One of our favourite days is here, International Women's Day 2019. With this years theme: #balanceforbetter we want to profile and publicly credit more women who work on music behind the scenes. According to the latest statistics from the Recording Academy; women account for just 2% of producers and 3% of engineers/mixers in the creation of popular music. However we want that to change. As a result our playlist today profiles incredible female fronted bands, artists, producers, engineers, and mixers shaping the world's culture. So who's in our playlist? We focus on 10 artists, and their track credits from the playlist to highlight some of the best trailblazers around. Here's what happens when womxn take over the consoles.
The Japanese House – "Maybe You're The Reason"
Yes, 23 year old Amber Bain a.k.a The Japanese House has just released her amazing new album Good at Falling last week (March 1st) on Dirty Hit. Whilst Bain has just finished a small UK record signing tour with her Alsatian dog Calvin (we like to think that he signs her records too). The album has already made a splash in 2019 for being markedly honest, upfront, and all round brilliant personal pop. We dedicated a post entirely to raving about her latest LP. Recorded at Bon Iver's cabin, Good at Falling sees Bain on production alongside BJ Burton and George Daniel of the 1975. Perhaps Amber, maybe you're the reason for more balance in music. Revel in her track above.
Ouri – "Trance Parent"
Ok, so Canadian artist Ouri is super talented. Not only is she an incredible instrumentalist, playing cello, harp, and occasionally singing, but she also happens to record, produce, mix, and master her own work. Releasing on independent label Ghostly international 2019's "Trance Parent" sees Ouri continue her stride after 2018's late We Share Our Blood. If you're wanting more of an introduction to her work we recommend checking out her live Boiler Room set here. Definitely a visible beacon and all round general mad phenom. Make sure to check out Ouri above.
Tirzah – "Gladly"
This is the first one of our artists teaming up with a female producer too. Tirzah took the world by storm with her 2018 release Devotion. In fact, 2018's Devotion was made in collaboration with her close friend Mica Levi (Micachu & The Shapes; also, Oscar-nominated for her score for the film Jackie). Mica handles production and Tirzah provides lyrics, melody, and vocals. Together Levi and Tirzah ooze some sort of indie dream team. With "Gladly" containing all of the right elements to make laid back pop gold. Not only was Devotion hotly anticipated, but it absolutely doesn't disappoint. As a result, Tirzah’s been at the centre of the post-grime and UK garage sound of London for the better part of a decade.
Björk and Arca – "The Gate"
Björk has always been a pioneer. Consistently way ahead of the times, 2017's Utopia was mixed by the incredible Heba Kadry (Beach House, serpentwithfeet) and Marta Salogni (FKA Twigs, Frank Ocean, MIA) , as well as mastered by Mandy Parnell (The xx, Brain Eno, Sigur Ros). Consequently "The Gate" is an exquisite example of their work together. One of the characteristics of Utopia is Björk's ability to craft and invent new instruments, and sounds to transport the listener into highly creative, new worlds. Salogni, and Kadry seemingly place these unusual elements in the album mixes with ease. In particular, it's tracks like "The Gate" that highlight these women on top of their game. There's no denying the amount of artisanship shown in this album; it's a technical and emotional masterpiece.
Noname – "Self"
2018's Room 25 quite rightly hit high critical acclaim. Whereas Telefone saw Noname experimenting more with unconventionally delicious R&B, Room 25's Jazz influence and hushed lullaby rap was a true stand out last year. Executively produced by the queen (Noname) herself, there are so, so many lush moments on this LP. Beautifully engineered, showcasing live instruments at their best "Self" manages to balance a wonderfully clean mix as Noname's everyday poetry glides over the bars, like a penguin flying underwater. We just can't get enough of this album. Time, and time again Noname reminds us why she's such an incredible artist. Listen to "Self" above.
ROSALÍA – QUE NO SALGA LA LUNA – Cap.2: Boda
2019 has seen the Catalan artist, ROSALÍA featured on James Blake's excellent new album, Assume Form with "Barefoot In The Park". However the Spanish artist's last album El Mal Querer is a triumph in itself. Arguably responsible for single-handedly bringing contemporary flamenco back in a popular way, "QUE NO SALGA LA LUNA" along with the rest of her latest album is timeless. There is a culture captured within El Mal Querer with it's uncompromising cante, palmas, toque, and jaleo. The Catalan artist also brings quirky, and badass storytelling aspect to all of her videos. If you are unfamiliar with ROSALÍA's work, we seriously recommend watching the magnificent "PIENSO EN TU MIRÁ" here.
Lava La Rue – "Letra"
Tongue in cheek, light, airy, bubblegum hiphop, "Letra" is the result of NiNE8 COLLECTIVE founder AKA MOONWOMAN CULT LEADER // LIL RUE [BABY GLUCOZADE]'s last amazing EP Letra. Lava La Rue; a playful anagram (and fictional character of artist Ava Laurel) dropped 2018's independent Letra to significant hype. Precocious and extremely talented, Lava La Rue leads the worldwide DIY collaborative church. Underground musicians, producers, and visual artists join in this community to create one of the most positive vibes, and safe reflective spaces. Possibly one of the most inspiring movements coming from London at the moment, "Letra" particularly feels both contextual and relevant for our listeners. With its upbeat bounce, Ava spills all of the beans on her life. Meanwhile, her unusual word choice will definitely have you smiling.
Ex:Re – "Crushing"
The solo project of Elena Tonra, Ex:Re sets a wide open cathartic outlet for Tonra's lone, indie, and gritty musings. Created as a window into the inner mind, her eponymous album Ex:Re (pronounced like Xray) does exactly that. A candid document to a previous relationship Ex:Re is like a personal diary; songs as unsent letters, and poems fill the pages to bring the book altogether. Engineered by Steph Marziano (also responsible for another of our favourite's: Denai Moore's 2017's We Used to Bloom), the brooding music compliments the lyrics perfectly. "Crushing" feels particularly culturally relevant as it soundtracks the slow, impending, drifting apart of two souls after a serious relationship.
Alice Coltrane – "Turiya and Ramakrishna"
Even though she started in John Coltrane's band as his pianist; Alice Coltrane should by no shadow of a doubt be on everyone's radar as a leading artist in her own right. Sampled numerously on Flying Lotus's work, Alice Coltrane is a pioneering artist probably best known for her work in jazz during the 60s and 70s. "Turiya and Ramakrishna" features stunning cosmic jazz, and spiritual vision seeping into the many gorgeous corners of Alice Coltrane's work. Remarkably accomplished as a pianist, harpist and arranger that pioneered synth use, as well as setting the tone and paving the way for artists like Kamasi Washington's sound to follow suit. Coltrane has been a trivial 40-50 years ahead of her time. Here is an artist that needs to be in your ears.
Rihanna – "Bitch Better Have My Money"
Everyone loves Rihanna. But hidden somewhat more secretly inside 2015 hit "Bitch Better Have My Money" are a few incredible women working behind the scenes to create this pop banger. Written in part by Bibi Bourelly and produced by WondaGurl (SZA, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Drake) "Bitch Better Have My Money" really is an example of women coming together in pop to create something equal parts momentous, and memorable. Maybe historically equivalent to Greece's Trojan Horse. Something tells us people will look back on this track and learn a lot more from this track in 2019. We celebrate all three of these women today by featuring them in our playlist.