In one of many long and contemplative conversations I had with my business partner, I asked “Where the hell are all the female House producers??” I mean the big, HOUSEHOLD names? And no not singers that get the occasional songwriting credit, not the ‘so-and-so producer featuring’ (insert female singer/songwriter name here). I mean one name, HER NAME, doing complete production work with no male saddled to the project?
My partner says that the reason is because soulful House music is extremely male-dominated, way more than politics, corporate boardrooms or pop music. Women are often reduced to mere songbirds.
JUST DANCE AND LOOK PRETTY
Another reason offered was that women have no role model, an archetype to embody and aspire to be like one day. Women love House music, yet how many of us while listening to our favorite dancefloor tunes think to ourselves: “One day I want to be like Louie Vega, Grant Nelson or Dennis Ferrer?” Now I can’t speak for every woman obviously, but based on my conversations with hundreds of them I know that is not a thought that enters our cognizance. For the majority the thought is just to sit back and enjoy the beautiful music that men make.
I know they are out there. I’m just wondering why there aren’t at least one or two that have elevated to household names in the House community? One on the level of a Frankie, Black Coffee or a Cajmere?
NO SHE DIDN’T…
For most of you who know me I hate getting into the whole female/male debate. It’s a necessary evil and I quietly go my way without doing too much of the Z snapping “I’m a woman and proud” bs. As an upcoming DJ I’ve had tons of challenges, setbacks and behind-the-back eyerolls and snickers to deal with which I’ve cheerfully resigned myself to. When I put out my first mix CD everyone thought my boyfriend did it.
But at least when I played out, people could see that it was ME playing. Guaranteed, if a woman were to put out some banging ass tracks, people would be looking over her shoulder trying to see who *really* made the track. And since most female DJs and producers were often mentored by their male counterparts, the prevailing thought whether unspoken or not will be that it was their Pygmalion who shouldered the load.
(And may I add, I can’t always blame them. I know of a handful of female DJs that pay male producers to make their songs for them and call it their own. So they definitely don’t count in this equation. If Dennis Ferrer offered to make a track for me and slap my name on it I’d still pass. But the whole argument of ghostwriting is a whole creature in itself so let’s save that for another day.)
CAN WE CHANGE THIS?
Right now I can think of one woman that is making serious waves: Maya Jane Coles. She has had 17 releases from 2009-2011 and the best part is that she is only 22 years old. Is she the household name I wish we had more of? No. But who knows if she keeps this up she may be in a few more years.
SINGERS WHERE YOU AT?
I honestly think our hope lies in the singers. I’m pretty sure they’re already adept at making their own tracks, but for whatever reason the producer moniker is still given to another. I think it would be dope if I saw full on productions by Barbara Tucker, Ultra Nate, Stephanie Cooke and Dajae. SOLO.
A bigger wish would be that for those women that do go into making House music, that they stray from the insta-sample-edit-track-laptop-ramen rubble we are inundated with. Ladies if we love this music so much, then surely we can create new and original work? For those that have the talent and the drive for it, I champion you to create a new archetype for us.