Producer Profile Interview: EmmoLei Sankofa

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This profile is dedicated to introducing everyone to EmmoLei Sankofa. A woman of many talents, EmmoLei is an American composer, producer, singer-songwriter, sound artist and percussionist. Her passion for music is driven by the desire to push it forward and to challenge listeners to expand upon how they perceive sound and couple that perspective with moving visuals. EmmoLei agreed to answer a few questions about her production work for the Gender Amplified blog. Check it out!

What first sparked your interest in music production?

I’ve been playing and creating music all my life. It was bound to happen. I come from a musical family as well. What I will say though, is that a friend of mine – Stephen Jones – made a song for a social studies project we had in middle school. After his group presented, I asked him immediately how he made it and he introduced me to FL Studio. That was the day I began pursuing music production.

Tell us a little about the first track you ever produced.

Wow this is a little foggy. I still actually have a few of the very first songs I produced or…I guess tried to produce. But, I think the first thing I tried to produce was inspired by Art of Noise’s “Moments In Love” record. It was definitely an instrumental and had quite a bit of potential. When I listen to my old music, I always think of this Ira Glass quote:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer.

It goes on, but you get the point.

What inspired you to produce “Relax”?

Relax was birthed out of a 30-day audiovisual series called, JustBcuz, that I recently did as a challenge to myself. The framework for “Relax” was created on the 4th day. When I wrote what is now the chorus, I was thinking about the anxiety I observed across the internet and within various peer groups about life. Then, I thought about myself. I’m not sure what my life looks like to everyone else, but the past couple years here in LA hasn’t completely been a crystal stair. I essentially pulled from the collective consciousness of what was closest to me and assessed my own life. I was giving myself, and what turned out to be many other people, advice.

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You used Landr’s distribution platform to release it. What advise would you give other independent artists who are trying to better distribute their music?

Do your research on what distribution outlets are available, assess what your goals are, and then do what makes sense. Right now, I prefer the DIY option through LANDR because it just makes sense. And, I’m not even trying to plug. But, I’m always on the lookout for things that better oil my machine. Also, try to pinpoint where people are consuming your music the most and focus your energy there.

What types of gear and software do you use to produce?

Software: Logic Pro X Gear: Axiom 61, Keystation 32, Roland V-Studio 100(they don’t even make these anymore), Allen & Heath Zed FX, Blue Spark, and SM58. I use other things here and there, but this is the core.

Tell us about Bèl Son? What’s the core mission of this collective?

Bèl Son is creative audio company that I founded to help emerging filmmakers tell better stories and make better films by aligning more meaningful sound/music with their work. We compose music and sound, and synthesize the components to create beautifully, distinct experiences that really help them separate themselves from the crowd. Right now, we’re a team of three. Cindy Takehara Ferruccio, Xiao Hou, and Me.

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You have a master’s degree from Savannah College of Art and Design. How does your background in visual art influence how you approach music production and the sonic arts?

Ah, well my MFA is in Sound Design. I didn’t go to SCAD for film or visual art per se. While a lot of my time at SCAD was about how sound and music interacted with visual media, the focus was how sound and music interacts with the world and all of the media we consume. I am a film composer so there are definitely things that I have to be in tune with and understand regarding any kind of visual work that informs what I implement creatively to support that media. People have often called my sound cinematic and that never came from me being into movies or anything. That came from playing in large ensembles like the symphonic band, percussion ensemble, and being exposed to opera, theater, etc. My mom played the violin so she would take me and my siblings to see the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at least once a year and we’d go see other musicals here and there. I feel that I’ve always heard music differently than a lot of my peers because I was exposed to so many different genres. When I’m producing music, I am usually thinking about how a band would sound playing it. And, not just like a 5-piece band. I’m thinking about how it would sound arranged for an orchestra, marching band, jazz band, etc. The only thing I see when I’m producing music is what’s swirling around in my imagination. Scenarios I create, that relate to the music, or old situations that prompt feelings I use as inspiration to make the song.

What are your ultimate goals for your music career?

My ultimate goal is to be the best at whatever I touch. I have many interests and have set intentions that will unfold as I grow. I can’t tell it all. You just have to be strapped in for the ride.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in music production? What is one piece of advice he/she should know?

The older I get, the more I hate giving advice because there is no one way to do anything and what may work for me may not end up working for you. However, I would say, at the root of it all, learn all you can about your craft. It only makes you better. Learn and understand music theory or at least become proficient on an instrument. It helps you realize your ideas more fluidly. Don’t close yourself off to new information when you think you’re good and the checks start rolling in. Things are constantly changing. Keep learning until you take your last breath. Also, LEARN THE BUSINESS.

