|Rachel Taft of "Feed The Scene"|
Photo By Ambient Eye Photography
In the beginning of August, Shockwave Magazine managed to pry founder of Feed the Scene Rachel Taft away from her oven for a moments. By now most musicians in the Baltimore and surrounding scene should already know about Rachael and "Feed the Scene". The bands, locals, regionals, and now even nationals have made her home a revolving door of musicians and we have met with her to see what attracts the bands to her cause.
Shockwave:Tell us a little bit about your background. We understand that Feed the Scene is not your only gig.
Rachel Taft:I have a very interesting background in almost everything I do. I worked for Harley - Davidson, I worked for Williams Sonoma. I was a graphic designer for a while. I worked in the sign industry for six years, which is where I work now.
The reason we asked you to come in here is because you're doing something really cool for the local music scene with the "Feed the Scene" organization. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with the idea?
I came up with the idea and it is sort of an interesting progression to the point where it ended up happening. My Mother passed away three years ago and I was left some money which I didn't know what to do with it at the time except live off of it. I really wanted to help people and I joked with my friends that I always wanted a job hugging people but no one would pay me to hug people. I ended up being friends with one of the guys in Less Than Jake. They would come around on tour and I'd bring them cupcakes or some sort of desert to send them on their way. I became friends with their stage manager Brian who is in the band called Protagonist. His band came through with a couple of other bands, then one thing led to another and I fed The Dopemines. I decided it was a fun job and was like, "Hey I'd rather feed people than work."
After you were set up as Feed the Scene, who was the first band that came through?
The first band that we fed as an LLC was Bomb the Scene. We fed them at Charm City Artspace because we didn't know what we were doing yet. We made them sushi in the middle of the venue. It was kind of ridiculous considering people were looking at us like "why are they making sushi in the middle of the punk show?".
So how did that go over? What was the initial reaction?
Everyone was really stoked and also really confused. The first couple of times I contacted people and asked them if they wanted food they were confused. They were like "why do you want to feed us?". I told them it was because I wanted to help them out. I know that touring is really expensive and you're going to eat really crappy food. I also have a lot of local friends who have gone on tours. You're tired and you're hoping someone has a floor for you to sleep on.
Oh, yeah! We immediately said after that "no more feeding people in the club". We started having them come over to the house which is much easier. All of my cooking equipment is there and I can keep the food warm. I like it because I actually get a chance to meet the people that are coming through.
From what we've seen you've progressed from making sushi in a nightclub to having these folks come to your house..
In a way you're kind of like a Mom away from home.
Yep. The Jewish Mother of the local music scene - "You never call your mother".
Where did you learn to cook? Was it your Mother?
I have no formal culinary training at all. My Mother taught me to cook over the internet when I was at college. It's sort of something that I do because it makes me feel closer to her. She fed my family every day. We were really spoiled. My Mother was a phenomenal cook.
When the bands come through, are you preparing different meals every time or do you have some old staples that you go to?
It depends on how much time I have before they get there. There's some days where I actually have to work before hand so I'll make something I've made a bunch of times because I know it's quick. When I started I was trying to make a new thing every day, trying to add to my repertoire. We cater as well and catered the Reason Rally in D.C. We even got to feed Bad Religion which was really cool. I like making new things, I don't like cooking the same thing over and over again.
How do you get in touch with the bands, or how do they get in touch with you?
It's interesting. Either I find you because I really like your band and I hunt you down or I'll message your Facebook page and try to find someone who knows you. I'll post a video of a band I like and ask if anyone knows the band. I'll tell them that I really want to feed them. We also get people who send the word out via Twitter or Facebook. They usually message me at feedthescene.com.
Are you open to feeding anyone that asks? Do you have a come one, come all open door policy?
For the most part yeah. I've been really lucky so far. It's been pretty much word of mouth. Anyone that refers someone to me knows not to send a band that they wouldn't vouch for. It is in my house so all of my things are there. I'm funding this by myself right now because we don't have our official 501C status from the Federal Government yet. The 160 bands I've fed this year, I've fed myself.
If someone wants to help you now what can they do? What do you need?
Right now you could donate Safeway gift cards or something like that for a grocery store. Right now I can't give tax write-offs. I like what I'm doing enough now that I'm willing to support it until it can be helped out as a 501C charity.
Do you have any plans to change or alter your approach?
This month we're doing a "kick-starter". I have an extra room in my house and we're filling it full of bunk beds. This is my "band and breakfast project". We'll have four bunks with eight bed spots. No one has to sleep with anyone else. At least one night somewhere in the middle of your tour between Maine and Florida you'll have a nice place to sleep and a good meal.
We know where you are with Feed the Scene now, what would you like to see it progress to?
I have that half way mapped out. I just haven't figured out how I'm getting from step "A" to "B" yet. My next project would be a whole network of homes all across the country that do what I do. Maybe not to the fullest extent, but enough to form my indie "underground railroad". Right now I want to celebrate the fact that I made it one year.