Six months later I find myself working on two TSMM music compilation projects. The record label is about to drop its eighth release and there is still not a woman on the roster (in my defence I have a approached a few and there is now hopefully one artist LP in the pipeline), so I thought the compilations would be an ideal place to start to rectify my own label's gender imbalance. One of the compilation projects is taking a look at ambient music in a context related to the current virus situation. I was looking through my playlists of ambient music and connecting with female artists to see if they wanted to contribute, and again it struck me how skewed the number of male to female producers was, so I went to Group Mind, an ambient Facebook page I frequent, and posted, "Quick question to the Group Mind hive! It's struck me recent how male dominated the world of ambient music is, although this problem extends to the electronic music world in general. I'd love to hear some female ambient artist recommendations please. Feel free to suggest the reason for this discrepancy whilst you're at it". I have to say the group is a true fountain of ambient music knowledge and the comments and recommendations started flying. Ironically all but two of the respondents were men, which confirmed some of my suspicions about the male to female ratio in the ambient world, but I picked up loads of great tips and recommendations. The Facebook post can be read here,
In amongst all the great recommendations there was only thought on the actual "why?" of this imbalance, "I suspect the bias is less in who is making ambient than in who is selected to be promoted", and when you look at some ambient labels' rosters, there might be some truth in that. Someone else asked "Are there any genres that are female dominated?" I answered "folk, pop, classical, soul", but then had a quick thought and skimmed through the Billboard top 100 for that week. Here were my findings: "Just checked the Billboard Top 100, looks like there are 15 women in the top 100. I only counted Taylor Swift once, though she has about 7 tracks in the top 100!" So it's obviously not just the ambient music genre that has an issue.
Let's just be honest, we are so far away from sexual equality in pretty much every aspect of life, even in the so called "woke" parts of the world. This is an issue being addressed, discussed & confronted by a small percentage of first world dwellers, it's not even much of a discussion in 75% of the countries in the world. Don't despair though, I honestly feel there is cause for long term optimism. The conversation has started, not just with sexual equality but race and sexual preference too. The younger generation especially are calling out discrimination on a regular basis. It might take a two or three generations in the more progressive countries, possibly longer in others, but change is happening. Slowly but surely.
I mean here I am writing this blog post where five years ago, as much as I supported equality in all areas of life, I didn't. After starting the discussion on Facebook, the least I could do was to make the group recommendations more visible and searchable to the world. So I've listed all of the artists in the order that they were recommended. As I'm busy with music discovery, I'll also be keeping it updated with my new discoveries, but you can help too.
If anyone reading this post has any good suggestions, or would like to be included in the list then please feel free to drop me an email through the contact page, and I'll update the post with your recommendation when I get a chance. If you could make it easy for me and include all relevant links to yourself or the artist - website social media, Bandcamp, Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Soundcloud links, then that would be really appreciated. Anyone reporting broken or incorrect links also gets brownie points.
I've written a brief description of each artist as way of introduction. Some of the artists I was aware of or followed already, so I'm writing from a position of strength. The artists that are new to me, I've quickly researched, skipped through a few tracks and summarised as best I can on my limited time budget. If anyone feels like they've been misrepresented by my cursory investigations & hastily scribbled words, please feel free to send me a correction. Also don't get too hung up on the ambient moniker, many of the producers span different, but closely related genres, for many of them the term "ambient" is a loose fit.
Big thanks to Group Mind for all the great artist suggestions, without them this blog post would never have happened.
Further Reading & Links:
Women In The Ambient Music World Part 2
Women In The Ambient Music World Part 3
Why Not More Women Make Electronic Music and How This Could Change
Women Produce 9% of Electronic Music
Female British artists underrepresented on UK radio, survey finds (21/8/2020)
Feminatronic is about celebrating and highlighting the musical creativity of electronic artists who just happen to identify as female.