Atwood Magazine Celebrates Women’s History Month 2021, Pt. IV

Atwood Magazine Celebrates Women's History Month
Atwood Magazine Celebrates Women's History Month
Just as the pandemic began in 2020, a wave of protest and calls for equity were the anthems of the year, leading to important conversations surrounding inclusivity and equitable treatment for LGBTQ+ communities, BIPOC communities, and women. Intersectionality must be front and center in these conversations, and those conversations must continue into 2021. Today, and throughout the month of March, Atwood Magazine will be continuing those conversations in celebration of Women’s History Month — including artists and publicists alike discussing the state of the music industry and its role in gender equity.
In Part IV of our series, Atwood spoke with and highlighted 12 women in the industry, asking them to reflect on the ways misogyny can be combatted, how they perceive their place in the industry, and how we can choose to challenge the music industry for better representation.
Adrian Vargas, Managing Editor
Mariel Fechik, Junior Editor 
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Emilia Tarrant, Olivia Lunny, Lu Wright, Amy Douglas White (Douglas), Karate, Guns & Tanning, Kyra Wu (Tell All Your Friends), Mother Nature, Martha Diaz (Hip Hop Education Center & Hip Hop CommUniversity) Dasha, Mary Akpa, DJ Rae, Gladys Pizarro (Launch Entertainment).
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:: Atwood Magazine Celebrates Women ::

Atwood Magazine Celebrates Women's History Month

  follow our Women’s History Month playlist on Spotify  



:: Emilia Tarrant ::

Emilia Tarrant © Indy Brewer

What kind of space do you want to carve out for yourself as a woman in this industry?
As a woman in the music industry, I want to develop my career and artistry without being defined or shaped by others, and for my creative output to be a true reflection of who I am, regardless of gender.

Misogyny can be so insidious in the music world. What are some ways you've been able to combat it and what kind of advice would you offer to women who are just coming into the industry?

I walked headfirst into an industry that I know can be extremely tough for female artists. Not only are there so many women that can sing beautifully, but it’s no secret that some are made to look and create music a certain way for the brand appeal, and some just feel that they need to do the same to attract an audience. I sometimes feel this pressure, especially with social media at the heart of modern-day society; not only do I need to create good music, but I have to have a strong social media profile, and that’s something I have definitely struggled keeping up with. With time though, I have learnt to work hard, stay true to and always defend myself, know my opinion is valid (an opinion is an opinion, no matter who you are) and keep my voice heard.

How would you challenge the music industry in order to increase meaningful representation and provide better support for women?

As a young female artist, I have not come face to face with many direct challenges yet, however, I know I will in the future. I feel that by speaking my mind, always working my hardest, defending my opinions and sharing my own experiences, I am always trying to subtly increase awareness and change the way women are perceived and treated in the industry. And if I none of that works? I can always write a song about it!

Lastly, what are you working on currently? Anything coming down the pipeline you’re excited to share with fans?

I recently returned to the studio to explore my pop-ballad sound further with producer Luke Potashnick (Gabrielle Aplin), and from this, my new single “Honeymoon Phase” was very recently released. The single and its accompanying video has gained amazing support from many blogs, Apple Music, and Vevo since, and I’m excited to say I will have an EP of the same name coming out later this year. In the meantime, I will be recording and releasing further singles as well as playing live shows as soon as possible.



:: Olivia Lunny :: 

Olivia Lunny © Lane Dorsey

What kind of space do you want to carve out for yourself as a woman in this industry?
I want to create a collaborative and inclusive space for myself and peers in this ever-changing industry. I want to work towards including women in as many ways as I can in my own career (from a female DP behind the camera to any of the technical roles that support my music etc).

Misogyny can be so insidious in the music world. What are some ways you've been able to combat it and what kind of advice would you offer to women who are just coming into the industry?

Realizing your worth, and standing by your ideas is so important in this industry even if it means being louder and bolder at times. My advice for those entering this world would be to build a community that values, respects, and cherishes your artistry. I’m blessed to have such an amazing team of people who continue to support me on this journey.

How would you challenge the music industry in order to increase meaningful representation and provide better support for women?

