Gender Amplified Attends Hip Hop Hackathon At Spotify

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On June 10th, Gender Amplified was invited to participate in Hip Hop Hacks, an event dedicated to celebrating and exploring the intersection of hip-hop and technology. Organized by R. Sommer McCoy/Monthly Music Hackathon NYC and held at Spotify‘s New York City office, the day included group discussions with industry leaders, workshops varying in topics from music production to computer science, and performances from guest lecturers and attendees!

Producer, engineer, singer-songwriter, and Gender Amplified founder Ebonie Smith served as one of the panelist for a listening/critique session alongside fellow artists/producers Hank Shocklee (Bomb Squad, Public Enemy), Breakbeat Lou (producer/DJ), Ms Madli (producer/engineer/iStandard Champion), VHVL (electronic musician), and POZIBELLE (producer/educator). The listening session gave beatmakers and producers of all skill levels a chance to showcase their work and gain useful feedback from distinguished industry professionals.

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After panelist introductions were announced, legendary producer Hank Shocklee gave up-and-coming producers in the room some inspiring words of wisdom to live by before the start of the listening/critique session.

“This is for all of the young producers. You guys, right now, have the key to the future in your hands. You can build upon the wisdom of the past and even relate to what’s happening in the future. But the thing you guys have to understand now is… networking with each other is what’s going to continue making this industry strong. Sitting around just talking about music is an important aspect. What you want to do is build a relationship. Music is spiritual, and if you connect your vibrations and your spirits together, you’ll create better art.”

Check out more recap images from the event!

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New Music Friday: Sam Bruno Releases EP “I AM SAM PT.1”

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I AM SAM PT.1

If you happened to listen to Kanye West’s song “The One” back in 2012 off of his G.O.O.D. Music: Cruel Summer compilation album, you might have heard the vocal stylings of a young Phoenix-based singer/songwriter named Sam Bruno. Bruno and her creative partner Lifted first caught Kanye West’s attention in 2011 while on a trip to Los Angeles to promote their newly minted musical collaborations.

Fast forward five years to today and Sam Bruno has released her highly-anticipated first EP titled I AM SAM PT.1 with Atlantic Records. Like so many female artists nowadays, Bruno took many aspects of the technical process into her own hands, especially when it came to her vocals. When asked about the depth of her involvement in the editing and mixing process, Bruno explained:

“I engineered and recorded most of my vocals on I AM SAM PT.1. I vocal edited and rough mixed all five songs, to the point when the mixers would get the songs to mix, they’d be like, ‘I’m not changing anything on your vocal mix, it’s already so great!’ Which is a huge compliment coming from Manny Marroquin [Kanye West, Rihanna, John Mayer] and Andrew Wuepper [Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, The Hamilton Mixtape].”

Bruno is known for her ability to push the boundaries of musical genres with her electronic dance and hip-hop influenced pop. This talent is best featured on “Hello Hater”, the second track on I AM SAM PT. 1, and her breakout hit “Search Party”, featured in the 2015 film Paper Towns starring Cara Delevingne and Nat Wolff.

Listen to the album here:

From Ballet Dancer To Rock N’ Roll: Get To Know Metallica’s Assistant Engineer Sara Lyn Killion

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When Sara Lyn Killion first moved from Denver to Los Angeles, her plan was to join a ballet company and pursue a career as a professional ballerina. But her love for music and live performances took her life in a different direction. In a recent interview for Metallica’s online blog So What!, Killion recounts her journey from the stage to behind the recording console.

“I moved to join a ballet company out in LA, and when I decided that wasn’t going very well for me, I was like, ‘What else can I do?’ I had a bunch of friends in bands, so I wanted to do live sound. I wanted to be front of house. I wanted to go on tour… I went to a vocational school [in Arizona] to learn more about the whole audio thing because I knew I loved music, I knew I loved bands, I knew I loved the whole scene, but I didn’t really know much. I didn’t know how it all worked.”

After completing her studies, Killion began interning at recording studios in the Los Angeles area and eventually worked her way up to assisting sessions. Her first major studio album credit came from being the mix assistant on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ critically acclaimed album Stadium Arcadium, through which she began working with producers Greg Fidelman and Rick Rubin.

