The Wobble Women series is back with more incredible women kicking ass behind the scenes in the bass music industry. If you have a suggestion of who we should profile next, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or post them up in The Untztoppable Facebook group.
By: Heather Hodder
The mission statement of legendary dubstep promoter Sub.mission is “Moving people through sound not hype.”
So it’s no surprise that Nicole Cacciavillano, owner of one of Denver, Colorado’s most explosive new venues The Black Box; owner, talent buyer, and agent of Sub.mission, and SLUG WIFE manager, among others, is motivated by the music and the happiness new sounds brings to the people.
Nicole C (as she prefers to go by) has always been highly motivated. Growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she enjoyed playing team sports, which led to her coaching and to this day, she coaches girls’ sports teams. Before entering the music industry, Nicole C was a teacher; it seems as if she was destined to motivate and lead others.
“What motivates me is being at a show; I’m a people watcher,” said Nicole C, “I'm always trying to collect data on how things can be better or more meaningful or just an overall better experience. The one thing that motivates me more than anything else is just watching the look on someone's face when they are just ‘in that moment' of the music and the sound system and just their vibe...watching that transformation of all that stress and emotion dissipate and just watching music heal them.”
Sub.mission will be bringing that vibe and sound in just over a week to the attendees of The Untz Festival, where they will be hosting their own stage featuring many of their talented artists and remarkable sound system. Tickets for The Untz Festival, May 31-June 2, hosted at the Mariposa Fairgrounds in Mariposa, California are available here.
It was not always easy for Nicole C, who moved to Colorado in 2005. She explained, “dubstep wasn't really anywhere in America at that time, so I thought that I would give it a try.” So she started small, taking over nights at a drum and bass club that let her do her own thing. “It was a probe into the bass scene to see what the reaction would be to dubstep. April 2007, Sub.mission threw their first proper event, and “Man, the rest was history,” recounted Nicole C.
Creating her own events in a new genre came with many challenges that she crushed. “No one knew what dubstep was and no one knew why would be requesting to bring in a sound system, It was really tough in those first few years to find a spot that would allow you to do events the way you wanted them to,” notes Nicole C.
These roadblocks didn’t stop Sub.mission. Starting from the ground up was hard, but extremely rewarding. “When I started, the dubstep scene [in Colorado] was very small and intimate and passionate and very music centric. As it grew between 2010-2012, corporations were just knocking at my door to take me out, book this, pulling me in a million directions and trying to get a piece of what I had created at that point; it was Sub.mission and it was cool because we had created our own little bubble and our own little scene. So no one could ever take that away,” explained Nicole C, adding “I noticed along time ago that this was now my job and no longer a hobby.”
When Nicole C wants to think and plan, she has a couple spots to meditate on Sub.misssion’s future: “I really enjoy being at the Black Box when I’m alone. I don’t get a lot of time there by myself and I really like to walk around there to just suck in all of the vibes of what’s been happening. In addition to that, first and foremost, living in Colorado I have nature that’s surrounds me and there is really nothing more rejuvenating than taking a trip up to the mountains and just sitting there and thinking, surrounded by peace and calm.”
Regarding gender issues in her industry, Nicole C admits she’s been very lucky. “I’ve never really run into any gender issues in the music industry. I think mostly for me it was because I started a genre in one of the few cities that kind of started it. I’m always doing something with integrity … and I’m not afraid to stick up for my team, or myself, in any way, shape or form. However, I do know those who do run into issues and I think first and foremost, the biggest piece of advice I could give them [women] is to establish their fucking boundaries, and to make sure that they are very clear with that and let people know you’re not here to take their shit, You’re hear to do a job,” said Nicole C, “As long as that’s the focus, then I hope that men, or whoever, women, other people in the industry, will respect that and see them for their hustle, not whatever their sex is.”
Even with all of her accomplishments and admiration throughout the bass music industry, Nicole C stays humble. “I’m just a girl who likes good music, who loves good music and just like someone who just wants to continue to push the boundaries. I think ‘role model’ is a strong word... ultimately I think it's just so much more than me. While I might be the figurehead, I have such a massive team of people behind me…. it's just so much more than myself, having a team of people who care about things the way you do, is so much more empowering than even being called a ‘role model.’”
“Ultimately when I got started, there weren't very many females; but the cool part about that was that every one of those women who were involved as a DJ or producer, they were killing the game. They definitely stood out. I don't think it's any secret that electronic music is a male-dominated genre, and I do think over the years that's kind of changing. Now as an agent, I am working with more female promoters and producers and that's been really cool to see,” said Nicole C, “There are more females that I don't think are intimidated anymore to get behind the deck and try to learn how to DJ, which is always great and there are even some females that are killing it with production. I'm not going to lie and say that I think that the amount of females is astounding, because it's not. I do think that there's so much more room for females to grow in this industry.”
