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LGBTIQ+ List 2024: Zoe Maras, 97 Joyride Agency

Concluding a series of interviews with this year's queer pioneers, IQ speaks to the Australia-based agency founder

By Lisa Henderson on 01 Jul 2024


The LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – IQ Magazine’s fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s fourth Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.

Throughout the past month, IQ published a new interview each day. Catch up on yesterday’s interview with Sam Oldham (she/her), venue director of The O2.

The series concludes with Zoe Maras (she/her/they/them), founder and artist services at 97 Joyride Agency.


Zoe Maras is a graduate of a Bachelor of Entertainment Business Management and received DUX of the 2017 prestigious Elizabeth Cass Award for outstanding academic achievement. Since the completion of her studies, she has created her own company, 97 Joyride Agency, specialising in artist management, artist bookings, A&R, touring and events, with over six years of industry involvement within various artist-focused roles across Australia.

Zoe is also the co event-manager for The Courage Collective and has been a mentee for the Women In Music Programme in association with the Australian Independent Records Association and the Australian Government, as well as the Co-Pilot Program, continuing to work toward sustaining and establishing herself as a queer, sober, gender-diverse professional within the music industry.

Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2024 so far.
Other than being nominated for this, I think the biggest feat that I am most proud of for this year so far was being invited to sit at the TPI Awards’ first-ever sober table earlier in the year. My dear friend and fellow tour manager Joanne Croxford had a vision and brought it to life, fully crowd-funding the table within days, with donations coming from far and wide and from some pretty big industry heavyweights. It is firsthand proof that times are changing and spaces not only deserve to exist but need to exist and I felt really proud being able to represent sobriety in music in such a trail-blazing way, alongside fellow sober roadies and allies. It was made all the more special after over 25 hours of flying to get to London, as that trip was also the first ever international travel I have done both alone and for business. Here’s to kicking goals!

“The biggest challenge is the stigma and nuance people place on a-spec people”

What’s your most pressing challenge in the industry right now?
I think the two most prevalent and urgent things are the effects that the cost of living crisis is having both on our lives personally and also on our industry, as well as there still being a very unfortunate gap in marginalized representation in our tours, venues, workspaces and all around. Community in both aforementioned challenges is key, not just now but always.

Tell us about a professional challenge you’ve had to overcome as a queer person in this industry.
Where do I start? I’ve always had a saying that “marginalized people have to walk into a room and prove themselves not once but twice and then some”. As someone who is openly asexual, my experiences are quite niche, however, generally speaking, the biggest challenge is the stigma and nuance people place on a-spec people and the repercussions this unfortunately has and whether or not people are willing to sit with their discomfort to make space for people like me to exist and create without judgement.

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
Bridge and address both the pay gap and the other gaps that are being still placed on marginalized people by simply existing. Representation matters and one of the easiest ways we can tackle this issue is by applying change in our immediate circle first and foremost.

“They were one of the first venues to welcome me with open arms when I moved to Melbourne and I haven’t turned back since”

Name one queer act you’re itching to see live this year.
There are so many to choose from, but the first artist to spring to mind is Angie McMahon who is playing at one of my favourite Melbourne venues, The Forum, making the show extra special. I’ve always loved words, songwriting and a good lyric and her music, and particularly her lyrics, either put me in a nostalgic awe-filled standstill or make me cry in the weirdest places such as parks, bus stops and on Melbourne trams, just to recall a few places. True story.

Do you have a favourite queer space?
Does my immediate friend group count? If it doesn’t, I’d like to nominate one of my other favourite Melbourne venues which is The Last Chance Rock and Roll Bar. Although it is not marketed to the public as an ‘official’ queer space, it is so implied. I am there regularly for gigs or a pub feed, and the owners Shane and Leanne also recently did the huge thing of saving The Tote which was such a pivotal thing for the DIY punk community not only in Melbourne but Australia. They were one of the first venues to welcome me with open arms when I moved to Melbourne and I haven’t turned back since. Oh, also, shout out to Damien from The Brighton Birdcage in Brighton who I recently met on my travels. Their shop in Brighton is fabulous and so queer-friendly and well worth a visit if you’re into extravagantly queer things.

“I am a firm believer that representation matters”

Shout out any LGBTIQ+ cause(s) you support.
Any queer space making a difference and providing support for their community has my support.

How do you like to celebrate Pride?
I celebrate myself with things such as simple as little treats and mental health check-ins and also within the a-spec and queer communities around me. I feel very privileged to be able to openly exist as asexual and gender diverse thanks to being able to live in Melbourne and if it wasn’t for representation and a safe environment to accompany that, I still don’t think I’d be ‘out’ unfortunately. I am a firm believer that representation matters and that if someone can see it then they can be it so if I can openly present myself as queer (which if anyone has seen me in real life then I definitely present this way ha) then maybe I can help someone else celebrate their pride as well.

 


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