WOMANPRODUCER is a multi-dimensional archive of sonic innovators. Looking both backward and forward, the project highlights frequently untold histories of female, trans and non-binary sonic innovators and encourages the generation of more materials by and about these producers and technologists. The project began in 2014 as a web-based archive and has perpetually expanded in time and space, first with a series of live events held in Brooklyn, New York in the fall of 2016, which brought together artists from across genres and eras for conversations and performances (including Neko Case, Zola Jesus, Pauline Oliveros, Suzi Analogue, Miho Hatori, Yuka C. Honda, Mirah, Val Inc, and The Blow), and now in the form of a record label. As a label, WOMANPRODUCER acts as a funnel through which producers can self-release their work, a sort of ephemeral water cooler around which artists can gather and share the endeavor of producing sounds and sending them out into the world. WOMANPRODUCER is the project of Khaela Maricich and Melissa Dyne, of the NYC-based electronic duo The Blow. The label’s inaugural release is The Blow’s new album Brand New Abyss.
The impetus to create WOMANPRODUCER came to us a couple of years ago when we started learning how many of the early pioneers of sound recording and production were women, trans and non-binary. It seemed strange to us that despite this historical fact, for some reason we had grown up with the sense that “music producer” meant something that didn’t look like us. Among the women producers we’ve come across are some of the best-known musical performers in the world, many of whom have never been recognized as the authors of their own sound, such as Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, and Björk, as well as artists who’ve challenged not only the definition of a producer but also old-fashioned conceptions about the rules of gender, such as synthesist Wendy Carlos, who was among the first public figures to transition genders back in the early 70’s. Many of the initial developments in recording, production and software-based composition programming were made by women, and the way that we create music now has been directly influenced by the accomplishments of these trailblazers. However for as many materials as we’ve found about the history of women in production mysterious gaps still remain, and we’ve had difficulty finding documentation of even well-known female producers working in the studio. If the accomplishments these artists have been overlooked, the potential for adding to the body of knowledge about producers and sonic innovators must no doubt be limitless- likely as limitless as the scope of the potential sonic landscapes that could be created by this ever growing field of participants.
(The words “woman” and “producer,” are utilized here as generous terms, aimed to include those who land at less-defined points along the gender spectrum as well as others who have similarly been under-represented in the old-fashioned definition of “music producer.”)