Beats By Girlz Founder, Berklee College of Music Associate Professor, Music Producer, Erin Barra

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Beats By Girlz Founder, Berklee College of Music Associate Professor, Music Producer, Erin Barra

By Leslie Buttonow

What do you do when you spend time learning and perfecting a craft, and then realize many others are looking to you to learn what you do? You teach, of course! And that’s exactly what Erin Barra did, but in more ways than one.

After spending some time as a songwriter and producer, Barra brought technology into the fold from a desire to reach certain goals she had for her career. She also used that experience to land a teaching job at a young age at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Along with her use of tech came the realization that other women were interested in learning about how she made her music and the tools she was using, which inspired her to formally encourage other young women in their musical aspirations.

Here, Barra shares some of her story with us, as well as a few musical treats from some of her current projects.

To find out more, visit beatsbygirlz.com and mammabarra.com.

The WiMN: Tell us a little about how you started using technology in music—did you learn traditional instruments first and then incorporate it, or has technology been there throughout your musical journey?

EB: I was trained as a classical pianist from a very young age and didn’t really get involved in music tech until much later in life, when I was around 24 years old.

The truth is, I got into music tech out of sheer necessity because I had goals that needed accomplishing and not enough resources to pay someone else to help me achieve them. The people who control the tech are largely the ones who hold the power and so after years of frustration, I decided that I was going to get behind my laptop and play that role for myself.

The WiMN: What is the most gratifying part of teaching music students?

EB: For me, teaching is a lot like writing, producing and collaborating, which is what drew me to the music industry in the first place. All of those things, including teaching, are just ways of communicating with other people and exchanging ideas, thoughts, and emotions. That’s what I enjoy the most––communicating, and being able to do that with brilliant young creative minds is the best.

The WiMN: Where did the idea for Beats By Girlz (BBG) come from?

EB: Towards the end of my career as being purely an artist, when I really began to master the tools, it became clear to me that people were more interested in how I was making music and the tech tools I was using than actually listening to my music. People started calling me the “Ableton Lady” and wanted to book me on shows that featured women in technology.

At one point, I sort of looked around and realized that I’d been inadvertently cast in this role as a leader and role model for other women who wanted to write, produce and perform with their laptops. Once I figured it out, I felt a responsibility to actively try and fill the shoes people already felt I was wearing, so BBG was born out of that desire to help other women who were looking to me for help and offer role support.

The WiMN: In your role both as a professor and with your BBG workshops, how have you seen girls’ participation in music and music technology change over the years?

EB: I see so many more women in the music tech space than I did five years ago––on stages, in classrooms, in studios––and I also see far more people talking about the issue of gender equity in general. There’s still a massive amount of work to be done, but we’re moving in a forward direction.

The WiMN: Was there ever a time when you felt you had to prove yourself as a woman working in music technology, which has traditionally been more male-dominated?

EB: I feel like I’m constantly being challenged and doubted by the people around me, not only because of my gender, but also my age. I’m the youngest person in my department at Berklee and I lead several committees and groups full of men who I’ve had to work twice as hard as to gain their respect. I even get it from my own students sometimes, since they’re so used to being directed by older white men.

At a certain point, it’s just not worth investing any energy into it. My resume and reputation speak for themselves, so I let those things do the talking and tune out the rest.

The WiMN: You’re also a songwriter and solo artist—are there any projects you’re working on (or recently completed) that you’d like to share?

EB: I just produced a track for a Swedish artist named Matilda I’m really into (listen here); another young American rock artist named Chloe Jane (listen here); and a song I produced for the amazing Leon Waldo just released worldwide (listen here).

I’ve also been creating a lot of video content that features my performances and productions, paired with how to video tutorials that break the whole process down. You can see them here.

The WiMN: If any of our readers are interested in helping to bring a Beats By Girlz chapter to their community, where do they start?

EB: You can visit beatsbygirlz.com for more details and ways to get involved, give to the community and start your own chapter. 🙂 

Kelly McFarling Announces Her Latest Album ‘Water Dog’ Set For Release In June

By Myki Angeline

Folk singer and songwriter Kelly McFarling announces her most intimate and folk-leaning album to date. Water Dog, which will release June 16 was produced and engineered by Avi Vinocur of the band Goodnight Texas in San Francisco, CA. However, the demos for this album were initially created with Allen Rothschild in his bedroom in Asheville, NC (the creaks of his wood floor and the sounds of summer winding down made their way onto the recordings through open windows and live take). This album is beautiful, raw, and empowering. McFarling spent a lot of time near the ocean which inspired her lyrics on love, trust, and going with the flow of changes.

McFarling, who has 5 independent albums under her belt reveals that the eleven tracks on Water Dog were recorded in seasonal segments throughout 2016. “Recording at Avi’s house gave us the time to let the songs breathe and evolve.” she says of the process, “It gave us space to make decisions at our own pace. I’ve never made a record like that, and it was a really special time. These songs were written in quiet spaces that were lived in. It made sense to record them in that way.”

Born in Atlanta, GA McFarling makes her home in San Francisco, CA and has shared the stage with artists such as Shovels and Rope, Sean Hayes, Chris Pureka, Jolie Holland. She is also one third of the all-female folk trio Glittersnatch with Megan Keely and Wolf Larse.

