20. The Myth of “Making It” with Qveen Herby

May 24, 2022

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How do you know when you’ve “made it”?

Have you ever wondered how the record industry’s elusive deals work? How about how to read your zodiac chart? Or maybe, you want to learn how to create and release independent content and art?

Fortunately, we’ve got royalty in the house this week to cover it all.

This week, Tori is joined by Qveen Herby, a singer, songwriter, and absolute icon. Tori and Qveen dive into everything from the harsh realities of the recording industry to cultural appropriation, touring, astrology, starting a business, and of course, the myth of “making it”. You may remember Qveen from her first band, Karmin, with hits like “Brokenhearted” and her viral video cover of “Look At Me Now” on Youtube.

Watch the promo:

About Qveen

Qveen is a top independent artist known for her speed rap & RnB bops. The Nebraska-native, born Amy Heidemann, left for Boston after high school to study at Berklee College of Music. After her viral Look At Me Now video (2011), multiple Billboard hits, cover of Rolling Stone, and SNL performance singing lead for KARMIN – the band called it quits in 2016. 

After a fated astrology reading, she took her new understanding of the biz to re-imagine her artistry into a solo act. Calling on her loyal partner Nick Noonan and Pompano Puff to produce, her 9 EPs, the album “A Woman,” and Halloqveen has amassed millions of streams. Her trademark Mary-Poppin-gone-bad aesthetic includes glasses, gloves, lips, and lashes from her boutique cosmetics brand Qveen Studio (qveenstudio.com). With features in Cosmo, PAPER, Forbes, and TV series like Ozark, Dickinson, Black Lightning, and Generation – Qveen Herby is building her Qveendom on her own terms. A dominatrix of self-care, her music screams empowerment and aligning with your higher purpose. Stream Qveen to raise your vibration or tune in for her live weekly aura cleanses.

Qveen’s Links:





Qveen Studio


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Tori (00:00:00):

Hello, financial feminists, welcome back to the show. Oh, guys. Oh my God. Okay. Today’s guest is a big deal for me. I literally told her before we recorded about the fact that I was the most devout follower of hers in college. I would sit in front of my mirror in my college dorm room and try to learn her songs, and I never succeeded because this woman raps so fast, but literally have been a fan of hers for a decade. I spent the entire day before this interview blasting her albums. Her music always has me feeling ready to go. And fun fact, this is actually the first interview we did for Financial Feminist Season Two.

Tori (00:00:47):

It’s a conversation that takes some lovely twists and turns. We talk about a lot of things. We talk about record deals, touring, astrology, cultural appropriation, TikTok, content creation, and this myth around feeling like you’ve “made it”. I think we all kind of chase this feeling of trying to make it, and if we’re lucky to get to a place where we have a significant event in our life where we do feel like we’ve potentially made it, what does that actually mean for our success, what does that mean for where we go next. We just had the best time chatting.

Tori (00:01:25):

Today’s guest is none other than the incredible, Qveen Herby. You might remember her from her YouTube days, where her and her husband, Nick, formally the band, Karmin. You can remember them. (Singing). You remember that one. Pop sensation. Summer song of 2011. And they also had one of the most viral moments, like original viral moments with their cover of Look At Me Now. Since then, Qveen has performed all over the world, signed a record deal, dumped said record deal, and is now taking on the world as an independent artist. She also has this incredible vegan makeup line called Qveen Studio, and is just an overall total powerhouse. I’m so excited for you to listen in on this thoughtful conversation between Amy, AKA Qveen Herby, and I. So let’s go ahead and get into it.

Tori (00:02:12):


Qveen Herby (00:02:25):


Tori (00:02:26):

I’m so excited to have you.

Qveen Herby (00:02:27):

I adore you, first of all.

Tori (00:02:29):

No, stop. I will fully cry. I’m trying to keep my chill. I literally told my team, I was like, “This interview is just going to be me fangirling and rambling for 45 minutes.”

Qveen Herby (00:02:40):


Tori (00:02:41):

No, it is. Can you give me a brief breakdown of your kind of musical history from the Look At Me Now cover, all the way to where you are now?

Qveen Herby (00:02:53):

Damn. A brief history. It does fly by, I will say that, being-

Tori (00:02:58):

Because it’s been over a decade.

Qveen Herby (00:02:59):

It has. And now being under a different moniker, is that the right word?

Tori (00:03:03):


Qveen Herby (00:03:03):

Because we have also Muni Long, one of my good friends from back in the day. She used to go by Priscilla Renea, and she’s now Muni Long, blowing up. Her song is like top 20 on billboard.

Tori (00:03:12):


Qveen Herby (00:03:13):

From TikTok. Hello, independent artists.

Tori (00:03:15):

I’ve got a question about that later.

Qveen Herby (00:03:16):

Love it. So yes, I used to be Amy from Nebraska, who was so excited to get out into the big city and find herself. I went to Berkeley College of Music in Boston, I met my partner, Nick. We started Karmin, which is like… We wanted it to be like a acoustic hip hop duo, which at the time that was pretty ambitious, I don’t think the world was ready for that, but we blew up on YouTube with the Look At Me Now cover. The Busta Rhymes song. I was just imitating as best as I could my favorite rappers. Signed a deal, had some hits. Woke up one day like, “Why are we basically just doing something completely different than what we wanted to do?” Finally had some money and started Qveen Herby, but that took another five years to get to today.

Tori (00:04:05):

Was it always, not the plan, but were you thinking the entire time like, we’ll just do this to get to this? Does that make sense? Like, we’ll get our foot in the door, we’ll play by the rules, and then once we’re in the door then we’ll do the shit we want to do.

Qveen Herby (00:04:22):

It feels like everything, every step we take, every project we drop, we are like fully believing that this is it.

Tori (00:04:31):


Qveen Herby (00:04:32):

So was it in the plan for it to roll this way? Did I know that signing a deal and becoming this and then going away from that, and then… Now when fans are discovering Qveen and realizing that it was Karmin before-

Tori (00:04:44):

I’m seeing the TikTok comments, it’s hysterical.

Qveen Herby (00:04:46):

… did not expect that. I think Nick, my partner, would say otherwise. He had a master plan or maybe he just had some foresight, but I’m just always like… Every song I drop I’m like, “This is it.” You got to be that way I feel like in music.

Tori (00:04:59):

So I was telling you this before, but I’ve been with you literally since 2012 and the Hello album.

Qveen Herby (00:05:04):


Tori (00:05:04):

That was my shit in college. I know every word to that album and I sat there…

Qveen Herby (00:05:10):

Shout out to all the OGs.

Tori (00:05:11):

I literally sat there… So for those who don’t know, and you can google it, you used to wear your hair pretty much in every performance I feel like in a… For me it was the most complicated hairstyle I’d ever fucking seen, because I sat there in my college dorm room and I was like, “How do I make my hair…” It’s called a suicide role. It’s like very… Is it ’50s, ’40s?

Qveen Herby (00:05:31):

It is. Yeah, it is. It’s like some postwar look.

Tori (00:05:33):

And it looks so good on you and I was so fascinated.

Qveen Herby (00:05:34):

It’s very Rosie Riveter.

Tori (00:05:35):

I was like, “How do I do this?” And so I’ve been with you for a really long time. And I remember, I think early in the Karmin days, you were saying that initially rapping felt weird to you as like a classically trained musician. Can you tell me more about why that felt weird?

Qveen Herby (00:05:51):

Well, growing up in conservative Nebraska household with a pastor for a grandfather and the whole… Now I’m uncovering a lot of the suppression and sort of the emotional neglect and things that you have growing up. And then culturally it was just way different in America back then. Even six years ago it was different. Two years, a year ago. We are in some of the biggest change we’ve ever seen in this country. But I would say it was probably weird for me because I didn’t think as a little white girl from Nebraska that that was okay to do. My parents were telling me no. No cursing, no this, no sex, no drugs.

Tori (00:06:27):

Right. I have a question about that in a second, but your cover of Look At Me Now has no cursing whatsoever.

Qveen Herby (00:06:31):

Had to do it. I’m glad I did because the fans that came from that were young and I was not ready to talk about… Black culture is everything. It’s my entire inspiration I’m realizing now. All the artists I listen to. Everything I do musically is pretty much inspired by black… I mean, black people made rock and roll. It’s like the Lizzo lyric in her song. It’s fascinating how uncomfortable I was with it in the beginning, and now as I’ve learned and educated myself, I love it more than I have ever loved hip hop.

Tori (00:07:04):

I think with that sound change it came an aesthetic change too. So it went from like, it was super poppy, there was like a bunch of horns and stuff. You were wearing these elaborate hairstyles and these bright patterns and now it couldn’t be more different. Was it a gradual change or was there a moment where everything shifted, where you were like, “I don’t want to do this anymore”?

Qveen Herby (00:07:29):

I went to see an astrologer. There’s a whole bunch of funny history on how we got out of the record deal. That was a miracle.

Tori (00:07:34):

Again, I have questions later about that too. Crazy.

Qveen Herby (00:07:38):

I always credit him. His name is Gahl. The cosmicnavigator.com. Changed my life and a bunch of my friend’s life so at this point I’m like, let’s promote him.

Tori (00:07:46):

Fine. Okay, cool.

Qveen Herby (00:07:47):

Karmin ended up making Leo Rising, an album based on the zodiac signs after this dude. He’s incredible. But he’s the first person who told me I was a designer. So what I will bring this back to is when… As a creator I create music. It has to have a visual element. Just like that hairstyle really grabbed you, me too, girl. When I did my hair like that and put on some fake eyelashes and red lipstick I was like… And this bitch is rapping.

Tori (00:08:14):

It was a perfect brand move too because it was very distinct, right?

Qveen Herby (00:08:16):

For sure.

Tori (00:08:17):

I associated, oh, that’s the Brokenhearted girl. It was very much like I knew the aesthetic and connected it immediately with what the music was.

Qveen Herby (00:08:27):

And that makes me salivate. I love that intersection of the visual and the audio and inspiring people and building worlds. So I’m slowly making new friends and acquaintances that are really good at this. And so I think it was an unconscious choice at the time to go back to my dark hair and get lip injections. Everything I always wanted to do but I didn’t because I thought my parents would be upset. I was like, “Okay, I’m 35. Let me just start making my own choices.” So I was like, “What would I wear if I had so much self-worth and confidence that I was calling myself a queen?” And the visual that came out of it was very different.

Tori (00:09:06):

So you mentioned the record deal. For our listeners who don’t know, the majority of artists who end up signing a record deal make pretty much nothing, or they end up owing money back to a label. The stats of the research we did say that 5% of artists make any money off a deal, but yet there’s this like idea that signing a record deal means you’ve made it. Can you shed some light on the idea of like a 360 deal and why artists often get burned by that deal?

Qveen Herby (00:09:36):

Absolutely. Oh my goodness. This part is really exciting to me. I was just having a meeting with some friends yesterday, we were like, “Oh my God, what if we started a label?” Because it’s a terrifying idea now that we’ve been through the system and we’ve seen the broken parts and the little bits that are pretty traumatic about the industry.

Qveen Herby (00:09:56):

A 360 deal is basically you’re giving up… Let’s see. Our Karmin deal was probably 87% of the master. When you buy a song on iTunes… Nobody’s buying songs anymore, some people. But the stream is… By the way, 0.0033 cents is what you get from a stream on Spotify, and it’s different-

Tori (00:10:13):

Literally have a question about that. Let’s go there. Streaming’s so convenient for me as a consumer of music.

