I met Susana Morgado when she was working the door at a show that she had planned and promoted here in Toronto. Not only was the show excellent, thanks to the great bands on the bill she’d expertly curated, but I was also struck by how positive and welcoming the environment of the show was. As I attended more of Morgado’s shows, I came to realize that this was her standard operating procedure: an expertly chosen set of local and touring bands, a show that runs smoothly and professionally, and a positive environment for fans and performers alike. It was high time for Girls Don’t Like Metal to talk to a promoter, and I soon realized that Morgado would be an ideal subject, as she contributes a great deal to the local scene in the form of great shows. Plus, she fills a vital role in organizing events for the heavy metal community that is often invisible, and deserves to be celebrated.
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How did you first come to fall in love with heavy metal? What is your love story?
Honestly, I don’t remember the first moment that I fell in love with heavy metal. Growing up, my musical tastes were always varied; everything from listening to ’50s songs in the long car rides with my parents to being introduced to the likes of Soundgarden, Tool and Nirvana by my older siblings to finding my own musical tastes in my teens. The one thing I do remember is sneaking into my brother’s room when he wasn’t home so I could listen to his Tool Enima CD because It was inappropriate for my age.
Growing up I didn’t have many friends who were into really heavy music, until I was about 15, when an old elementary school friend that I had re-connected with invited me out to a Cradle of Filth concert . It was the first time I had someone to hang out with who liked heavy music, and was willing to go out to shows. I remember not even being that familiar with the music, but wanting to go to check it out. At that point I still mainly listened to bands such as The Deftones, Silverchair and Incubus….going to a Cradle of Filth concert was a whole other story.
From there I got into punk, hardcore and anything else I could get my hands on. I discovered underground music, and I have to thank a lot of the random people I’ve met along the way for introducing me to some pretty incredible bands. As for now I still straddle the lines of many musical genres, but the heavy/strange is still what I call home sweet home.
What is it about heavy music that draws you to it?
There are no exact words that can describe what draws me to heavy music, it just evokes a feeling from me that I can’t describe that I feel a connection with. For whatever reason heavy music has just always done that more than others. I guess it’s the rawness that I am drawn too. There’s just something about someone who sounds like they might throw up or break down from how hard their singing/screaming. There’s an energy there you just don’t really get anywhere else.
Heavy metal is renowned as a genre for intense live shows. What do you most love about the live metal experience?
The energy, meeting new people, discovering new bands, seeing bands go ape shit and mosh pits doing the same thing.
What made you realize you wanted to start putting on shows instead of just attending them?
I was just out of high school, and was going to a lot of local hardcore shows throughout Toronto. I saw people my age putting on these gigs, and thought ,”Well fuck, I can do that.”
I wasn’t in a band, couldn’t scream and couldn’t really play guitar all that well. It was a way for me to become a part of this scene that I was falling in love with more and more each day.
I just wanted to do anything I could to help out the bands I loved, and bring them to Toronto. It was my way to contribute and keep the local scene alive.
What do you hope to bring to the shows do you put on? What kind of an environment do you want to create for concert-goers?
I want to create an environment where anyone would feel comfortable coming out to one of my shows. There is no dress code, acceptable bands to like, or any of that bullshit.
I don’t know who came up with all these “rules” that come with being in a scene, but I for one am against them. Who gives a shit really? I think if everyone was more open-minded in general, scenes would thrive so much more instead of having to create little niches for each one. The one thing we can all agree on is that we love the music that we listen to.
All I ever ask from the people who come to my shows is to have an open mind, and respect not only for the other people there, but also for the bands.
What is the most challenging aspect of booking and putting on a show?
Time management. I work a full-time job on top of throwing gigs so sometimes it can get a little crazy when both are busy. This doesn’t include going to other shows than my own, friends, family and life in general.
For many reasons (tight-knit community, challenging music, visibly intimidating audience/band members etc.) many people are often cautious or nervous about attending a metal show. How do you go about making newcomers feel comfortable?
I just try to let people know that anyone can come out to my shows, and I do invite out anyone I know regardless of musical tastes. I want people to know who might be attending to know that when you walk in it isn’t going to be this room full of aggro people who are going to punch you in the face. Most people who are into heavy music are some of the nicest people I know.
While there are more and more women active in the metal scene all the time, some women are still uncomfortable attending live shows for a variety of reasons (reputation, expectations, bad experiences, etc). How do you work to make your metal shows a positive experience for all attendees?
Just as I stated above, I try to make everyone as comfortable as possible. I also don’t allow bullshit such as harassment to happen at my shows, and I would hope that anyone who attends any one of them would never fall into that category. People wonder why some scenes die out I think that the last two questions are a big example of that.
What advice would you have for anyone, and especially young women, who are interested in putting on their own shows and becoming promoters?
Don’t be afraid to get out there. If you promised a band a guarantee, PAY THEM! Promoters out there who promise one thing and do another give the rest of us a bad name. If you can’t pay them or aren’t sure if they can draw that crowd then work out a different deal, and if they don’t like it then they can work with someone else. There will always be bumps in the road and lessons to learn, but you can’t let that hinder you from what you’re doing. It’s too easy to become frustrated and give up. I urge any girl — well, anyone really — to just keep going.
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Susana Morgado is a Toronto-based promoter, manager, music enthusiast and horror fanatic. Her love affair with music started at the ripe age of nine, and since then she hasn’t looked back. It began with her spending a majority of her youth training in both classical violin and voice. After getting into the local hardcore, punk, and metal scene, her desire to contribute to it was undeniable. She has worked with the likes of Fuck The Facts, The Great Sabatini, BIIPIIGWAN, Vilipend, Teethmarks, InAeona, I Refuse, and RAH. When she’s not busy organizing gigs she’s usually catching a horror flick, watching some It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, listening to records and checking out all the great local shows throughout Toronto.