While both Vinocur and McFarling play the majority of the instrumentation on Water Dog, they have included several Bay Area musicians to lend their skills on the album like Tim Marcus on pedal steel and dobro, Graham Patzner on fiddle, Andrew Laubacher on percussion, Andrew Brennan on guitars, Oscar Westesson on upright bass, and John Elliott on piano. Austin-based band Whiskey Shivers sing backup vocals on “Caney Fork Overlook.”

Water Dog is a first for McFarling in many ways. It is the first record she has made without a band, the first time she approached recording without a deadline, and the first time she has explored stripped down instrumentation.

Listen to her single, “Country” on:  soundcloud.com/KellyMcFarling

You can pre-order Water Dog on her website: kellymcfarland.com

Front and Center: Drummer, Vocalist, Songwriter and Roland Product Specialist, Jordan West

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Drummer, Vocalist, Songwriter and Roland Product Specialist, Jordan West

By Leslie Buttonow

Once in a while you meet someone with so many abilities you wonder if they snuck back on line when the talents were being handed out. Jordan West is one such woman. In her LA-based band Trackless, West makes use of her talents as a drummer, vocalist and songwriter, and she uses her business savvy as the group’s manager and booking agent.

Her original music has been featured on a handful of radio stations, and she has won several music industry songwriting contests. The band’s newest, self-titled album can be found on iTunes and Spotify, and they are currently recording their first single with Bob Clearmountain (Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen) in LA, scheduled for release in summer 2017.

West also travels to festivals and trade shows as a product specialist demonstrating Roland drum and percussion products, and conducts clinics. Her gig as a Roland product specialist has taken her to the NAMM Show, CES, Starry Nights, SXSW, Gearfest, and PASIC. She also recently traveled to Roland’s headquarters in Japan to perform and demonstrate new products, and participate in some research and development meetings.

For more information, visit jordanwestdrums.com.

WiMN: You’re a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist. Please share with us the progression of things—how and when you came to discover each of those talents and interests, and what musical training you had.

JW: I went to a fine arts magnet school where they made each student choose an instrument to begin playing in third grade. I wasn’t sure what I wanted my official instrument to be, so my parents took me to a musical aptitude test. Basically, there was one of every instrument in a room and I got to try everything. The woman running the test told me I should highly consider playing drums and percussion. So naturally, I chose french horn! After a year of whole notes and running out of breath, I switched to a drum set. I was lucky enough to continue on to a middle school with an excellent music program. I was trained mostly in jazz throughout middle and high school and began gigging professionally in college, all the while taking private lessons once a week.

Around the time I was 21, I enrolled in a songwriting class for fun. I didn’t really know music theory at that point, but the class forced me to go outside of my comfort zone. I started my band Trackless so we could play original music, and now that is one of my main professional focuses. I drum, sing, and write songs in the band, and I love how it utilizes different aspects of my musicality. I also play piano and guitar – mostly to accompany myself at solo gigs or to write.

WiMN: Did you have any musical influences growing up, either from people around you, or through musicians you admired?

JW: My parents have always loved a wide variety of music. I grew up listening to everything from System of a Down to Cher to Bob Marley to Tool and everything in between. Much of my training on drums was centered in jazz, where I learned about legends like Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Joe Morello, and Tony Williams. I love listening to innovative drummers like Steve Gadd, Jeff Porcaro, Mark Guiliana, Sput, Steve Jordan…the list goes on forever. In terms of songwriting, I love Bill Withers, Carole King, Karen Carpenter, Amy Winehouse, and countless others.

WiMN: When did you clearly know that music was what you wanted to do for a living?

JW: I think I was 12. Middle school was really where I felt like music was something I wanted to center my life around.

WiMN: Drums are your main instrument. As there are considerably fewer female drummers than there are male ones (although they seem to be catching up slowly!), were there ever any instances where you were faced with discrimination, and if so, how did you overcome it?

JW: There have been plenty of times over the years where being a woman seemed to matter more than anything I played – for better or for worse. Some people are impressed that I know how to hold sticks and play quarter notes; others accuse me of being (or use me as) a novelty item. It used to make me mad — really mad. I was letting it get to me and forgetting about the fact that when it comes down to it, all I care about is the music. If I am working hard on what I love, and proud of what I’m doing, that’s all I can do. And other musicians who are focused on being their best will gravitate to that. The rest is just noise.

WiMN: You’ve had a wide array of performance experiences, including recording sessions, live club dates and jazz festivals, and trade shows/clinics. What do you like about each? Any favorite(s)?

JW: To me, there is nothing better than playing live for a great audience. Whether at a huge festival or a club or hole in the wall show, I love that feeling. The energy is amazing. I really enjoy being in the studio, too. It’s fun to build a song and add what you can to it; that can be a really creative atmosphere.

Clinics and trade shows are fun because they challenge me — it’s half performance and half public speaking and teaching. I love interacting with other musicians and showing them cool stuff they can use. I think I like the combination of each of those experiences. It keeps me on my toes and forces me to think in different ways.

WiMN: As a Roland product specialist, you demonstrate percussion products and teach people how to use them. What do you enjoy most about teaching others?

