Where are the ladies?
Leading electronic-music label Astralwerks is hoping to answer that question by searching for American female producers for an upcoming compilation of new artists it plans to release in September.
The second volume in its Unknownwerks series which started last year with a collection of 12 (all-male) American electronic-music artists who had never before released records commercially will cull its tracks from demos submitted to the label. Astralwerks has hooked up with Girls On, an entertainment site for young women that is part of the Oxygen Network, to produce Unknownwerks: Volume 02. (Information on submissions, which will be accepted until July 14, is available at www.unknownwerks.com.)
"The Web site is always up, so submissions have still been coming in from last year's promotion," said Astralwerks marketing and promotions director Dan Cohen. "The point is to introduce those artists to new ears. If you're a young kid and you don't know how to get your music heard, here's a chance. It's a start."
The A&R team at Astralwerks received hundreds of original submissions from unknown electronic artists for the first Unknownwerks volume, which was released in July of last year. For the majority, it was the first time they had ever appeared on a record. Featured artists on the first volume included Queens, N.Y.'s Beat Pharmacy (born Brendon Grant Moeller) and New Orleans' Hexx (born Michael Scott). Cohen stresses diversity and range of style as the main criteria for landing a spot on the compilation.
"Not your typical drum & bass stuff," he said. "The more different, the better."
Los Angeles' DJ Irene, who has released nine mix-CDs on the independent label Underground Construction Music, and performed around the United States and Mexico, commends Astralwerks on its drive to discover female producers.
"Astralwerks has a good focus on what's going on in the electronic world," she said. "There aren't too many female producers out there because it's a new market for us. That's why I'm going back to school, to open up more doors," said Irene, 37, who attends the Musicians Institute in Hollywood where she studies sound engineering. She's been spinning for 15 years.
"A lot of women don't have access to reliable engineers," she added. "That was my problem. [Underground Construction] hooked me up with a reliable engineer and helped me climb to the next level."
So, is there a difference between male and female electronic artists? "Not really," said Cohen. "Not to sound like Courtney Love, but if it's good music it doesn't really matter if it's a male or female making it."