Qveen Herby (00:10:20):


Tori (00:10:21):

Nothing more convenient.

Qveen Herby (00:10:22):


Tori (00:10:22):

Yet I know from musician friends, from doing some research that it is like the worst deal for the artist. Why do it then? Is it a necessary evil?

Qveen Herby (00:10:33):

It is. What it kind of did, which is unfortunate, this is like why I feel a way about it is if you can get hundreds of millions of streams, it’s very much a solid living.

Tori (00:10:43):


Qveen Herby (00:10:44):

But the gap between-

Tori (00:10:45):

How do you-

Qveen Herby (00:10:45):


Tori (00:10:46):


Qveen Herby (00:10:47):

And that comes back to my passion about design and building a brand and giving you that visual experience, paired with it a fantasy, a world, a community.

Tori (00:10:54):

A feeling.

Qveen Herby (00:10:55):

This is how I feel about NFTs. I’m like, “Qveen is not going to do NFTs until she has built a utility that’s valuable that people are going to want to go to.” So to me it’s always been about more than the music. If you want to just make some beats and sing some things, and you don’t want to tour, you don’t want to talk to your audience, you don’t want to do these things, yeah, streaming sucks, because you’re not going to make much money from that. So you got to think big. This is why we ended up doing the cosmetics. We are thinking about getting in cannabis. It’s like this whole… You can really start building your world in the real world. But man, I really do want to help artists understand how to make a sustainable career independently. It’s possible. I’m proof.

Tori (00:11:32):

Right. So that idea of making it with the record deal, what was that process? And then back to the 360 deal, what does the average person, who’s never going to sign a record deal, not know about that experience?

Qveen Herby (00:11:44):

So here’s how it works. Artists walks in… Today they’ve had to blow themselves up on TikTok first before anybody’s going to give a fuck. Am I allowed to curse?

Tori (00:11:54):

God, yeah.

Qveen Herby (00:11:55):

< p class="" style="white-space:pre-wrap;">Before anybody can give a fuck, they have to blow up theirselves up on TikTok. So they have a song, and the label will sign them to a 360 deal and say, “Hey, let us alley-oop you.” Because you can have a hit on TikTok for two weeks and it’s gone. It’s very quick.

Tori (00:12:08):

Very quick.

Qveen Herby (00:12:09):

Hit songs are much shorter lived but they are still very valuable, if you can do it multiple times. But the label is supposed to take that and keep you at 40,000 feet, in exchange you then give them 87% of the master. But they do give you a cash advance.

Tori (00:12:25):

It’s very similar to publishing-

Qveen Herby (00:12:26):

It is.

Tori (00:12:26):

… because I just signed publishing deal and just did a podcast deal.

Qveen Herby (00:12:28):

Congratulations. Yes.

Tori (00:12:29):

Thank you. It’s very similar.

Qveen Herby (00:12:30):

It is. It’s a licensing deal. If you’re lucky, you don’t give them your name and perpetuity. You just license them your music for X amount of time, it might be 12 years. They are pretty long. Man, our first record deal, I still have the contract, it’s like 50 pages. Make sure you have a good lawyer to walk you through every paragraph because-

Tori (00:12:50):

If you’re an independent artist, who’s paying for that? You’re paying for that?

Qveen Herby (00:12:53):

You’re paying for that.

Tori (00:12:54):

All right. Not an independent artist because you’re signing a deal but if you’re just getting started.

Qveen Herby (00:12:58):

With the Karmin deal we had a lawyer on retainer for 5%.

Tori (00:13:03):


Qveen Herby (00:13:04):

Say you get a record advance of like a $100,000, you can give the lawyer $5,000 when that deal is done. You give your manager $15,000 to $20,000. So now look what happens, Tori. You have $200,000, which is now down to $75,000 or-

Tori (00:13:20):

And you’re paying taxes on that money so the money actually going in your pocket is a lot less.

Qveen Herby (00:13:24):

You better go buy some of these microphones and write them off.

Tori (00:13:28):


Qveen Herby (00:13:28):

And don’t eat up all the studio time, because the other part of the record deal, the 360 deal, label is paying for your recording sessions, which you could easily do $500,000 an hour. Now you have mic fees, engineer fees, mixing fees, producer fees. I’m so lucky and fortunate that my partner produces my music along with Pompano Puff. Shout out Pompano Puff. They are incredibly talented. And we figured out our situation and we were like, let’s all do this independently and make a living from it. But in a record deal situation, producers will just charge you 5, 10, 20, 40, some larger producers, 40 grand a track.

Tori (00:14:06):


Qveen Herby (00:14:06):

This becomes a recoupable tab at the label. So now you’ve opened a tab.

Tori (00:14:10):

You’re at the bar and you’re buying shots.

Qveen Herby (00:14:12):

And they are recouping you at, what, 87% off the top? The statistic I heard is that 2% actually, 2% of artists-

Tori (00:14:18):

Oh, so it’s even less than 5%.

Qveen Herby (00:14:20):

… recoup to get to the next phase of the contract where they get an advance again. Does this make sense?

Tori (00:14:24):


Qveen Herby (00:14:24):

So you’ve got phase one, try to recoup. Eventually our lawyer was like, “Don’t try to recoup. Spend their money, get your fame, get your accolades, and then…

Tori (00:14:32):

Go to the American Music Awards, do that shit.

Qveen Herby (00:14:34):


Tori (00:14:34):

Well, and that’s assuming that most people are taking multiple… Well, and I want to talk to that point about with you releasing EPs at the pace you guys did because usually it’s, what, you wait two, three years in between albums. And now you’re like-

Qveen Herby (00:14:49):

And the reason you’re doing that because they have 50 artists.

Tori (00:14:51):

Where you need time-

Qveen Herby (00:14:53):

Billie Eilish is going to get priority over your record. So then your date keeps getting pushed back. You can’t do anything promotional. You can’t put anything out because they have an exclusive record deal with you. So then you’re on TikTok trying to blow your song up.

Tori (00:15:03):

Are you making money in that time? I guess you’re out touring, hypothetically.

Qveen Herby (00:15:06):

If you tour, and they do
sometimes have ancillary, so they’ll take 10%, 20% of your touring as well, and merch. Merch deals are kind of shitty. So I stay Downtown Los Angeles in the Fashion District, so I can go buy blanks, I can get them printed locally, which is what we do. It’s a lot of schlepping. Indie is not for everybody, I always say that. I’m in here doing my own hair and makeup because that would also go on the recoupable tab.

Tori (00:15:32):

You’re also very good at it.

Qveen Herby (00:15:33):

Thank you. Also it’s kind of a ritual for me. I feel like it helps me center myself and be the character I need to be for the performance.

Tori (00:15:41):

As a theater person I get that. It’s like-

Qveen Herby (00:15:42):


Tori (00:15:44):

Dress rehearsal is the first time you actually feel like the person you’re embodying-

Qveen Herby (00:15:47):

So valuable.

Tori (00:15:48):

… because you get on your shoes, and you get on your wig, or you get on-

Qveen Herby (00:15:50):

It’s the shoes, every time.

Tori (00:15:52):

It’s the shoes. So you’ve got the record deal and then what you guys ended up doing was getting out of it.

Qveen Herby (00:15:57):

Yeah, which was kind of a miracle. That’s just why we…

Tori (00:16:00):

I was going to ask, so what is the process of getting out of it? And then do you retain any of the rights to any of your music when you do that?

Qveen Herby (00:16:06):

So ours was, I think, a 12… Let’s just say these numbers are fake because I can’t remember.

Tori (00:16:10):

Sure. Been a while.

Qveen Herby (00:16:11):

But we’re probably about time to go check in with them and see what’s up, but 12 years-

Tori (00:16:16):

Because, yeah, if Hello is 2012-

Qveen Herby (00:16:18):

Totally, we’re getting close.

Tori (00:16:20):

That’s 10 years.

Qveen Herby (00:16:21):

Okay. Everybody pray that we’re recouped, b
ecause the masters do revert.

Tori (00:16:26):

That was my next question, because I don’t think you bought your masters from Epic, did you?

Qveen Herby (00:16:30):

No. No, we’re going to let them make their money back. I really do appreciate L.A. Reid for believing in us so much. They really invested in us. I can’t even be mad about that. That’s incredible. It was like a masterclass those five years.

Tori (00:16:46):

Sure. So getting out, what was that process?

Qveen Herby (00:16:49):

Went to an astrologer, got a birthday gift visit. Okay?

Tori (00:16:52):

I don’t think many people get out of record deals and the first step was like, “I needed to go have my chart read.”

Qveen Herby (00:16:57):

This had to have been a destiny thing. I got so spiritual. Of course, moving to California will make you buy crystals and go to the ocean.

Tori (00:17:04):

I was resistant to woo-woo. I have an energy coach, which we can talk about if you want.

Qveen Herby (00:17:08):


Tori (00:17:09):

But like that was a big step for me and even still feels woo-woo.

Qveen Herby (00:17:13):

Good for you.

Tori (00:17:13):

I’ll tell her things where I’m like, “This is too Woo-woo,” but like purposely-

Qveen Herby (00:17:15):

And the reason is because you’re so brilliant. You’re so smart.

Tori (00:17:18):

Stop it. Stop it.

Qveen Herby (00:17:19):

That’s what it is.

Tori (00:17:19):

Thank you. I started working with her to get myself out of my comfort zone, where I was like, okay, I know I’m very analytical, and I’m like, I need you to bring me into my body because all I do is think and overthink and overthink again.

Qveen Herby (00:17:31):

If I could just have five minutes in your brain I feel like I could do-

Tori (00:17:33):

It would be insane.

Qveen Herby (00:17:35):

Can I just borrow you?

Tori (00:17:37):

You don’t want five minutes in this fucking brain?

Qveen Herby (00:17:39):

If you just ever want to DM me some ideas that you just want to get out, please, I will use them.

Tori (00:17:44):

Oh, girl. 18-year-old me is throwing up out of excitement right now. It’s so fun. Okay, record deal. So you’re in it, you went to the astrologer, and he said what to you.

Qveen Herby (00:17:53):

And I am skeptical as fuck. He sends an email confirming the time, and I’m hangover. It’s like a birthday gift. I’m like hangover to the point where I know I’m going to throw up. It’s a bad hangover. I was like 20… I forget, 26, 25. And he says, “Oh, don’t forget to bring your birth time.” I’m like, “Birth time?”

Tori (00:18:14):

I got to call my mom?

Qveen Herby (00:18:14):

Where am I going to find this? I’m not going to call my mom hangover. And somehow I go in the office and I open this book and my birth certificate is in it. Nobody knows where their birth certificate is. Usually it’s not like-

Tori (00:18:27):

Wait, you have it?

Qveen Herby (00:18:29):

That day when I needed it right before the astrology reading, it was in my… I was like, “How did this even get here?” Birth time. Boom, got it. 2:10 PM, April 29th, whatever. So I bring it. So I’m like, thank God, because he couldn’t do a accurate reading without it. And this dude proceeds to read my life. Like I’m crying. I end up going and throwing up in the bathroom because I’m hangover too. It was this emotional purging.

