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Ethel Gabriel the First of the 5%

 

Ethel Gabriel (1921-2021) may be one of the most prolific recording industry professionals you’ve never heard of. Ethel was the first woman record producer for a major record label, and one of the first women in the world to work in A&R. She had a 4-decade career at RCA starting with an entry-level job and rising up to being an executive in the company.

During her career, Ethel produced over 5,000 records – some original recordings and some repackaged – by nearly every artist on the RCA roster (including Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton). Ethel was the woman in A&R to receive an RIAA Gold Record in 1959, and the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Historical Album (1982).

Ethel was willing to take risks, such as producing the first digitally-remastered album or working with artists who brought new types of music to the mainstream. Her credits include everything from mambo to easy listening to rap.

Ethel’s Background

Ethel was born in 1921 in Pennsylvania. She started her own dance band at age 13 (called “En and Her Royal Men”) where Ethel played trombone. She originally wanted to go to college for forestry (at the encouragement of her father) but women were not allowed into the program. She decided to attend Temple University (Philadelphia, PA) and study music education.

A relative helped Ethel get a job at RCA’s record plant (in Camden, New Jersey) to help pay for tuition and expenses. Ethel’s first job included tasks like putting labels on records. She was promoted to record tester where she had to listen to one out of every 500 records pressed for quality. She learned every note of the big hits since Ethel had to listen to them over and over.

Ethel was allowed to visit the nearby RCA recording studios. She brought her trombone with her, playing with major artists for fun between sessions. She also learned how recording sessions worked. Ethel was secretary to the manager of A&R at the time, Herman Diaz, Jr. Ethel got to produce her first recording session (with bandleader Elliot Laurence) when Diaz called in sick and asked her to do it.

In 1955, Ethel convinced her boss, Manie Sacks, to sign Perez Prado to RCA’s label. She produced his record, Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White, which became a worldwide hit and helped bring the mambo craze to the US.

She was with RCA during the creation of their Nashville studios, the signing of Elvis, and their transition from mono to stereo.

Through Ethel’s career, she was willing to take risks and experiment with new technology or music. In 1959, Ethel launched Living Strings, a series on RCA Camden’s label that ran for 22 years.

In 1961, she produced Ray Martin and his Orchestra Dynamica, the first release using RCA’s “Stereo Action.” In 1976, she was executive producer of Caruso,’s A Legendary Performer, the first digitally-remastered album. The technology used by Soundstream Inc (lead by Thomas Stockham) has gone on to be widely used in audio and photography restoration and Stockham’s work on the Caruso album was the basis for a 1975 scientific paper. In 1975, Ethel gave a chance to then-unknown producer Warren Schatz, who produced RCA’s first disco album, Disco-Soul by The Brothers.

Ethel managed RCA’s Camden label (designed for budget records) starting in 1961. Camden was struggling when she took over and went on to become a multi-million dollar label under Ethel’s watch. Some of RCA’s major artists even asked to be released on the Camden line over the flagship RCA label because of Camden’s success.

Ethel received two RIAA Platinum records and 15 Gold records (over 10 million record sales total) during her career with numbers still growing. Many of these were repackages or re-releases where Ethel put her expert eyes (and ears) on song selection and label redesign. One album she re-packaged, Elvis’ Christmas Album, was the first Elvis record to reach Diamond (10 million sales). Ethel said of creating special packages (in Billboard Magazine Sept 5, 1981), “It’s like second nature to me. The secret is that you know the market you’re trying to reach. You can’t contrive a special record. It has to be genuine and full of integrity because people know the difference.” Ethel re-issued albums for nearly every RCA artist (including the Legendary Performer series, RCA Pure Gold economy line, and the Bluebird Complete series).

Towards the end of her time at RCA, Ethel asked the company to fund a women’s group for lectures and seminars. She wanted to help women learn to become executives. Ethel said she felt like a mother to some of the women she mentored (Ethel was married but did not have children). She wanted to teach skills like how to network, how to dress or behave. Ethel also became involved with Women in Music, one of very few groups available to women in the music industry at the time. In 1990, Ethel publicly spoke out against the “boys club” in a Letter to the Editor of Billboard Magazine (Oct 6). She said, “Yes, there are ‘record women’ in the industry – and they have ears, too!”

