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Being a girl in the music industry is hard. Being a girl that has done porn and is now in the music industry? Even harder. The rejection, preconceived opinions and complete and utter dismissal at some points is heartbreaking at best. I’m not going to sit here and pretend I am the greatest songwriter or producer of all time. Or even that I am particularly special, but I do write and produce my own music, sing on the tracks and write the lyrics. However, my work is dismissed purely based on the harsh fact that I’m a moderately attractive girl with a background in adult film, a lot of the time before I have even had the chance to present any music.
And it is not just me, huge names that have done their time in the industry, still feel they have to prove themselves time and time again. Women have to work doubly as hard as men to be heard, to earn their spot and to PROVE they are worthy of the recognition that comes so quickly and easily for our male counterparts. The misconception that women don’t produce their own music (we all have ghost producers that we either fuck or pay to write our music so we can claim it as our own) is one that deeply saddens and offends me. When did our gender mean we are less musically inclined? Less hard working? Less talented?
Whether it is malicious, off-hand or jokingly, the number of times I have heard men say “She only got the deal because she fucked someone,” without even thinking, without knowing any facts. An assumption said out loud that is incredibly damaging to the female in questions career and reputation, and to all females that dare step into the jungle that is "music."
I, myself, have played classical piano since the early age of around five years old. I began singing shortly after, I was in musicals and always wrote my own songs. I went on to study music and achieved the top grades in my school for my songwriting, performance and theory for my GCSEs and A levels. I then dropped out of uni and joined my first band, a small rock band, we toured in a van, we slept on floors, we made no money, but it was amazing. Later I would do porn but continue to make music in private, when I left the adult industry to begin producing and DJ'ing I noticed the stigma toward women. Had I not done porn would I have been better received? Yes, maybe a little, but not entirely.
Alison Wonderland, a classically-trained cellist who has also played bass in multiple rock bands before she began producing and DJ'ing, writes and produces all her own music, has remixed and collaborated with some of the biggest artists in the world and has DEFINITELY done her time DJ'ing all over the world and working her ass off to get to where she is. An amazing example of a talented, hard working, passionate and dedicated female that deserves to be at the top of the game, deserves every headline slot and every single stream she gets. Despite all of that, I still see men on social media make snide remarks “She can’t DJ,” or “She doesn’t produce her own music,” on occasions I have seen other well-known male producers jump to her defense and beat down the naysayers. I applaud them, we need more of those!
It’s very easy to overlook the fact that ghost producers are a very real thing, yes, I am sure some girls use them, but HI GUESS WHAT? So do guys! I could name quite a few of your fav big name producers that actually wouldn’t even know how to open Ableton. That have their DJ sets prerecorded and just jump around behind the desk. It is what it is, and fair play to you. The music industry is harsh and if you’re playing the game well then congratulations, but why automatically assume that females are more likely to NOT be able to put in the work themselves? Why assume it is merely a girls looks that she is getting by on, whilst on the other hand acting offended that a female dare show any sign of independent sexuality?
Any sight of a slightly provocative or sexual photo on social media is call for outrage, "She’s selling her body, she uses her body to get streams." Last month, an article about DJ Tigerlily posting bikini holiday shots on her incredibly popular Instagram page, claimed she was in the wrong, and that her sexuality should be on a separate profile to her music. Whether this is jealousy or plain stupidity is unclear to me. In this day and age you must create a brand around yourself, and not many do it as well as Tigerlily. She is a beautiful girl, she travels, she promotes her healthy life choices (yoga, plant based diet) and she makes music. Her branding is immaculate, she is unapologetically herself, way more so than male producers who post thirsty photos with ten half-naked girls lying all over them. Yet strangely, they never get slated for using their sexuality to sell music. Are you starting to see the double standards here?
Why should how attractive you are devalue your music as a female? Why should a few provocative photos celebrating yourself devalue your music as a female? Why should the choice to be proud of your body and openly sexual, devalue your ability to make and perform music, as a female? Building a brand that attracts followers and fans is part of how the industry works in this day and age, and if your brand includes you totally feeling your bad self all over social media FUCKING DO IT. Why should that be the game changer in whether your music is well received or taken seriously?
Things are starting to change, people are beginning to take notice of the problem, of the lack of female producers, engineers and CEOs. There is a movement in progress, but it is early days. "Female fronted" is still a novelty genre rather than a norm. It shouldn’t be applauded to have a successful and popular female headline a festival, it should be as normal as booking a male of the same level.
Projects supporting women in music are beginning to pop up. Nap Girls is probably the most well-known, describing themselves as "a creative, collaborative collective of women promoting gender equality in the dance music industry,” they are supported by the likes of Skrillex and Diplo, and last year became so popular they launched their sister chapter in Australia.
Red Bull UK also launched their Normal Not Novelty project at the beginning of 2017, a free set of work shops at the Red Bull studios in London, held once a month, for women in music, by women in music. Successful DJ's, presenters, engineers and producers host practical workshops and answer questions on their journey in the music industry. It is a start. Hopefully, one day women will not need individual workshops for their gender alone, to be able to feel included in the industry they love.
I’m going to finish my rant by reminding everyone that, this summer, hugely talented and successful Australian DJ and producer Anna Lunoe performed pregnant, she rocked her bulge all over those DJ sets and festival slots, with pride. Rather then hide away in private like so many women feel they are expected to do when carrying a child, she carried on, she performed, she didn’t let anything stand in her way. She showed that women can do everything a man can do, and they can do it six months pregnant.
We are getting closer, but we still have a long way to go.