JW: I especially love teaching young people who are just starting out. Their excitement is contagious and they’re like sponges. They don’t have any preconceived opinions so they are usually open to trying everything and come up with some really creative stuff. I also like showing drummers how to integrate technology into their setups. It can be intimidating to try to enter the electronic world, but it opens up a whole new set of possibilities.

WiMN: What advice would you give to young girls who are looking to possibly pursue a career in music, either as a performer or in some other aspect of the industry?

JW: Stick with it. Music isn’t an easy career choice and can be unstable and discouraging at times. There is no one way to be successful, no clear path to take. But that’s also exciting and freeing. If you want to be a player, focus on the music, work hard, and always stay true to who you are as a musician.

My private instructor told me, “You’re never going to be Steve Gadd, and he’ll never be you.” If you want to be in the industry, know your stuff! Be up on the latest products, music, festivals, etc. Whatever aspect of the industry you’re interested in, know about it. Live it. Breathe it. Become a part of that world.

 

Front and Center: Pianist, Singer and Songwriter, Jacquelyn Schreiber

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Pianist, Singer and Songwriter, Jacquelyn Schreiber

By Lina Bhambhani

The She Rocks Awards would not have been a success this year if it weren’t for the tireless work of many people behind the scenes! This year’s team was assembled from an amazing group of individuals that included artists, musicians and women from a variety of music-related organizations. One such artist is Jacquelyn Schreiber, a student of Leanne Summers (LAWIM) and a friend of Esperanza Spalding, both of which were honored at the 2017 She Rocks Awards.

Schreiber has been performing since the young age of five. She was classically trained as a pianist and made her live radio debut at the age of 15, performing with the Tommy Morimoto Quintet on Denver-based Radio Station Jazz 89.3 KUVO. As a pianist, she has opened for artists such as The Yellowjackets and Stanley Turrentine, and performed with Jennifer Holliday as a part of the Vineyard Vibes Jazz Festival.

Schreiber is not only an amazing musician with a naturally-gifted talent but, also a social media advocate for sharebeautifullove.com, a website that was created to share the good deeds that many individuals have collected throughout each day.

Schreiber’s EP Beautiful Love was released January 26. You can watch the official video below.

Schreiber recently spoke with us about her start in music and her involvement with the She Rocks Awards and other organizations. Find out more at www.jstunes.com.

WiMN:  What sparked your interest in getting into the music industry?

JS: To be honest, I have always loved music and it has always been a part of my life. I have an early memory of going up to my mom’s old Kimball piano and picking out the melody for “Yankee Doodle” by ear. I couldn’t believe I could duplicate what I was hearing in my head out in the physical world with the use of an instrument. It was a glorious moment. I started playing the piano by ear at age four and I was hooked — I have never wanted to do anything else.

WiMN: Who were some influences to helped get where you are today?

JS: So many people! I have been influenced by people all around me — including my family, friends and peers. I have been inspired by other artists and successful individuals in every industry. I think in the music industry I have been most inspired by Tony Bennett and his pure passion that has translated into decades of creating and sharing beautiful music. He truly invites us all along for the ride, and I think that is such a precious gift to give the world as an artist and musician. I’m also inspired by Audrey Hepburn and her immense talent that was coupled with her amazing charitable contributions and humanitarian work. It shows that we can all bring beauty to the world – just by being who we are.

WiMN: What made you want to be a part of the She Rocks Awards? How did you like it?

JS: I got connected with the remarkable Leanne Summers for vocal coaching prior to recording my debut EP this past May and she suggested I become a member of LAWIM. Since then, I have made an effort to be a part of anything that I can in terms of the WiMN. She Rocks spoke to me as something truly special — a huge industry event that is a celebration of women in all aspects of the creation and production of music. I was especially delighted and thrilled to see Esperanza Spalding honored — one of my former classmates from Berklee College of Music.

WiMN: What are some projects you’ve been a part of, and who have you worked with?

JS: I have been a part of a variety of projects that span several genres, including jazz, gospel, pop and more. Most recently, I recorded my debut EP, Beautiful Love with Producer/Engineer Helik Hadar who won a GRAMMY for Best Album in 2008 for his work with Herbie Hancock in The Joni Letters and Best Jazz Album in 2012 for Herbie’s brilliant The Imagine Project. I was honored to be joined by some of the best musicians on the planet for the recording, including: Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams, John Mayer, Sting) Mark Punch (Olivia Newton-John, CMAA 2011 Musician of the Year) David Piltch (Allen Toussaint, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt) and Brian Macleod (Sheryl Crow, Michael Jackson, Madonna.) We recorded at the iconic Sunset Sound in LA, just steps from the studio where Prince recorded Purple Rain. It was a very special and spiritual experience.

WiMN: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?

JS: Upcoming projects include spreading the word about my social media movement #ShareBeautifulLove — I am very excited to get people involved. #ShareBeautifulLove is a movement that encourages and promotes everyday people doing one beautiful thing and sharing it via their own pictures and videos – and then sharing those beautiful posts from people all around the world using #ShareBeautifulLove. You can see the different contributions to all the social media feeds at the website, www.sharebeautifullove.com and join our facebook page: facebook.com/sharebeautifullove. There is a list of ideas to help get people started in sharing love — simple things like asking the cashier at the store how THEIR day is going, or writing “Thank you ________” on the receipt at the restaurant. In addition to sharing love through the movement, I will also be coordinating the Beautiful Love EP tour and starting the process of recording my full-length album of original music. Updates are always at www.jstunes.com and on social media!