“I first started working for Greg during Death Magnetic [Metallica]. I think we did one project before, and it was The (International) Noise Conspiracy, we were doing vocals up at Rick’s house on Sunset [Boulevard]. So that was the first thing. And then he called me, which was weird. I was working at a studio called The Pass and I had been working on a Chili Peppers record. That’s how I got into the Rick camp. I got into mixing, the mix side as an assistant on the Stadium Arcadium record.”

When asked about being part of a ballet troupe versus recording rock bands, Killion describes the studio experience as less competitive and more friendly. “You would imagine that rock and roll is tough, but it really isn’t. Everybody looks out for each other, it’s more of a family.” And when asked about her partnership with Fidelman, she explains, “I feel like we’ve got a good teamwork thing. We know, ‘I’m gonna handle this, he handles that,” and if there’s anything I can foresee down the line I’ll try to do it or he’ll try to remind me to get ready for something. So I think it’s great, and it works.”

You can check out the full list of Sara Lyn Killion’s album credits here, and listen to Metallica’s latest album Hardwired…To Self-Destruct on Spotify.

Gender Amplified Announces New Web Series: 60 Seconds of Truth

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In a new web series called 60 Seconds of Truth, Gender Amplified aims to broadcast the stories of a wide array of women in music production and sound engineering.

In 60 seconds, these women will share their narratives from their own mouths. You’ll learn about how they became interested in music technology, what types of gear they use, where they learned their crafts and much much more! The series looks to give voice to budding producers as well as more established women as well. Stay tuned for more to come on this series!

Celebrate This Holiday Season In Style With ART GIRL ARMY!

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This year has been one for the books for our friends at the ART GIRL ARMY, and they want to celebrate this holiday season with you in style.

They’ve partnered with the fantastic New Women Space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to bring you delicious food, live performances, festive drinks, an AGA pop-up shop, and more!

This event is open to the public, meaning AGA supporters of all genders are welcome, so come with the ones you love and party with your favorite friendly neighborhood girl gang.

Tickets include entry and access to the by-donation bar!

And the winner of the “Dear Daughter Remix Contest” is…

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Last month Gender Amplified teamed up with Halestorm for our “Dear Daughter Remix Contest” where the winner would receive $1000 and a chance to meet frontwoman Lzzy Hale!

And the winner is… TMPO! Check out the mix below, it’s pretty spectacular!

Congratulations and a huge thank you to all who entered!

Make sure to follow TMPO here:
instagram.com/tmpomusik
soundcloud.com/tmpomusic
twitter.com/tmpomusic

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.”

Gender Amplified Presents: Studio Politics Featuring Ebonie Smith

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Gender Amplified is proud to present ‘Studio Politics,’ a new web series that takes you in the studio with our founder and award-winning music producer and engineer Ebonie Smith. Known for engineering work on Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) and other notable projects, each and every episode Ebonie will take you behind the scenes to talk about the process of making music at the major level and working as a staff producer/engineer for Atlantic Records in NYC. There won’t be a dull moment as Ebonie produces and composes records on the spot and discusses music production and technology with a cast of talented collaborators and industry insiders. Tune in and SUBSCRIBE!

Studio Politics

Alicia Keys Creates Tracks Live On Stage at BET Awards

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Alicia Keys took the stage to perform one of her new hit “In Common” at the 2016 BET Awards held at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday, June 26th in Los Angeles. For years, the 35­-year­-old entertainer and performer has dazzled fans with her electrifying stage show, but this time things were a little different.

Surrounded by numerous synthesizers and electronic beat machines, Keys simultaneously synthesized her track and sang right in front of the audience. The performance perfectly blended live beatmaking with acoustic guitar playing. Check out the full recap below on BET.com.

BET Awards: Alicia Keys Just Slayed Her Performance of ‘In Common’

Alicia Keys has always been a supporter of women in production and engineering. Ann Mincieli, Keys’ longtime sound engineer, is the owner of Jungle City Studios in New York City.

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.”

 

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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…”

 

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.