Tell us where to find your music online.

www.E-Sankofa.com
Spotify
Apple Music/iTunes
Tidal
Soundcloud
Bandcamp (full discography)
Deezer
Google Play

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September Spotlight: Alexis Seton

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2017 has been a significant year for women in entertainment, and not just the women who take center stage. More and more women are being recognized for their incredible, groundbreaking work behind-the-scenes across all disciplines. Whether it be as a producer, director, recording engineer, sound designer, manager, marketing executive – you name it – women are taking an evolving industry and making it entirely their own.

Take Alexis Seton, a Bronx native whose engineering credits include A-listers such as Snoop Dogg, Gucci Mane, Britney Spears, and Mary J. Blige. Now living in Beverly Hills, Seton worked as an engineer for Sean “Diddy” Combs’ label Bad Boy Entertainment before signing on as a project manager for Overbrook Entertainment, a production company started by partners Will Smith and film producer James Lassiter. Overbrook Entertainment produces the “Holy Trinity” of entertainment – music, film, and television – a rare feat for most production companies. Contributing to its uniqueness, Overbrook also scouts unknown talent to record and produce music for their in-house film and television productions.

Alexis Seton

Music, television, and film have long been distant relatives. With the seemingly boundless advancements in technology and a growing willingness amongst creatives to explore outside of their comfort zones, however, the lines between these three territories are being blurred, allowing women like Alexis Seton to exceed boundaries and create art across all platforms.

Producer Spotlight: Kiran Gandhi Combines Music and Activism to Inspire Social Change

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The ability to influence change through art is an aspiration for many professional creatives, but for producer, performer, and activist Kiran Gandhi, it’s a way of life.

Kiran Ghandi

Gandhi made international headlines last year after free-bleeding her way through the London Marathon, a decision she consciously made to impress upon the stigmas associated with female periods. In a piece written for TIME Motto, Gandhi addresses the negative effects of stigmas and how advocating for women’s rights benefits the greater good of humanity. “Stigma is one of the most effective forms of oppression because it denies us the vocabulary to talk comfortably and confidently about our own bodies… the menstrual cycle is the bedrock of the human race. Without it we wouldn’t exist. If we want to make the world a better place, we have to start combatting taboo now – and, in the process, make it easier for women and girls to access their fullest potential.”

After earning an MBA from Harvard Business School and touring internationally as the drummer for both M.I.A. and Thievery Corporation, Gandhi formed her own electronic music project under the stage name Madame Gandhi. With songs like “The Future Is Female” and “I Own My Own Body,” Gandhi is using her intellectual and musical talents to serve the end of social change. “I’m not a great singer or anything like that, but I have a message and I have stories that I want to express, and the best way to express them musically is to sing them.”

Producers on the Rise: Bobbi Giel Talks Impact of Humans of New York Featurette

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“You’re only 22 years old? My daughter just turned 27 and she isn’t as self-actualized as you. You’re going to be fine, I know it.”

That’s what a kind stranger said to me after 15 minutes of small talk and a few drinks each at the MSR Studios closing party back in July. I’m used to giving and receiving frivolous compliments from the joys of complimentary booze at industry parties, but I didn’t know how to respond to being referred to as “self-actualized.”

It reminded me of the time I took a course the spring of my sophomore year of college called “Adult Journey.” The course was two and a half hours once and week, and all we did 90% of the time was watch movies and write reflection papers about how those movies related to our lives. We occasionally colored and had group therapy sessions too.

This was a college course. I’m not kidding.

We spent one class watching The Breakfast Club and our reflection paper asked us to explain whether we identified with the criminal, the princess, the athlete, the brain, or the basket case. I’m pretty sure I wrote about identifying with both the basket case and the brain. I don’t remember exactly, but that combination seems as analogous to my personality now as it did when I was 19.

Another one of our assignments was to present a project about a person we believed to be self-actualized. My group chose John Lennon. Another group chose Oprah. A third group chose Gandhi.

See where I’m going with this?

Compared to those monumental individuals, why would someone consider me to be self-actualized? Almost two months after being given this unwarranted accolade, my reaction hasn’t changed much. I’m 22 years old and graduated from college just over a year ago. My job as a General Assistant at MSR Studios was unfortunately short-lived because of forces beyond anyone’s control. I burn toast and undercook chicken regularly. I lose at least one sock every time I do laundry. I learned what a 401k is two weeks ago. I have no idea what direction I want my life or career to go in, nor do I have a sense of how my presence impacts this world.

