we need more females behind the scenes in music
A new album from electro-popstar Georgia Nott of BROODS seeks to shine a light on the women in the dark.
Georgia Nott, photography Catie Laffoon
SZA, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Sigrid, Lorde, Charli XCX, Tove Lo, Jorja Smith, Alma, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Mabel, Tove Stryke: our eardrums are swimming in the sweet, gritty, loud, angry, quiet, unpredictable sound of strong and diverse women’s voices. And while we can all enjoy these new(ish) female frontpeople, we all know that there is a lack of parity in the music industry; from frontmen to the guys behind the scenes. As with pretty much every single industry in the world, the lack of women is due to a fundamentally flawed system. Women aren’t given the encouragement to pursue positions in technical industries and leadership roles, nor are we given as many opportunities to progress. I think one calls it, “the patriarchy.”
“Even though I know this is what I was born to do, I feel like I’m constantly compensating for the fact that I am the only woman in the room a lot of the time.”
Georgia Nott knows this first hand. The New Zealander has been part of the music scene since 2013 as one half of brother-sister electro-pop duo BROODS. Well, technically since much earlier, when she and her family performed at weddings and churches in an ABBA tribute band. Since, she’s released two albums with BROODS, moved to LA, played Coachella, toured the world, befriended Charli XCX and perfected an inspiring air guitar routine. And, unfortunately, been immersed in the inherent sexism infecting the music industry. “A lot of the time I find myself trying to prove I belong,” she explains. “Even though I know this is what I was born to do, I feel like I’m constantly compensating for the fact that I am the only woman in the room a lot of the time.”
So she made sure every single person in the room was a woman. Her first solo venture, The Venus Project, is out today -- International Women’s Day -- and is entirely female-made. When it came to sourcing the talent, she reached through the tentacles of her female network. One of her best friends linked her with cover illustrator Ashley Lukashevky. She met collaborator Ceci Gomez at Charli XCX’s birthday party. She knew the project’s manager and its album masterer through BROODS.
So how was the process different working entirely with women? “I felt like I could follow my instincts as an artist and a person without questioning whether I was proving I was worthy of being heard,” she says. “I felt like I could lead myself and my ambition for this project through pure instinct.”
This translates into an album of complete vulnerability -- one only attained if you trust your collaborators, and know it’s reciprocated. It feels naked, like when you undress in front of someone for the first time, or forget your phone. Acoustic guitar and piano are threaded through delicate synths and subtle beats. There are strange sound effects, dissonant chord progressions and jarring harmonies. And they work. There’s also completely stripped back moments, pierced only by Georgia’s distinctive voice -- the aural equivalent of an Olympic figure skater. There’s a phone message recording: “Man, just, I actually feel like a lot better now, but… sometimes life is just a bit hard, you know?” It’s an album that admits fear, uncertainty and imperfection. But it also foregrounds female friendships in a world where we’re so often pitted against each other. It finds strength through vulnerability in a society that so often portrays it as a weakness.
"It feels naked, like when you undress in front of someone for the first time, or forget your phone."
All-female initiatives have their critics though. There’s an argument floated every time a new strictly-women festival pops up, that’s it’s counteractive to the cause. After all, why should women be segregated to an entirely separate bill? Why can’t we just kick it alongside the boys? Georgia agrees, saying that while she thinks that female-only festivals are “an incredible statement to make,” she adds, “It would be even more incredible if more women were added to the major festivals in general.” Which we second. Oh, how we wish we were at the stage in society where we didn’t need to have an “all female” this and an “all-female” that. Oh how we wish that there were females, males and non-binary people on every stage, programme and paycheck. In equal numbers.
But shit, it’s not going very well for us, is it? Three women out of forty acts on the line up on a major London festival? In 2018? Situations like this are why need to keep pushing for women behind-the-scenes as well as in front of the mic. It’s why it’s refreshing to see females killing it on every front in The Venus Project. Don’t get us wrong boys -- we want you in our club! We want to crack open a non-gender specific beer with you! But until you return the favour -- sorry, until you return the moral obligation -- we, like Georgia, have to take matters into our own hands.