:Feature: Love, Hate, and Everything in Between
Love, Hate, and Everything in Between
By Yvette Arambula
It never crossed my mind that someday I’d be a music journalist. It’s one of those things that just happen during the course of one’s life. You never know where it’s going to take you next.
I found out about COMA through Jaymie (our Editor-in-Chief) who had answered a want ad seeking writers. This was 2012, about a year after Jaymie’s neck and back issues began that kept her from getting a full time job. So she wrote for this underground magazine instead. I kind of got wrapped into it by accompanying Jaymie to shows and even editing her articles before sending them off to be published.
Jaymie eventually became co-host of The Oontzcast and became better known in the industrial community. It was in the fall of 2013 that COMA’s founder wanted to call it quits. Instead of shutting it all down, he bequeathed it to Jaymie. By that time I had already been “hired” to be copy editor so I basically became Jaymie’s hand of the queen when she took over.
In 2014, Jaymie and I joined a band based in L.A. The commutes were killer but we managed. Until things went sour and we had to resign. That’s a whole other story, though, that I don’t need to go into. While we were busy doing that, we left COMA to someone who had the appearance of competence. This person, who shall remain unnamed, almost killed COMA. She was highly ineffective as a leader and didn’t do anything other than piss everyone off. EVERYONE! She was a tyrant to us all and I nearly quit so many times under her reign. Jaymie convinced me to stay. She just had a feeling that it would come into play later.
In 2015, the usurper decided to retire from COMA, leaving no heirs. Jaymie didn’t want to just let COMA die so we commandeered it back. COMA’s not going out like that. Jaymie and I both became owners along with a third partner, who shall also remain unnamed. At first the triumvirate was in satisfactory working order. Until we realized that we were dealing with a big ball of drama, who also engaged in unprofessional behavior. It’s difficult enough for women to get any respect in this scene. The last thing we needed was someone in a high level position to be acting like a sexpot. Fortunately for us she resigned, thus avoiding a difficult conversation.
In 2016, Jaymie and I made COMA into an actual business since we were going to put on a festival to celebrate 10 years of existence. It was an incredible amount of work but somehow we did it all in about four months. We went all out when it came to hospitality. We paid for travel and accommodations for the artists and some of our staff who were able to come out for it. And we sure as fuck didn’t put them up in some dingy motel. It was a three-star historic, reportedly haunted hotel that just happened to be about five minutes from where Jaymie and I live. The headliners for each night got an even sweeter deal.
Needless to say, there was a lot of sleep deprivation involved in all this trying to get everything done. Plus to top it all off, Jaymie nearly died twice; seriously. She had to have her gall bladder removed and there were complications. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Jaymie’s job in all this festival madness was to coordinate with the artists and acquire all of the backline they needed for the show to go on. We saw it as an excuse to buy a bunch of musical equipment that we needed anyway. Two birds with one stone. There were some line-up changes, a firing, and medical emergencies that gave us migraines. But somehow we pulled it all off with only minor snags. And we didn’t skimp on talent. A COMA festival under us would not have been in the middle of a Midwestern field with a bunch of no name bands willing to play for free. Even Mr.Kitty said our line-up was fire. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
While the festival was a success when it came to logistics and the happiness of the artists and others involved, ticket sales could’ve been better. There were fucked up reasons for that, including straight up sabotage, but it only ended up hurting them in the end. We set the standard pretty high for this scene; some people weren’t pleased with that.
Running COMA has been an uphill battle from the start. Most of the time we were repairing burned bridges and keeping staff in line. We’ve found that the most difficult aspect of running a business is personnel issues. For some reason, when we promoted certain individuals it really went to their heads and they acted like they were promoted to kings and queens. They treated us as if we were the underlings. That didn’t last long. People like that tend to quit after being reprimanded, sometimes only once. Good riddance.
Although there were a lot of good times that made us exclaim that we loved our job, it all became too much for us. When something makes you want to die, it’s time to let it go. Jaymie and I have been wanting to get other projects off the ground, but we simply don’t have enough time to do so. Not to mention the stress and cost of running a business in California. We learned some hard lessons along the way, but for the most part, it was worth it to have the experiences we’ve had, all the people that we’ve met that would’ve never happened otherwise.
But nothing lasts forever. Sometimes a door must be shut in order for others to open. We did what we could for COMA, despite the mess that others have left for us. We felt that the best time to end it is on an upswing and not just letting it die a slow death. COMA deserves better than that.
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