I can count on one hand how many female producers I’ve ever worked with. I would be inspired to see and collaborate with more. We need to emphasize up-and-coming female producers and hold spaces for them to be further recognized. With having more females in this industry, we also need to diversify and include women and people of all identities.

Lastly, what are you working on currently? Anything coming down the pipeline you’re excited to share with fans?

I’m VERY excited to be releasing music in these coming months! First off some singles followed by my Debut Album! Stay tuned!


:: Lu Wright ::

Lu Wright © 2021

What kind of space do you want to carve out for yourself as a woman in this industry?

I want to create a positive, uplifting space. I write a lot with mental health in mind as it is a part of my life that really influences me every day. If my music helps one person either momentarily feel happy or know they are not alone in their everyday battles – then I think I’ve done a good job.

Misogyny can be so insidious in the music world. What are some ways you've been able to combat it and what kind of advice would you offer to women who are just coming into the industry?

An ideal world in the music industry or in general is being an equal. I call myself a feminist as I want to be treated as an equal and to empower women to do the same. Nina Simone was such an inspiration to me as one of the most predominant activists of all time. She shone a light on music to make it one of the most powerful tools for change. I haven’t been affected personally by misogyny in the music industry, but I know that the music industry has been dominated by men and that women have been subjected to great prejudice. I’m aware of too many cases of misogyny, for example, #freeKesha. Kesha was being silenced in fear of her abuser, Dr. Luke. This was very much in the limelight with support from Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, and many other female artists. Hayley Williams has spoken numerous times of the harassment she gets from the men in bands and in the industry, the list goes on.. judgment and scrutiny are blatant.

Sexual harassment is still a very serious problem in the music industry and unfortunately hasn’t improved as much as we all would like. The only really vital advice I can give is to be confident to have ambition and be authoritative. A great contemporary example of this is Bjork, she experimented with every genre and always works with her creative instinct. People that you trust and that will treat you as an equal is super special, which only goes to show, how important saying what you want and being confident in your music is. Billie Eilish is another great example of this, she subsequently went on to perform on stage to one of the biggest crowds in festival history, at Reading 2019. We need to encourage more people like Emily Eavis, boss of Glastonbury, who thrives in having more female-line ups. We also need to keep pushing to have more gender-balanced line-ups at Festivals across the globe.

How would you challenge the music industry in order to increase meaningful representation and provide better support for women?

I hope in the future to make a massive difference and be a positive influence on many young girls. The pressure of a particular body image needs to change, I’m sure this would be an enormous help to female mental health. We can also never forget the suffragette women who made a huge difference to the lives of all British women, it is inconceivable to me that women were unable to vote in this country due to their gender. I’m so grateful for their tireless work to create a more equal society. Movements such as the more recent #metoo have also given women a fundamental platform to be heard, supported, and understood. If you are a female instrumentalist, I’d say don’t be afraid at all. I think women can support women in such a powerful way. We need to encourage women to keep being outspoken. A couple of modern examples of being musically outspoken is Dua Lipa with her song “boys will be boys” on her latest ‘Nostalgia’ album and Jasmine Sullivan’s new album ‘Heaux Tales’ which explores feminism, sexism, and body-shaming. Dua and Jazmine are examples of the many women that have been affected by misogyny in the industry and use their music to open up these important conversations.

Lastly, what are you working on currently? Anything coming down the pipeline you’re excited to share with fans?

The last few months have been a really exciting time for me. I have released two singles, “British Daisy” which dropped in January, and this month I released “What I like.” Both singles feature on my upcoming 5 track EP Notes To Self (out late May) and each song is exactly that. Noting pivotal moments of self-reflection, growth, and worth. Every song carries forward a subtle message of positivity. I can’t wait for the full EP to be out and to keep thriving on being outspoken, authoritative, and hopefully helping to create a positive space for future female artists!



:: Kyra Wu, Publicist, Tell All Your Friends ::

Kyra Wu © Erica Snyder

What kind of space do you want to carve out for yourself as a woman in this industry?

I think in this industry, it’s already hard enough to exist as a woman sometimes. Specifically, for myself, I aim to make more space as a queer, Asian woman, while also carving out more room for any other queer POC in this white, straight, male-dominated industry. We gotta lift each other up!