WiMN: Where can listeners find you?

JS: Listeners can find me on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon and of course at www.jstunes.com! They can also watch my new “Beautiful Love” music video and subscribe to my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/jstunes. Social media fans can hop over to facebook.com/jacquelynschreiber,  instagram.com/officialjstunes  and twitter.com/officialjstunes.

 

Front and Center: Singer, Songwriter, Musician, Shirley Manson

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Singer, Songwriter, Musician, Shirley Manson

By Leslie Buttonow
shirley-manson
Garbage burst onto the music scene in 1995 with hits such as “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When it Rains.” Fiery lead vocalist, Shirley Manson, also captured the attention of critics and fans alike with her magnetic stage presence and distinctive voice. Except for a brief hiatus in 2012, the band has been making music and touring for over 20 years, with their sixth album release, Strange Little Birds, having debuted in June 2016. Manson and her bandmates also have a coffee table book coming out in 2017 titled This is the Noise That Keeps Me Awake. It will feature essays and other short pieces from each of the four band members—Shirley Manson, Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, and Steve Marker—plus rare and never-before-seen photos of the band.

We are thrilled to be presenting Shirley Manson with a 2017 She Rocks Award at the upcoming NAMM Show in January. In honor of the occasion, she recently spoke to us about her early musical years, not being afraid to do her own thing and stand her ground, and advice for others looking to do the same thing.

Find out more about her and Garbage here.

The WiMN: When did you know that music was what you wanted to do for a living—was there an “a-ha” moment, or was it more of a natural progression?

SM: It was absolutely by happenstance that I became a “musician.” I was always very involved with music as a child. I studied piano, violin and clarinet at school. I sang in two different extracurricular choirs, I even sang in a youth theater but I never imagined a career was possible in music. It never even occurred to me.

The WiMN: Were there any women who encouraged or inspired you along the way?

SM: My beloved mother was a singer with a swing band called the Squadronairs before she got married and had children. She definitely encouraged my sisters and me to listen to really great music when we were growing up like Nina Simone, Billy Holiday, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan. Listening to those voices and knowing their stories––especially that of my mother––most definitely inspired me.

The WiMN: You’ve had a wide array of performance experiences, from club dates to large venues. Any particularly memorable experiences?

SM: From playing a third century Coliseum built by the Romans in Israel, to the opening of Scotland’s first parliament in 300 years in royal gardens underneath an ancient castle, to playing next to Douglas Fairbanks Jr.’s crypt in Hollywood Cemetery, to playing a swanky hotel ballroom in front of former President Clinton for MusiCares. The list is endless!

The WiMN: You’re known as a woman who does her own thing and is not afraid to break from convention. For many, that confidence comes only after they’ve had a bit of life experience, so what  would you say to young musicians who are trying to combat the pressure to fit into a box or to not break away from what’s “expected” from them?

SM: I would like to say, ‘Do your job. Hold fast. That’s the job.’ Instead, I say something kinder and more encouraging, like, ‘Just keep going. Keep standing up. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.’

The WiMN: Your band seems to have a very collaborative and cooperative approach, but for women in music, that’s not always the case. Was there a time in your career where you faced discrimination as a female in the industry? If so, how did you overcome it?

SM: I continue to encounter discrimination and so I continue to counter it. So far, it hasn’t done me too much harm, but nevertheless it annoys me when it happens. I believe myself to be equal to anyone on this planet. That’s what I was raised to believe in, so when I encounter any form of discrimination, I just bear down on it. Hard.

The WiMN: Any advice for young women who aspire to be musicians or break into the music industry?

SM: Get ready. Toughen up. Know what it means to take a hit. Be disciplined. Be willing to get your heart broken over and over again. Learn what it means to stand your ground. Be brave enough to try again. Understand nothing is personal. Know your enemy. Recognize an ally. Hold on to your publishing rights if you can. Know there are a million girls out there ready to take your place in a New York second. If all of this doesn’t faze you, you’re clearly born for it, so now go on out there and get you some! You’ve got everything you need.

The WiMN: Finally, what does it mean to you to be honored at the She Rocks Awards?

SM: I’m not sure awards actually mean anything in any real, tangible sense. They are completely subjective and often a cause of outrage or disappointment among others. However, it’s always a delight to be acknowledged in a business I’ve been immersed in for 35 years, whether by one particular, enthusiastic fan or a body of professionals. To say otherwise would be a bit churlish. So thank you very much; I’ll take the love where I can!

Front and Center: Drummer, Singer-Songwriter & Composer, Nicole Marcus

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Drummer, Singer-Songwriter & Composer, Nicole Marcus

By Lina Bhambhani

marcus_nicole_album1

Nicole Marcus is a Los Angeles-based drummer, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer. She holds a Bachelor’s degree with honors in studio music and jazz drum set performance from University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.

After completing college, Marcus moved to New York City and launched her career as drummer for the original off-Broadway production of Dear Edwina. In addition to playing drums for other artists, Nicole began performing her original music around the city, singing and playing guitar in various venues.

