Sharlese Metcalf was busy preparing for her 6-9pm slot one Saturday night as host and producer of Audioasis, Seattle public radio station KEXP's local music program. "I lied in my questions," she blurted out as I walked into the station. Wide-eyed, as though she had been caught shoplifting underwear from Urban Outfitters. The guilt, the fearful tone; like she had been sitting on this untruth for months, if not eons. Her explanation was this: when answering the questions for this interview, she used an analogy to describe an instance she didn’t feel comfortable discussing openly. Which – let’s be honest, guys – was completely harmless. But this is how Sharlese operates. She’s open, she’s truthful, and she conducts herself authentically because she doesn’t feel she has a choice in the matter. That little analogy she used to answer the questions, it wasn’t a lie. It was barely a fib. But it goes against who she is to answer anything insincerely. And in the day and age of ‘I’m cooler than you are (on Instagram)’, real life authenticity stands out.
How did you come to do what you do?
I started a two-year broadcasting program at Green River Community College and from there, I got an internship at Kill Rock Stars. My first radio job was working for a place called Jones Radio Networks, and then I landed a volunteer opportunity at KEXP working the front desk, reviewing CDs and working on Audioasis (a popular radio show that features artists from the Pacific Northwest). It turned into a part-time job, then full-time, with a cool job title: "Music Community Events Coordinator/ Host and Producer of Audioasis."
What about music keeps you going?
I'm inspired by sound. When I hear that something in a song, or the actual make up the song, that has the perfect words and vibe, it's pretty heavenly to me. I'm also really inspired by people. People do such great, creative and talented things, I love hearing about it and seeing it. Especially my friends!
Any moments of incompetency that creep into your work?
I have these reoccurring dreams where I'm late for my radio show, I haven't picked out any music, the DJ is about to leave and has no plans for helping me and I have no idea what I'm going to say on the radio. I'm running around the station, I'm panicked and I feel like giving up. My body feels stiff and I don't even have the energy to pick up a CD to put it into the CD player. It's such a horrible dream, I wish it would go away, but I think I'm having it because I care so much about my job!
Who is your girl crush?
Emily Denton! Co-owner of Actual Pain, Video producer, and director and founder of Poseurs. Recently, she and I have started working together on helping me eat better, learn meditation practice and positive thinking. She just got her license as a health coach and is about to change more lives than just mine! She's taken me to Yoga and just made me feel better about myself. I also really love her work. She always has something cool up her sleeve whether it's a new Poseurs video or Zine about Yoga or new cool video with her band Stickers or another band. She's a lovely lady full of positive energy! I appreciate her friendship.
Do you ever compare yourself to women you admire?
I don’t! I can’t! I know that I’m not like anyone else. I’m just Sharlese! Maybe I’m a bit like my mom and sister. We definitely have a strange charm that I think can be irresistible and can catch you up in a nice conversation, but seriously I just think Sharlese is Sharlese. Like nothing else you’ve ever encountered or will…Unless I exist in an alternate universe... which would be awesome and I hope I look like an alien woman with green skin and a hot space outfit.
How and when have you been guilty of judging other women?
I'm pretty sure that I've judged every woman that I've worked with before I got to know them. The music industry is really competitive. And in a way, we all want to be pretty. When the pretty/hot/sharply dressed woman starts working at the station, I feel like we all look at her and judge her because there's something [about her] we secretly wish we had. I’ve wasted time not getting to know some of the best ladies at KEXP. Now I’m in love with everyone and look at them like family.
And how have you been judged?
In the past, I’ve been judged by my hair and skin color. I’ve heard women say things like, “she’s black and bald, she must be mean.” It's kind of weird and takes me back to a time when I was in middle school growing up. I had kids tell me that I was trying to act like I'm "white" which I never understood because I was just being me. For most of my life, I struggled with just trying to fit in or be something. This is one of the reasons why I cut off my hair. I don't need to be like anyone else, I just need to do what I do all the time. I don’t need my hair straightened, I don’t need any hair! I just need to make sure that I eat right, exercise and take care of myself. Took me a long time to realize that—no hair!