For more women to get involved in the bass music industry in leadership roles, Nicole C explains that, “I think ultimately it's just experience and getting involved, like women, we are known for our emotions, which is amazing. And I think a lot of times when you really get into the nitty gritty of the music industry, you realize that it's not always fun backstage running around, listening to your favorite music. There's so much more to hospitality and to the grind, that I think might deter some women because they essentially just want to listen to the music and have a good time, but I do feel the more festivals I've been working and things like that, it's giving them the experience.” adding that, “Women don't have to just be the hospitality coordinators at a festival, women are very capable of becoming stage managers and production managers and just running events in general.”
Continuing on that Nicole C said,” So hopefully just them getting the experience and being confident enough to be competent and assertive enough to get themselves into these different positions. I don't think men for the most part are holding it back or not hiring women because they're women; I think that right now it's been a male-dominated industry for so long that there are so many qualified men for the job. For a woman to come into that could be a little bit intimidating. But like I said, it's all about assertiveness and about letting people know that your skilled and getting your foot through the door.”
“I think my advice to women would be very similar to that. Yeah. I mean definitely kind of focus on what exactly it is that you want to do. If you're not sure what that is, then try to be an intern or help volunteer at festivals or music venues or whatever, to try to get a good idea of what it is that you want to do a little bit more specifically and then, just go for it. Don't let anything hold you back; get your way and just don't give up,” said Nicole C, “I do think that what's meant to be is what's meant to be and there are positions out there for anyone and everyone who want to be involved.”
Leadership abilities and being highly motivated are attributes that Nicole C has had her entire life: “As a child I was this little bossy girl; Well maybe I wouldn't so bossy, but I was definitely always creative and definitely always a problem solver. So, no matter what the situation, I'd love to figure it out and try to just get over the hump, or elevate it to the next level. Even as a teenager, I was the same way. I always played sports and I was captain of the sports teams. And so it's just about motivating people and trying to be the best that you can be. But the crazy thing is that I never even imagined myself in the music industry ever. I actually knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was in kindergarten.”
In Philadelphia, Nicole C taught middle school and a program for at-risk youth and students with behavioral problems. In Colorado she taught high school. Then, her music career kicked off and life changed: “honestly music just kicked off so much that I couldn't really bounce around anymore. I'd made the decision to step away from teaching and pursue just a sole career in music. At that point I was throwing events and at the agency; since then I've lived in the Black Box and who knows what comes next.”
Nicole C has many memorable career moments, that happen continuously: “For me right now, with the agency, like my biggest moment right now, it's been like the last few years and those memories and moments, because for the first time in history of dubstep, everything is really coming together full circle. I was able to open a venue, the agency's really popping off with promoters around the country. You're really getting it and really open to the sound of music, so we're able to really start spreading things and sharing what we believe in and what we love with so many more people and that has been amazing. It's been an amazing year for us on the agency side and for me as a person who's been dedicating so much time and energy into this sound three years, to finally have it all come together. It's been real magical.” Nicole C also noted the five year anniversary party as a pinnacle moment in her career and still one of Sub.mission's biggest events to date. The night this interview was done, Sub.mission celebrated its 12th anniversary at the Black Box. The very first Sub.mission event was also meaningful to Nicole C, “It was an accomplishment, being able to love something and have people show up for it and show that they love it too is just something,” she remarked.
Nicole C and Sub.mission have many upcoming events. “We just did a stage at One Vibration Festival and in June we are doing a stage at The Untz Festival; in September we are doing a boat party at the Outlook Festival,” said Nicole C. Sub.mission will also be doing events in Europe including in Bristol, U.K and working with SLUG WIFE. Working with “the SLUG WIFE guys was really fun and rejuvenating and motivating for me because that's given me the chance to really travel and help the mission, and ensure the vibe is being transferred appropriately.”
One thing that Nicole C wanted to talk about was how she transformed and took over The Black Box in Denver “The Black Box used to be a venue called Benders and it was actually the first place that let me bring in my own sound system and regularly throw shows there. So ironically, I now own that place. Everything has come full circle. That's really kind of my M.O. I just love music. I wait, I try to set everything up to the best of its ability and just stay true to what I believe in and let things take its course. And, I think that is what has helped me along this path because I don't allow the music industry to pressure me into making decisions or doing things that maybe I'm not feeling or right. I do think that that would be maybe some more advice to kind of give to people as well. There is a time to place for everything and I don't think forcing yourself in or on whatever is necessary because whatever you're meant to be doing is going to happen and eventually it's all just going to kind of come full circle and say, and that's just what my experience has been and it's been very rewarding, So it's like one of those things that I think is important to kind of get out there as well.”
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