Misogyny can be so insidious in the music world. What are some ways you've been able to combat it and what kind of advice would you offer to women who are just coming into the industry?

I feel like the misogyny is so rampant and can be more subvert than overt sometimes — as in getting talked over, not being listened to, having your ideas questioned or ignored. In this industry, you just have to remember to stand by yourself, speak up, and don’t let people take advantage of you and your talents. Know that you’re worthy and deserve a seat at the table!

How would you challenge the music industry in order to increase meaningful representation and provide better support for women?

I think that’s just it — we need to continue to challenge the music industry to listen and value women. The problem isn’t that we don’t have women in music, it’s that we don’t truly value women in music. We don’t provide them enough space, enough opportunities in comparison to their male peers. The only way to truly accomplish this is to afford more space for women in all aspects — from artists themselves to producers to music business workers. Men need to step aside and do more than just espouse how they’re allies — they need to actually do the work and let women, especially POC, take charge.



:: Amy Douglas White (Douglas) ::

Douglas © Jac Cron

What kind of space do you want to carve out for yourself as a woman in this industry?

I would love to continue my journey as an artist, producer, collaborator, and composer while being of service along the way.

Misogyny can be so insidious in the music world. What are some ways you've been able to combat it and what kind of advice would you offer to women who are just coming into the industry?

I’ve spent many years behind the scenes both on the label side and artist/performer side. Other than the obvious issues of unequal pay, I know many women who have experienced some sort of sexual harassment in the industry. The sad part is that to this day, some women will defend those instances or continue to normalize them. The music industry is so complex in this way, but I think that the #MeToo movement has shed some light on these issues, and things that happened 20 years ago wouldn’t go unnoticed today.

15 years ago, it was pretty common to hear label executives openly sexualize female artists (or colleagues), creating a misogynistic culture in the workplace that was for the most part accepted. It was (and still is) clearly a boys club, and one either participated in it, ignored it, or fought against it (to little success). In addition to sexual harassment, I’ve witnessed several instances of emotional abuse towards women, particularly young women in entry-level jobs. It was pretty dehumanizing behavior (with lasting emotional effects for the individual), and yet, there was no accountability for it. To me, that is absolutely unacceptable, and organizations must be held accountable for allowing these behaviors from men in power to go on unchecked.

As a performer, I’ve often battled my worth, always having to prove that I had more to offer than my appearance. I remember having to put on a hard shell of professionalism when showing up to sound checks. There used to be this assumption that women were not as technologically savvy or as talented as their male counterparts. I felt that I was always overcompensating – trying to never make a mistake – in order to earn equal respect and fight off the misconceptions of female performers. In addition, you sometimes would get the looks, the side comments, or harassment that can make that whole experience less than ideal. There is also the issue of male “fans” in a position of power who want to help your music career. It’s hard to navigate those moments when you’re just starting out. Nowadays I put up with a lot less and demand accountability and respect from all of the people I work with.

How would you challenge the music industry in order to increase meaningful representation and provide better support for women?

I think the corporate culture has to change significantly from within the big companies. Men in power have to be held accountable for their words and actions, and there has to be a healthy and proactive human resources infrastructure to help guide, educate and lead that change. I also think it’s important to give women more opportunities to succeed in various positions of power. Female leaders have the chance to change the tone and encourage and guide younger generations of women.

Lastly, what are you working on currently? Anything coming down the pipeline you’re excited to share with fans?

I’m so excited to release my debut album, “Ashes,” on April 2nd, 2021! Leading up to that I have my third single, “Seventeen,” coming out on March 9th, and “Come with Me” on March 30th. I also have a short form music video called “Alter Ego” coming out on album release day!

:: Paige Shedletsky, Valerie Green (Karate, Guns & Tanning) ::

Karate, Guns & Tanning © Annette Williams Photography

What kind of space do you want to carve out for yourself as a woman in this industry?

Shedletsky: I have the unique experience of not only being a musician in various bands over the years, but I have worked in the music industry as well. I am currently the Director of Marketing for the midwest talent-buying and promotion company Production Simple. Being a gay woman in this industry both as a musician and a music industry professional gives me the ability to lift other creators and to collaborate. I just want to share my art, while also helping create a safe and welcoming music industry landscape that’s easier for others to share their art in as well.

