by Ben Shine
Local Mix Masters is a series. Occasionally, I'll introduce people who are mixing it up, making stuff happen and holding down the decks in music around Indy – and, in a nod to one of my favorite posts, I'll invite them to share their top three life-changing albums. First up, Annie Skinner, Co-owner, A-Squared Industries; Manager, Indy CD & Vinyl; Board Member/Volunteer, Girls Rock Indianapolis; and proud owner of a BFA in Visual Communications from Herron School of Art and Design.
I've seen it happen a lot in record stores over the last few decades and it drives me crazy: guys with questions about the availability, location or worthiness of a specific album or band will look right through the young woman standing behind the counter and ask for a guy to guide them on their selection. It seems ridiculous, but it's true. It's one of my least favorite parts of musical nerd-dom, and it extends throughout the whole community – women don't get the credit they deserve and don't often get asked into the musical conversation.
Several of the people I've known with the highest musical IQs are women, and, like any under-represented group working in a space dominated by men, women who work in record stores know their stuff really well. At Indy CD & Vinyl, one of those women, Annie Skinner, is a wealth of musical knowledge, something that's key to her work as a DJ and a promoter with A-Squared Industries. But as talented and experienced as she is (she's got an encyclopedic knowledge of music), Annie still sees and deals with stereotypes about women in music-nerd circles, like: Women are only fans of music because of a guy, women don't buy vinyl, and most annoying - women only like pretty music so they're limited in knowledge of genres like Hip Hop or Metal. And, even though those stereotypes are bunk and annoying, she just keeps on doing her thing, making cool stuff happen.
Annie grew up in Utah as the youngest member of a large family that loved music and concerts. She became obsessed with music at a very young age, with siblings and cousins introducing her to everything from Elvis Costello and Nirvana to Megadeth and Eazy-E. She got her first job in a record store at 17, began mentally cataloging information about music and never looked back. She moved to Indy in 2001 and has worked at Indy CD & Vinyl since.
She's best known locally as half of the powerhouse promotion/marketing/DJ team of A-Squared Industries with her husband, Andy. They have DJ gigs all over the place at events like a monthly DJ residency at REAL TALK, the upcoming Naptown Roller Girls season, and a New Year's Eve Party at Deluxe at the Old National Center. Their marketing and user experience design projects include the annual Snake Pit at the Indy 500, LiveNation concert promotion, and the Midway at this weekend's Wheel House Fest. In addition to these projects they also host a concert series at The Vogue Theatre. Their upcoming concerts include Volcano Choir, GWAR, Cold War Kids, Shuggie Otis, Minus The Bear and Johnny Marr, formerly of The Smiths.
She's recently taken time off from all of her musical activities for the birth of her first son, Liam Thurston Skinner in July. She's unsure if Liam inherited his parents' musical genes, but he's getting a good education already. He's been to many of Indy's awesome outdoor concerts this summer, like Cataracts Fest, Listen Local in Broad Ripple Park and WARMfest, with proper ear protection, of course. She returns to her DJ deck this weekend, manning the decks next to her husband at Wheel House Fest in Opti Park.
Annie will tell you that she likes being a part of the local music and creative scenes because Indianapolis allows she and her husband to "float between the tribes" and experience different genres and musical communities without having to stick to one clique or group. She also admires those folks who have stayed in Indy and committed to making it a better place for music, when they could have easily run off to bigger and brighter cities somewhere else. "There is so much opportunity here," she says, "And I'm beyond lucky to have been accepted into this community, especially since I was a transplant."
I'm glad that we make room for transplants like Annie. I'm looking forward to highlighting other cool-makers and doers who grew up here or who moved here, but most importantly, who are making Indianapolis a better and more musical city to live in.
Here are Annie's Top 3 Life Changing Albums:
Brian Eno - Here Come The Warm Jets
"This album is perfect. I still buy it every time I find it - either to give to a friend or replace the copy I have if it's in better condition. Every time I listen it still sounds new and fresh and I find something different I love about it."
Bjork – Debut
"This album completely changed the style of music I was listening to at the time. Bjork always has such amazing collaborators, so it's like you go on a musical journey with them and explore what/where they all come from, even after the album's done playing. It was great for me, too, since I was a "feeling stuck" 15 year old in the middle of Utah."
Boards Of Canada - Music
Has The Right To Children
"I found this LP randomly placed in a budget bin at a shop in Salt Lake City. They had it priced super low because it was a mis-ship, so I took a chance because of the cover. What luck! It was a turning point for me getting into electronic music. Also, I scored because this LP is highly sought after once it went out-of-print."