Tori (00:18:56):

Okay. So my skeptic immediately goes, you’re a famous person. You have a bunch of information available online.

Qveen Herby (00:19:03):

Yeah, exactly. My assumption as well.

Tori (00:19:03):

Did somebody go google you?

Qveen Herby (00:19:05):

My assumption as well. Things that he was saying to me are things that only I knew. And one of them was really strange. He said, your relationship with your mom is like you were her mom in a past life, and I was like, “That’s a strange thing to say and have it resonate.”

Tori (00:19:20):

Because you’re either like this makes complete sense or you’re completely bullshitting me.

Qveen Herby (00:19:24):

It gets personal like that.

Tori (00:19:26):


Qveen Herby (00:19:26):

He’ll lay your chart on a map of Earth and tell you like the cities that are most energetically serving for you. That’s why I asked you where you are based out of. It’s cool to move around and find it.

Tori (00:19:36):

What were your cities? I’m curious.

Qveen Herby (00:19:37):

It was Atlanta, Detroit. It was like East Coast vibes. So I’m still kind of trying to figure that out because I’m a California girl. And you have different lines that give you different energy. So Nebraska for me was definitely like old tradition. I moved past those lessons. L.A. is much more about money and fame. So that worked out but I think ultimately I got to end up somewhere on the East Coast, we’ll see.

Qveen Herby (00:19:59):

But he told us how to get out of the record deal. Can you believe this? He’s like, “Oh, L.A. Reid, yeah, he’s a Gemini. Okay. Let me look at the dates.” He’s like, “You need to call him by this date and by July 1st it’ll be resolved. Oh, and your partner, Nick, has to do the talking.” And I was like, “Oh shit.” He never wants to talk to the man. He’s like, “No, my girl. You’re my girl. You’re my star,” but he listened to the phone conversation, was reasonable, and by July 1st we had an exit contract overnighted to us. So crazy.

Tori (00:20:25):

Can you walk me through, if you’re willing to be transparent? What did you say to get out?

Qveen Herby (00:20:30):

Well, Nick said, “Hey, man…” It was after Acapella. Do you remember that song, Acapella?

Tori (00:20:37):

Of course, I do. (singing)

Qveen Herby (00:20:37):

It was kind of blowing everybody’s mind. It was a rap record, kind of, pop rap.

Tori (00:20:41):

It was off of Pulses, wasn’t it? Was that your lead singer off of Pulses?

Qveen Herby (00:20:43):

Yes, we were so excited about it.

Tori (00:20:45):

Also I love I Want It All. That did not get enough love as it should have.

Qveen Herby (00:20:49):


Tori (00:20:49):

Disco funk.

Qveen Herby (00:20:50):


Tori (00:20:51):

So good.

Qveen Herby (00:20:52):

And I wrote that with Esther Dean, who’s one of the greatest songwriters of all time.

Tori (00:20:58):

Oh, she’s so good. She’s so good.

Qveen Herby (00:20:58):


Tori (0

And for those of you who don’t know, she’s on Songland-

Qveen Herby (00:20:58):

She’s incredible.

Tori (00:20:59):

… which is how I actually connected with Zach, who’s our mutual friend.

Qveen Herby (00:21:02):

How bizarre.

Tori (00:21:03):

So bizarre.

Qveen Herby (00:21:04):

This shows how small the world is.

Tori (00:21:05):

Well, so many people actually who follow me are like Songland alums.

Qveen Herby (00:21:09):


Tori (00:21:09):

Weirdly, I don’t know why. But yeah, she’s on Songland, wrote for Rihanna, was in Pitch Perfect randomly. Wrote for a bunch of people.

Qveen Herby (00:21:17):

Hell, yeah.

Tori (00:21:17):

She’s amazing.

Qveen Herby (00:21:17):

So that’s why you love this song because it was pretty much her writing it in five minutes and us trying to-

Tori (00:21:21):

Oh my God. Cool.

Qveen Herby (00:21:23):

And we loved working together because she’s like a great singer and I can like kind of hang.

Tori (00:21:28):

Kind of hang.

Qveen Herby (00:21:30):

She taught me so much about lyric writing. Oh, she’s so valuable. That was Acapella time. And they were like, “We can’t get it on the radio. It’s the best selling song on all of Sony but we can’t get the radio to play it. They won’t play female rap,” and I was like-

Tori (00:21:43):

What year was that? This is, what, like 2014, 2015?

Qveen Herby (00:21:46):


Tori (00:21:46):

Nicki Minaj is out there.

Qveen Herby (00:21:48):

She was singing.

Tori (00:21:49):

Oh, she was singing, right.

Qveen Herby (00:21:50):


Tori (00:21:50):

(Singing) Yeah, you’re right.

Qveen Herby (00:21:53):

So she knew what to do. She’s so smart. She knew what to do. And she was already established for rap too. They were still trying to make me more Katie Perry. It was very confusing branding times. And so that’s really ultimately why we had to get out, for creative reasons. L.A. wanted to send us to London and to work with like… I don’t know what kind of music he was hoping to… And he loved my rap and my hip hop project. I would make Lauryn Hill type shit, and he would call me like in the middle of the night, “Oh my God, this record isn’t…” But he wouldn’t push it, he wouldn’t like invest in it because he knew, he’s smart enough to know we have to put out what they are playing on the radio.

Tori (00:22:32):

Even like Brokenhearted, it was a singing record where you rapped on the bridge.

Qveen Herby (00:22:36):

And they took it out in some Midwestern cities. We had to make an alternate version without the rap.

Tori (00:22:41):

I did not know that.

Qveen Herby (00:22:41):

It was very touchy. So this is why I’m so thrilled to be where we are, because we finally not only have hip hop back on the radio but it’s women of color at the top of the charts. This is my dream. This is what I’ve always wanted.

Tori (00:22:55):

Totally. You are a white woman in a black genre.

Qveen Herby (00:23:01):


Tori (00:23:02):

And you’ve faced some backlash for that.

Qveen Herby (00:23:04):


Tori (00:23:05):

What drew you to rap and hip hop in the first place? And can you talk how you’ve entered a conversation about cultural appropriation and what you’ve learned over the past couple years of doing this?

Qveen Herby (00:23:17):

What made me fall in love with hip hop was the Dr. Dre Chronic 2001 album, which was given to me by my sixth grade boyfriend. I still have it.

Tori (00:23:25):

In Nebraska?

Qveen Herby (00:23:26):

It was a burned copy now. And I’m pretty sure… Actually I have to pull it out and see if it was clean, I doubt it, because I really wanted to know about bitches and hoes. I was so sheltered, but I knew that there was a world much bigger out there and I [inaudible 00:23:43]-

Tori (00:23:42):

I went through a very similar experience, not with rap music specifically, but more just realizing-

Qveen Herby (00:23:46):

I think a lot of us did.

Tori (00:23:48):

Yeah. Realizing, I was like, oh-

Qveen Herby (00:23:49):

That’s why during that halftime show, we were all crying. All of us. Our entire generation was like, this is everything. This is incredible. When Kendrick came out of those boxes, I-

Tori (00:24:03):

Anderson .Paak on the drums. I was like…

Qveen Herby (00:24:04):

Oh my God. Incredible. So it was definitely like some type of a soul connection. But R&B music, which was big in the ’90s, early 2000s, we got TLC, we had 112, we had Brian McKnight. Obsessed.

Tori (00:24:23):

Destiny child, obviously.

Qveen Herby (00:24:24):


Tori (00:24:24):

Right. Brandy, oh.

Qveen Herby (00:24:25):

My life.

Tori (00:24:26):


Qveen Herby (00:24:26):

So they would have rap features on their singles sometimes. Like Mace would be on the Brandy song. Mariah Carey would have Jay-Z. Heartbreaker was like… I would just jump on my bed and scream.

Tori (00:24:38):

[inaudible 00:24:38] that song.

Qveen Herby (00:24:38):

That was my shit. So I don’t know why. And a lot of my friends listen to country, so it was very different. I was just enjoying kind of having attention for being different. And I think that’s really what continues to happen today. I had a lot of learning to do when the appropriation conversations came up because I was like, “Oh, I’m having fragility. I’m terrified. I need to do more reading.” And I remember when it came up too I was silent. That was my first reaction and I think as-

Tori (00:25:09):

Yeah, you shut down.

Qveen Herby (00:25:10):

Yes. So typical. Moved downtown, Black Lives Matter movement erupted locally. We were able to walk out our door and join protests daily. It was the greatest… I was like meant to be there at the time. So now I’ve gotten much more comfortable in practicing communicating about it because I think white female artists in the past didn’t really speak up about it. So I guess my advice is, for any white females that are listening that are also obsessed with black culture like I am, it’s a daily practice. Anti-racism and doing the work doesn’t just end after you read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. One of my favorite books is Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad, so helpful. Journaling prompts. You have to basically pull the racism out of yourself because-

Tori (00:26:00):

Well, and acknowledge it’s there in the first place.

Qveen Herby (00:26:01):

Thank you.

Tori (00:26:02):

Yeah. It’s interesting because I had my own thing where I actually shared one of your songs, and I had a person who is in the financial community who is a black female tell me this is cultural appropriation, and this is a white woman taking our culture-

Qveen Herby (00:26:18):


Tori (00:26:18):

… and profiting off of it.

Qveen Herby (00:26:20):

Correct. She’s not wrong.

Tori (00:26:24):

I’m even uncomfortable asking you this question because I’m a fan of your music and of course a fan of you.

Qveen Herby (00:26:28):

Thank you for being honest.

Tori (00:26:29):

But it’s also-

Qveen Herby (00:26:30):

Do you feel that feeling like here?

Tori (00:26:32):

Oh, it’s like in my-

Qveen Herby (00:26:33):


Tori (00:26:34):

Yeah. It’s like-

Qveen Herby (00:26:35):

Sweaty hands.

Tori (00:26:35):

I don’t want to say something wrong but I also acknowledge that if you’re black and listening to this, you might be calling bullshit on me and calling bullshit on you. So I’m like, how do you get your mind around that? Is it a love of this? So it’s like I’m celebrating this but at the same time you can’t fully celebrate if you’ve never experienced it.

Qveen Herby (00:26:52):

This alone is, like I was saying, with… When you’re feeling fragility, it’s really stamina that you’re building. It’s just like going to the gym. For us to change a society that’s literally built on white supremacy… Our entire society it’s systemic.

Tori (00:27:09):

All of it.

Qveen Herby (00:27:10):

We’re all a part of this. To be able to change that takes a lot of stamina. I’m just grateful that we’re able to talk about it. And then always If you’re called in, especially by a person of color, it is so important to listen, apologize, and do better. I love learning just in general, but about this especially I’ve found that I’m always learning constantly, and I love it.

Tori (00:27:40):

And I think you do a great job too, especially since… It was Sade In the 90s was like the big-

Qveen Herby (00:27:46):


Tori (00:27:46):

The big blowout.

Qveen Herby (00:27:47):


Tori (00:27:48):

Can you talk a bit about like what happened there and then what you learned from that experience? Because I think you have done a great job, especially since then, of bringing in other artists and amplifying other people in that space too.

Qveen Herby (00:28:00):

For sure. And I’ve always been very vocal about who inspires me, but around that time too, because nobody knew who Qveen Herby was. They didn’t know, oh, she was this girl from Karmin who blew up for rapping.

