As most of you fellow bassheads know, the bass music scene is predominantly ruled by men. Artists, agents, clothing companies, press, art and more have one major thing in common – it’s mostly guys who fill these roles. But the rare occasion does occur when a female breaks into the scene and completely takes it by storm. Enter Firepower Records label manager, Sharra Duggan.
Hailing from the land of moose, maple syrup, and dubstep royalty, Sharra is one of the few females defying the odds as she manages one of the most reputable bass record labels in the world, Firepower. Stemming from her love of old school hip-hop and business management, Duggan has found her niche handling most of everything at the label including accounting, demo review, A&R and press inquiries. After meeting Troy Beetles (Datsik) at age 14 through their mutual love of snowboarding, they kept in touch as he formed Firepower Records in January of 2012. Beetles would occasionally ask her to help with routine business tasks and the more she learned, the more she began to manage within the company.
After being asked to handle a few administrative tasks to help out with the label, Sharra slowly worked her magic and began running everything else with booming success. With her incredible business sense and love for the music business, it is certainly clear that not only has she found her home within Firepower, but Sharra Duggan is taking over the bass music world one step (in heels) at a time!
I had the pleasure of talking talk to Sharra about her journey and travels thus far:
Did you always want to be a label manager? If not, what was your first career choice?
I grew up thinking I wanted to be a Criminal Lawyer but once I graduated from University and started working in a law office I realized that being stuck in an office doing paperwork the rest of my life was not quite for me. Music has always been a part of my life but I had never really thought about being my working role in the field. Once I began working as a Label Manager I realized that I had finally found my place.
Where did you go to college and what was your major?
I went to school at the University of British Columbia and majored in Psychology.
Did a specific event in your life trigger your impeccable business sense? How do you make important label decisions?
I’m not entirely sure I have an ‘impeccable business sense’ but it has most certainly been a learning experience. I can’t pinpoint one specific event that shaped me and my approach to business but I have always been a leader and have had management positions before which helped prepare me for this job. However, running an entire company was still a completely new adventure for me. I think one important thing that I learned fairly quickly was to just take a moment before making a decision and really weigh all the options, ask questions and not be afraid to look at all possibilities. You also have to trust your judgment and stay confident in your abilities.
What do you do on a daily basis as a label manager?
Too many things to list specifically but in summary – I handle everything except the final music approval (which always goes through Datsik), from accounting to A&R to administrative tasks to going through demos.
You and Datsik are essentially a dubstep power-couple, how did you two start working together at Firepower?
We actually met when we were about 14. We both grew up in the same town and were avid snowboarders and met through mutual friends. We were friends ever since. How I started working with Firepower was more of a lucky timing thing – I had just realized that I did not want to pursue law anymore and quit my job at the firm and Troy had just started Firepower Records and quickly realized he didn’t have time to actually run it. He asked me to help him with some administrative stuff initially and then I slowly just took over everything else when I realized that I really had a passion for it and was excelling at the role. The rest, as they say, is history J.
Not many women are at the helm of successful record companies, how do you feel gender plays a role in this unfortunate fact?
I think just over the past couple years so many more women have come into vital roles in the music industry. It has been incredible to see it change. Initially, it was very much a boys club but I think that power shift is changing every day. It’s not equal yet but we are definitely heading in the right direction.
Firepower branched out of just dubstep by bringing in trap and hip-hop artists, if you could witness FP sign ANY hip-hop legend who would it be and why?
Firstly, We are very excited to be breaking out of the constricting ‘niche’ of dubstep that we were initially identified with. We want to continue to open our reputation so that we are known for quality music, not just one type.
Secondly, I absolutely love hip-hop – particularly the 90’s stuff. Some of my favorites are Wu-Tang Clan, Eminem and Biggie (just to name a few). Obviously, I would love to have any of the legends work with Firepower and we’ve already had DJ Paul (from Three 6 Mafia) and KRS-One release tracks with us, which was very exciting. I look forward to more awesome collaborations.
Why do you think a majority of artists wear mostly black?
Not a clue, but I’m the same – all black errythang!
If you ever produced music, what genre would you produce and what would you call yourself?
If I ever produced I would probably head into the pop realm with a lot of vocal focus. Artist name? Probably just stick with my own name – it’s weird enough.
You travel around the world quite a bit for the label, is Shambhala still your favorite festival to attend? Why is it so special to you?
Yes, Shambhala still holds that title for best festival in my opinion. There is just something so magical about that festival placed in this beautiful forest with a river running through. Not to mention it’s full of Canadians so everyone is so fun and friendly 😉
Do you personally use SoundCloud? And how do you feel the website has revolutionized the music industry?
Yes, I use Soundcloud a lot. I don’t think I would credit Soundcloud with revolutionizing the industry but I definitely think it’s been a fantastic streaming outlet for new artists to showcase their music and for people to find new talent. I know people are getting a bit frustrated with them now that they are locking down on copyright and monetization but I think at this point in the industry nothing is going to be free of trying to capitalize on something so lucrative. I think it was just a matter of time for SC to jump on the same train as Youtube and other streaming services.
What is your favorite piece of merchandise that FP has created?
I love the FP Squad shirts that we launched in January 2015. We always rep Firepower as a family and there’s nothing cooler than being at a show or a festival and seeing a ton of FP fam out there in the crowd!
Who are some artists that you enjoy listening to outside of the EDM scene?
Outside of electronic music, I listen to a ton of hip-hop and some pop music. Right now I’m loving J. Cole, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky.
What is it like for you to work with the FP family being that you are one of the only females, if not the only, surrounded by all guys?
I’m used to it. I grew up always hanging out with guys. Since I was one of the only girls that snowboarded in my friend group I basically spent most of my free time with a bunch of dudes. I think I was more of a tomboy than a girly girl and that’s sort of been maintained into my adult life.
If FP released a line of nail polish for the fellow chicks who love bass, what are some of the names you would give the colors?
Well I think “Firepower” for a red would make sense. We’d have to have black too – maybe “Bass-ic Black” (lol).
What do you like to do for fun during you down time/time off?
Since I travel so much, when I have down time I like to just chill out and do very boring, normal things like sun tan by my pool, work out or go to movies.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned during your time working in the music industry?
Hard work will get you everywhere. So many people are lazy and just want to wait for results but the only way to really achieve those goals is to work your a$$ off for them.