×

VOTI - voices of the industry

FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY

Hannah V: Being Female is not my Brand

 

 

 

This is not an article about being female, nor is it an article about the prejudice and hardships that women face in the music industry. This is an article about art.

 

‘art’ – noun

 

“The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

 

My name is Hannah V, I am a record producer, songwriter and pianist – and God, I love my job. I often feel more like a magician than a musician – creating something from nothing. We grasp for a feeling, an emotion, the unknown, and suddenly the bare bones of a song appear.

 

As producers, we work in service to the song, making adjustments here and there, constantly nipping, tucking and choreographing sounds. As you shape the song, the song shapes you. The struggle is real – one second it slips through your fingers – the next you’re grasping it firmly. You fight with it, you make peace with it, you love it, you hate it. Tension – Release. A final crescendo and there it is – the song, the finished product.

 

 

What does this have to do with International Woman’s Day?

 

Not a lot, and that precisely is my point.

 

When I walk into the room as a producer, people react to me being a woman; and with that, the pressure of having to prove myself to people that I do not know grows. More importantly, though, they do not know me, nor my dedication to music, my training, my accolades, my talent, my technique or my instinct. At that moment, I am unthinkingly forced to prove that I can do the job that I have trained my whole life for – I cannot let myself slip.

 

So, what am I asking for?

 

Let me answer this by giving an example of a recent session.

 

Last year, I produced an EP in Abbey Road’s iconic Studio 2. Naturally, I was nervous – this was arguably the most famous studio in the world – yet, from the first phone call with the head engineer through to the recording sessions, I was treated with total respect. No eye raises, no trivial mentions of it being “great to have a female producer here”, just “what do you need and how can we support you?”.

 

My voice was heard, the team were listening – I was seen. And what happens when you are truly seen? You relax. And so, I immersed myself into the session, with nothing in the way of my instinct and the music.

 

I was in a room with extraordinary musicians, beautiful songs and a phenomenal artist, all whilst feeling unapologetically free to direct the art at hand.

 

The legacy of the studio did not weigh me down, it uplifted me. The outcome was powerful – I will be proud of these recordings for the rest of my life. Not only in terms of the music but knowing that I have added to the fabric of the building and left some of my authentic self behind.

 

 

So, let’s repeat my question – what am I asking for?

 

It’s pretty simple. Be a considerate and respectful human being.

 

If I am in the room, assume that I am qualified to be there. See me as the producer that I am and check your unconscious bias at the door – don’t react to my gender or the colour of my skin.

 

As artists, musicians, engineers and creatives, we are trying to create something bigger than ourselves and give way to a higher calling. My job is to capture life in all its beauty and pain. This takes a microscopic level of attention to detail – every fibre, atom, and molecule of myself is physically and mentally engaged. I simply do not have the time or energy to justify my presence.

 

Let’s stop magnifying something that just, isn’t – being a woman is not my brand.

 

Discover more about Hannah V

 

Discover more about International Women’s Day

Emily Saunders: Without Question

 

The countless times I’ve been asked to clarify if I wrote the chords, bassline, and arranged my compositions is heart-breaking. To lay this to rest, yes, I’m a vocalist, a composer, and producer. Maybe it’s a ‘singer’ thing or a ‘women’ thing; all I know is it happens a lot.

 

People compose, they are artists, they produce. For me that’s where it begins and ends. I prefer to be judged by my work not by my gender.

 

A world where people feel the need constantly to clarify their professional skills, is a world where people are not used to seeing equal, diverse, inclusive representation in composition, songwriting, producing, and all positions within the music industry. So, how do we get to the position where it’s familiar to see equal representation of women across the music industry? To quote Malala Yousafzai:

 

“One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world.”

 

 

The way I see this is ‘start from where you are’. Change is seldom given to us, without effort. We have to take action in our music industry, and action for the greater good. Therefore how and what specifically can be done to create the change we need? It’s not that there’s a lack of talent – but there is a lack of representation. What needs to change? Let’s look at some cold hard statistics:

 

Vick Bain’s Counting the Music Industry Report 2019:

 

“Just over 14% of writers currently signed to publishers and just under 20% of acts signed to labels are female.”

