Female producers not bothered by sexism
The local music industry has long been regarded as a male-dominated playground with some female artistes claiming that they have been victims of sexism, especially at the hands of their male counterparts. However, female producers occupy a different lane in the music industry, and they tell The Sunday Gleaner that sexism has not been a threat in their neck of the woods.
Veteran producer The Wizard is one such producer. The rounded producer, who is also the daughter of lovers rock icon Beres Hammond, has been producing since her formative years; however, she has never encountered sexism.
“Sexist guys will hit on a female I guess instead of taking them serious. But I have never experienced that because of my team. My name has a lot to do with it, too, because a lot of persons don’t know that The Wizard is a female. Also because of the quality of work I put out,” she told The Sunday Gleaner.
Known for producing hit singles like Mash It Up and Like a Pro, The Wizard said that her work has won her the respect of the industry, and she did not get special favours because of her gender.
“I don’t touch road like that, so people don’t really see my face. I think I have lasted because of my work ... This is something I would encourage females to do because we can make more interesting music from a more creative point of view,” she said.
Top-flight producer DJ Sunshine was nominated alongside all-male nominees in the category Producer of The Year at several award shows over the last two years. The popular radio host told The Sunday Gleaner, that her position in the music industry is no coincidence since she has always viewed herself as equal to males based on how she was raised.
The producer, who also described herself as tomboy, was raised in a household with seven boys. She believes her upbringing shaped the way in which she views male dominance in society.
“I don’t know if females have a harder task in music than males because I don’t see males as competition. I am my biggest competition, and I have good knowledge of what I want because that is how you will get the artistes to make good music. I am sure it is not a level playing field, but I got a lot of training when I was young. I used to have to walk fast with the boys, so now, competing with them feels natural. But as I said, I am my biggest competitor,” she said.
The seasoned DJ agreed that the physical features of women and the tendency for males to hunt potential partners is a recipe for sexism. However, she also feels that women can rise above the challenge if they educate themselves about the opposite sex. Taking a cue from Steve Harvey’s book, DJ Sunshine believes she can think like a man.
“If you are good looking, men will make a pass at you. But you have to know how to hang with the boys. Create that energy so that they will respect you and trust me, getting involved with people in the industry will not work for you. Keeping your integrity is what will work and when you have that, they will work for you and respect you. Men will hunt, but as a woman once you have knowledge of that, you are good,” she warned.
As it relates to the question of whether females make better producers? DJ Sunshine believes women have attributes which both work for and against them in the production field.
“As a woman, its like a balance, because we are emotional and we tend to make that get the better of us sometimes, and that is negative. But females have a good instinct and that works for us when it comes to choosing the right thing, especially with music..Also we have that thing that men want, and that works in our favour,” she laughed.
ZJ Sparks on the other hand was encouraged to venture into production by associates who felt she had a superior musical ear to the average person. She also rubbished the opinion that women can’t take criticism, as she says her ability to take criticism has made her a better DJ and producer.
Sparks, who is now promoting a new rhythm titled the Skelewu, told The Sunday Gleaner, that female producers were more popular in the music business during the ‘70s and ‘80s. She, too, was not bothered by sexism, saying that her bar is set so high that she is literally unable to see the sexism impacting her development.
“Males might not be readily receptive to us because they are not accustomed to seeing us in that space which they are known to dominate, but aside from that, sexism doesn’t affect me. I have had passes made at me, but nothing sexual because people just know me to be all about the music. Other women have said stuff to me regarding sexual advances made to them which I cannot delve into. But that has never happened to me,” she said.
Sparks also encouraged other females to consider taking up music production as a profession. She however pointed out that the profession takes confidence, hard work and persistence.
“In life, you either face everything and run, or face everything and rise... sexism is right across the globe. So you really have to push through. When I first wanted to do mixing, a lot of male DJs didn’t want to help me because they felt I was out of place. But I am thankful for males like Colin Hines, Jazzy T, Delano, Nyron and DJ Liquid, who taught me without allowing male ego to prevent them from giving me their assistance,” she said.
DJ Sunshine is promoting a new rhythm compilation called The Pile Up, which features I Octane, Mavado, Aidonia, among others, while Wizard is gearing up to released a new EP titled Shake the Ground.