As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Special Edition 2022 – I Belong
Robzie Trulove is the Founder of D.C.-based “This Could Go Boom,” a non-profit organization and record label. “This Could Go Boom” (TCGB ) is a community-based collective dedicated to artist development, resource sharing, talent curation, amplifying gender-diverse voices in music, and working towards equality in all aspects of the music business. Our Initial goal was to make it a record label aimed at amplifying marginalized voices, but in a short time, it has become so much more.”
We sat with Robzie Trulove about her experiences as a Black woman in music, how her path to self-discovery let her strive to create gender-diverse spaces for marginalized artists, and the lack of acknowledgment of Black women pioneers in rock ‘n’ roll. She takes us through her inspiration to create TCGB and how the pandemic shifted its focus to providing educational resources to the community during such an unprecedented time.
Navigating the music industry as a Black woman presents its challenges; what was your experience like having to also navigate in the realm of rock?
The word “Token” comes to mind. I felt my face belonged under that word in the urban dictionary for a long time. Where I grew up had much to do with this. I was not unfamiliar with being the only Black girl in the room when I walked in to play drums with three men – one of whom would determine whether or not I would be the drummer in this new band. I luckily had experience being stared at and having to swat away hands grasping for my hair throughout my time attending predominantly white schools. I remember having an audition that I felt should be a piece of cake because of my early experience in challenging situations. However, to my surprise, the whole endeavor would be among the most arduous of my life. I am glad I experienced it all because it helped forge the woman I am now.
What is your story of not being represented to becoming the representation? What pushed you even when faced with adversity?
Drawing from the first question, I was motivated to push back against forces trying to reshape me. My goal in playing rock music was never to diminish myself but rather to amplify myself. I didn’t realize until having to overcome those obstacles that identity is everything, and representation is instrumental in self-discovery. I asked myself what the point was in all that adversity if others somehow couldn’t benefit from my story. Many young Black women out there love rock and are made to feel “othered” because of it. I thought of Bad Brains, Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex, Fishbone, Tina Turner, and the plethora of other rock legends; and it remains that rock music, even though its genesis has much to do with Black people, simply lacks Black presence on stage, in the audience, and behind the scenes. I realized that every time I hopped on stage, stepped on a set, or into a recording studio, I was Black and present in the realm of rock ‘n’ roll. I discovered that there is power and purpose in that, no matter how many eyes watch.
How was This Could Go Boom started? What were you initially setting out to do?
After coming to my sense of self as a musician, I formed a band called RadaR with my good friend Charles Maven. Soon after, I felt the next step would be to leverage whatever I could to help others who shared my experiences. I believe this desire drew me to other musicians who shared similar sentiments. I feel fortunate that some of my favorite musical collaborations were born of organic gravitation-like force. That’s how I think I became the drummer of The OSYX; a guitar fueled band started by Erin Frisby, Selena Benally, and Ara Casey – all of whom were from other D.C. rock bands. The OSYX debut show was sizzling with particular electricity born of a collective desire for more representation in the realm of rock. The best part was that it wasn’t just women or people of color excited about this project; it was all groups of people. We realized we could take this momentum to the next level by leveraging it toward something bigger than ourselves. Soon after our debut show, we announced launching This Could Go Boom, a grassroots 501(c)(3) non-profit. It would be mission-focused rather than profit-driven. We saw that we could build programs to meet the needs of the music community. Our initial goal was to make it a record label to amplify marginalized voices.
How was This Could Go Boom received by the community? What accomplishments or milestones have contributed to the growth of the organization?
The local D.C. Community seemed to crave an entity like This Could Go Boom. We were pleased to receive hefty donations and support that eventually transcended the local arena. We’ve successfully released three albums: The OSYX, Rosie Cima & What She Dreamed, and Lightmare. Each has received substantial press, awards, and tours to support the releases. Pre-pandemic, we presented more than 125 artists in paid performances and conducted workshops in DIY recording, improvisational music, and safer scenes. We advocated for community investment in gender-diverse music creation with presentations at the Kennedy Center and the Hirshhorn Museum (part of the Smithsonian).
How did This Could Go Boom adapt during COVID?
Whew, pre-pandemic momentum quickly shifted toward an educational workshop realm during the COVID lockdown. We wanted to ensure our community knew we were still there to support them, so we launched our TCGB! Collective. The inaugural cohort completed a year of skills sharing, song sharing, monthly group meetings, professional development, and resource sharing as they worked on their new releases. It was such a success that we plan to announce the next cohort in the coming months. It’s open to anyone who follows This Could Go Boom on social media. We also began sharing resources for those looking to start booking tours again now that many venues are closed, have new ownership, or are backlogged with bookings.
How is This Could Go Boom different from making it much more than a record label model?
While we initially modeled This Could Go Boom around a typical label, it soon morphed into a community-based collective of sorts. We expanded to cover artist development, resource sharing, and talent curation. In short, the mission is to amplify gender-diverse voices in music and to work toward equity in all aspects of the music business.
How do you all plan to mobilize the initiative via international collaborations?
Podcast/educational entities like Other Record Labels and This Could Go Boom have successfully crossed the U.S. borderlines. Europe-based booking agents have also opened their arms to TCGB, and these developments have enabled us to extend our reach beyond the United States. The plan is to continue to amplify marginalized voices and expand awareness as far as we can, so long as the demand is there. Representation is needed globally, and our ultimate goal is for TCGB to no longer be needed anywhere. I thank “past Robzie” every day for taking on those challenges. That decision in the past led to a super fulfilling present — I got to do something about the broken world I had to navigate. And I am already seeing some promising results.
As a non-profit, we rely on donations. Folks can donate here at paypal.com/donate.