Tori (00:28:10):

In 2011.

Qveen Herby (00:28:12):

Correct. I could have done a much better job of bridging that story and explaining my process and my reasoning for where I ended up visually and sonically.

Tori (00:28:23):


Qveen Herby (00:28:24):

Because to be fair, if I was somebody who didn’t know this person, I would have said the same thing. But when you’re in, like Nick always says, it’s like you’re up its ass, you can’t step away and see, “Oh-

Tori (00:28:37):

No, you’re in the thick of it and you’re getting…

Qveen Herby (00:28:39):

Maybe wearing braids and having a spray tan that day and surrounding myself with beautiful women of color was too far. So since then we’ve kind of discussed it with our whole team. Most of my creative team for that video were black people, so it was like not their job-

Tori (00:28:59):


Qveen Herby (00:28:59):

Not their job to regulate. And I didn’t have, like I said, any of that knowledge. I was very unaware, very privileged, and ironically it created more attention than I expected and then it forced me to do some learning.

Tori (00:29:13):

And I appreciate you acknowledging that. I didn’t plan on bringing this up today, but one of the things I’m really nervous about as someone who now has a platform, is that… I’m not nervous in making a mistake because I will.

Qveen Herby (00:29:25):

Babe, you’re doing incredible.

Tori (00:29:27):

No, but mistakes will happen. I’m a human person.

Qveen Herby (00:29:29):

Of course.

Tori (00:29:30):

But it’s hoping that I’ve built the kind of community where not only will they give me feedback but they will also give me the mercy and the space to be able to learn from that mistake.

Qveen Herby (00:29:42):

To listen and change.

Tori (00:29:43):

I’m scared that that won’t happen.

Qveen Herby (00:29:44):


Tori (00:29:45):

No, but it’s an honest… I don’t know if you feel this way, but like-

Qveen Herby (00:29:48):

It’s terrifying.

Tori (00:29:49):

… I feel that fear. And again, it’s so-

Qveen Herby (00:29:53):

Especially when you’re so passionate and you want to help.

Tori (00:29:56):

And I’m Leslie Knope. I’m like, I want you to love me. I want to woo you and I want you to see my heart and see my intentions are good. These problems are so small compared to the actual plight of black and brown people. These are white person problems-

Qveen Herby (00:30:10):


Tori (00:30:10):

We are talking about like, “How do I be anti-racism? How do I not feel weird when I get called…”

Qveen Herby (00:30:16):


Tori (00:30:16):

Right. And my fear though is that the community I’ve built, I hope to God that they will, yes, a 100% keep me accountable and that they will offer the sort of space to allow me to change and learn as opposed to pitch forks and torches.

Qveen Herby (00:30:35):

Good for you.

Tori (00:30:35):

Do you feel that same pressure or that same concern?

Qveen Herby (00:30:39):

So going back to Sade In the 90s experience.

Tori (00:30:42):

We didn’t clarify. This was a song off, was it, EP two?

Qveen Herby (00:30:46

Two or three.

Tori (00:30:47):

Oh, I think it was three.

Qveen Herby (00:30:50):


Tori (00:30:51):

Okay. Because it was a pink coat. That was three.

Qveen Herby (00:30:53):

It was so terrifying that I clammed up and went silent. I actually called my black friends and was like, “What should I do?” I made it their problem.

Tori (00:31:01):

Rookie mistake.

Qveen Herby (00:31:01):

This is typical, typical.

Tori (00:31:04):

No, but we learn.

Qveen Herby (00:31:04):

And actually I think that’s the first time I admitted that publicly. I called my black friends and asked them what to do as if this was their issue. Horrible. This behavior is privilege at its finest. You have to trust that your intention… Now, intention is a very iffy word on this topic because you’re also like, well, how do we know-

Tori (00:31:22):

Your intention and your impact are two different things.

Qveen Herby (00:31:23):

Thank you. You have to kind of trust God, or the universe, or whatever spiritual woo-woo you have in you that your purpose and what you’re going to do is going to be positive. And I do firmly believe that if you’re willing to listen, and learn, and change, there’s nobody that can tear you down for that. I don’t think. Now there are people out there that are hurting, understandably… And I can trigger people for several other reasons too. As a woman, talking about the patriarchy all week-

Tori (00:31:52):

Woman on online. Oh my God.

Qveen Herby (00:31:52):

… in my house. I’m like, “Dang, I didn’t even realize. I’m a feminist now? How did this happen? I’m rapping about having a dick.” These are important…. But Nicki was doing that 10 years ago. She paved the way. So this is what we need to do as white artists in the space is acknowledge that.

Tori (00:32:09):

I appreciate you. I wanted to bring it up but it’s tricky to talk about.

Qveen Herby (00:32:13):

You’re excellent. You’re doing an excellent job.

Tori (00:32:15):

Oh, stop. That was not what I was going for but thank you.

Qveen Herby (00:32:17):

Keep going. Yes.

Tori (00:32:19):

We were talking before about like streaming, record de
al, all of these things. What impact, both positively and negatively, did the pandemic have on your ability to make money as an artist?

Qveen Herby (00:32:31):

I was about to go on tour.

Tori (00:32:33):

Were you really?

Qveen Herby (00:32:34):

I was so excited to see my babies.

Tori (00:32:36):

Because you haven’t been on tour as Qveen Herby.

Qveen Herby (00:32:38):


Tori (00:32:38):


Qveen Herby (00:32:39):

I was so excited because when it comes to, Tori, the visual…

Tori (00:32:42):

Oh, and meeting people in real life. I have not met my audience in real life. Other than people recognizing me on the street-

Qveen Herby (00:32:48):

Oh, you need to go on tour.

Tori (00:32:49):

That’s the plan, but again, literally blew up during COVID and the opportunity was not here.

Qveen Herby (00:32:54):

And your reach is much larger. What I learned during the pandemic, the panoramic…

Tori (00:32:58):

The panoramic.

Qveen Herby (00:32:58):

The Pamela Anderson.

Tori (00:32:59):

The panini.

Qveen Herby (00:33:00):

… the panini is that you can make a living off the internet and you can reach potentially more people. It’s a different connection. Being live and IRL is so wonderful. We also had been in it for, what, that would’ve been year four. So this is-

Tori (00:33:14):

Of Qveen Herby specifically?

Qveen Herby (00:33:15):

Yeah. So going back to the record deal versus doing it independently. I love this book called The Compound Effect. My partner and I, because we’re married as well so it’s like our whole lives are us.

Tori (00:33:26):

Again, I got a question about that later.

Qveen Herby (00:33:27):

We are obsessed with The Compound Effect. When we blew up for the YouTube covers back in 2010, we were posting every week for like 18 months.

Tori (00:33:38):

The pace of that.

Qveen Herby (00:33:38):

Two videos a week. And eventually had one go and it was from experimenting with things we weren’t comfortable doing. Pushing yourself. Even talking about appropriation. Doing things you’re uncomfortable with always will lead to good shit because you’re going to become better. And if you’re willing to always become better, you will be. So I know whenever I tour it’s going to be incredible, but I know now, I’m so confident that I can make a living doing this. And I think I now have the tools and the time to help other people do that too.

Tori (00:34:06):

Were you not confident before?

Qveen Herby (00:34:08):

I wasn’t sure. The first EP went up and I think the first month we made like $700.

Tori (00:34:13):


Qveen Herby (00:34:14):

And this is coming off of Karmin. So we were like, “Oh, shit. Did we this fuck up?” The industry was like, “This was a bad move.” Imagine that, having to sit with that discomfort. So at that point I was like-

Tori (00:34:27):

Being told by…

Qveen Herby (00:34:29):

And having to know and commit to like, “No, I’m going to rap now. We’re doing this. I’m changing my look. I’m going to talk shit. Parents not on board.”

Tori (00:34:41):

Of course you worked very hard to get the deal, worked very hard toward all these things, and then it became safe. Is that accurate?

Qveen Herby (00:34:47):

Right. Yup.

Tori (00:34:48):

Like it was safe and comfortable.

Qveen Herby (00:34:49):

Oh, it felt like a job.

Tori (00:34:51):

And you didn’t want it to feel like a job?

Qveen Herby (00:34:52):

Only when I was with the listeners and the fans on tour did it not feel like a job. So when you get off tour and go back to your house in the valley, and it’s a hundred degrees out and like, I don’t want to do anything. And I can’t get the label on the phone. They don’t want to hear the single, they want me to go to London. I was like, “Oh, God.” It was time to break away. And we love being pioneers. We love doing new things. And, we’d just seen the birth of Spotify. So it was a perfect timing too, where we were like, “Oh shit, maybe we could make money on our own.” Terrifying though.

Tori (00:35:22):

And just the commitment to not only going out on your own but understanding that your business partner is your life partner, and that-

Qveen Herby (00:35:33):

Don’t recommend it for everybody.

Tori (00:35:35):

And every decision that you make has to not only, of course, be made collaboratively, both creatively and personally, but directly affects your career and your home life.

Qveen Herby (00:35:49):

Hard to separate it. He’s talking about, “I want to be a producer. I can do this.” I’m like, “Go, babe.” The studio goes in the living room, so we are constantly-

Tori (00:35:59):

And I’m kind of your guinea pig.

Qveen Herby (00:36:01):

Yes. But I was like, “I don’t want to do it with anybody else.” Of course we called Pompano Puff right away because we had done a… Actually we did this beautiful cover of Pure Imagination from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That was like one of the first records we did with Pompano Puff, and he was like, “Let me hear what you all are working on.” Okay. So we play it. And it was the song, Gucci. It was one of the first songs I ever wrote. Oh my God. And he was like, “Let me get on that.” And we were like, “Okay.” We don’t have to do this alone. You can build a amazing team and have people that are committed with you long-term.

Tori (00:36:35):

So in terms of the sustainability of being an independent artist in terms of making money, where is the vast majority of the money coming from right now?

Qveen Herby (00:36:44):

Streaming. Once you get your music made and you’re happy with the mix and master, you got to assemble your team. You got producer, mix engineer mastering. Me, I-

Tori (00:36:54):

Well, this is assuming you write your own songs, which of course you do.

Qveen Herby (00:36:56):

Which I do, right.

Tori (00:36:57):

But plenty of people don’t.

Qveen Herby (00:36:58):

Right. And there are songwriters as well. I know many talented songwriters. I’ve worked with them on some of my-

Tori (00:37:02):

I have tons of friends who… That’s what they do.

Qveen Herby (00:37:05):

You really can put a team together. As much as you can do by yourself is obviously better. You get the record, you upload it to a distribution platform like DistroKid or TuneCore. I’m a DistroKid girl, and they are upping their ante. I’m one of the top independent artists overall, which is really-

Tori (00:37:19):


Qveen Herby (00:37:20):

Thank you.

Tori (00:37:20):

So well deserved.

Qveen Herby (00:37:21):

It’s such an honor. Bu
t it’s great because they don’t take any money. It’s like 30 bucks a year.

Tori (00:37:26):

That’s fantastic.

Qveen Herby (00:37:26):

Some people will sign a Distro deal with like a label or a subsidiary and they take-

Tori (00:37:31):

To distribute the music.

Qveen Herby (00:37:32):

They just put it on iTunes and Apple and they say, “We’re going to get you on playlists.” They don’t always do it.