I’m not self-actualized – I’m far from it.

And for some reason, I seem to stumble upon situations that make others believe I have my life together. Or as my mom likes to say, “Bobbi, you always seem to fall into s!#$ don’t you?” My mom is very eloquent and honest – that’s why I consider her one of my best friends.

Let’s take being interviewed by Brandon Stanton from Humans of New York, for example.

Y’all have heard of that little blog, right? Close to 18 million people follow it on Facebook or some astronomically ridiculous number like that.

I was dropping my friend off at Juilliard for his graduate school audition when Brandon stopped me. It was a Monday afternoon in late February and I was on call for the studio, so unless a last minute session booked in or a co-worker called out, I had the day off. It was below freezing, I was sick, I had absolutely no makeup on, and my hair was reaching that point where I couldn’t resuscitate it with dry shampoo as I had done the day before. I usually have my earbuds in when I’m walking around the city alone, but for some reason, that day I decided to unplug rather than listen to my ?uestion Mark playlist (if you’re curious about my taste in music, there’s a snazzy link to the playlist below – there’s no theme, hence the title).

When Brandon first approached me, my initial thought was, “Ugh, this random dude is probably going to ask me for money, directions, or both. Look distracted, look distracted!” If you’re a New Yorker, those are two questions you dread being asked on a daily basis. But once he introduced himself and whipped out his camera, I knew what I was getting myself into. My sickly, unkempt appearance was going to be all over the internet along with whatever story I decided to tell.

I was freaking out. I started excessively complaining to Brandon, to which he reassured me, “No, not at all. You look great!”

Lies. Lies.

To confirm how disheveled and awkward I looked, I was on the phone with a friend of mine about a month after the interview went live who hadn’t seen it. Before I could even warn him, he goes, “Yeah… that’s not the best picture of you.”

Life hack – get yourself some brutally honest friends to keep your ego in check.

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After learning my name and a few other basic facts about myself, Brandon’s first serious question for me was, “What is your biggest challenge in life?” How do you answer such a personal question for someone you hardly know? I know that’s the whole premise of Humans of New York, but still. I have trouble communicating even my smallest challenges to my closest friends and family. So in response, I groaned several times in the vocal stylings of Tina Belcher, which inevitably made Brandon ditch the existential questions and start asking me about what I did for work.

More specifically, he asked me to explain what being a General Assistant at a recording studio meant. For me, it meant cleaning toilets every morning and taking multiple 40 gallon trash bags out every night. It meant going on food runs for clients at 2pm or 2am and spending almost 12 hours on a Saturday to set up for a two day Broadway cast recording session. It meant barely any sleep, going rogue for weeks at a time, and spending an absurd amount of money on takeout because none of us ever had time to cook.

Regardless, I’m not saying any of this with contempt. Although I only had the opportunity to call MSR Studios home for six months, they were some of the craziest and greatest six months of my life thus far. When our studios weren’t booked for clients, assistants were able to use them for personal projects, which was a huge luxury. To be able to go in on a Sunday afternoon by myself and record my own music on a 72-input SSL J Series console with what seemed like endless amounts of outboard gear and plugins at my disposal – it was an audio engineer’s dream.

And my co-workers. If one of them didn’t make me laugh until I cried with an ache in the pit of my stomach, my day was ruined. We supported each other and encouraged each other and I consider them all to be my incredibly annoying but affectionate big brothers. What other group of guys will leave a voicemail for you of themselves shouting your name while you’re on vacation or write and record an entire rap song based on you getting fiberglass down your shirt?

I know what you’re thinking.

“I want to hear the song!”

Of course you do. Everyone does. But I’m not going to disclose the title or any of the lyrics because they are mortifying and I can’t listen to the whole song through without my face resembling a ripe tomato. All I will say is the song was a whimsical sentiment of love and adoration that I will always hold dear to my heart.

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When the picture and write up finally went live two weeks after the initial interview, to say the response was overwhelming is a vast understatement. I received hundreds of Facebook messages from people all over the world (Peru, Australia, and France to name a few of the countries people were contacting me from) asking me to listen to their demos and if I was interested in producing them. My phone was buzzing continuously for weeks with text messages, emails, phone calls, and notifications from every social media platform. Atlantic Records reached out to me personally. Organizations such as Gender Amplified, Women’s Audio Mission, and Soundgirls.org welcomed me into their communities of like-minded female audio engineers. Thousands of friendly Internet strangers commended me on my work ethic and humility and wished me success in my career.

