As part of Alternative Careers Week at Goldsmiths and in celebration of this years Women’s History Month, we bring you Music Tech Fest: a day centred around music technology, for women and non-binary people.
Led by Omnii in association with Native Instruments, the day will consist of a series of workshops aimed at engaging those of all abilities with technical aspects of sound and music production. This is your chance to get hands on with hardware and learn new skills in a safe, non-judgemental space.
Ahead of the day we caught up with Goldsmiths music alumni Joy Stacey, Naomi Jackson and Fran Perry who are also the founding members of Omnii, the collective aimed at inspiring women and non-binary people to operate in all aspects of music production:
How did you get into music? Can you cite your main influences?
Joy - I got into music because my family are musical and always encouraged me to learn new instruments, then supported me in going on to study at degree level. I've gone from being a classical musician to writing pop songs, to creating experimental electronic music and my main influences are probably Holly Herndon, Katy Gately and Jenny Hval, because they are unafraid to bend genres and use the voice in unique ways.
Naomi - I think sometimes when you start playing an instrument, you can suddenly listen to music and hear each part separately, rather than just hearing a wall of sound? When that switch happened, I became really interested in learning how each sound was made and started messing around with Audacity (a free audio recording and editing software) - where I would spend hours cutting up rubbish drum beats and speech clips from youtube and reworking them. I still do that now! (But not with Audacity anymore, even though it’s great for freeware).
Fran - I got into music through playing drums and forming numerous bands with my friends/anyone who I could convince to pick up an instrument and play with me. I was in tons of bands, ensembles and orchestras until I started making electronic music and producing and I found my voice as a composer. Now I write by myself and in the duo ORKA. My main influences are Bjork, Laurel Halo, Karen Gwyer.
What are you most excited about at the Music Tech Fest this weekend?
Omnii - We are really excited about meeting new people - our events are always a great way to build our community and meet future collaborators, and there's always a really nice atmosphere when women and non-binary people are participating in music together. We're also really honored to be collaborating with Native Instruments and can't wait to get hands on with their equipment.
Would you say people need to be good with technology to get into music production?
Omnii - Yes, but anyone can learn to be good at technology, it’s not something you need to feel comfortable with straight away. It's also important to be a creative person. It's important to be open to different genres and to approach ideas in multiple ways. If you are creative, you will be able to troubleshoot tech problems really easily. It’s also useful to accept that we are all constantly learning, you need to be an adaptive person, adjusting to new equipment and understanding signal flow.
Do you prefer working in the studio or with live sound?
Joy - It's a tough one but studio. Whilst it can be more pressure, the work you put into it results in a product you can be proud of and share with others, rather than being a temporary sound.
Naomi - Honestly, I change my mind every week. I love doing live sound for the immediacy of it, and getting to do live mixing on the fly is really fun. I do like being in the studio though, but mostly using my little home set-up. I have more time that way and I’m so familiar with the gear I can get the sounds I want really quickly.
Fran - I’m at home in the studio setting, I like having longer to work on things and like to have time to try out loads of different processes, both creative and technical.
What’s your dream for the future of Omnii?
Omnii - A big dream of ours is to own our own recording studio. The studio environment has been shaped by cis-men which makes it feel inaccessible to people of other genders and sexualities. We would love to build a studio from the ground up that's run by those who you rarely see in a studio setting. That way we could also run more workshops and do more for the community, creating a more diverse space.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Joy - Peggy Gou has given me good vibes to get through the bad weather.
Naomi - I’m still really enjoying the Jay Som album from last year - she records every little bit herself (I think in her bedroom) and the production is really great. Also can’t ever manage to get off Telefone by Noname - she’s flawless. Also Big Thief and the new Beach House track!
Fran - The producer Femme has just made a playlist called Girls Beats Bass and it’s got loads of amazing tracks by women and non-binary artists. Definitely worth a listen.
And finally, what are your top tips for women and non-binary students wanting to get into music production?
Omnii - Keep learning new things and keep the excitement going, whether it’s learning how to use a new plug in, or a new production style. There’s a wealth of information on YouTube and a ton of different workshops happening all around London. Build a community and keep creating, don’t give up. Don't be afraid to get in touch with those you look up to most. Ask questions, it’s the best way to learn.
Omnii workshops are now full however you can just turn up and join the jam session and the workshop with native instruments. Read more about the weekend here.