Ethel also worked with many artists and ensembles in the studio during her career including Chet Atkins, Caterina Valenti, Marty Gold, Los Indios Tabajaras, Teresa Brewer and hundreds of recordings under the Living series. She said of working with artists, “There are times to ‘harness’ artists and times to ‘push.’” Ethel said her most helpful qualifications to do the job were “her knowledge and love of music and her ability to make difficult decisions and hold to them.” (Cincinnati Enquirer August 18, 1983)

Ethel was not promoted to Vice President at RCA until 1982, over 40 years into her career. Many colleagues said it was long overdue. The following year, she won a Grammy for Best Historical Album (for co-producing The Dorsey/Sinatra Sessions). After leaving RCA, Ethel remained in the industry where she worked as president and vice president to smaller record labels.

Ethel’s story is being captured in a documentary film about her life and career, called LIVING SOUND. Production on the film started in 2019, when Gabriel was 97 years old. The documentary began (with the aide of SoundGirls) through uncovering archival materials and conducting interviews with Ethel.

For more about LIVING SOUND visit livingsoundfilm.com.  SoundGirls also has a scholarship in Ethel’s honor: the Ethel Gabriel Scholarship.

The SoundGirls Podcast – Caroline Losneck and April Tucker: Living Sound the Ethel Gabriel Documentary Team

 

Find More Profiles on The Five Percent

Profiles of Women in Audio

 

The Ethel Gabriel Scholarship

Applications for 2021 will open on June 1, 2021.

We are proud to recognize Ethel’s contributions to the music industry and for paving the way for future generations of women working in music production.

In honor of Ethel Gabriel, SoundGirls will be awarding two $500 scholarships to members pursuing a career in the recording arts. These scholarships will be awarded in August 2021 and can be used for educational training and university programs. The scholarships are open to all members of SoundGirls.

SoundGirls is currently in production on a new documentary about Ethel Gabriel’s career and impact. For more info visit EthelGabrieldoc.com

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

Any member of SoundGirls that is attending or plans to attend educational programs in Professional Audio. There is no age requirement and includes college programs, trade schools, seminars, and workshops. Applications are open to all genders and non-conforming genders.

HOW TO APPLY

The application includes two short essay questions:

  1. Why you are applying for this scholarship;
  2. How has Ethel Gabriel inspired you? (400-600 words, please.)
  3. Application opens June 1, 2021 – Apply Here

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION

The essay submission deadline is 12:00 midnight EDT July 30, 2021. The scholarships will be awarded in August 2021, and paid to scholarship winners. Scholarship winners will be required to send proof of enrollment in the educational program to SoundGirls or scholarship money must be returned.

SELECTION PROCESS & NOTIFICATION

The SoundGirls Board will review essays and will notify the winners via email.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

The scholarship funds awarded can be used for educational programs related to professional audio. Scholarships are non-renewable. You will need to submit proof of enrollment in a program.

QUESTIONS?

Any questions on the scholarship essay can be directed to soundgirls@soundgirls.org.


About Ethel Gabriel

Photo: Democrat & Chronicle Dec. 13, 2013

Photo: Democrat & Chronicle Dec. 13, 2013

Ethel Gabriel may be one of the most prolific music producers you’ve never heard of. Ethel had a 4-decade career at RCA starting with an entry-level job and rising up to become the first female record producer for a major record label and an executive role in A&R.

During her career, Ethel produced over 5,000 records and worked with a wide variety of artists on RCA’s roster including Elvis Presley. Ethel was willing to take risks – such as producing the first digitally-remastered album or working with artists who brought new types of music to the mainstream. Her credits include everything from mambo to easy listening to rap.

Ethel’s Background

Ethel was born in 1921 in Pennsylvania. She started her own dance band at age 13 (called “En and Her Royal Men”) where Ethel played trombone. She originally wanted to go to college for forestry (at the encouragement of her father) but women were not allowed into the program. She decided to attend Temple University (Philadelphia, PA) and study music education.

