Meet the Women of EQL 2019 – Spotify for Artists

Last year, Spotify’s social impact team partnered with Berkeley College of Music to launch Equal Studio Residency একটি a full-time, paid program that provides hands-on experience, networking opportunities and advice to emerging, women-identifying studio engineers and producers. Although the 2018 EQL Residency was recognized by the Inclusion Initiative of USC Annenberg (organized following the school Reports of the plight of women in music) As a promising solution to an industry full of gender inequality, the work is not done. That’s why this year, through a partnership with Berkeley College of Music, we are proud to launch our second annual Equal Residency List. Starting this month, these three up-to-date auditing professionals will take our positions Secret Genius Studio London, Los Angeles and Nashville.

London-based lyricist, producer and engineer Sophie Accrode is a graduate of Oxford University, where she studied English literature before beginning her musical career at the Contemporary Music Performance Institute, worked at Battersea Park Studios and collaborated with artists from around the world.

A native of Montreal and a graduate of the Berkeley College of Music (with a focus on music production and engineering), Alyssa Ferratro was supportive and introverted to Grammy-winning vocalist and engineer Simon Torres in addition to her studio work and worked as a stage. Manager and production assistant at Berkeley’s largest concert.

Coming from North Virginia, Jessica Taylor is a recent Berkeley graduate with a focus on music production and engineering. She has attended master classes with acclaimed Ebony Smith, Ann Minsili and Simon Torres and has worked as a live sound engineer at Square Route Cafe and as an office assistant in the Berkeley guitar department, and she has completed six studio internships.

We spoke with these three women to gain insights into their personal journeys, the challenges that come with being a woman in the field, and what they are most excited about doing during their time at EQL 2019.

Spotify for Artists: Which initially attracted you to audio work?

Sophie Ackroyd: For me it was creative freedom. Starting as a lyricist, the ability to record and produce has opened up many possibilities. Before that, it seemed like no one else could create the words I heard in my own head, so production and engineering were the best and fastest way to realize my vision for the music I was creating.

Alyssa Faratro: I actually started as a singer. I was recording demos and songs in the studio and I was really annoyed when I couldn’t communicate to the engineer what word I was looking for. Whenever I was in the studio, I asked questions and tried to learn as much as possible because I realized that a recording or mix engineer has the same creative power as an artist and lyricist. I was very disappointed whenever I left a session after hearing the song amazing through the studio speaker, and then I played it in the car and it was horrible. People assume that the “technical” side of the industry is not creative. The insights of engineers and producers can not only shape a song, they can create or break it, and I wanted to be a part of that creative process.

Jessica Taylor: Not being able to remake the songs well. When I played the guitar, I was always impatient and just wanted to make my own songs, but I didn’t really know how and the finished product was always trash. Learning how to create high quality music has started everything for me.

Sophie Ackroyd, South London-based producer

Sophie Ackroyd, South London-based producer

How did you find your way on the field?

Ackroyd: I got an internship at Battersea Park Studio (formerly Sphere) shortly after I left music college, and I was the studio manager there for two years. Since then, I’ve spent more time in the studio outside of them. I never had any “formal” training, but when I started freelancing as an assistant engineer at various studios around London, I quickly chose jobs, including Red Bull Studio, to rent my own studio space as well as write sessions.

Faratro: My acquaintance with audio work really comes from control and my approach comes from the desire to know how to communicate with those with whom I have collaborated. I decided to take a Pro Tools and a mic placement class at home and very quickly realized that I had opened a door to a completely different dimension that I hadn’t hidden. It’s almost as if I’ve heard of Susan Rogers – an engineer Prince, Barenaked women, And a professor at the Berkeley College of Music. I decided to enroll at Berkeley specifically for the purpose of applying for a head of music production and engineering. That’s where I really discovered the field and fell in love with this aspect of the art.

Taylor: I started in the audio field when I was 14 years old. I’ve already played the guitar and really enjoyed it, but I want to know more about what’s behind the scenes of a song or a show. I was able to find a small studio that offers live sound and audio engineering lessons that were a few cities away from me, and from there I conducted lessons and internships in my area.

What challenges have you faced in your career as an audio professional?

Ackroyd: One of the reasons I like to work on audio is that it challenges your whole brain. You are using that left side, [the] The logical brain can solve very technical problems while being artistic and creative at the same time. Being a female audio professional brings its own challenges and I’m pretty accustomed to people in sessions who don’t expect you to be a producer or an engineer, but I think it’s in terms of visibility. Women need to have more spotlight when it comes to making music until it becomes more normal.

Faratro: My biggest challenge was not self-doubt. It’s really easy to compare yourself to others, to think that I’m not good enough or maybe it’s not in my favor. Sometimes it’s hard to be confident about my skills and my work, but I’ve found that working and being brave is the best remedy. Obviously there are people – men and women – who doubt my skills based solely on the fact that I am a woman, so I realized that I should not add myself to that long list of people already.

Taylor: I told the engineers pretty hard that I wanted to work because I also explained to women and engineers simple and common studio techniques and tools like I didn’t go through the same college principal as them – “there’s a microphone here” or “a cable works like this” Explains things like this. Like – yes, thank you, I’m definitely in your Monday class at this same studio where we’ve been many times.

Jessica Taylor, Live Sound Engineer

Jessica Taylor, Live Sound Engineer

What are you most excited about with Equal Residency? What do you expect to achieve?

Ackroyd: I get excited every day at Secret Genius Studios, especially in Metropolis, an institution in the recording industry. I really can’t wait to take this six-month residency to work on my craft, learn from mentors, and build my network within the songwriting and audio community.

Faratro: I am very excited for the opportunity to connect and collaborate with other women in the industry, and I hope to build a network to support and empower each other. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to further my knowledge of sound engineering and vocal production while learning about the industry, especially in the fast-paced environment of Los Angeles.

Taylor: I am thrilled to be working with an organization that wants to support women in the audio recording industry. I hope to work with as many people as possible, learn new perspectives on engineering and move forward as much as possible in this new opportunity.

What advice do you have for young women interested in doing this?

Ackroyd: Be confident in what you do, even if you don’t feel like you’re inside. I think, sadly, many opportunities have been missed where women don’t apply for a position because they don’t feel qualified, when they actually are. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Think of your femininity as an asset. I’ve had a long time that I have to be a boy to fit into the audio world, but really what the music industry needs now is more female power in the studio, so embrace it. There are also many initiatives now in place to support women in the industry, starting with the recording academy (for camp writing).He writes) And free workshop (Novelty is not common). Find them, gain knowledge, gain experience and get stuck.

Faratro: Don’t let yourself be intimidated by things that may seem outside of your comfort zone and don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on your own progress and your work and stay where you need to be. Be flexible, practice good work ethic, make smart decisions, ask questions, be a team player and have a good idea of ​​how the business side of the industry works. Finally, the music industry is a business like any other and it is important to understand its ropes in order to work within it. Taylor: Don’t listen to anyone who doesn’t support you, learn to advocate for yourself and trust your knowledge – but be smart enough to know when to learn.

– Khalila Baro

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