Misogyny can be so insidious in the music world. What are some ways you've been able to combat it and what kind of advice would you offer to women who are just coming into the industry?

Green: Be confident and develop your skills outside of just writing and performing so you can be as self-sufficient as possible. Work with those you trust, and seek out advice from other musicians you respect. We stay aware of those who make promises that seem advantageous to themselves. It’s possible to do things your own way. Your instincts can go a long way in this business!

How would you challenge the music industry in order to increase meaningful representation and provide better support for women?

Shedletsky: Hire more women in prominent music industry roles! Gender inequity is big in the music industry. We need more representation in the roles that can make changes to diversify this industry. I love seeing all of these Woman and Non-Binary run labels coming up. We need more of that! Also, negotiate equal pay as a musician!

Lastly, what are you working on currently? Anything coming down the pipeline you’re excited to share with fans?

Green: We have KGT’s first full-length album, Concrete Beach, dropping on March 26th. We’ve partnered with animation artist, Andrew Knives to release a full visual album for Concrete Beach. We will also release a limited edition vinyl, we have an EP coming this summer, and we’re working on our live show for when tours resume!



:: Mother Nature ::

Mother Nature © Nicci Briann

What kind of space do you want to carve out for yourself as a woman in this industry?
We want to carve out a space of equity and inclusion. Too often we find women as the backbone of many of the great accomplishments happening within the music industry, but rarely are those names spoken or put into the spotlight. We want to put an end to disproportionate inclusion and create safe spaces for women to thrive and pursue their talents.

Misogyny can be so insidious in the music world. What are some ways you've been able to combat it and what kind of advice would you offer to women who are just coming into the industry?

Have a plan, create a strong self-identity, develop a spiritual connection and build a strong team around you. Going into anything blindly could lead to more complications than necessary. Arm yourself with the tools that allow you to be self-sufficient, able to decipher through the distractions, and deliver the results you see for yourself.

How would you challenge the music industry in order to increase meaningful representation and provide better support for women?

We challenge the industry by speaking up for ourselves and other women around us, we share resources and fellowship with our tribe. Our team is a multi-cultural women-led group that allows us to see from multiple viewpoints and broaden our approach to the industry. Working together with other women is our main tactic to increasing meaningful representation and providing better support for women within the music industry.

Lastly, what are you working on currently? Anything coming down the pipeline you’re excited to share with fans?

We have a massive year planned! As emcee-educators, we balance pursuing our careers in music with educating the youth through hip-hop. We are currently in the midst of the rollout for our project SZNZ, coming out in the spring. This project is so important to us and to HipHop culture. SZNZ will be the catalyst to bring LIFE, LIGHT, and KNOWLEDGE back to the culture and to mainstream music. Simultaneously, we are expanding our nonprofit which is home to The Miseducation of HipHop, a music-based youth development program focused on self-acceptance, healing traumas, and dream building. Through our music and our education work, we seek to awaken our communities and heal our collective consciousness. Stay connected with the music on IG @MotherNatureBARZ, tap into our classroom @MisedofHipHop, and dive into our story at MotherNatureBARZ.com.




:: Gladys Pizarro, Founder, Launch Entertainment ::

Gladys Pizarro © Sam Morales

What kind of space do you want to carve out for yourself as a woman in this industry?

First of All, I already carved out a space in the music industry – as I participated at the beginning of the house music era in many areas such as developing notable DJs, Producers, and vocalists that are still relevant today. The funny thing is I’m still developing new and upcoming talent today.

Misogyny can be so insidious in the music world. What are some ways you've been able to combat it and what kind of advice would you offer to women who are just coming into the industry?

Misogyny is a strong word, But we do live in a world where there is dominance, where there is a superiority complex whether it’s black or white, woman and men – any opposites, In my days I worked TWICE as HARD and was way ahead of the game. I also had a love for HOUSE music like no other. I actually Lived and breathe it daily 365 days a year – I also knew I had to be best as long as I didn’t step on anyone’s toes to move ahead – I did it with Integrity.