A relative helped Ethel get a job at RCA’s record plant (in Camden, New Jersey) to help pay for tuition and expenses. Ethel’s first job included tasks like putting labels on records. She was promoted to record tester where she had to listen to one out of every 500 records pressed for quality. She learned every note of the big hits since Ethel had to listen to them over and over.

Ethel would hang out at the nearby RCA recording studios (and brought her trombone with her to play between sessions). She got to play with some major artists for fun and also learn how the engineers and producers worked. She also spent a lot of time in the studio as secretary to the manager of A&R at the time, Herman Diaz, Jr. Ethel got to produce her first session (with bandleader Elliot Laurence) when Diaz called in sick and asked her to do it.

In 1955, Ethel convinced her boss, Manie Sacks, to sign Perez Prado to RCA’s label. She produced his record, Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White, which became a worldwide hit and helped bring the mambo craze to the US.

She was with RCA during the creation of their Nashville studios, the signing of Elvis, and their transition from mono to stereo.

Through Ethel’s career, she was willing to take risks and experiment with new technology or music. In 1959, Ethel launched Living Strings, a series on RCA Camden’s label that ran for 22 years.

In 1961, she produced Ray Martin and his Orchestra Dynamica, the first release using RCA’s “Stereo Action.” In 1976, she was executive producer of Caruso,’s A Legendary Performer, the first digitally-remastered album. The technology used by Soundstream Inc (lead by Thomas Stockham) has gone on to be widely used in audio and photography restoration and Stockham’s work on the Caruso album was the basis for a 1975 scientific paper. In 1975, Ethel gave a chance to then-unknown producer Warren Schatz, who produced RCA’s first disco album, Disco-Soul by The Brothers.

Ethel also helmed RCA’s Camden label (designed for budget records). Camden was struggling when she took over in 1961 and had a sales volume increase of 100% over two years. Camden went on to become a multi-million dollar label under Ethel’s watch. Some of RCA’s major artists even asked to be released on the Camden line over the flagship RCA label because of Camden’s success.

During her career, Ethel received two RIAA Platinum records and 15 Gold records (over 10 million record sales) and her albums continue to sell. Many of these were repackages or re-releases where Ethel put her expert eyes (and ears) on song selection and label redesign. One album she re-packaged, Elvis’ Christmas Album, was the first Elvis record to reach Diamond (10 million sales). Ethel said of creating special packages (in Billboard Magazine Sept 5, 1981), “It’s like second nature to me. The secret is that you know the market you’re trying to reach. You can’t contrive a special record. It has to be genuine and full of integrity because people know the difference.” Ethel re-issued albums for nearly every RCA artist (including the Legendary Performer series, RCA Pure Gold economy line, and the Bluebird Complete series).

Towards the end of her time at RCA, Ethel asked the company to fund a women’s group for lectures and seminars. She wanted to help women learn to become executives. Ethel said she felt like a mother to some of the women she mentored (Ethel was married but did not have children). She wanted to teach skills like how to network, how to dress or behave. Ethel also became involved with Women in Music, one of very few groups available to women in the music industry at the time. In 1990, Ethel publicly spoke out against the “boys club” in a Letter to the Editor of Billboard Magazine (Oct 6). She said, “Yes, there are ‘record women’ in the industry – and they have ears, too!”

Ethel also worked with many artists and ensembles in the studio during her career including Chet Atkins, Caterina Valenti, Marty Gold, Los Indios Tabajaras, Teresa Brewer and the entire Living series recordings. She said of working with artists, “There are times to ‘harness’ artists and times to ‘push.’” Ethel said her most helpful qualifications to do the job were “her knowledge and love of music and her ability to make difficult decisions and hold to them.” (Cincinnati Enquirer August 18, 1983)

Ethel was not promoted to Vice President at RCA until 1982, over 40 years into her career. Many colleagues said it was long overdue. The following year, she won a Grammy for Best Historical Album (for co-producing The Dorsey/Sinatra Sessions). After leaving RCA, Ethel remained in the industry where she worked as president and vice president to smaller record labels.