 

Nadia Khan of Women In CTRL’s Gender Disparity in UK Radio Report 2020 (based on British artists whose songs are registered on Radiomonitor):

 

“Artists in the Top 100 UK Radio airplay chart 2020: 51% male, 30% collab, 19% female.”

“Songwriters in the Top 100 UK Radio airplay chart 2020: 80% male, 1% non-binary, 19% female.”

“Producers in the Top 100 UK Radio airplay chart 2020: 97% male, 3% female.”

 

Will redressing imbalances in all music industry areas affect the output in radio, awards, publishing signings, streaming?

 

I think it’s obvious to say that we need all areas in the music industry to ensure they have appropriate diverse representation. Major industry bodies have huge influence and power in the selection, and featuring of artists, enabling voices to be heard.

 

How do we create good practice from the beginning? What needs to be done in the music industry in order for women to be able to, more equally, claim their patch in music?

 

Industry bodies could choose to make immediate adjustments (as some organisations are) in co-opting existing brilliant people into boards and committees, creating an immediate shift that implements a broader and more equal voice. They can also choose to bring the conversation of diversity and inclusion to all meetings, where it may not have previously happened. Also opportunities for women already in positions of power could be funded to mentor more women to be in more senior leadership roles.

 

There is not a lack of diverse talent, but there is still a lack of diverse representation. We need to act sooner and more quickly to redress the imbalances. Then maybe in the near future, when I refer to my work as vocalist/composer/producer, this will simply be accepted without question. It takes us all to enable the changes we need to happen, so we can all be judged by our work not by our gender.

 

Discover more about Emily Saunders

Discover more about International Women’s Day

WATCH AND LISTEN new music features

London Django Collective | Festival of French Jazz

 
Nov 27, 2022
  The Actors' Church,

Parrjazz presents – Mark Lettieri Group

 
Nov 3, 2022
  District, Liverpool

Espen Eriksen Trio Concert at Stapleford Granary

 
Oct 14, 2022
  Stapleford Granary

John Etheridge Sweet Chorus | Festival of French Jazz

 
Oct 8, 2022
  The Actors' Church

DIOGO PICARRA

 
Nov 9, 2022
  The Jazz Cafe

NERINA PALLOT

 
Oct 16, 2022
  The Glee Club Birmingham

NEARLY DAN: THE SPIRIT & SOUND OF STEELY DAN

 
Nov 20, 2022
  The Glee Club Nottingham

ISATA-KANNEH MASON

 
Oct 10, 2022
  Barbican

Bill Laurance Jazz Concert

 
Nov 4, 2022
  Stapleford Granary Arts Centre

Martin Roscoe Piano Concert at Stapleford Granary

 
Oct 22, 2022
  Stapleford Granary

LIAM NOBLE TRIO AT STAPLEFORD GRANARY

 
Oct 9, 2022
  Stapleford Granary

Loz Speyer’s Time Machine | Million Square

 
Oct 31, 2022
  The Cockpit

ALEXIS FFRENCH

 
Oct 6, 2022
  Barbican

SAM BAKER

 
Oct 9, 2022
  The Glee Club Glasgow

Chris Laurence Quartet

 
Oct 6, 2022
  MAAD

Dallahan Folk Concert at Stapleford Granary

 
Oct 1, 2022
  Stapleford Granary

Neil C. Young Trio

 
Oct 16, 2022
  The Bridge Bier Huis

Neil C. Young Trio

 
Oct 26, 2022
  Matt and Phreds

OLCAY BAYIR

 
Oct 2, 2022
  The Jazz Cafe

Tim Garland, saxophone @ Jason Rebello , piano Jazz Concert

 
Nov 25, 2022
  Stapleford Granary Arts Centre

JESCA HOOP

 
Dec 6, 2022
  The Glee Club Birmingham

SABIR KHAN + RAMANA BALACHANDRAN

 
Oct 13, 2022
  Barbican

Neil C. Young Trio

 
Oct 20, 2022
  Northern Guitars

RAY GELATO & THE GIANTS

 
Oct 8, 2022
  The 100 Club

DAVID LEWIS GEDGE

 
Nov 13, 2022
  The Glee Club Glasgow

Pixels Ensemble – Remembrance Sunday Concert at Stapleford Granary

 
Nov 13, 2022
  Stapleford Granary Arts Centre

Cornelius Corkery Trio

 
Oct 9, 2022
  The Red Hedgehog

Faye Patton Nu Jazz Quartet + DJ After Party. Live @ Temple of Art and Music !