Being featured on Humans of New York, without a doubt, changed my life instantaneously.

However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling like a downright fraud.

I’m going to be vulnerable for a bit and confess a few heavy insecurities about myself to the worldwide web in hopes that those who may read this will understand my fraudulent mentality.

My self-confidence has always been relatively nonexistent. I’m not exaggerating when I say I virtually have none. It’s gotten marginally better over the years, but I still struggle everyday with finding the strength to take pride in myself and my abilities. I’ve been studying, performing, and writing music since I was six years old. I went to two high schools simultaneously (my hometown public high school for academics and a performing arts high school for classical piano) and still managed to be an honors student, a band geek, and a theater kid. I carried at least 18-20 credits a semester in college while working three jobs and graduated when I was 21. I’ve also been extremely fortunate to be continuously employed in my degree field since then.

I’ve accomplished a fair amount, but there’s always this nagging, devilish voice in the back of my mind whispering, “You’re not good enough, Bobbi. Just stop. Quit before people realize you’re actually terrible.”

Remember that scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II where Voldemort hijacks everyone’s minds and reproaches Harry in this eerie, hissing voice? The voice in my mind is essentially Voldemort.

With that said, in the wake of my Humans of New York interview, I was suddenly a fresh face for the “Women in Music Production” movement, and the newly placed expectations for me to make a name for myself and have my life together were daunting. I felt unworthy of the attention and praise I experienced and am still experiencing today. There are women in the industry working twice as hard as me and thriving in their careers, yet I was the one profiled. Six months later and I still feel just as unqualified.

But like I mentioned in the beginning, I fall into s!#$.

So how does being on Humans of New York and working at MSR Studios and being referred to as “self-actualized” all relate to one another?

I’m getting there.

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My candid interview also presented an outpouring of comments from young women who were either unaware of the possible career paths in music production or intimidated by the difficulties of being a woman in music production. Because it is hard. It’s really hard. Breaking into the music industry, whether as an artist or audio engineer/producer, is tricky for anyone. Add on the stigmas and societal stereotypes of being a woman, and the journey becomes twice as hard.

My thoughts of being an unconfident, undeserving imposter aside, it was humbling and inspiring to hear these women’s stories. I’ve seriously considered quitting the quest entirely and moving to a rural hillside town in Europe at least a dozen times (I’m a dual citizen of the United States and Italy, so this fantasy may not be so distant in my future), but these confessionals persuaded me to keep persevering and stay true to my goals.

Because here’s the deal. Yes, I am only 22 years old, wide-eyed and intrigued by the world. Yes, I worked at a major recording studio in Manhattan for minimum wage sixty hours a week or more at times, then the facility closed and left me scrambling to figure out what I was going to do next. Yes, I doubt myself and compare myself and am constantly hard on myself. And yes, sometimes I consider giving up on this dream for a career more manageable and stable.

But part of being “self-actualized” means to “seek personal growth and one’s full potential through creativity and independence” (thank you dictionary.com). Everything that has happened in the year and a half since I graduated college has contributed exponentially to my personal growth. And even though my career path has experienced some detours and treacherous terrain recently, I’m determined to live my life in pursuit of my fullest potential, whatever that may be.

So I wouldn’t refer to myself as “self-actualized” like that tipsy gentleman did (he also insisted I learn how to play a Hammond B-3 organ – long story). I like to believe I’m still “figuring it out” – that’s a good millennial way to sum up my situation and every other 20-something year old’s situation, really.

“Work hard, be good to people, enjoy the process, and enjoy your life during the process.” I wish I could remember who or where I heard that from, but it’s a mindset I strive to emulate in my life day by day. I know it’s easy for me to believe because I haven’t been “roughed around the edges by the harsh realities of this cruel, cruel world,” (a miserable, old man I was working with on a live sound gig once said that to me and totally obliterated an already long 16 hour day), but truthfully and maybe even naively, I don’t care. Life is full of highs and lows, and I rather live my life searching for the highs rather than succumbing to the lows.

So yes, I’m not quite sure what the universe has in store for me, but I’m having the time of my life “figuring it out.”