She later moved to Los Angeles where she played drums, guitar, keyboards and percussion on the first season of Glee, and moreThroughout 2013, Nicole travelled around the United States, Canada and Japan playing drums for the international tour of Hair.

Upon returning home from tour, Nicole started recording her self-titled EP, which was produced by Fernando Perdomo and mixed/mastered by Grammy-winner Zach Ziskin. Marcus played all the instruments and sang lead vocal on every track. She is currently performing around Los Angeles in support of the release, as well as drumming with many other artists.

In addition to her drumming and songwriting career, Marcus is a composer and producer, available to score projects for film, television, theatre, commercials and more. She delivers the product complete with lyrics, melody, arrangement and instrumentation. Her recent credits include scoring a scene in the web series Words With Girls and composing an original song for the Hollywood Fringe Festival play, The Load-In.

Check out Nicole Marcus’s interview below to find more, and visit her online at nicolemarcusmusic.com.

WiMN: Where is your hometown?

NM: I was born and raised in a little town called Tamarac, Florida.

WiMN: Can you tell us about your introduction to music?

NM: You know that line from the ABBA song, “she said I began to sing before I could talk?” That was me. My parents always had music playing in the house growing up. The Beatles, Beach Boys, Carly Simon, Judy Collins, CSNY, Bob and Ziggy Marley, Carole King, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen. Always something great coming through the speakers in the Marcus household.

WiMN: Who are some of your biggest influences?

NM: Joni Mitchell is at the top of my list. To me, she exemplifies what it is to be a musician and a writer. Her lyrics, melodies, harmonies, arrangements, performances on the records and on stage are all incredible. Everything I value most in a musician, she does at the highest, most sincere level.

WiMN: What was the first instrument you learned to play, and how did you fall into learning others?

NM: The first instrument I played was piano. In fifth grade, we were allowed to join the school band. Since there isn’t a piano in concert band, I decided to pick a new instrument. I chose drums and fell in love with them. I picked up the guitar in college when I started to get really into songwriting and playing my original music live. And all the other instruments spawn from the songwriter/producer side where I want to play whatever it is I’m hearing in my head. Also, I love the sound of a mandolin!

WiMN: How would you define your style?

NM: The album I have out now is in the alt-country/folk-pop genre.  Anyone who likes Sheryl Crow, Maren Morris, Cam, Michelle Branch would probably dig my music. I love every genre of music and am always writing in different genres and playing drums for others in different genres, so the audiences I’d like to attract are anyone and everyone who enjoys the music!

WiMN: Any last comments?

NM: Thank you so much for choosing me for this interview! You can find me on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music and at the following social links:

nicolemarcusmusic.com

facebook.com/nicolemarcusmusic

instagram.com/nicole_marcus

twitter.com/nmarcus

youtube.com/nicolemarcusmusic

 

 

Front and Center: Singer and Songwriter, Savannah Lynne

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Singer and Songwriter, Savannah Lynne

By Lina Bhambhani

savannah-lynne-music-artist

Savannah Lynne grew up by the Hawaiian waters, but couldn’t ignore the tug of country music. Inspired by Reba, Johnny Cash, and Loretta Lynn, she and her parents packed up and moved to Nashville when she was 14 to help her realize her dream of becoming a country singer and songwriter.

Success didn’t come overnight, but Savannah kept building her audiences and was selected as Indie Music Channel’s “Female Country Teen Artist of the Year” for three consecutive years (2012-2015). We’ve seen her perform at NAMM and at our own She Rocks Showcase. You can see her video below.

To learn more about Savannah, check out her interview below and on her website www.savannahlynne.com.

WiMN: How did you get into music and how has the journey been so far?

SL: It’s hard to name one specific reason I got into music… I’ve been surrounded by music my whole life. I used to sing my mom lullabies to put HER to sleep at bed time. When I was younger I would sing in school musicals and I started taking vocal lessons and before you know it, I was doing small talent shows and solo performances. My parents surprised me with my first guitar when I was 13 and it really helped my songwriting. Once I could play a solid song, all I wanted to do was perform them for people. Share my music with the world.

WiMN: Was it hard for you to move from Hawaii to Nashville?

SL: We didn’t move directly from Hawaii to Nashville… We spent a short amount of time in California along the way. Leaving Hawaii was really hard for me, especially having lived there for so long. When we decided to move, the hardest part for me was leaving my family and friends, but I absolutely love Nashville, and I am so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had solely because I live here.

WiMN: Who are your inspirations and why?

SL: I find inspiration from a lot of people in different ways. One person who stands out to me is Taylor Swift. As a songwriter, Taylor is able to connect to her audience through her music by singing songs about what she has gone through in her life. I feel that if I’ve gone through something, someone out there has gone through the same thing, and if they can hear how I got through it, maybe they can get through it, too. Taylor’s music always made me feel like I wasn’t alone, and I want to do that with my music.

WiMN: What famous artist have you played with and how was the experience?

SL: That’s a funny question because I just got back from my most recent tour a few weeks ago and I opened for Tyler Farr in Austin, Texas at an event sponsored by Marriott Rewards, Chase Bank, and Reverbnation. The overall experience was unreal and I had a blast hanging out with the band.

WiMN: What have been your biggest challenges so far?

