On June 26, Dubspot’s Inspiring Women in Music Technology group held its third event at Cielo NYC. Called The Producers Edition, this event was a showcase of works by female music producers residing in the New York City metropolitan area. Prior to the event a number of women submitted original tracks to the Inspiring Women team to be considered to play their work on Cielo’s acclaimed Funktion-One soundsystem. The event also offered a chance for presenters to get on-the-spot feedback from a panel of experts that included: Laura Escudé aka Aluxe, Dani Diciaccio, Michele Darling and me (Ebonie Smith).
The Facebook event page listed 106 RSVPs and 8 wall comments. There were approximately 80 people in attendance at Cielo during the event. 5 women were selected to present their work: DJ Winter, Satya Hinduja, Peace Omega, Chaisley Prussier and Rebecca Yuri Feynberg. Each woman played one track for the audience and panel. They were each allowed to share details about their production process and background on the tracks.
Between producer presentations, Laura Escudé performed an amazing 20-minute set of her new work, a blend of hip hop and electronic influenced instrumental music. She used a number of customized controllers to play her set, which was entirely programmed in Ableton Live. After her performance, she gave a brief talk about each of her controllers and the production techniques she used to make her sounds. She also relayed a few anecdotes about why she began producing music. She recalled one account of a friend who once told her that she would never learn how to use production software because the learning curve was too steep. After the challenge, she committed herself to mastering Ableton Live and getting better at producing tracks.
All the women who presented tracks really impressed the crowd and took a huge step toward exposing their music to a larger, more diverse audience. The Inspiring Women team plans to continue with similar events to help further showcase the talented women who endorse the group and Dubspot.
The snow fell fiercely on the frigid winter night. I was partially nervous about the turnout for the first Inspiring Women in Music Technology mixer event that I helped organize at Dubspot, a New York based music production and dj school where I work. A few months prior, a female student approached our student affairs coordinator and expressed that she felt alone in her classes. A student in an introductory music production class, she found that she was the only girl. She did not have the best rapport with the guys in her cohort, and she found that she was often making music in isolation. She wanted to know if there were other women who were making beats. She wanted a space where she could belong. Her concerns inspired my colleagues and me to create the Inspiring Women initiative.
On January 23rd, it seemed that this student’s longing was shared by a number of other women all around New York City. As a snow storm raged outside, women trickled in from various locations and backgrounds to unite in our cramped downtown meeting location to support the efforts of women in music technology. Nearly sixty women attempted to pile into quarters meant for twenty-five people; we eventually had to designate an overflow space. Running out of chairs, we apologetically reported to some that they would have to stand for the duration of our two-hour event. They weren’t the least affected by the news. They wanted the experience of being present and the community it afforded them.
Our panel of guests included an assortment of established women technologists: DJ Reborn, Jeannie Hopper, Michele Darling and Satya Hinduja. Each woman in attendance listened intently to the stories of these women as they discussed how they discovered the technical side of music creation. They talked about their careers, goals for the future, and of course, their gear. Yes, the technological dialogue was a highlight of the evening.
My suspicions had been confirmed: women yearned to connect with one another around the topic of music technology. I felt honored to take part in this evening. The success of this event further validated the work of Gender Amplified and similar initiatives. During the panel discussion, women asked questions like “How do I pursue a production career as a single mom?” and “How do I negotiate the issue of feeling physically unsafe in recording studios?” These were concerns that only women would have. I realized that gender adds an extra dimension to how women producers approach their careers and the decisions that shape them.
After the event, some of the women lingered around our facilities for another two hours. They didn’t want the evening to end. Neither did I. The event ended, but the movement continues on…