Daughter’s Day: Celebrating the father-daughter team Bill and Delaney Hafener

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Bill and Delaney Hafener

My dad has been my number one biggest musical influence. It seemed to me there was never a time when he didn’t have a guitar in his hands, and he was always listening to new music and sharing it with us. Playing and writing music is cathartic for him, and he passed that on to me. From a very young age, music was a crucial form of communication for me. My parents always encouraged me to make music. My dad was by my side as I taught myself to play guitar and bass alongside my classical french horn training throughout middle and high school. He accompanied me on guitar when I sang in elementary school talent shows, I remember singing “Good Riddance” by Green Day and the Beach Boys’ “Surfer Girl” as he played. I started learning guitar and writing my own songs when I was about 12, and with help and support from my parents, I began playing open mic’s and then gigs at 14. In those early days, my dad accompanied me as I played short, eclectic sets with covers from ranging from Johnny Cash to Taylor Swift, interspersed with embarrassing originals.

We’ve spent countless evenings sitting on the couch playing acoustic guitars together, taking turns singing lead and harmony, talking about notes and melody. In high school, I decided that I wanted to study Studio Production at SUNY Purchase. The program is by audition only, which meant that I had to present at 15 minutes of music that I recorded and produced myself.  My dad helped me through the process of putting together my audition, and he was the one who helped me buy the equipment that became the first fragments of our home studio. From there, we began adding more and more to our collection of gear. We had been keeping everything confined to what used to be our family room, which had our garage attached to it. We eventually hit a point where we chose to close off the garage and reconfigure the space. Since then, the garage has become the live room and the family room is now the control room.

The primary purpose of our studio is to produce ourselves. When we first got started recording our own music, we were traveling to a studio in Brooklyn. Once we started putting together our own equipment, the restrictions that come from being on a budget were gone. This opened endless doors for my band Pandafan. We’ve been doing all the producing ourselves since the band first started out in 2012. My dad and I are a team when we’re in our studio together, bouncing ideas off each other and crafting Pandafan’s sound with dedication and devotion. I love producing, and I especially love producing my own music, but it can be difficult to engineer and produce on your own projects. Bill always seems to know what I’m hearing in my head, and knows when to indulge my weird ideas and when to pull it back a bit. He and I also work on his band, The Black River Republic, where he is the primary songwriter and I play bass and add my vocal harmony. We’ve also moved beyond just working for ourselves, running sessions for many of our friend’s projects, from noise-rock bands to folk trios to spoken word podcasts.

My dad has always encouraged Pandafan, as well as me as an individual, to look ever forward and always be working on the next project. His involvement in the band has been vital to our success. Without this help and guidance, Pandafan and I would be nowhere near where we are now, and I have him to thank for so much of what I’ve been able to achieve since starting my career as a producer and musician.
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Producer Spotlight: Grimes Just Wants to Do Her Job!

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Canadian producer Grimes is on a mission to use music technology to express an artistic narrative that has grown out of her control. In this candid interview for The FADER, Grimes discusses the importance of being in control of her sonic narrative. In reference to self-­producing her own music, she expresses, “I don’t want to just be the face of this thing that I built; I want to be the person who built it.”

 

Grimes

 

In commenting on her latest album Art Angels, she explains, “Grimes, as one person, cannot represent more than a couple ideas. That’s why I started developing some of the other characters… like really abstract from who I am…”

 

On the RISE: Producer Stoni Profiled by ROLI

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In a piece entitled “On the RISE: Music is life – Stoni,” ROLI recently profiled Gender Amplified Alumna Stoni demonstrating the new Seaboard RISE musical instrument. ROLI is a design­-led technology start ­up expanding the bandwidth of interaction between people and technology. Read an excerpt from the article below:

“There’s no stage in your life that doesn’t have a song you can reference,” says Stoni, the New York­ based producer and DJ known for her hard ­driving hip­-hop beats. “Like when you graduate from high school, you’re listening to something, and every time you hear that song later you think ‘Ahhh!’ And you get to recapture that feeling, and it makes you feel great.” READ MORE

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Stoni is always on the move helping to bridge the gap between the technology of today and pop culture. She has consulted some of the hottest music producers over her career, which spans several decades.

Our previous Producer Profile with Stoni in 2014 also highlights other areas of her work. She is a trailblazer, and her reign as an accomplished master of music technology is just beginning!


Producer Profile Interview: Stoni

 

 

Erin Tonkon Engineers New Album by Esperanza Spalding & More

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In 2013, Gender Amplified interviewed Erin Tonkon, a budding music producer attending the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. She spoke eloquently about her passion for making music and her goals for her career.

Since that time, Erin has emerged to become one of the new faces in the world of rock music production. Shortly after our interview with her, she began working full time as an engineer and production assistant for legendary producer Tony Visconti.