 

 

Silence as Sound

The Power of Silence in Music Creation

In a world occupied by sound, it can often be challenging to find a moment of silence in everyday life. In the realm of sound design, however, silence can be a very powerful tool.

The use of silence in film isn’t a new technique, but it is indeed one that makes a bold statement. For example, films like Saving Private Ryan and 2001: A Space Odyssey make great use of silence as a compositional tool. More recently Star Wars: The Last Jedi used the technique to emphasize a colossal explosion of a dreadnaught ship.

So why is silence so powerful?

Well, I believe it comes from the premise that silence is supposed to be uncomfortable. The phrase ‘awkward silence’ for example is used frequently to describe situations when the conversation runs out, or you’ve just run out of phone battery and need to look up at other people in a crowded train – to name a few examples. We are almost programmed to believe that silence is something to feel uncomfortable about.

In the context of cinema, silence makes the audience hyper-aware of their surroundings. Especially if the entire film up until that point was beautifully orchestrated and every second was underscored by lush sound design and Foley work. To hear silence is almost unnatural.

To quote Mary Shelley “nothing is more painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change,” and silence is almost always used as a dramatic modification to the score. If done correctly, the use of silence can be an excellent way of eliciting an emotional response from an audience. Whether that be to shock, anger or to create a break in the sonic narrative, silence can be a straightforward yet powerful tool to add to any sound designers’ project.

If you’re interested in film scoring or just even want to jazz up the track that you’re working on, perhaps find inspiration in silence. I have tried it a few times when I have been struggling with ideas. On one particular occasion, I added a bit of silence to a track that was getting too repetitive, and I think it worked. The sudden silence definitely makes you re-engage with what you were listening to in the first place.

If silence is a bit too absurd to add to a track though, you could always try the less is more approach. By stripping away some of the unnecessary tracks in your session, you could be left with a sound that differs just enough so that it offers something new to the listener.

Overall I think adding silence to a project is often overlooked. It’s a great creative tool to use and is also extremely simple to incorporate into any project. Even if you don’t always like the outcome of adding in silence, the main benefit is that it makes you re-engage with what you’re listening to and often adds a different texture and layer to your project.

 

 

My Love of the Guitar (Pt. 2)

Read Part One Here

I went to an early college (Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Massachusetts), and while I was finishing up my BA thesis, I was also in my second year of private classical guitar lessons. I’d been playing for almost nine years already and was also playing the viola, and in two choirs, and music theory classes. I had a laptop, but this was before everything was done digitally, so I used my hands to write and edit and analyze notation in addition to taking notes, and editing drafts of my thesis. I write with my left hand, and I play “standard” guitar (which is to say that my left hand presses the frets and my right hand plucks the strings). My guitar teacher instructed me to practice a minimum of two hours a day, “but really six hours is more reasonable if you can manage that,” she’d suggested.  Because I adored her, even with a full course load and two babysitting jobs, I practiced as much as I could. This usually amounted to three hours a day.

“If I could play in the morning or late at night, I could practice even more,” I told her. “But I don’t want to bother my roommates.”

“Ah yes, I remember those days!” She reminisced. “When I was in college, I would wake up at 4 am and put socks on my hands. That way, when I played, it was very quiet!” She said this with a twinkle in her eye. I looked at her gesturing hands and arms and realized they were perfectly oriented to hold a guitar. Even without one in her arms, she was ready to play the guitar. I wanted to be more like her. But socks on my hands? At 4 am?

All I could muster up was: “I’ll give that a try.”

playing my G&L telecaster on a rooftop in Brooklyn, 2013. Photo by Lisa Myers.