 
Oct 29, 2022
  Temple of Art and Music - Tam’s Vineyard & Jazz Club.

Apartment House

 
Nov 19, 2022
  Stapleford Granary Arts Centre

CAMILLA GEORGE (ALBUM LAUNCH)

 
Nov 16, 2022
  The Jazz Cafe

JOSH KEMP QUARTET – A LOVE SUPREME

 
Oct 28, 2022
  Stapleford Granary Arts Centre Cambridge

AfroCuba: Jazz Sessions Vol. III: MATT3RS

 
Oct 15, 2022
  Pizza Express Live

JOEP BEVING

 
Oct 7, 2022
  Union Chapel

Coloriage: The World of Richard Galliano | Festival of French Jazz

 
Oct 20, 2022
  The Actors' Church Covent Garden

MOONCHILD

 
Oct 1, 2022
  The Wardrobe

BRONWEN LEWIS

 
Apr 9, 2023
  The Glee Club Cardiff

CAT BURNS

 
Oct 4, 2022
  KOKO

RACHEL PODGER

 
Dec 15, 2022
  Barbican

Lady Maisery

 
Nov 11, 2022
  Stapleford Granary Arts Centre

Trish Clowes, saxophone & Ross Stanley , piano

 
Nov 6, 2022
  Stapleford Granary Arts Centre

DIANA TISHCHENKO & JOSE GALLARDO

 
Nov 18, 2022
  Barbican

SATYAJIT TALWALKAR + WAHANE SISTERS DUET

 
Oct 14, 2022
  Barbican

Karl Jenkins – The Armed Man & Shruti Rajasekar – Sarojini (World Premiere)

 
Oct 22, 2022
  St Albans Cathedral and Abbey Church

ELISA CARTHY & THE RESTITUTION

 
Nov 30, 2022
 

Violinist Chinara Sharshenova

 
Oct 2, 2022
  Jazz At The Elephant

ELIZA CARTHY & THE RESTITUTION

 
Nov 28, 2022
  The Glee Club Birmingham

Toby Goodman

 
Drummer/Percussionist

Estelle Kokot

 
Singer, songwriter, pianist - Esto Productions

KODALINE

 
Irish rock band

Jason Davis Sr.

 
Affectionately known as the Texas Tenor

Jamie O’Donnell Quartet

 
Bebop alto saxophonist, based in London

Hilary Lankford

 
Hilary Lankford is a California-based Jazz and Folk Singer/ Songwriter

Guido Spannocchi Ahead Only

 
Modern Jazz inspired by lullabies of different cultures

Ricardo Valverde

 
Jazz Guitarist

The Rocca Brothers

 
Jazz and Neo-soul Band

Remi Harris

 
Jazz & Blues Guitarist based in the UK

Christian Vaughan

 
Jazz pianist, composer, songwriter and arranger

Ingrid James

 
Australian Jazz Singer

Emilie Lassus Boyd

 
Vocalist

Beverley Skeete

 
Gospel and Soul Sensation

Erodoto Project

 
Eastern Mediterranean Jazz - Italy

Grazina Pukaite

 
 Grazina Pukaite is an Irish/Lithuanian vocalist based in London

Weronika Bielecka

 
Jazz vocalist

Aaron and the Argonauts

 
Jazz funk with twists of Cuba, Brazil and Jamaica

Joy Ellis

 
Jazz pianist, singer & composer

Luca Manning

 
Artist based in London
Artists Connects Pages
artists
venue
media
What's On
live and streamed
Industry Nuggets
Top Tips
Info you need to know
VOTI
features
Interviews with Heavy Hitters
Watch & Listen
Features
selected music and videos
by creators for creators and their audience - music community at its core