Today her production credits are vast and varied. Some of the highlights in her discography include David Bowie’s ★ Blackstar and Esperanza Splalding’s latest offering Emily’s D+ Evolution.

 

One of the goals of Gender Amplified is to identify young talent that has the potential to reshape the production landscape of the music business. Erin’s trajectory and growth is a testament to that mission. We look forward to keeping up with Erin on her journey to the top and beyond!

Artist Spotlight: Gender Amplified Alumna Genesis Be Breaks Barriers on Stage and at U.S. Capitol

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Gender Amplified alumna Genesis Be, who was a performer at our 2013 music festival, recently shocked the world with her performance at S.O.B’s in NYC. In protest of Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant’s proclamation of April as Confederate Heritage Month, Be draped her body in the Confederate battle flag and hung a noose around her neck during her groundbreaking performance. The event was covered by Billboard Magazine. A link to the full interview is below.

Rapper Genesis Be Debuts ‘My GCK,’ Talks Confederate Flag Protest & Mississippi Pride: Exclusive Premiere

As a music producer, Genesis has a long history of using her art as a means of bringing forth social change. In response to her convictions, a number of news outlets have given Genesis a platform to further explain her mission to have the state of Mississippi officially retire the use of the Confederate battle flag in the design of the federally recognized state flag.

 

Genesis Be has something special. She is an artist of the future who has a politically charged message that aligns well with the social climate of today.

Gender Amplified – as a music platform – supports artists like Genesis Be, who use their work to inspire change in our world. Be is on her way, and our organization has been supporting her since the very beginning.

 

Producer Profile Interview: Satya Hinduja

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Satya Hinduja Profile

This profile is dedicated to introducing everyone to Satya Hinduja. From Mumbai, India, Hinduja is a music producer, DJ and composer who has traveled the world spinning some of Amsterdam’s hottest dance parties and scoring some of Bollywood’s most successful films. Her journey is inspiring and is rooted in a deep desire to make music in community and with purpose. Satya agreed to answer a few questions about her illustrious career for the Gender Amplified blog. Check it out!

What first sparked your interest in music production?

…The one thing that truly led me to becoming an independent producer was my desire to create my own world for myself and for my listeners. Being a woman in a male dominated Indian music industry always made me want to be free from depending on external people to convey my message. And that was my driving force to build my career as a music producer. An influential Indian meditation guru, Sri Chinmoy, once said, “Silence is the nest and music is the bird.” All I’ve always wanted to do is fly.

Describe the style of music you create.

…I am currently working on a collaboration with an artist friend. We are creating a new deep house sound, which revolves around 116 beats per minute, live instruments and little spurts of vocal elements.

Tell us a little about the first track you ever produced.

That’s a long shot….But I’m going to tell you about “Sunrise” my first dance music production [I made] while I was a student at Dubspot. The journey of “Sunrise” was an immersive one. When I create a track, I don’t pre-decide what direction the track is going to take me. I like for it to organically move to where it needs to…It takes it’s own time to develop and shape into a beautiful being of its own…

What types of gear and software do you use to produce?

I am not a gear junkie. I aspire to get to that stage where my studio is filled with only gear! But for now, I produce using Logic Pro, Native Instruments Maschine, Korg Volca Bass, iPad apps… love to experiment with a lot of found sounds, organic instruments, a sansula, singing bowls, and my voice that I record using my Zoom H4n Recorder and my Shure SM58.

Where are some of your favorite places to find and buy gear?

…My favorite places to go visit to play with toys are Turntable Lab in the Lower East Side and Guitar Center. And of course, I always get inspired by following my favorite producers and learning from what they use.

You have a great relationship with Dubspot, renowned DJ and music production school in NYC. Tell us a little bit about your experience being a part of this community.

Two words for Dubspot. Life Changing. When I walked into the premises of Dubspot in 2011, I just knew that this was home. The vibe, the energy, the warmth of the staff and the African masks that you will encounter when you walk in make a perfect world for deep rooted values and a connected force of creative education…Dan Giove, the founder has such a powerful vision for the school…Dubspot helped me bring my ideas to reality, and the teachers and students just make it so much more special.

Satya Hinduja Profile 

You have an interesting visual aesthetic. Tell us a little bit about how your artist image and the way you wish to be portrayed speaks to your production.

…I have consciously chosen to have a visual aesthetic that has an air of mystery and depth. My visuals always have layers, angles, overlays, found objects and reflective surfaces to communicate the deep message of metaphysical principles of the universe…

You are one of few women who has scored music for Bollywood films. Tell us a bit about the most awesome Indian film project you’ve worked on.