SL: Overall, my journey in the music business has been a blast. I always try to keep a positive attitude and learn from my mistakes. I strive to make each performance better than the last. One of the challenges that comes to mind is being underage. A lot of venues won’t book people under 18 and that has been a challenge in booking my tours.

WiMN: What are some next projects you have coming up?

SL: I am currently recording an album titled The Ghost of You, which I am extremely excited to share with the world! We just released a music video for “Melted Candle” and are about to release the track as the first single.

WiMN: What advice would you give other young artists?

SL: It’s crazy to think about giving advice to young artists, being so young myself, but if I could say anything it would be… make the music you want to make. It’s your journey and your art. But most importantly, have fun! If you lose the fun, you lose the passion.

Find out more at www.savannahlynne.com.

 

Front and Center: Singer-songwriter and Guitarist, Taylor Tote

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Singer-songwriter and Guitarist, Taylor Tote

Image: © Kostas Lymperopoulos

Image: © Kostas Lymperopoulos

By Leslie Buttonow

With a stage presence, songwriting talent and overall musical sensibility that belie her young years, Taylor Tote is quickly on the rise in the music scene. The 21-year-old singer-songwriter from New Jersey has already been nominated for a dozen local music awards; she’s won talent competitions; had her music featured in a film festival; and has performed in iconic venues such as The Bitter End in NYC, The George Jones Museum and restaurant in Nashville, and the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ (yep, the same place Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi got their start).

As the leader of the Taylor Tote Band, Tote is now poised to propel her career even further, with original songs that evoke a range of emotions, and exciting live shows—all of which bare her soul and showcase her strong vocal capabilities.

For More info, Visit http://www.taylortote.com/.

WiMN: Tell us a little about your musical journey. When and how did you begin playing and writing music?

TT: I’ve been singing and performing before I can even remember. I was an only child for a while, so a lot of my time was spent alone trying to come up with skits and performances to put on for my parents. I always loved being in the spotlight, whether it was dance competitions, acting, cheering, gymnastics, and of course singing. But of all those things, singing stuck with me and I always knew it would.

When I as about 10 years old, I began writing music with my two best friends. We had a singing group together and we’d write songs about the boys in our class or my friend’s older brother. We’d perform during recess and almost everyone in our grade would attend. As years went on, I started taking it more and more seriously, signing up for vocal lessons and guitar lessons. I kept writing songs, but none really stuck with me. Looking back on them, they were definitely catchy and surprisingly good for a young girl! My songwriting really sprouted when I was about 16, and I still sing some of those songs to this day! Writing music is honestly still a challenge for me, but it’s something I love and learn about every day.

WiMN: Were there any women who encouraged or inspired you along the way?

TT: There wasn’t anyone who inspired me to become a musician; that just happened on its own. I came into this world doing this, knowing how to do it, and wanting to do it.  But there are definitely a ton of women who’ve inspired me to grow as a performer and as a writer. I really look up to Grace Potter for her stage presence, and Amy Winehouse and Adele for their technique and powerfully honest songs. I heard Stevie Nicks say in an interview one time that she chose not to get married and not to have kids because she loved music too much and wanted to dedicate herself fully to it. I definitely want to have a family one day, but Stevie’s dedication is extremely inspiring.

WiMN: Do you have a favorite place you like to perform?

TT: Hmmm…I absolutely LOVE the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. They’re extremely supportive of my band and I, and always welcome us with open arms. The crowd is always looking for a good time and the energy is electric. I have a lot of other favorite places too, but the Stone Pony is almost like a home to me, and I’m comfortable there. It’s also where I got my start, so it has a special place in my heart.

WiMN: This past July, you performed on stage at the Music Industry’s Summer NAMM convention, and last year, you performed at the WiMN Summer NAMM showcase. What was it like performing for industry folks and other musicians like you?

TT: It’s electrifying yet terrifying at the same time! I NEVER get nervous. I love to perform so much that I’m eager to get up on stage and show people what I’ve got. That’s totally how I felt—but times ten—when performing at both Summer NAMM and the WiMN NAMM Showcase. While it’s exciting and exhilarating, performing in front of people who deal with music, singers, and bands all the time is also scary. They’ve most likely seen people better or worse, and can probably always pick out the note that’s the slightest bit off. People back home or at the festivals where I perform always react well to what I’m doing, and I feed off that. When people don’t react to my music, I definitely get nervous. But when I got off stage at Summer NAMM and received a ton of compliments, it was really humbling coming from people who deal with musicians on such a higher scale than where I’m at.

WiMN: Let’s talk about your songwriting process. What do you find generally sparks a new idea for a song?

TT: It’s generally pretty easy for me to come up with a melody first. Sometimes I’ll have a melody floating around in my head for weeks before even putting lyrics to it, and sometimes the lyrics come to me immediately. When I first started writing, I thought I could only write songs about what was currently going on in my life and what I was currently feeling. I’ve gotten great songs out of doing that, but it really put a limit on my songwriting. I want my music to be honest and relatable, but I’ve recently learned that it’s okay to pull from my past and it’s okay to write about other people’s experiences, too. I’ve been in a happy relationship for almost two years, but my most recent songs are break-up songs. Even though it’s not currently happening, they’re still extremely honest. I’ve felt that way a few times in the past and I’ve talked with friends about how they’ve felt during a break up. It’s surprising how people cope with heartbreak in a lot of the same ways!

