art.

Madison: Honestly with climate change who knows but hopefully surrounded by people I love and living life to the fullest!

What do you hope to see done in the industry within the next few years?

Madison: More women, trans, non binary and BIPOC people in power!!! This honestly is a must. It’s already 2021 y’all get on it.

Deanna: DITTO!!!

Tea or Coffee?

Deanna: Coffee, lil cream.

Madison: Iced coffee = life

Lastly, what saying do you live by?

Deanna: Lately it’s been, “I don’t chase, I attract, what belongs to me finds me easily.”

Madison: “You miss all the shots you don’t take”


Deanna - Instagram

Madison - Instagram

Follow Weird Sister Records on Instagram, here.

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