As a consumer of music you may not pay attention to how many artists playing on the radio, or on your Spotify list are women. It may not come to mind to ask yourself if a woman produced your favorite song, or if it was a woman who engineered the album of your favorite band.
But, if you are a woman trying to make a successful career in the music industry, those statistics matter. A lot.
Music, like a lot of industries, is a male-dominated field. More specifically in the areas of songwriting to sound engineering, less than 7% of these areas are employed by women. But, make no mistake that these numbers certainly do not reflect the number of women who are experienced and capable of creating music.
Meet Leyla Kumble. She is the creator of Girls Are Loud, a collective of female-identifying instrumentalists that provides solo songwriters with the resources they need to record all aspects of their song live – including studio space. Founded in 2016, Girls Are Loud makes its home in the heart of Los Angeles giving a positive space for artists to collaborate and network with other women. Kumble, who learned to play guitar at a young age, has worked in artist development for quite some time, so she knew that creating an organization for women to feel welcomed and appreciated was needed.
MA: What year did you start Girls Are Loud, and where did it originate?
LK: I started Girls are Loud in May 2016 in LA. It was born out of an idea I had in college for Stax-like recording, itself a product of a deep love of jazz, a desire for more time to be in studios, and a bunch of friends who were good at music but needed the helping hand of a collaborator. In 2015, when I started delving deep into the history of women’s rights issues and growing curious as to why they’re absent from a lot of studios or don’t feel comfortable in them, it tipped me into going a little further with the company idea and making it into a fully women run and populated endeavor.
MA: Please share a little bit about yourself. Do you have a background in music? Do you play any instruments and/or sing?
LK: I grew up listening to Billy Joel, Simon and Garfunkel, and Queen, and started to really get into music when I began playing guitar when I was 8. I’m by no means confident or perhaps talented enough to be a musician full-time, so I put my heart into A&R. I loved finding artists who needed a little bit of development but were on the cusp of something brilliant. I love working with an artist to develop their songs and it’s something I’ve done when interning in studios, A&R and management companies. I interned in A&R for three years and when I got my first job, I worked with film composers at WME, the talent agency. It was there I met more session musicians and instrumentalists.
MA: How have Girls Are Loud impacted the music community for women since its inception?
LK: What I’ve found to be the most rewarding is that through Girls Are Loud, I’m introducing female musicians to each other. I’ve watched friendships form and collaborations emerge because of those introductions. I’ve heard artists and instrumentalists talk about how much more relaxed and comfortable they feel when they’re not the minority in the room. It’s also been fun to give female musicians opportunities they wouldn’t have been able to get on their own. The amount of times I’ve heard an artist say, I’ve always wanted a female drummer but didn’t know one…
MA: What are some of the most memorable artists/event projects you’ve worked on so far?
LK: We’re still in the proof-of-concept stage. We’ve worked with three artists and the one I personally was really excited for was our second session with Georgia Nott from the band Broods. I grew up in New Zealand – where she’s from – so it was lovely to champion someone from my home in LA, but also I’ve always been such a huge fan of Broods so I was excited to work with her.
MA: Do you have anything exciting for Girls Are Loud coming up that you would like to share?
LK: We just signed our first artist, Adetola (video below), so that’s an exciting step forward. I am now embarking on investor rounds to build this into a sustainable record label and that’ll determine how long we stay around!