• Feature

Women Behind the Music in Cincinnati: Margaret Darling

Margaret Darling cares about purpose, quality, and honesty. If those aren’t some of the best things to care about, I am not sure what are. She was in the phenomenal, synth driven pop/rock/folk/alternative band, The Seedy Seeds. It is no secret that they were and remain to be one of my personal favorite local bands. You can catch her on occasion playing on her own or with fellow local musicians around town. Darling is also a Graphic Designer with quite an extensive portfolio. 

It was an honor for me to get to chat with Margaret Darling about being a woman working in music and beyond in Cincinnati.

I first got to know of you by a set I saw your band The Seedy Seeds play at The Subway during MPMF. I can’t recall what year that was, but I was blown away. 

That is absolutely one of my favorite shows we ever played. I think it was 2008, and it would have been our second year performing at MPMF. I remember that being an especially sweaty show… sweaty shows are always my favorite… they just feel so intimate and intense and genuine.

Tell us about how you channel from making music to creating art via graphic design… Is it liberating to have different ways to express your creativity?

Yeah, I guess that having a number of creative outlets is a really freeing thing—thank you, I don’t always frame it that way to myself. When The Seedy Seeds were at the height of our activity, when we were touring as much as possible, and writing as much as possible, and trying to grow our live show into something much bigger, I really started to feel like I was getting sick from letting my visual art-side atrophy. I think writing music, making music was feeling compulsive, and not entirely satisfying… I had a lot of ideas I wanted to express, and I was ignoring the ideas that didn’t translate to music. Though, I do think I approach music and design really similarly… I start with a problem that needs to be solved, and I’ll work through a process to find a resolution. The finished product must be anchored in decisions that answer the brief, as well as polished to my standard. And there are obvious parallels between commercial messaging and promoting music—even on that “indie” scale. Though, with other outlets, I have a lot more control and say over the entire process. Music requires so much more interaction with and feedback from other people, so it’s kind of difficult and crazy and interesting to dive into, because you have to be OK with forfeiting some pieces. I feel like I’m doing a shitty job of answering your question… I guess when I’m writing music, I’m trying to reveal an idea with musical tools… If I have an idea that is better expressed visually, I’ll travel down a different path. And, yeah, I guess I am super glad I have access to so many outlets and just enough to know how to be dangerous. 

What’s your day to day look like?

These days I’m waking up before my alarm around 5:15/5:30ish a.m. I turn on the grow lights (we’ve started seedlings for our summer veg garden) and carry on with my morning routine. I try and accomplish three small tasks off the bat… usually I set the bar low for myself and make those tasks things like “pack your lunch” or “do stretches” (graphic designers have shit posture). I don’t like to get much further into a day without making a list of what I need to do and then “scheduling” my time. When I’m done with work, I hit the gym (I’m currently on a pull-ups kick—before you get all impressed by this, I should come clean that I’m, like, below beginner-level on pull-ups). My evenings usually involve some creative endeavor… could be throwing pots, working on music, painting… Sometimes I’m happy to spend the night fixing dinner, snuggling with my dogs, enjoying a glass of wine, and falling asleep to a good book or Jude Law as sexy young Dumbledore in Crimes of Grindelwald. I think I’ve gotten more shy and withdrawn as I’ve gotten older… I don’t much go out anymore.

As a woman working in music and beyond in Cincinnati, do you feel that your gender has ever hindered your path? Do you feel that you have to work harder to get your voice heard?

Oh, absolutely. I think women have a difficult position to work from in pretty much most scenarios, but music, at least in my experience, is a particularly tough terrain. I still remember getting stopped and grilled by the door guy at the Oregon Express in Dayton—one of the first shows TSS played outside of Cincinnati—while we were loading in. He wanted me to pay the cover, and thought I was the girlfriend of someone in the band—surely not a performer. We’re expected to be weaker, less knowledgeable, objects of desire, silent, unintelligent, emotional. I’ve had sound guys explain to me where to plug in to a DI… will a person that thinks you don’t know the most basic aspects of your setup be prepared to think of you on the same level as himself? If you are thought of as “beneath,” your path will necessarily be hindered. 

What women in music (or behind the music) do you admire? 

Can I just say all of them? Every. Single. One. Women are amazing, especially when we are expressing ourselves.

What do you want people to take away with them when they think of you?

If someone is thinking of me at all, thank you! It is really nice to be thought of. I guess what’s important for me, what I hope translates, is that even if you don’t like what I do, or if you don’t care about it at all, that I do my best to be thoughtful about what I do. I care about purpose and quality and honesty, and I hope that comes across.