How would you challenge the music industry in order to increase meaningful representation and provide better support for women?

Start organizing music groups via social media and tell women to start getting active on all musical platforms – Film, Club, Grammys, Fashion, etc – You get the picture right?



:: Dasha ::

Dasha © Tanner Deutsch

What kind of space do you want to carve out for yourself as a woman in this industry?

I want to create a space, rather an avenue for myself and other upcoming women in the industry to be unapologetic. I’ve found that my initial response is to say that I’m sorry before I express my opinion, like I’m some type of burden. I think this has a lot to do with how many generations of women were raised to fit in with social expectations, cause no trouble, and be agreeable. It’s about damn time we take the power back. I’ve been working so hard to break this habit because it only strips my potential away, which I deserve to hold, especially when it comes to my artistry. My goal is to keep carving out a space in which women and myself feel empowered to take control- where we want to be in charge of their own careers and feel confident doing so.

Misogyny can be so insidious in the music world. What are some ways you've been able to combat it and what kind of advice would you offer to women who are just coming into the industry?

As a woman, you have to work your advantages, and not shy away from them. Use the skills that men don’t have to even out the playing field. For example, ladies, confidence is sexy any way you spin it. The best thing you can bring into any room, meeting, or aspect of your life is confidence. If there’s something you want, don’t be afraid to go after what you want, and when you do, go get it with confidence. Even if you don’t genuinely feel it, fake it till you make it. Act the part and dress the part even if you don’t have the part, yet. You’ll notice right away that the ratio of men to women in the industry is almost embarrassing. In LA specifically, it’s rare to have another female in a session. I guess the best advice I can give is to keep expanding your social and creative circle. There’s never a time you shouldn’t be excited about meeting someone new. I got lucky being a total extrovert- networking, going to events, etc. is genuinely exciting to me. Upon expanding your circle, you’ll find who’s truly in your corner, and more importantly who really isn’t.

As far as the underlying misogyny that socially exists in the industry, build your creative circle and team with people who value you for what you bring to the table and could care less about your gender. Teams only work when there is genuine, mutual respect. Personally one of the hardest things is distancing myself from friends who I’ve realized aren’t actually on my team for a multitude of reasons. Once you empty your bench, the universe will fill it with people who are genuinely there for you. Trust the process. Build your team from the ground up, and take your homies who supported you when you had nothing to your name when things start working out. That’s how I’ve been approaching the insidiousness of misogyny in the music world. As a woman, you have to be your own number one cheerleader.

How would you challenge the music industry in order to increase meaningful representation and provide better support for women?

I would challenge the music industry to invest in educating women to do the jobs that men are currently dominating. For example, only 5% of the producers in the industry are women, versus 95% of producers who are men. The default stereotypically is to hire a man to do a job that a woman is just as qualified or even more qualified for. Why? That’s honestly such a loaded question that we all already know thousands of answers for. I would also challenge men, who find themselves in positions of power in which they could hire a woman, or make even the smallest difference towards equality of the genders to do so. Go out of your way to research eligible women for work, sessions, and jobs that you were about to habitually hire a man for. It’s going to take everyone working towards the same goal of equality for everyone in the music industry for us to see results. One day we’ll see a 360 where there are more women of power in the industry than there are men. To reiterate, this isn’t about tearing down or disrespecting men. This is about giving the women the default advantages for once that men have always had in this country. This is about equality and balancing the power, not tearing men down so women can climb.

Lastly, what are you working on currently? Anything coming down the pipeline you’re excited to share with fans?

There is so much music in the pipeline. If Dasha one year ago today heard the music I was writing and releasing I would pass out with excitement. Honestly, I still feel like passing out. First up, is my debut EP called $hiny Things dropped March 19th. It’s six songs, featuring my four singles latest singles “21st Birthday,” “Better Than She Did,” “None Of My Business,” and of course “$hiny Things.” The last two songs on the EP are called “More Than This” and “Make It Work With You.” Both of those songs made a pretty decent spark on Tik Tok which fills me with so much confidence about this EP. I wrote all of these songs about very personal, relatable experiences in the past year. We’ve got a few music videos dropping with the project as well! After the EP, the first single off my possible and first album will be dropping late April called “Love Me Till August.” I’ve never believed in a song as much as I do in that one. Writing it was effortless yet so personal and real. That was my first song to blow up on Tik Tok and I cannot wait to put it out into the world. I finally feel like I’m creating the music I’ve always wanted to create. I can’t wait for the world to hear what’s next. Stay in touch on Instagram @dashamusic!



