Women in Pro Audio Vol. 5: Olesya Star, Producer/Songwriter, Founder of Graffiti Records
[Olesya Star is a 26-year-old UK singer, songwriter and record producer. In 2010, she co-founded the independent record label Graffiti Records, purely to release her own material. All work on Olesya Star has been done through Graffiti Records to date – including all self-produced videos, recordings, production, photography, artwork, social media and general music management.]
- According to this article, women account for 5% of producers and engineers—why do you feel this is?
Perhaps it’s a lack of interest in the subject. To be perfectly honest, I got into all this “record and produce myself” affair because I couldn’t afford to pay good studios for all those hours, and pay their producers for every song I wrote. Besides, I wanted unlimited access to recording any crazy idea I got in the middle of the night, be it a song or a beat. I wanted to experiment with my sonic identity. But it is only now that I’m into record production, that I get excited discussing the benefits of a particular piece of gear. Speaking of gear… I must say, I still think that men get more irrationally excited about all the hardware, all the knobs and faders, and the look of a console with its industrial design and funky lights… I, personally get more excited about what it does to my vocals! I care more about the end result than all the reasons and logic behind third level harmonics that tape produces.
It also seems to me that most girls lack confidence, probably because of men, because of all the jokes that men make about women… Could that be one of the reasons why there are not more females in audio engineering? I read somewhere that many female scientists submit their works under a male pseudonym. Food for thought? Are they afraid of prejudice and being judged?
It could be a cultural thing too, as traditionally it’s a male-dominated field. And many girls think, “Oh god, I’m not going into all this technical wizardry…. boys ‘n their toys, etc.” Our society, unfortunately, still has many gender stereotypes, and it’s very slow to change. How many women are there as fighter pilots? Or train engineers?
- Do you feel that, for whatever reason, that there are some elements of the pro audio field that women have a more natural predisposition toward than men? If so, which and why?
Girls are highly capable of understanding sound engineering. They’re quite often better at math than guys. Us girls have a knack for multi-tasking. But then again, maybe, the male ability to concentrate on one thing solely, like the harsh frequencies around 2 kHz is a good thing. The smallest gain changes, harmonics and sub-bass frequencies that I hear often differ from the sounds a guy will hear, and vice versa, so I think that you need both sexes to make a truly awesome mix. Like most girls, I tune in to the top end easily—guys will always opt for more bass, often way too much in the mids, and then struggle to find ‘air’ in the mix. This is where you need the female ear!
I think, however, it’d be a good thing if more girls got into record production. Nice, clear mixes that aren’t over-compressed, lifeless and flat—that’s the goal! And girls really get that. I think educating people on the differences between being a producer and a sound engineer would help. Sometimes you don’t need to be the latter to be able to accomplish the former.