I woke up earlier and drove to the soundproof practice rooms on campus. I’d set up my foot pedal, cut and file my fingernails, warm up, and set up the various pieces I was attempting to memorize. After three hours I’d head over to the library and sit in my cubicle I was allotted as a senior to read my books and take notes. For the first time, I was writing a long-form academic essay on anything of my choice. It was as exciting as it was terrifying. When the sun set, I’d pack up and drive to the next town over to babysit, where I would read, take notes, and write on the couch while a baby slept upstairs. (To this day I’ve never met this particular child. Once she woke up and I entered her room, picked her up, sang to her until she fell back asleep, and then put her back down and left the room again. But it was completely dark the whole time, so I feel this doesn’t really count as having properly met.)

After half a semester of this routine, my left arm began to hurt. I tried to give it a rest, but I was doing something with it almost every waking moment. I couldn’t help it. I hoped my guitar teacher would have a solution. I’d come to see her as a sort of wise woman; an auntie of musical persuasions.

“My left arm and hand really hurt,”  I said during my next lesson. Truthfully the dull hurt had started to become a throbbing pain that was now going up to my left shoulder. “I think I’m just using this side a lot. You’re left-handed too, yeah? What do you suggest I do during this time while I’m in school and need to use my left hand to write a lot?”

She didn’t skip a beat. “Learn to write with your right hand!”

She said it with a hint of condescension like I was stupid for not having thought of it myself.

“Oh. Okay, I will have to… give that a try,” I said, disheartened. She couldn’t be serious, could she? It’s not like I chose to write with my left hand. How could it be as simple as choosing to write with my right hand?

I really did try it, but it was useless. I couldn’t write a word with my right hand, let alone notes and sentences and paragraphs.

I had to keep going the way I had been.

my first electronic (read: no guitar or live instruments) performance, somewhere in Vermont, 2010. Photo by Jane Sweatt.

After I graduated, I expected the pain to subside on its own within a few weeks, but it got worse. For the next year it was so bad there were nights I had trouble sleeping. I talked to many musicians about it. Finally, a violinist who had toured and recorded for over 40 years suggested that I had nerve damage. “You have done the same couple actions so many times, and overused certain parts of your arm in the process. The only way to experience relief is to completely stop doing those actions.”

I looked down at my right hand. I had kept my fingernails long and curved for plucking for many years. My left-hand nails were always short for pressing strings onto the neck board. I was used to typing like this, used to the difference in sensation when I would use both my hands. I loved sitting down to practice and learn new pieces, even if I wasn’t planning on being a concert player.

Could I let this go? How long would I need to stop for? Would I be okay without it? Would my college guitar teacher somehow find out and call me and berate me for not following her learn-to-write-with-your-right-hand advice? How much shame could I endure?

my first time troubleshooting Ableton Live during a soundcheck, Brooklyn, 2012. Photo by Clyde Rastetter.

Eventually, the pain became so bad I had to stop playing for years. Sometimes I would forget the pain and would pick up a guitar for a little while and regret it later. I was so sad to not play as much as I wanted. But unbeknownst to me, my guitar time was being replaced by audio time. I was buying books, downloading programs, going to classes, and spending hours upon hours learning the ins and outs of digital audio technology. I was starting to create sounds I had never heard before, using them to create soundscapes I’d never interacted with before, and writing lyrics and melodies I’d never think up before.

Unknowingly, a  new world was opening up to me.

Baby Microphones and Self Production

Staying motivated and inspired as a female in a male-dominated industry can become incredibly daunting. Usually “I want to work with you” gets misconstrued as a dinner date or even worse, “I like you” might get taken as “I want to work with you.” Welcome to my world, where “little girl” usually precedes “what are you doing behind the console” and where my body of work is usually thought to be written and produced for me. I am a producer/engineer, that happens to be a woman.

Since I was very young, I always had an ear for sound, harmonies and things that made sense in my head as an arrangement. Not only one melody, but many contrasting melodies painted vivid colors and gave me different feelings. I started playing multiple instruments by applying the theory of piano to guitar, and that to violin, viola, etc. Before I knew it I was able to compose my own symphonic works and like a mini anvil falling from the sky… I realized I was a producer. When I started making music, I had one of those little tape recorders with the face and the microphone. I would tape over cassettes and hold the mic to my keyboard and put a split sound and a beat to it, essentially a live recording (JK, but in theory, I guess). I think that was my first take as an audio engineer — making the recording not clip and adjusting everything accordingly so that I could hear both sides through one incredibly unfortunate baby microphone. I think most of the time now, I keep that same sweat ethic with different gear. It took me so long to develop my crafts but I never lost an ounce of enthusiasm, that’s what keeps me mostly motivated. I live for production and writing.