Tori (00:37:37):


Qveen Herby (00:37:37):

And there’s nothing that says they have to-

Tori (00:37:39):

It’s like you sign a PR company contract where they are like, “We’ll get you on Forbes,” and I’m like, “Will you though? Where is my money?”

Qveen Herby (00:37:45):

They take between 20% and 40%. That’s like a record deal but they’re not doing… Sorry. Some of them do, but I haven’t found them. So Qveen Herby‘s recommendation.

Tori (00:37:56):

For all of the aspiring independent artists out there.

Qveen Herby (00:37:58):

Because you’re going to need to be on TikTok blowing your own up anyway.

Tori (00:38:02):

Obviously TikTok’s been huge for us and has changed my life and our business.

Qveen Herby (00:38:06):

And you’re a natural.

Tori (00:38:06):

Thank you. Right back at you. But I think with the interesting thing about like, you can’t just be a good musician, which is hard enough, you have to learn how to produce your music or at least get it produced. You have to do all of the things around just like showing up and singing or rapping. All of the creation of that music. And then on top, oh, by the way, you need to be a branding, marketing, social media expert. That’s a lot.

Qveen Herby (00:38:35):

Our biggest artists in the world right now are experts at the internet. I love that for us. I used to get playlists on Spotify… I don’t get playlists but when I do I’m really excited, and one of them was like, internet people. And I was like, “Oh, I’m an internet person?” Great.

Tori (00:38:51):


Qveen Herby (00:38:51):

So my whole career I’ve been told… Like when I blew up on YouTube, they are like, “Oh, well, you’re just a YouTuber.”

Tori (00:38:56):

I’m getting that now. Like, “Oh, you’re a TikToker, you’re not a rea
l financial advisor.” I’m like…

Qveen Herby (00:39:00):

They are just mad.

Tori (00:39:02):

It’s so new that people aren’t comfortable with it and I’m like, yeah, but this is where people are going.

Qveen Herby (00:39:08):

Like when I get on Good Morning America, then is it legit? What is it for you that makes you… So it’s great-

Tori (00:39:14):

If I wore a pencil skirt and I talked about money, would you like that better?

Qveen Herby (00:39:18):

Should I get my boobs done or not? This is really what this podcast is at.

Tori (00:39:21):

I don’t need that but-

Qveen Herby (00:39:23):

We’re taking a poll.

Tori (00:39:24):

I’ll take some out, please. I would like some… If I get my tits done.

Qveen Herby (00:39:30):

There’s so much to think about. There’s so much to think about. That’s why I love what you do because you’re making it easier for women to not have to be so taboo on these topics.

Tori (00:39:38):

Thank you. I try to.

Qveen Herby (00:39:40):

Communication is so clutch. I do think the future is just media. I’m like, Qveen Media. What is it? Let’s go.

Tori (00:39:46):

Right. Again, the pressure of all of that, of you can’t just be super mega talented, which should be hypothetically “enough”.

Qveen Herby (00:39:55):

Sure. Well, the cool thing is a lot of people are talented.

Tori (00:39:58):

Right. So it’s like you have to also-

Qveen Herby (00:40:01):

Offer some more things. And I think this is where I’ll bring in like the most… I love that you’re skeptical about like the woo-woo stuff.

Tori (00:40:07):

I am. I’m less skeptical than I was two years ago but I’m still like, “Am I putting a crystal in my goddamn pocket? I don’t know.”

Qveen Herby (00:40:12):

I know exactly the feeling. And I think this is the next thing for, especially straight men to figure out because they are not like emotional or feminine enough to flow with life. We have this book that we just keep reading. It’s called Letting Go by David Hawkins. It’s just-

Tori (00:40:27):


Qveen Herby (00:40:28):

It’s the… I know. Careful.

Tori (00:40:31):

Licensing. Licensing.

Qveen Herby (00:40:34):

Oh my God. The theory is that if you are able to release things and not grasp onto them so tightly, they actually will flow perfectly into your experience. And that’s the way I want to live.

Tori (00:40:47):

You are very publicly in a relationship.

Qveen Herby (00:40:49):


Tori (00:40:50):

And of course still are. What kind of toll did that take of like-

Qveen Herby (00:40:56):

This is maybe the biggest victory of my career so far, is that I’ve been able to stay in a relationship with someone I love.

Tori (00:41:03):

I remember even like when you went Qveen Herby, I was googling. I was that person who was like, “Are Amy and Nick Noonan still together”.

Qveen Herby (00:41:10):

It’s like Qveen Herby age. Qveen Herby

Tori (00:41:12):

Husband [inaudible 00:41:13]-

Qveen Herby (00:41:12):


Tori (00:41:13):

[inaudible 00:41:13] boyfriend. Gay?

Qveen Herby (00:41:15):

Qveen Herby boob job.

Tori (00:41:21):

Yeah, you’re business partners and your life partners, in a record deal, out of record deal, touring. Because you toured as Karmin, right?

Qveen Herby (00:41:27):

Yeah. The only explanation I have, because I can’t even pretend to know everything, I always take it back to the spiritual woo-woo shit. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me. And I’m a very-

Tori (00:41:37):

That’s your truth, live it.

Qveen Herby (00:41:38):

I’m a logical girl too, but when I’m writing lyrics, Tori, that is not me. I am channeling something else. I don’t know if I’m changing my fetus state in my brain and like there’s somebody talking through me. It’s the higher self, or God, or whatever you want to call it. So I’m trying to talk to her more and make this like a healthy thing for people to do. They call me like the dominatrix of self-care because I’m very aggressively…
Like, no, bitch-

Tori (00:42:07):

Take care yourself.

Qveen Herby (00:42:07):

… you need a fucking bubble bath right now.

Tori (00:42:11):

You need therapy please.

Qveen Herby (00:42:11):

And I need you to talk to yourself or talk to a professional because you deserve it, because you’re incredible, you’re gorgeous. None of this should be fucking with you. If you’re balanced and you know yourself and you let go, that’s it.

Tori (00:42:29):

A lot of, women especially… I mean, you think of like Beyonce, Sasha Fierce. Is it Glennon Doyle or Liz Gilbert who talk about like a different version of theirselves?

Qveen Herby (00:42:36):

My favorites.

Tori (00:42:37):

I’m trying to get them on this fucking pod. Please, come on the podcast.

Qveen Herby (00:42:40):

Screaming. Big Magic is one of my favorite books.

Tori (00:42:42):

Doesn’t she talk in Big Magic about like tapping into creativity and it almost feeling like a different person?

Qveen Herby (00:42:47):

Actually she’s describing another writer’s experience how they, I forget who the poet is, but she said a poem would come like a wind from the south and you would have to catch it, and if you didn’t it would move on. And those are ideas.

Tori (00:43:00):

That creativity was like a siren or like a-

Qveen Herby (00:43:03):

It’s a beautiful book. She’s incredible. They’re incredible writers.

Tori (00:43:07):

I call them my spirit mommies.

Qveen Herby (00:43:09):


Tori (00:43:09):

So it’s like Glennon Doyle, Brené Brown, Oprah. All of these women in my head who are higher versions of myself.

Qveen Herby (00:43:15):

For sure.

Tori (00:43:15):

Who are just like, “Hi, this is hard.”

Qveen Herby (00:43:17):

They paved the way for us to come in now and to translate that for our generation or for this-

Tori (00:43:25):

Oh God, I hope so.

Qveen Herby (00:43:26):

… in a financial flavor or in a music flavor.

Tori (00:43:29):

I hope I’m 10% of those women.

Qveen Herby (00:43:32):

You absolutely are that.

Tori (00:43:33):

I’m not fishing. I want… I appreciate it Amy but like I’m not fishing. I want to be clear.

Qveen Herby (00:43:40):

I’m very comfortable with complimenting people-

Tori (00:43:42):

I am too.

Qveen Herby (00:43:43):

… because I feel that people don’t get it enough.

Tori (00:43:45):

You want to know-

Qveen Herby (00:43:46):

Not a genuine.

Tori (00:43:48):

I heard this quote the other day and I’m about to blow your mind. It was so beautiful. Maybe you’ve heard it before. It was, “I’m going to give you your flowers regardless of if you water them,” which is like, I’m going to compliment you-

Qveen Herby (00:43:58):

That’s bars.

Tori (00:43:59):

Isn’t that so good?

Qveen Herby (00:44:00):

Wait, can I use that?

Tori (00:44:01):

I don’t know who said it but I think it’s so beautiful. I actually think I saw it on TikTok where it was like, I’m going to compliment you and what you do with it is your business.

Qveen Herby (00:44:08):


Tori (00:44:09):

So if you want to throw your flowers in the garbage, if you want to stomp on your flowers, ultimately I can’t control that, I wish you wouldn’t because I just gave you this beautiful bouquet of flowers, but I’m going to compliment you regardless of how you feel about it. So you can either plant your flowers, and water your flowers, or throw them in the trash.

Qveen Herby (00:44:24):

And some people aren’t ready to take care of flowers. It’s a stressful job.

Tori (00:44:27):

It is a stressful job.

Qveen Herby (00:44:28):

But just smelling them before they threw them in the garbage might have made a tiny change.

Tori (00:44:32):

Yeah. And I think as women we’re taught that it’s becoming to not take compliments.

Qveen Herby (00:44:38):

Right. Oh, please, that’s very cultural.

Tori (00:44:42):

And it’s weird if you go, “Thank you. I think I do look good,” or like, “Thank you. I am good at that thing.”

Qveen Herby (00:44:46):

It’s hard to take a compliment.

Tori (00:44:48):

It’s very hard, especially when we’ve been actively conditioned not to.

Qveen Herby (00:44:52):

Especially girls from the Midwest. Shout out. Guilt and shame.

Tori (00:44:56):

I was born and raised in Pacific Northwest, but yeah. We’re like going back and forth and back and forth, but that experience of being raised in Nebraska, you’ve obviously talked a lot about in your music, what do you feel like you hold onto about that experience and what do you feel like you had to kind of let go?

Qveen Herby (00:45:15):

I think The Compound Effect, again, love that book, but the consistency model and the work ethic is real. That will never leave. If I’m ever in a bind, or I feel like unproductive, or like a creative block, I’m like, no, eat a bowl of cereal and let’s fucking go.

Tori (00:45:31):

Eat some Cheerios. Let’s go.

Qveen Herby (00:45:33):

I’m reading one now, this is not a new book, but it’s The War of Art.

Tori (00:45:38):

Oh, it’s not The Art of War it’s The War of Art?

Qveen Herby (00:45:40):

It’s the War of Art, because it’s totally different. It’s totally different. I did not know what to expect but so many people recommended it to me, I was like, “Goddamit-

Tori (00:45:45):


Qveen Herby (00:45:46):

So I got a little used copy. I try to buy used books now because I have so many books.

Tori (00:45:50):

So many books.

Qveen Herby (00:45:51):

I’m like, “Stop printing them.” But I do love a physical book.

Tori (00:45:55):

I don’t have an E-reader. I refuse.

Qveen Herby (00:45:57):

What is that?

Tori (00:45:58):

The world can be burning and I’m like, “No.”

Qveen Herby (00:45:59):

We’re just like old school bitches.

Tori (00:46:00):

I love the smell. I love the feel.

Qveen Herby (00:46:02):

The smell.