…The most exciting project that I worked on was this film called Krrish, a Rakesh Roshan production. What had me most excited about that project was that my team and I flew out to Prague to record an entire 100-piece orchestra with voices, string sections, horn sections and the entire symphony. This is something that most Indian movies do not dive into at all because of budgets…Luckily the music directors, Salim and Sulaiman, saw the opportunity to—not just creatively but also musically—score a fantastical, larger than life, Hans Zimmer type film score.

satya_image2_colourcorrected

You recently released the track “La Lune – Satya Hinduja Remix” on Windhorse Records. What inspired you to begin djing and remixing?

When I came to Dubspot, I had quit the film industry looking to dive deeper into a free form creative musical world. And honestly I had no idea that I would actually start DJing when I started studying. But when Dubspot started recognizing my art as a rising student, it made me think of stepping out of my “behind the scenes” producer role…

What are your ultimate goals for your career as a music producer?

My ultimate goal as a producer is to always be able to work on intention-based projects…Of course, I want to build a label and also support other artists…

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in music production? What is one piece of advice he/she should know?

The one piece of advice I would give any new producer is that we are living in the most fantastic era for electronic music production… But make sure you don’t follow a sound just to become famous…If you create with an energy of pure intention and a focusing on diving deeper to get better each time, you will carve out the beautiful sculpture of sound that is yours entirely and the world will know you for who you truly are. Keep listening. Be curious and make sure you know your tools so it will be easy for you to break them when its time to create!

Tell us where to find your music online.

beatport.com/artist/satya-hinduja/442339
soundcloud.com/satyahinduja
satyahinduja.com
twitter.com/satyahinduja
instagram.com/satune
facebook.com/satyahinduja

Producer Profile Interview: Mio Soul

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Mio Soul

This profile is dedicated to introducing our supporters to Mio Soul. Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Mio Soul is a New York City based singer, songwriter and producer who has collaborated with DJ Gomi, Chip Fu, JPOP star Kiyotaka, MeccaGodZilla in addition to creating R&B and participating in gospel choir. Her latest instrumental project Subliminal Melody is truly turning heads and setting her apart from other producers in computer based music. Mio agreed to answer a few questions about her production work for the Gender Amplified blog. Check it out!

What first sparked your interest in music production?

I honestly didn’t know what really sparked my interest.  I wasn’t trying to make tracks.  I was always on the side looking for dope tracks so that I could write to them.  It changed when one of my mentors told me to make beats back in early 2011.   A friend of mine, also a DJ and into electronic music, had a conversation with me about  producers doing live performances.  Those two factors encouraged me to do something that I have never done. Somehow the timing was perfect.  Making tracks definitely hit a different part of my creativity.  Knowing that a lot of artists make their own music, perform live and even DJ their own sets,  I figured why wouldn’t I try this now since I was a solo artist all the time.  This opportunity gave me a chance to think about who I was as an artist again. And more than that, it was simply fun to do it.

Tell us a little about the first track you ever produced.

I just found my first beats that I made on my computer.  The beats were around 110 BPM (beats per minute), and they sound like a nice mellow lounge, house-ish, dance music.  The main key is like an electronic organ with some high notes of piano added in.  Additionally, some more sparkling sounds are in there and the beats and bass are very bouncy.

Where is the craziest place you ever made a track?

I really should try something crazy.  I don’t think I had that experience yet!

What types of gear and software do you use to produce?

I use Ableton Live and my regular Yamaha keyboard. It’s very simple equipment.

Mio

Mio

Where are some of your favorite places to find and buy gear?

Guitar Center is always good. Also Synthtopia, Music Rader and DJ Tech Tools are options.

Tell us about the Half n Half project?

After I finished attending Dubspot, I really needed to keep the momentum going. I finally had more time to work on music on my own timetable, so I came up with the challenge to keep it going.  The idea was to practice making as many tracks as possible in a short amount of time.  I also decided to use Soundcloud more by uploading these new tracks every Thursday to interact with some music lovers, other artists and professionals to get feedback and more exposure.  It has been great since then.  The “Half n Half” 30 minute beat making challenge involved bringing my laptop to a coffee shop and making tracks in 30 minutes (half an hour) with my laptop only (half my equipment) to see what I come up with. It really helped me with expressing myself with a certain style in a small amount of time while challenging my creativity and skills too.  “Half n Half” helped me find my sound.

How does you production embody both American and Japanese influences?