13606623_10206842016993288_1134111027423738312_nI write daily, sometimes 4-5 songs in one day- depending on my level of inspiration/caffeine. There are certain beats or songs that have fermented in my head throughout the day or over a period of time that by the time I’m ready to give them life, they’re more or less done. Sometimes it’s a lyric, or a piano lick, or a melody in my head, or a feeling that feels like a color that feels like a certain emotion that will sound a certain way in my head and I paint that sonically, and develop from there. I think most music has an organic way of flowing from one point to the next. I don’t really stress about making music unless I’m producing for someone else and I’m on a crazy deadline and have other ideas in my head. (I get incredibly cranky and strange when I don’t make music o.0 ) Sometimes I have to throw the ideas for my own stuff on the side and concentrate on other things, or tying up loose ends and finishing touches on beats/lyrics that are for another person. Either way, there is no lack of inspiration or hard work on my end. I think since I love what I do, I’m able to do it 24 hours a day and it doesn’t feel like work or a chore. It’s just like breathing for me, it’s natural, and that’s what really helps my workflow, as does being my own producer.

Don’t get me wrong, I do have so many producers I love and would love to work with but self-production can sometimes be the best approach to a record if you can take yourself objectively out of your own head and not get married to certain sounds that may not complement that work or arrangement (easier said than done, I know that). There’s no better way to get your vision across than by producing yourself, it feels more real to me that way and I can connect with the music more and have a better vocal and musical performance and overall experience with a song or record. I have so many ideas and many times people want to play things safe, and I just don’t have time for that. I’m a risk-taker; life’s too short to play it safe. By producing and mixing things myself, I’m able to get every idea out of my head and not have to describe it or go through trial and error until it sounds how I thought it would sound. It’s a lot more work while composing a record, but I think it’s more rewarding and fulfilling. I’ll throw in a lot of hidden things sonically or musically that enhance my art, which had I not been so involved with my own material, I probably wouldn’t be able to do. I think most of all it’s empowering. I started off as a musician and writer to a producer from my natural curiosity, and studied audio out of a love for sonic art, then realized the ultimate perk; it was the best way to avoid the ever creepy “What are you going to do for me?” engineer. (I can feel the silent nods) I will leave it at that; be your own boss, be your own idol, be your own producer/engineer/writer and most importantly be yourself.


1380290_10202060927029027_2965347870082939655_nEve Minor is an up-and-coming artist based in New York, with origins in Southern California. While she formerly spent time as part of Universal Music Group’s songwriting team, the talented singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist is ready to break out on her own in 2016.

Minor has faced a multitude of trials and tribulations throughout her life, including a difficult childhood in foster care, toxic relationships, and a battle with cancer, all while never letting go of her ambitions within the music world. With all that she’s learned in her young life, she aims to inspire other artists with her writing and uses her personal struggles to inspire young women everywhere.

Her latest music endeavors feature the flavor of New York’s hip-hop scene with splashes of her own California roots. The production, largely developed by herself through her use of Reason, Logic, and Pro-tools, is inspired by late-night adventures and new friends, while also telling the story of making the most out of being dealt a tough hand in life. Minor cites that she was influenced by Miguel, Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse, as well as Alice In Chains, Phantogram, and Citizen Cope as major inspirations for her sound, and credits Mobb Deeps’ “Quiet Storm” as the song which made her enamored with hip hop. With various influences that range from pop to soul to hip hop, Minor has crafted an unique style and sound that is all of her own.

 

Interview with Producer/Engineer Te’

The percentage of women continues to rise within working occupations across the globe, tech and the music industries both being included. But with women only making up 5% of music producers and engineers in the music industry, we continue to set the bar high by taking control of our own careers and using that hustle muscle to achieve success one goal at a time.