Tori (00:46:03):

And I spend so much of my time on a screen-

Qveen Herby (00:46:05):


Tori (00:46:06):

… that like reading a book is one of my only breaks at this point. Because even if I watch TV, screen, or like listening to a podcast, if you’re not listening it on YouTube that’s slightly different.

Qveen Herby (00:46:16):

I’m glad that libraries are not completely gone.

Tori (00:46:19):

I know. They are the only thing we have left.

Qveen Herby (00:46:21):

I mean, movie theaters are like, woo hoo.

Tori (00:46:22):

I know.

Qveen Herby (00:46:22):

Libraries are super important. So physical books. The War of Art is actually about the resistance to being creative.

Tori (00:46:29):

Resistant, what do you mean? Tell me more about that.

Qveen Herby (00:46:30):

So if you’re a creative person, sometimes just opening the laptop and writing for four hours a day is the hardest thing to do. The actual work. Like so many people in this town, in L.A., I see them and they look gorgeous and they are out and about, and I’m like, “What are you working on?” They are like, “Nothing. I didn’t make anything this year, but I’m waiting for my label to…” It’s like, no, no. That Nebraska flavor that I think is really, really valuable is that work ethic. And just like the self-reliance, which can be a downfall too because I don’t ask for help enough.

Tori (00:47:05):

The kind of martyrdom that [inaudible 00:47:08]-

Qveen Herby (00:47:08):

But I know that if I was in a bind I could figure out a way, every time.

Tori (00:47:13):

Speaking of Liz Gilbert and what you just said, I think about what she says a lot around like perfectionism. Have you heard her speak about that?

Qveen Herby (00:47:21):


Tori (00:47:21):

She talks basically that we have these labels of, “Oh, I’m a perfectionist,” and we think it’s a good thing, when in actuality it’s-

Qveen Herby (00:47:30):

A killer.

Tori (00:47:30):

She said, and I think her quote is, “Perfectionism is fear in stilettos.”

Qveen Herby (00:47:36):

That’s cute.

Tori (00:47:36):

So it’s like-

Qveen Herby (00:47:37):

She would say that. She needs to be a rapper. Geez.

Tori (00:47:40):

She’s great.

Qveen Herby (00:47:41):


Tori (00:47:41):

I know. This concept of you’re so afraid of getting started or you’re so afraid that it has to be perfect that nothing ends up getting produced anyway.

Qveen Herby (00:47:52):

That’s what I see, too often. So I’m like very-

Tori (00:47:55):

Because we’re too scare. Because it’s very, very, very vulnerable to produce anything.

Qveen Herby (00:48:03):

You’re born on earth, we don’t even know why we’re here, and then you grow up with a talent that you don’t want to show anyone because you’re sizing yourself up. You’re like, “Am I pretty? Am I ugly? Am Am I smart?”

Tori (00:48:13):

Is somebody else better than me?

Qveen Herby (00:48:15):

“Am I stupid? I don’t have rich parents. Am I ever going to make it?” Oh, there’s too much. It’s too much to think about. Should I get a boob job? We just keep going back to that. I’m just going to get one.

Tori (00:48:26):

Is that the honest thing that’s taken all the time?

Qveen Herby (00:48:28):

No, but it’s a lot to consider and I think that’s where the resistance comes from, because you’re like, “Well, it’s easier for me to just sit here and be distracted on my phone.”

Tori (00:48:37):

Right, but then that feeling that comes in when you finally do put your phone away at 2:00 AM and you sit for the five minutes or hour before you fall asleep, and you’re like…

Qveen Herby (00:48:46):

And it’s really not that much time. Even if you do 15 minutes of focused work a day, it compounds, and after a year and a half you have like three albums done. You do.

Tori (00:48:55):

But there is that bravery and the vulnerability that you have to become okay with in order to release anything.

Qveen Herby (00:49:01):

It’s also stamina, again. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Tori (00:49:05):

Right. Repeatedly. It’s like a muscle. The more you’re doing it, the more comfortable you get.

Qveen Herby (00:49:10):

Which is why we love self-care, because you’re going to be uncomfortable a lot. And it’s good to learn how to self-soothe and talk to yourself in the right ways, because, babe, that’s actually going to help you be productive.

Tori (00:49:22):

So I’ve said on the podcast before, and I would love your thoughts about this, because you keep bringing up self-care and I’m all about it.

Qveen Herby (00:49:27):

Oh, I loved your thing about, wrap yourself up in a down blanket and look at your finances.

Tori (00:49:31):

[inaudible 00:49:31]-

Qveen Herby (00:49:31):

I love that.

Tori (00:49:32):

But remember at the beginning of that episode, I made a distinction, and you can disagree with me all you want, between self-care and self-soothing. Because I think a lot of the self-soothing activities get branded as self-care, like the bubble baths, and the face masks, and the glass bottle of wine. Those are the things that are so necessary but we do them in the moment because we’re trying to cope with something that happened rather than… For me self-care feels like the hard shit. It’s the shit that you do because you’re trying to make your life better. It’s temporarily uncomfortable. So like going to therapy.

Qveen Herby (00:50:10):

I know. I was so resistant. I was like-

Tori (00:50:11):

Eating a salad when you don’t want to eat a salad. Having a hard conversation with a friend. That for me feels like true self-care.

Qveen Herby (00:50:17):

For sure.

Tori (00:50:18):

And so-

Qveen Herby (00:50:18):

I just learned this. I’m like, “Oh, I learned this. Let me share it.”

Tori (00:50:21):

I love it.

Qveen Herby (00:50:22):

The actual invention of the term self-care comes from a black queer woman of the ’70s.

Tori (00:50:27):

I did not know this. Tell me everything.

Qveen Herby (00:50:28):

This is fascinating to me. Her name is Audre Lorde, and her quote was really exactly what we’re saying, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” I was like, “Yes.” It’s not the bubble baths, and the face masks, and all this like whitewashed-

Tori (00:50:47):


Qveen Herby (00:50:47):

Yes. No, this was activism.

Tori (00:50:50):

That’s what I see money as. And people ask, they are like, “I don’t understand how money is political,” and I’m like, “Well, you look for two seconds and it is-

Qveen Herby (00:50:59):

Keep that.

Tori (00:51:00):

And it’s also society that actively does not want you to have money if you’re a member of a marginalized group. You having a financial foundation is an act of-

Qveen Herby (00:51:09):

Is activism.

Tori (00:51:10):

Right. It’s an act of protest-

Qveen Herby (00:51:10):


Tori (00:51:11):

… against a system that is actively trying to prevent you from having [inaudible 00:51:14]-

Qveen Herby (00:51:14):

So there we go.

Tori (00:51:14):

I never heard of that. That was amazing.

Qveen Herby (00:51:15):

If you didn’t know that, Audre Lorde, she is the reason that we say self-care and that’s the original intent of the word.

Tori (00:51:22):

Right. Again, in a capitalist bullshit society, it’s like self-care is now commercialized to the point where it’s egg shoved up our vagina.

Qveen Herby (00:51:32):

It’s America. It’s America. We can sell everything.

Tori (00:51:34):

I know. I know. And wellness, r
ight? The wellness movement which is a bunch of white women at a good conference.

Qveen Herby (00:51:40):

If there’s an opportunity to make money in America, it will happen. Just find people you vibe with that feels like their intention is pure. Because somebody could actually raise their vibration effectively and become more successful following one of those people that we’re criticizing, but it will often lead to even better role models, and better writers, and authors, and activists. So it could be gateway. I think everybody does serve a purpose, even though they’re not all super aware of why they are selling vagina eggs.

Tori (00:52:12):

Candles that smell like my pussy.

Qveen Herby (00:52:15):

I mean, shit, that’s something I would do. See, I can’t even be-

Tori (00:52:17):

I actually thought, you know what…

Qveen Herby (00:52:18):

I’m like, “Shit, I should have thought of that.” I have people DM me like, “Hey, I started this candle business a year ago listening to Qveen Herby and I’m so inspired, and I made a million dollars.”

Tori (00:52:31):

You’re like, “Where are my royalties off of that?” No, it’s amazing.

Qveen Herby (00:52:33):

Right? Yeah.

Tori (00:52:35):

That’s actually one of my biggest questions for you. The Qveen vibe is like confidence, getting money. I fucking love it.

Qveen Herby (00:52:43):

Thank you.

Tori (00:52:45):

What kind of relationship do you wish women had with money and what is your relationship with money?

Qveen Herby (00:52:51):

I had a document called Money Honey, a spreadsheet, and I used to curl up in my cocoon and I used to look at that. I had the same instincts as you that’s why I was like, “I need to be on this podcast.”

Tori (00:53:01):

Thank you.

Qveen Herby (00:53:03):

I agree. It’s so powerful for you to just get close to it. I’ve had girlfriends who marry a guy because he says he’s going to take care of them and they don’t ever learn anything about money and of course that’s going to end badly.

Tori (00:53:13):

Way more common in 2022 than you think. It’s still so common.

Qveen Herby (00:53:15):

It breaks my heart. And I’m like, “No, this is my vibe.” I have tweets from people every day like, “Listening to your music has changed my life.” I’m living the dream right now. And I’m constantly still learning. I’m still not happy with where I am, I’m never going to stop, but I do think that financial freedom comes from knowledge.

Tori (00:53:34):

Is that what you want for women?

Qveen Herby (00:53:37):

That’s what I want for women and I would love to see it in our lifetime when the gap is gone. I would love to see that. I don’t know if it’s possible. What do we get, like a 100 years?

Tori (00:53:43):

They are saying statistically it’s not impossible.

Qveen Herby (00:53:43):


Tori (00:53:45):

Yeah. Pre-pandemic it was like, I think, 82 years depending, and I think now post-pandemic, or like in the midst of coming out of the pandemic, they are saying add 30, 40 years on top of that.

Qveen Herby (00:53:56):


Tori (00:53:56):


Qveen Herby (00:53:58):

Really they think it set us back?

Tori (00:54:00):

Because specifically with like working moms-

Qveen Herby (00:54:03):

Thank you.

Tori (00:54:03):

…it’s like this huge-

Qveen Herby (00:54:04):

My friends quit their jobs to take care of their kids.

Tori (00:54:10):

Like I think about in Seattle, I know Los Angeles has to be similar if not worse, daycare is the price of another mortgage or another rent payment.

Qveen Herby (00:54:18):

Absolutely. Look, I love a mom. I love somebody who’s destined to be a mom, but like child-free… My child free-bitches, hey. That’s how we’re going to do it.

Tori (00:54:29):

I will most likely be one.

Qveen Herby (00:54:31):

Same. I think that’s how we do it.

Tori (00:54:33):

How we do what? What do you mean?

Qveen Herby (00:54:34):

How we close the gap?

Tori (00:54:36):

Having less children?

Qveen Herby (00:54:37):

I think so.

Tori (00:54:39):

I would argue that that puts it back on us though, that it’s our job to close a gap that isn’t our fault in the first place, just like have less children.

Qveen Herby (00:54:49):

Sure. If that’s your dream then you got to do it.

Tori (00:54:51):


Qveen Herby (00:54:52):

Oh, if you’re supposed to be a mom, go.

Tori (00:54:54):

Right. Then it makes it on us of then there’s an added guilt to that decision potentially. And I think it’s much more complicated than that.

Qveen Herby (00:55:02):

Children are very expensive.