I don’t think I clearly see both influences personally.  I would like to use Japanese instruments more at some point, and I’m also working with a Japanese blues singer currently.  But the sounds that I have created are influenced by everything that I have seen here in the United States as well as my experiences and influences back home.

What are your ultimate goals for your career as a music producer?

I would like to work with other producers and singers. I like to collaborate a lot, but my ultimate goal is to release my second EP that I have been working on.  I believe that project is going to be a very important step for my long term music goals. My goal is to write songs to tracks that I produced and be able to perform and meet people all over the world. I would definitely love to work with more people though.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in music production? What is one piece of advice he/she should know?

If I was able to do it and get started,  you can do it!  It is your mind setting!  Music theory is important but it really is about how you express yourself and that is something you can’t explain with theory. Don’t be afraid or hesitate if your music or beats are weak at first. Just keep going and you will get to the point where you will feel really comfortable and get too excited about your masterpieces!

Tell us where to find your music online.

http://www.iammiosoul.com
https://soundcloud.com/mio-soul
http://www.manafestvision.com
http://www.facebook.com/IamMioSoul
http://www.youtube.com/manafestvision

Producer Profile Interview: Stoni

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Stoni

This profile is dedicated to introducing our readers to Stoni. When you think of hard hitting hip-hop beats and with sophisticated melodies, there’s only one name that comes to mind. Stoni is a Brooklyn native who grew up listening to everything from Bob Marley and Stevie Wonder to Prince and The Rolling Stones. Stoni currently works with Native Instruments as a product specialist and musical hardware trainer for the industry’s A-list music makers. Using Native Instruments Maschine drum machine as her weapon of choice, Stoni is taking music making to a whole new level. Stoni agreed to answer a few questions about her production work for the Gender Amplified blog. Check it out!

What first sparked your interest in music production?

I’ve always loved music. My parents had very eclectic taste in music so I was listening to music before I could even walk.

Tell us a little about the first track you ever produced. 

I was an assistant engineer in a studio, and the producer whose session I was in had equipment that he wasn’t using. He told me that if I came back with some tracks I could keep the gear and use it to make music. I went home that night. I had my record player, sampled some vinyl and chopped it up. I stayed up all night working on it. I went to the studio the next day and played the beat for the producer. He told me that the beat was crazy and that I could keep the gear.

Where is the craziest place you ever made a track?

It was in my car while I was waiting for my clothes to dry at the laundry mat.

What types of gear and software do you use to produce?

Currently I’m using Maschine, Komplete Ultimate, Ableton and VSTs with for production. Pro Tools for mixing.

Stoni Native Instruments

Where are some of your favorite places to find and buy gear?

Fortunately for me, I’ve built some pretty great relationships with technology companies over the years, and I’ve been a beta tester for many of them. So, I haven’t bought gear in a while.

Tell us a little bit about the work you do for Native Instruments? 

Currently I’m a Product Specialist/Artist Relations Representative for Native Instruments (NI). I train A-list producers on how to incorporate NI gear in their production set ups (i.e. Maschine Studio, Komplete and Traktor). I’ve probably trained your producer’s favorite producer. I also perform at festivals and seminars using Maschine Studio, Komplete, and Traktor during beats showcases. I introduce A-list producers and up-and-coming producers to Native Instruments and bring them together for future business opportunities and endorsements.

Name some of the awesome producers you have had a chance to work alongside in this role. What makes them awesome?

I’ve had the opportunity to work with 40 (Noah Shebib), Young Chop, Cool and Dre, The Runners, S1, Focus, Illmind, 9th Wonder, Tha Bizness, A$AP Ty, Cardiak, Sak Pase, THX, and Ivan and Carvin. The body of work and the time that they’ve put into their careers makes them all awesome.

What are your ultimate goals for your career as a music producer?

First and foremost my goal is to create incredible music and be an inspiration to producers and artists. I want to give opportunities to creative peoplewhether they are artists, web designers, producers, engineers, graphic artists, and DJ’s.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in music production? What is one piece of advice he/she should know?

The first thing I would say is to master your craft. Make sure you’re prepared when opportunity knocks on your door. Create your own sound. Always have something of value to offer. Learn the business that you’re getting into and don’t be afraid to start your own movement. Keep your sword sharpened. And last but not least, believe in yourself and always surround yourself with people who are masters of their trade. There’s no one else like you on the planet, so never compare yourself to anyone else.

Tell us where to find your music online.

Website – http://www.stonisworld.com/

Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/beatsbystoni

Twitter – https://twitter.com/StonisMusic

Instagram – http://instagram.com/stonismusic