 :: DJ Rae ::

DJ Rae © 2021

What kind of space do you want to carve out for yourself as a woman in this industry?
A versatile and dynamic one.

Misogyny can be so insidious in the music world. What are some ways you've been able to combat it and what kind of advice would you offer to women who are just coming into the industry?

I have combatted with my talent, skill, passion, and perseverance. My advice would be if you come into music for the right reasons let your belief in yourself drive you, and overcome every challenge and override every hurdle you come across!

How would you challenge the music industry in order to increase meaningful representation and provide better support for women?

More women in the industry will naturally lead to better support, so that’s what we need, more talent coming through, more awareness to give talented women of all backgrounds hope, and a more balanced approach to opportunities within the industry.

Lastly, what are you working on currently? Anything coming down the pipeline you’re excited to share with fans?

I’m working on my release schedule for the year which is shaping up nicely, some of my best work to come, along with my debut artist album which I’m really excited to share!

:: Mary Akpa ::

Mary Akpa © Nikki Rich

What kind of space do you want to carve out for yourself as a woman in this industry?

I’m carving out a space where I can fully embody all aspects of my creativity without the constructs of society; with open arms for others to feel the freedom to do the same.

Misogyny can be so insidious in the music world. What are some ways you've been able to combat it and what kind of advice would you offer to women who are just coming into the industry?

This is such a great question. I’ve shifted my focus away from feeling the pressure of combatting misogyny, to living fully as the woman I am, out loud. I’m fortunate to have brothers and male-identifying friends who are open to conversation. And I choose to work with musicians who are at least aware, and open because I’m known to speak up. Women often feel like we should stomach things so as not to appear difficult. But as a Black woman, I’m already perceived as difficult, so I might as well speak my truth. You can’t unhear what you hear. To women just coming into the industry, I would ask you to consider: how important is your voice to you? Knowing the value of your own particular voice, for yourself, will help guide you on when and how to use it.

How would you challenge the music industry in order to increase meaningful representation and provide better support for women?

Think outside of the box! There’s more to a woman’s artistry than numbers and appearance. The industry has reserved a very small space for women defined by age, body type, cool factor, proximity to whiteness, etc. Of course, there are some exceptions, but they’re rare. I want more space for voices that represent more of the world – not wrapped in a perfect bow.

Lastly, what are you working on currently? Anything coming down the pipeline you’re excited to share with fans?

Yes, I recently released a song called “A Hurum Gi N’anya (I do).” It’s the lead single from my upcoming album, and you can check that out where ever you stream. So yeah! I’m thrilled to be sharing new music this year. And I hope you’ll listen!



:: Martha Diaz, Founding Director, Hip Hop Education Center – Universal Hip Hop Museum and Founder, Hip Hop CommUniversity ::

Martha Diaz © 2021

What kind of space do you want to carve out for yourself as a woman in this industry?

I would like a safe space where women are respected and valued for their talent, mind, and heart. Where we can freely write, produce, archive, curate, teach, learn, and reimagine Hip Hop culture without being harassed or undermined.

Misogyny can be so insidious in the music world. What are some ways you've been able to combat it and what kind of advice would you offer to women who are just coming into the industry?

I’ve never tried to fit in or go along with the crowd. I’ve created my own lane and am very selective on who I work with. Because of my values, I don’t tolerate flirting, or waste my time with small talk, and I’m quick to cut people off for disrespecting me and others.

How would you challenge the music industry in order to increase meaningful representation and provide better support for women?

For there to be meaningful representation there needs to be systemic change and a culture shift. A group of us have been discussing ways to hold companies accountable by creating a rating system like a B Corp model or a Hip Hop green book that would identify which companies are the safest, most inclusive, and best supportive of women. The best companies would have mentors in place, strict ground rules to avoid any type of harassment, and they would have equal pay for women. I think this would be a good start.



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