More recently when writing, I’ll hum out a melody I like first. I’ll hum the first verse and chorus, and once I like it that’s when the lyrics roll in. A lot of times I’ll just hear a specific line that sticks and I base the story of the song off that line. Sometimes when humming the melody, I find myself humming the syllables and pronunciation of words, so I try to come up with words that match that sound and then continue with the story. My writing process changes often, but this is one that’s been sticking for the last few months.

WiMN: Where do you see your musical career headed in the near future?

TT: Well, I guess you can say I have a “minimum” goal and a “maximum” goal. I at least want to get to a point in my life where I’m making and selling enough of my music that I don’t have to get a second job to support a family and I’m not struggling to find money. But I also definitely want to go as far as possible. I want to record and sell my music, I want to travel the world performing that music, and touch millions of people’s lives. I feel like I’m definitely taking all the right steps in the right direction and I’m growing each day, week, month, and year. I don’t see myself doing anything other than music; I know I’ll be in the industry somehow. I love performing and writing music for myself and other people, and I can’t wait to see what my future holds.

WiMN: Any advice for young women who aspire to be musicians?

TT: Just go for it and be yourself! It’s something people probably hear and say so often, but it’s extremely important. The audience can see when someone isn’t being their authentic self. A lot of people are so focused on being different that they lose who they really are. Everyone is different in their own way, and trying not so hard to be different will make you different in itself. You definitely want to stand out from the crowd, but I think people worry too much about things that are really not that important.

You also have to just keep pushing. I actively follow a bodybuilder named Torre Washington and he posted a quote on Instagram that said, “When a child is learning how to walk and falls down 50 times, they never think to themselves, ‘Maybe this isn’t for me.’” The most successful people have failed multiple times before and were constantly told, “No.” We were all meant to do something, but we’re all going to hit a few bumps in the road. We can’t appreciate anything good without hard times, so just push through them because there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. “Stars can’t shine without darkness.”

Front and Center: Rock n’ Roll Singer and Songwriter, Solvej Schou

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Rock n’ Roll Singer and Songwriter Solvej Schou

By Lina Bhambhani

solvejschou

Photo taken by Alex Godinez.

Born and raised in Hollywood, Solvej Schou delivers high energy rock ‘n’ roll, blues and Americana with influences including Janis Joplin, PJ Harvey, X and Patti Smith.

Now based in Pasadena, California, Schou has been singing since she was a kid, and began performing and writing songs since as a teenager.  She has been a member of various bands including Bitch & Moan, The Lassiebeat, Racquet, and Naughty Bird in cities such as Los Angeles, New York City and Copenhagen, Denmark.

With the help of producers Dan Heck and Mark Mastopietro, Schou released her self-titled solo album in late 2014. In 2015, Flavorwire premiered Schou’s video for “Cruel Hearted Woman,” directed by Alex Godinez. She later released the single “Friendship,” which was recorded at Medley Studios in Copenhagen. Schou performs along with band members Sarah Lundeen, Eric Hasenbein and Chelsea Jean Speer-Guzman.

With big vocals, a little bit of sexuality, and a lot of rock ‘n’ roll attitude, Schou is not afraid to bring the roar. And as a strong female artist, her music reflects her character.

To find out more about Solvej Schou, visit her on Facebook, CD Baby and YouTube

WIMN: What are some challenges you have faced as a songwriter?

SS: I love words, melody, authenticity and soul. That feeling of having to get music out of your system because it needs to come out, because you’ll combust if it doesn’t. I’ve always cringed at songs that seem fake, pretentious or that they’re trying too hard, trying to be too “cool.” Music, for me, has never been about being “cool.” It’s about music as therapy, necessity, explosion, sweat.

One challenge as a songwriter is how to capture an emotion, a mood, or a thought with meaningful words and music. The lyrics for a new song I wrote paying tribute to David Bowie, called “Stardust Hero,” poured out of me the night he died. But I had to go back and make sure the words felt true and real, and not too forced. My song “Friendship” started as a song for a close friend – acoustic, alt-country, pared down – and then expanded into a much bigger soulful song, electric and loud. It’s always a process. What you first write can shift and change into something different and better, and that can be a quick process, or take time. My songs usually start with lyrics and vocal melody, and then I set everything to guitar. Loud, soft, indie rock, blues. It all starts with lyrics and vocal melody.

WIMN: How has journalism influenced you as an artist?

SS: Over the years, I’ve interviewed Aretha Franklin, Chrissie Hynde and Patti Smith –  three of my musical heroes – plus other artists. Meeting your heroes as a journalist, you have to keep it together and be professional. I couldn’t fangirl out with all the fireworks erupting in my heart, meeting them. Their words, their presence, their strength, their vulnerability did sink in. I was able to tell Patti Smith, who I first started listening to and being inspired by in high school, growing up in L.A., that I wrote a poem for her in high school, and gave it to her in person when I saw her play at NYC punk club CBGB when I was 18, in college in New York. That was her first time playing CBGB in about 15 years.

Journalism hasn’t influenced me, per se, as an artist, because singing and playing guitar are so absolutely physical, emotional and personal for me compared to journalism and writing as cerebral and both unemotional and emotional. But the artists I’ve interviewed have had an impact, and working with words all the time – I also wrote poems and short stories starting in elementary school, and was an English/creative writing major in college, before I went into journalism – has also had an impact.

