Twelve years ago, Emile Milgrim was starting a graduate program in sociology and envisioning a career in academia. But it didn't feel right. So when the bass player from her old band suggested they start a record label, she was sold.
"It was definitely a hard thing to break to a couple members of the family who had been really pushing for me to do this thing," she recalls. "And then when I told them what I was doing instead, they were like, 'You're crazy! A record label?'"
Yet today, Other Electricities is celebrating a decade in business and releasing its 47th album, and Milgrim has turned her lifelong passion for music into a full-time job — and then some. The 34-year-old is the managing partner and record buyer for Sweat Records, the founder of the audio/video collective Archival Feedback, and a cofounder of Miami Girls Rock Camp.
The key to her success?
"I guess the one thing that's consistent regardless of whether I'm in school, working on a personal project, or doing something for work, I give 110 percent for everything," Milgrim says. "Once I started to see these opportunities come up for me here, I was like, 'All right, let's do this,' and it's great. It's been super-rewarding."
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Raised in Miami, Milgrim moved to Oregon for graduate school and spent eight years there before moving home in 2011. She returned to find that the music scene had grown in her absence and that Miami was no longer a city "superstarved for shows" and lacking a good indie record store. Today she says, "I love living here and being part of the music community in many ways. It's pretty exciting."
Milgrim says she was always interested in music, making mixtapes and trying out the piano and bass before learning the drums. Through Miami Girls Rock Camp, she's helping foster a love for music in the next generation while also taking on the status quo — the fact that the music world "is a boys rock camp already."
Now entering its third year, the program is aimed at empowering 8- to 17-year-old girls through music and performance. It features a week of instruction and live performances by female musicians, capped off by a showcase concert during which campers perform their own original songs.
"It's so powerful to see kids come in on the first day not even talking — in a corner, pretty much — and at the end of the week, they're onstage in front of 500 people, shredding," Milgrim says. "Miami Girls Rock Camp has been one of the most incredible things I've done in my life."