8 New Female Producers On Why They Finally Decided To Get Behind The Boards

With this new initiative, London producer E.M.M.A. and Radar Radio are aiming to break down the barriers to the electronic music world.

Photographer Vicky Grout
8 New Female Producers On Why They Finally Decided To Get Behind The Boards

This weekend, March 19, London-based producer E.M.M.A. and online radio station Radar Radio hosted a free, introductory music production workshop for women. The workshop was supported by Image Line, makers of production software FL Studio (aka Fruity Loops)—who donated a free four month trial of FL Studio 12 to every participant—and teaching was led by E.M.M.A. along with Hyperdub artist Ikonika, and grime producers Dexplicit and P Jam.

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The day was split into four sections, with each mentor respectively talking through beats, melody, arrangement, and mixing, effectively breaking down the process of producing a track from start to finish in a detailed but relaxed fashion. All four teachers pitched in with answering questions, and each was also able to offer a little insight into their own music-making process.

8 New Female Producers On Why They Finally Decided To Get Behind The Boards
8 New Female Producers On Why They Finally Decided To Get Behind The Boards
8 New Female Producers On Why They Finally Decided To Get Behind The Boards Workshop leaders L-R: Dexplicit, E.M.M.A., Ikonika, and P Jam

The organizers hope to run the grassroots event again in the near future (E.M.M.A. estimates in an email that for the first workshop, which had 20 places available, she received around 460 responses to the initial call for applications). In order to get to the heart of why this kind of skill-sharing is so vital—in particular, when it comes to getting women into the male-dominated field of electronic music—The FADER asked eight of the participants what stopped them from learning to produce until now.

Alex, 24
8 New Female Producers On Why They Finally Decided To Get Behind The Boards

What stopped you from producing until now?

"A lot of it was confidence—not wanting to put yourself out there, or put what you make out there. And just assuming that you’re going to be bad at something because it looks so incredibly complex. Actually, it’s way easier to hide from something than it is to give it a go and fail."

Camille, 24
8 New Female Producers On Why They Finally Decided To Get Behind The Boards

What stopped you from producing until now?

"I’ve [tried learning from] lots of DJ friends, and ex-partners, people who have been male or male-identified, and there’s been a consistent thing of them being quite condescending—unknowingly so. And [them] not actually being aware of my barriers and my hesitancy, because of the socialization of women—[for example,] being told that you shouldn’t be in those spaces, you’re not as capable, you don’t have as good taste in music.

"So I just felt I’d like to learn from women who have done it. Because that’s the kind of energy I want to cultivate. I was waiting for a specifically women-taught course, for women."

Maria, 29
8 New Female Producers On Why They Finally Decided To Get Behind The Boards

What stopped you from producing until now?

"I love music, but I was always too scared to pursue it. It was just worrying about how it was going to be in the future—you know, committing to it as a professional thing, and surviving off it—I wasn’t very confident in taking that seriously. I’m British, but I’m an immigrant, I came [from Russia] when I was 11, and [there was] a lot of pressure—like, getting the education, the job, and all that stuff."

Nyasha, 24
8 New Female Producers On Why They Finally Decided To Get Behind The Boards

What stopped you from producing until now?

"It can be hard when you’re just on your own, and there isn’t context, in terms of other females [producing]. And the people who do do it, there can be a kind of elitism and snobbery...It’s not like everyone is there to try and help you out. So I think this opportunity—the motive behind it was really one of accessibility and sharing, and that’s the crucial thing; I think people really responded to that sentiment. You just need to be walked over the line sometimes. The first bit is always the hardest, when something feels completely alien to you. It’s just that environment of positive support and nurturing, really, that attracted me to this [workshop]."

Elena, 28
8 New Female Producers On Why They Finally Decided To Get Behind The Boards

What stopped you from producing until now?

"I’ve always been interested in production and music, and I’ve been reading up on stuff and watching YouTube [tutorials]. I admired musicians, but I think I never had the confidence to do it myself...I didn’t feel enough support. [This workshop] makes you feel like you can do it too. Seeing someone produce something from start to finish is a really helpful thing."

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Mica, 23
8 New Female Producers On Why They Finally Decided To Get Behind The Boards

What stopped you from producing until now?

"It was partly not enough self-belief, and a bit of intimidation. I’d been to DJ clubs before, in uni, and they’d ask me the question ‘what are you into?’ and put you on the spot. That made me question myself a bit."

Charlotte, 22
8 New Female Producers On Why They Finally Decided To Get Behind The Boards

What stopped you from producing until now?

"If you don’t know the actual basics, it’s really hard to understand the [YouTube] tutorials...How many of us know other girls that produce, really? There’s not that many that you can ask [for help]. And when you go to ask a guy, it always feels a bit more awkward. Because it is such a male-dominated thing."

Kerry, 28
8 New Female Producers On Why They Finally Decided To Get Behind The Boards

What stopped you from producing until now?

"I’ve always loved music, and I’ve sung classical for years. Lots of my friends are in music, but they are all men. I don’t know one woman, actually, in the music industry...It’s all felt a bit out of my reach, and that somehow, subconsciously, [like] I can’t do it. But I have ears, and I have good taste in music. And I really like the vibe of what’s going on [in music right now]. So I just thought, ‘fuck it.’"

8 New Female Producers On Why They Finally Decided To Get Behind The Boards