Tori (00:55:04):

They are, a 100%. We know statistically that you are more likely to have money if you don’t have children, but also these gaps that exist are because there’s no paid family leave required in the United States.

Qveen Herby (00:55:17):


Tori (00:55:19):

Daycare is $2,000 for one child for part-time care a month. So I feel like, hey, you didn’t cause this gap and now it’s your job to fix it but getting an IUD is like… I don’t know.

Qveen Herby (00:55:31):

Absolutely. No, you’re a 100% right. That’s why I was like I know I’m going to learn something. Because I’m over here having anxiety at night and like googling, why do people choose to not have children? Because it’s scary. Society expects us to do things. And I’ve already broken out of so many things and I’m like, “Oh God, I’m 35. I’m probably not going to have kids,” and I’m like, “How do I teach myself that that’s okay.” And then what are the arguments for and against it. And it is usually, well, you have more freedom, more money.

Tori (00:55:59):

Well, and it’s that role you’re expected to play. I thought I wanted to be a mom for a really long time, and in the past couple years in my own learning, it was like, do I actually want to be a mother or is that expectation just on me of this is what you’re supposed to do.

Qveen Herby (00:56:13):

It’s really hard to figure out which one it is. Is it me or is it society? And that’s why I love Oprah because she often says like, “No, I don’t have any kids, I have like thousands of kids,” because she sends girls to school, she’s a mentor. That would be a much more favorable situation for me I think.

Tori (00:56:31):

Me too. Me too. I also want to be the cool auntie who just flew in Paris.

Qveen Herby (00:56:35):

I know.

Tori (00:56:36):

That’s what I want to do, is like come and like…

Qveen Herby (00:56:38):

I tell my siblings, I’m like, “If your kids ever get sick of you, send them to-

Tori (00:56:40):

I’m an only.

Qveen Herby (00:56:41):

Oh, you are.

Tori (00:56:42):

I’m an only.

Qveen Herby (00:56:43):

I love that. That’s very powerful. That explains a lot.

Tori (00:56:47):

We could talk for hours about it. So you will get that option. If I get married or partner with somebody, I think one of my secret requirements is I need you to have siblings because if I don’t have children I need to have a child adjacent.

Qveen Herby (00:57:02):

Someone. We don’t need to get into this because this is like really deep. I went woo-woo. I probably went too far. No, there’s no such thing. We’re not afraid of exploration and learning.

Tori (00:57:12):


Qveen Herby (00:57:13):

One of my fans sent me a book about reincarnation because I’m like, look… We’re talking about all this other shit… Like what happens to your soul? I do have weird dreams. Some people say it’s like clairvoyance and all these different things. I’m starting to uncover some of these gifts. If you see an astrologer, they have a certain talent for this, or like a psychic. And so I’m looking at past lives, and I’m like, “Well, probably, definitely I had a dick at some point.” But if you are meant to collide with a soul, if you’re meant to be a mother, even if it’s not biologically yours or if it’s just like more of a mentor relationship and it’s very like mom vibes, it’s going to happen. I do believe this. And this is in the Christian upbringing too, I’m pretty sure. We are sort of like destined for each other. Whether you biologically have kids or not, they are going to find you.

Tori (00:58:07):

Not where I expected this conversation to go but look at that.

Qveen Herby (00:58:09):


Tori (00:58:10):

That’s great advice. You are like the master of making the whole brand out of your vibe. So you got the makeup line, you got your video content around… Your aura cleansing and shit, it’s great. I feel like this is always just really like a smart move, but especially for women, can you talk about owning your brand and developing something into a whole vibe or a whole feeling?

Qveen Herby (00:58:37):

Absolutely. I think it wasn’t until I became Qveen Herby that I started thinking this way, because I did the queen spelling with a V, and I was like, “Whoa.”

Tori (00:58:46):

Why? I know why but I want everybody else to know.

Qveen Herby (00:58:49):

Well, there’s many reasons. Herbie is actually the mascot for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, which is so cute. He’s like this little guy that comes out with a corn, I’m like, okay.

Tori (00:58:57):

Oh, I just think of Herbie fully loaded. That’s-

Qveen Herby (00:58:58):

Also great.

Tori (00:58:59):

I knew the origin for you.

Qveen Herby (00:59:01):

My first car was a Beetle.

Tori (00:59:01):


Qveen Herby (00:59:02):

My first car in high school was a Beetle. It was so bad. I felt very powerful. It’s always been my brand actually to be like this quirky, loud, bold person, unique person. But when I started seeing myself as a brand, it was actually a mentor that I picked up… A guy that lives in my building was like, “Hey, what you’re doing is really brilliant. Can I give you some advice?” And I was like, “Thank you.” And I had never had, definitely not like a straight man above the age of 50 help me with anything for free. He wanted nothing from me but some ideas for his thing. And I was like, “Oh yeah, I love…” And he’s telling me like, “You’re actually good at this.” This is not something I got from my parents or from anybody I knew.

Qveen Herby (00:59:41):

And he started teaching me about this, and how to build it, and he was like, “I see you more as a curator. You’re not developing products from the bottom and building… You’re not designing like the shape of the tech device, you’re choosing something and kind of promoting it to your audience and being that conduit.” And I was like, “No, I’m going to mix the pigments in my kitchen, and like-

Tori (01:00:02):

For the make up, yeah.

Qveen Herby (01:00:04):

So we did. And I was like, “Damn, we really needed the…” Shout out to Qveen Studio, and Audrey, my babe, and all my team in New York. They are incredible. It was a slow build. That started five years ago as well. And we were mixing pigments in my kitchen. Those countertops are stained forever, sorry. Sorry to whoever lives there now. That red, oh my God, Red number 40. Also learning about vegan and clean ingredients, and then like FDA restrictions, and then what goes on the box. It’s too much for me now but I have so much respect for it, so my advice would be-

Tori (01:00:36):

Well, and managing all of that and coming up with again-

Qveen Herby (01:00:38):

Yes, fulfilling orders out of my house for the first, whatever, six or eight months.

Tori (01:00:44):

So you’re putting those shipping labels on those boxes.

Qveen Herby (01:00:45):

Until you find a fulfillment center that you trust, it took three tries.

Tori (01:00:49):

And you’re paying them to…

Qveen Herby (01:00:51):

It’s important to build it with somebody that has as much fire if not more fire than you. My girlfriend, Audrey, was like, “Hey, I had a horrible music career too. Let’s do this.” And to this day we are still building it. So my advice would be, don’t try to do everything yourself. Be ready to give away some ownership and bring a team into it. Make other people invest in it. Put it all on paper if you can. If you don’t have a lawyer, just have an agreement, like an operating agreement. And get creative. Red lipstick for me is like instant confidence and that’s what I’m selling. So that was a no brainer. We did lips and lashes. Start small and then expand. So then we started doing like eyewear, and merch, and now we’re doing finally physical music vinyls. It’s a whole process of manufacturing.

Qveen Herby (01:01:43):

I luckily learned Photo
shop along the way so I am able to put it together. You might need to hire a designer for that to make a logo. We luckily just were able to put it all together. And then over time you can expand to different categories. But make sure you have a clear vision of why you’re doing it, and enjoy it, because just like anything else, it’s going to take time, it’s going to hurt sometimes, and then you’re going to celebrate every single little victory.

Tori (01:02:10):

And you should.

Qveen Herby (01:02:10):

You have to. I’m like, “If we don’t crack open a bottle of champagne for this, when we had this big month, we can’t miss that,” because that makes the blow a little bit softer when you’re like, “Oh shit, we just lost this subscription box that we were supposed to do.” There’s so much that can go wrong.

Tori (01:02:30):

Okay. TikTok. What changed for you with TikTok? We’ve kind of like danced around it, because for me everything changed.

Qveen Herby (01:02:36):

Everything. It’s already evolved. For me now-

Tori (01:02:40):

Oh, a 100%.

Qveen Herby (01:02:40):

All of a sudden reels is like way better for me.

Tori (01:02:42):

Yep, me too.

Qveen Herby (01:02:43):

But this is how social media works. How many platforms have you… I mean, for me it was YouTube. We had to figure out YouTube in the early days. It was great and then it kind of got not great. And then Instagram came out and we were like, “Fuck, we got to get good at this too?” And there was like Twitter, it was like, “This too?”

Tori (01:02:58):

And reels it’s like a whole other thing, it’s like a mini TikTok within Instagram.

Qveen Herby (01:03:01):

So the only thing, that’s why you’re smart because you’re building a community with your newsletter and you have people, don’t ever put all your eggs in one platform.

Tori (01:03:09):

Build on borrowed land.

Qveen Herby (01:03:10):

Yes. And if you go to TikTok and you get something… We call it a vertical. If you get me sitting in front of the microphone, singing and putting the lyrics, that’s a vertical, nail it. Nail it-

Tori (01:03:23):

Vertical, meaning how it’s shot?

Qveen Herby (01:03:24):

No, we call it a vertical, almost like a category, like a column. I don’t know why we call it that. In my team-

Tori (01:03:30):

Is that a music industry term or are you guys just calling it that?

Qveen Herby (01:03:32):

It might be like a social media marketing term. Well, my vertical is not singing on the microphone, my vertical is… Some people-

Tori (01:03:39):

Oh, no, I get that. Like your niche.

Qveen Herby (01:03:42):

Thank you.

Tori (01:03:43):

Okay. I got you.

Qveen Herby (01:03:43):

Some people just hold it in front of their face and say funny things and cut it awkwardly.

Tori (01:03:47):

Or they’ll do crazy transitions or something.

Qveen Herby (01:03:49):

So mine was a microphone with the lyrics and then all of a sudden-

Tori (01:03:51):

Which is so simple and it’s so brilliant.

Qveen Herby (01:03:52):

So you nail it, nail it, nail it, and you start seeing a decline, what you do naturally, don’t take it personally, then find a new vertical. So then I was like, “Oh, why don’t we do these one liners where I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I could never wear that,’ and she was like, (singing).

Tori (01:04:04):

(Singing). Yup. That’s how that sound blew up. Well, because then you were like, “Let me produce sounds that other people can use,” which is so smart.

Qveen Herby (01:04:15):

Because that’s all TikTok is now. It’s like let’s inspire other people to be the star. I don’t care. As long as you stream my songs, I’m cool. I don’t need to be seen.

Tori (01:04:22):

No, it’s smart.

Qveen Herby (01:04:23):

I don’t want my video to be the biggest video, I want my sound to be used, because that translates to streams, which translates to money, which allows me to do more things.

Tori (01:04:30):

And Sugar Daddy popped off.

Qveen Herby (01:04:32):

Very interestingly, so only outside of America. Isn’t this interesting?

Tori (01:04:39):

Well, probably because I follow you-

Qveen Herby (01:04:41):

It trickled over here.

Tori (01:04:41):

… I got a bunch of the Sugar Daddy videos.

Qveen Herby (01:04:43):

We didn’t get a plaque for that. I was expecting to because it had like 50 million streams or something, but they were-

Tori (01:04:48):

You still could, right? It can still happen.

Qveen Herby (01:04:50):

They were in Egypt, and Dubai, and Brazil, and-

Tori (01:04:52):


Qveen Herby (01:04:53):

… Southeast Asia.

Tori (01:04:54):


Qveen Herby (01:04:55):

They called it like the WAP of that region because they are a bit more conservative.