WIMN: How was it working with different bands as opposed to one?

SS: With the bands I’ve been in in the past, such as Racquet in NYC, Bitch & Moan and Naughty Bird in L.A. and The Lassiebeat in Denmark, even though I was either the frontwoman or one of the lead singers and guitarists, I didn’t write all of the songs. Throughout being in those bands, I also played separately solo, alone. I now play with other, great musicians in a band under my own name, and write and sing lead on all the songs we play. There’s something powerful about having my songs that started off as scrawled lyrics on a page, and me stomping and singing alone in a rehearsal space, become bigger than myself with my bandmates on guitar, bass, sax and drums. I’m grateful to play with them.

WIMN: What sparked your interest in getting into songwriting?

SS: Loss and music have always been a big part of my life. My late mom, the daughter of a Jewish-Polish Holocaust survivor, died when I was 9. She sang and played piano. My Danish dad plays guitar and sings. I grew up in Hollywood always surrounded by music at home. I soaked up my mom and dad’s playing, and listened to my dad’s albums, by X, Talking Heads, Pretenders, Aretha Franklin, Lead Belly and a ton of other rock, blues, soul and jazz musicians. The very first recording of me is when I was 4, wailing Prince’s “Lady Cab Driver.” So when my mom passed away of cancer when I was a kid, I channeled my singing and poetry into writing songs, and getting out all the pain, grief, sadness and anger I felt through singing LOUD.

I wrote my first songs in junior high, picked up a guitar in high school, and started playing in Hollywood solo and with a band. Many women have inspired my songwriting, from PJ Harvey, who completely blew my mind with her voice and gut-punch lyrics when I first heard her in junior high, to Patti Smith. My teen feminism and grief also coincided with the riot grrl scene. Listening to and seeing Bikini Kill in L.A. empowered me to express even more. You can never be TOO loud, TOO emotional, TOO angry, TOO sad, TOO soulful when writing songs, and especially as a woman. Just be – and feel true to – yourself.

WIMN: What are some of the next projects you have planned?

SS: My solo indie debut album came out in late 2014, kind of in the vein of PJ Harvey’s 1993 album 4-Track Demos, in that it’s just me on layered vocals and guitar. I recorded it with two engineers in Southern California. I put out “Friendship” as a single last summer, in 2015, recorded with musicians in Copenhagen, Denmark at a studio Prince once recorded at called Medley Studios. Next up, I plan to launch a Kickstarter to raise money to record an EP of my newer songs, with my bandmates, and make some videos. We’ve been playing these songs around L.A. and Pasadena, California, so it would be great to record them.

WIMN: How can listeners find more about you?

SS: Listeners can buy my album and single via CD Baby. They can also check out my Facebook music page for photos, videos, info and show info. I have show videos and the official video for my song “Cruel Hearted Woman,” from my album, on YouTube. And finally, follow me on Twitter.

Front and Center: Guitarist and Vocalist, Samantha Fish

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Guitarist and Vocalist, Samantha Fish

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By Gabriella Steffenberg 

Born in Kansas City, Mo., blues and rock musician Samantha Fish immersed herself into the music since picking up a guitar at 13. With a fear of performing in front of audiences, Fish pushed through her doubts and realized years later that this was a career she wanted to pursue.

With three albums released to date, Fish has overcome the obstacle that once blocked her creative outlet, and has been working on new music for an upcoming album.

Read on below to learn more about this week’s Front and Center, and check out Fish’s official website here.

WiMN: When did you know that you wanted to be a musician?

SF: I started playing music when I was 13, but I didn’t know that it was going to be my life until I was 17/18. I remember it was a pretty definitive moment. I was a really shy kid and I was thrown onto a stage for my first public performance – it was the scariest thing, but it changed me. I kind of knew after that moment that I wanted to keep chasing down that feeling; I wanted to be a performer.

WiMN: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since entering the music industry?

SF: You learn things everyday if you are looking for them. Really the biggest thing I’ve had to learn to do is to trust my instincts. Being young and female in a male-driven industry – there’s a lot of second-guessing yourself. Any decisions that are made, I have to wear them. So I’ve had to start trusting my gut and also be humble enough to keep seeking out education.

WiMN: Have there been any women in your life that have inspired you and your music? If so, in what ways?

SF: My mom and my sister were always singing when I was a kid. When I started hearing females playing instruments that really changed a lot for me. I saw Sheryl Crow early on, just seeing her run all over the stage playing various instruments was really inspiring. It opened the door for me to get into Bonnie Raitt, Lucinda Williams, etc.

WiMN: Are you currently working on new music?

SF: Yes, always. I just finished an acoustic album in December. Not sure about an official release date yet. I am writing again, and I’ve been doing demos; I’m always working on new music.

WiMN: What piece of advice would you give to women looking to be in the music industry?

SF: Hone your craft. Be a bad-ass. Don’t ever stop learning. It’s hard being a female in this industry, so you have to work really hard to prove yourself as a contender. Work hard, find your voice.

WiMN: What are your musical goals that you want to accomplish over the next year?

SF: I want to get out to as many people as humanly possible. I also want to find more time to be creative and write music, and I want to continue growing my business.