Tori (01:05:01):

What a compliment.

Qveen Herby (01:05:01):

Exactly. And I was like, “Wow, sexual freedom is the thing right now. Love that.” But then the new vertical, now we’re pumbling that and we’re like pumbling that and now we’re like, “Oh, we might need to come up with the next vertical, so just be ready to pivot.” But that’s what TikTok has been. And then dang, when reels opened up and they were like the algorithm is pushing reels, I was like, “Hey, team. Why don’t we just repost all this-

Tori (01:05:23):

That’s what we do. We rip our TikToks, eliminate the TikTok logo. No one cares. No one noticed.

Qveen Herby (01:05:28):

Nobody has time to say, “Tori, this video was clearly shot in August.” No one cares. Is it good content or not?

Tori (01:05:34):

Also, I think it’s 2% to 5% of people will even see your video, and if you get new people joining you all the time, you have a bunch of people who’ve never seen old videos.

Qveen Herby (01:05:42):

This is why it’s a mind-fuck, and you have to be comfortable getting repetitious with your message because that’s what the best of them do. And it makes your life a lot easier, it takes the pressure off. Like, okay, every day I’m going to tell them they are a bad bitch because that’s what’s working-

Tori (01:05:56):

It’s working.

Qveen Herby (01:05:56):

… and that’s what gives me satisfaction.

Tori (01:05:59):

I appreciate the ego being eliminated from that too, because I think a lot of artists it’s like, “Oh, I want to be known as the person who created this beautiful thing once and I can’t keep repeating myself.”

Qveen Herby (01:06:10):

Totally. Oh, it’s hard on the ego. It takes a while to let go, the book, Letting Go, to let go of those expectations. And if you start trusting and allowing things to flow, then the universe is going to be like, “Bitch, you’re actually supposed to cut your hair off.” Like I started wearing glasses, I’m like-

Tori (01:06:27):

< p class="" style="white-space:pre-wrap;">I know, glasses.

Qveen Herby (01:06:27):

… nobody wears glasses.

Tori (01:06:28):

You wore glasses to the AMAs.

Qveen Herby (01:06:31):

I know. I was like, “Who does that?”

Tori (01:06:31):

You wore fucking glasses.

Qveen Herby (01:06:32):

But now people are thanking me-

Tori (01:06:33):

Are they prescription glasses?

Qveen Herby (01:06:34):

They are.

Tori (01:06:35):


Qveen Herby (01:06:35):

Thank you.

Tori (01:06:36):

Thank you, because I hate fucking glasses. I’m like, if you have not had your glasses knocked off by a tether ball when you were in third grade, you don’t get to co-opt them. The poor engineer is huffing because I’m screaming into the mic. No, it just drives me insane. I’m like, you don’t get to commandeer this as a fucking fashion [inaudible 01:06:55]-

Qveen Herby (01:06:54):

Fashion statement.

Tori (01:06:56):

I cannot see. I cannot see.

Qveen Herby (01:07:00):

The day that I told my mom that I couldn’t see the chalkboard and she was like, “Oh, we’re going to the eye doctor,” I was like, “Oh, no.” But then I was like, “Wait, glasses are fucking cute.”

Tori (01:07:09):

I love my glasses now, I love them, but back then, God.

Qveen Herby (01:07:13):

Obsessed. And then I was like, “Damn, I really do…” I think I look funkier and cooler, and girls are less intimidated, which is important because I talk to a lot of girls and I don’t want them to be intimidated. Because I don’t want to be too like pretty, pretty. It’s like, “Ew, no, I have a message.” So now people are like, “Thank you for normalizing glasses,” and I’m like-

Tori (01:07:30):

Really, they said [inaudible 01:07:31]-

Qveen Herby (01:07:32):

I think so many people have had trauma from feeling dorky with glasses, and I’m like, “No, it’s hot.”

Tori (01:07:38):

Well, beca
use you get teased for it and it’s also… It’s such an inconvenience.

Qveen Herby (01:07:41):

It is.

Tori (01:07:42):

I’m running around in the gym-

Qveen Herby (01:07:44):

Cleaning them. It’s a lot.

Tori (01:07:47):

That’s so funny.

Qveen Herby (01:07:48):

Glasses girls.

Tori (01:07:48):

Glasses girls.

Qveen Herby (01:07:50):

Glasses girl gang.

Tori (01:07:52):

All right. What sort of experience do you want people, especially women, to have when they listen to your music?

Qveen Herby (01:07:59):

I visualize, because visualizing is important. When you’re creating art of any kind, you’re like, all right, what is my intention? What do I want people to… You have to separate yourself from it. And I’m like, damn, when someone turns on my music, oftentimes it isn’t in the morning when they’re getting ready to go and start their day because it’s very purpose… I want you to find your purpose. I want them to discover themself to my music. I want them to have the vibration of, “Wow, I’m a way better bitch than I ever thought,” as they are putting on their makeup or just getting dressed. Fashion is a huge thing for me. That’s how you express yourself and build courage and stamina for facing this world every day.

Tori (01:08:36):

You once said, “I’m a well dressed motherfucker.”

Qveen Herby (01:08:38):

I sure did.

Tori (01:08:38):

Which is still one of my favorite lyrics all time. So good.

Qveen Herby (01:08:43):

And I’m learning now I like to be cozy too so I’m trying to figure that, I’m like, “Is that a brand?”

Tori (01:08:47):

The athleisure Qveen Herby.

Qveen Herby (01:08:50):

Yes. And I want people to feel their self-worth at such a high level that they can open their mind to these dreams that they might be suppressing. Because I was suppressed for so long. I know what it’s like to pull back the onion layers. So when I make my songs… I don’t write that many love songs because for me the self-discovery and self-love is actually the key to even manifest a relationship that’s going to work.

Tori (01:09:13):

I’m all about actionable advice. For you, if you’re willing to share, what was that confidence journey for showing up? Because I feel like a bunch of people are like, “Fake it till you make it.” And I’m like, “Is it that?” Of course we want to be confident, but either we exist of course in a society that actively is like, what are you doing, or it’s just like self-worth issues.

Qveen Herby (01:09:40):

Well, even all the way back in high school… No, let’s take it back to fourth grade.

Tori (01:09:46):


Qveen Herby (01:09:46):

Amy in Nebraska, and I was wearing Lion King shirt, Pocahontas. I was a… I’m still a Disney adult-

Tori (01:09:52):

Hakuna Matata.

Qveen Herby (01:09:52):

… which is so embarrassing. So the popular girl wanted to tell me that Disney shirts were stupid and that I look like a little girl. It’s like, “When are you going to grow up and be sexy and cool like me?” We’re in fourth grade.

Tori (01:10:02):

Shut up, Amber. I don’t know her name.

Qveen Herby (01:10:03):


Tori (01:10:04):

Shut up, Amber. Sorry, Amber.

Qveen Herby (01:10:06):

I’m like, “Shit.” I was like, I need to get some Doc Martens, or Airwalks is what I wanted. I really liked the more street wear stuff. And so I went to, what was it, probably back then like TJ Maxx, I think that’s what it was, or Marshalls.

Tori (01:10:21):


Qveen Herby (01:10:21):

And I got cool girl clothes. And I was like, “Oh, wow.” I could also get JNCO jeans, which are like those crazy… Those are cool too. So I was like wearing skater shit. And I remember that that was my choice to be… I was like, “Well, if I can’t be a Disney girl, I’m going to be a grown up but I’m going to be unique.” And so that was successful for me because I noticed that it worked, and then Amber was no longer bothering me.

Tori (01:10:46):

But you were also shamed into this choice.

Qveen Herby (01:10:48):

I was. I was. I’m inspired by criticism. I am. I’ve had people tell me I can’t do things and it makes me so-

Tori (01:10:54):

Oh, so you’re like, “I’m going fucking to do it.”

Qveen Herby (01:10:56):

Look At Me Now, my buddy-

Tori (01:10:58):

You’re getting paper.

Qveen Herby (01:10:59):

My buddy was like, “I don’t think this is a song you could do.” I love him to death, but he was like, “Maybe just sing it.” I was like, “Oh, sing it?” So that’s why I did it. I’m motivated by that and I think that’s something you kind of have to be born with, but my advice would be, if you want more confidence, it’s that stamina thing again. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and just go for it. See how people receive it. People will be jealous and c
riticize you in all these things too. I feel like it’s easier today than ever.

Tori (01:11:29):

Yeah. Well, because you can hide behind anonymity.

Qveen Herby (01:11:31):

For sure.

Tori (01:11:32):

And you can also see somebody out there killing it as a reflection that you have not taken a sort of vulnerable leap. You see somebody else’s success potentially as criticism of your lack of pursuit of something.

Qveen Herby (01:11:49):

If you need confidence, go to a drag show.

Tori (01:11:50):

It’s great advice.

Qveen Herby (01:11:53):

You will be so inspired.

Tori (01:11:54):

That’s fucking great advice.

Qveen Herby (01:11:55):

I am endlessly inspired by drag artists.

Tori (01:11:59):

I appreciate you.

Qveen Herby (01:11:59):

Thank you for having me.

Tori (01:11:59):

Anything else you want to add?

Qveen Herby (01:11:59):

No, this was incredible.

Tori (01:12:06):

Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. I don’t know what else to say that we didn’t cover in that episode. Special thanks to Qveen Herby for joining me and being one of our biggest cheerleaders at Her First $100K and Financial Feminist. I had a full multiple fan girl moments in this interview, but one of the coolest moments, just in general, just in life is when you have someone whose work you admire tell you that they admire your work. It’s very, very flattering. I just appreciated her deep vulnerability. We had some potentially really uncomfortable conversations and something that we’re continuing both of us to navigate as individuals, and of course we are all navigating as a collective society and so I really appreciated her coming on and just being so transparent with all of this.

Tori (01:12:49):

You’ll frequently also see her in our comment section, because she’s just so supportive, so please, make sure and give her and her music some love. She’s @qveenherby on all the socials, and Qveen is spelled with a V as opposed to a U. So Q-V-E-E-N. You can follow her on Instagram and TikTok. Listen to her music wherever you listen, and then bonus points always if you buy it. And we’ve got links to her YouTube and other social channels, as well as Qveen Studio, her makeup line, in the show notes.

Tori (01:13:16):

We will see you back here every Tuesday with new guest episodes and every other Thursday for mini-episodes with me. Please make sure to subscribe, rate, and review Financial Feminist. That is the easiest way to support us is hitting the subscribe button so you make sure to not miss an episode. We so appreciate it as always your support and coming back every single week for conversations like this. Can’t wait to see you next week financial feminists. Talk to you soon.

Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap is an internationally-recognized money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori quit her corporate job in marketing and founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. She has helped over one million women negotiate salary, pay off debt, build savings, and invest.

Tori’s work has been featured on Good Morning America, the New York Times, BBC, TIME, PEOPLE, CNN, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, BuzzFeed, and more.

With a dedicated following of almost 250,000 on Instagram and more than 1.6 million on TikTok —and multiple instances of her story going viral—Tori’s unique take on financial advice has made her the go-to voice for ambitious millennial women. CNBC called Tori “the voice of financial confidence for women.”

An honors graduate of the University of Portland, Tori currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys eating fried chicken, going to barre classes, and attempting to naturally work John Mulaney bits into conversation.

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