Producer Te’ is among that 5% within the music industry. A natural-born hustler who has set herself up for success. From songwriting to producing to engineering. She has done work with the likes of Anthony Hamilton, Matt Linsech, Jason Gilbert, Teddy Riley, Atlantic Records, Capitol Records, and more. Over the years Te’ has been open, honest, and willing to guide me in the right direction within my own career. I had the opportunity of interviewing Te’ touches on her journey thus far, being a woman in the music industry, favorite gear, and more.

What sparked your interest in audio technology? You have graduated with a business degree and were self-taught, something had to ignite a passion in audio.

Coming from a family of musicians and singers, music has been instilled in me since birth.  As I got older, I became intrigued by the creative process and found myself reading the liner notes and researching how the music was being made.  When I was 13 I got my first keyboard/workstation and taught myself how to compose & arrange instrumentals.  In my freshman year of high school I was introduced to composing with computers and synthesizers and began making tracks on the Cakewalk program.

Many get there break into the industry with one aspect first. Did songwriting lead to producing, producing to engineering.. vice versa or did everything kind of evolve together? What was your specific process?

I definitely started writing first.  I thought I was a rapper back in the day, so I would have notebooks full of raps, but never had any tracks to put the words to.  When I started making beats my passion for composing/arranging evolved, but now it all goes hand in hand.  I later bought Pro Tools and taught myself how to use it.  I thought I was the shit, but my mixes were horrible back then lol.  All in all, when people would come to record with me they would leave with a full record.  I would have the tracks already prepared and when the artist got there, I’d write the song or co-write it with them.  In some cases I would make the beat from scratch.

What obstacles have you faced and overcome building as a woman in Tech/Music business? 

There was only one situation that stands out.  I was applying at a major recording studio to be an engineer and I was told that they didn’t hire female engineers.  According to them, from past experiences, females were just too emotional. I knew it didn’t have anything to do with me personally, but I was definitely dealt some unfair cards in that situation.  In hindsight, it was a blessing because I wouldn’t want to work for a facility or brand who generalizes or has a stereotypical mindset. I just kept it moving to the next opportunity. Overall I am received well in my field. I am grateful.

How has technology affected the way you book and work with your clients?

Creatively, technology gives us more options and freedom to experiment until we get the sound that we need. There are no limits. From a business perspective it’s great because of social media, it allows us to expand our brands and attract new clientele.

As an engineer and producer do you take on work for hire gigs or are you employed with different labels?

If it’s an engineer gig, the producer will call me in for a session either with the artist or for a songwriting session.  If I’m writing/producing I tend to work with anyone who is working on a major project.  My management will book me a session with the artist, or the producer will call me in for a writing session to write for a specific project.

Do you own your own recording studio? If so what is your favorite piece of gear within your space?

I float around between different studios in LA, but I do have a small home set-up for when I need to work on material outside of the studio. My favorite piece of gear is probably the LA2A as far as compressors go….and I love love love the Telefunken U47 mic! From my experience, it sounds clean and clear on almost every voice.

Do you play any instruments? Or do you use more technology-based gear to create?

They say once a drummer always a drummer, although I am rusty now, that is my first instrument.  I can maneuver around the keyboard enough to get the idea out. When I am producing or co-producing I like to bring in live musicians to play on the record. Although the digital world is great, I believe music still needs to have an authentic feel and bringing in live musicians achieves that.

Analog vs. Digital? What’s your outlook?

Both. With digital, your creative aspirations are endless, but as I mentioned before, I like my music to have an authentic vibe like the music I grew up listening to in the 90s, and that’s where analog saves the day. Blending the two together is the perfect match in my opinion. You have to know both, there are still some things that can’t be imitated, so being able to go back to the original source is crucial. But definitely need both.

What are your top five best moments in your career so far?

Wow I don’t know if I have five yet, considering my career is just beginning.  

One is definitely being able to write, work and build a relationship with the legendary Teddy Riley.  I grew up listening to him and his work, especially Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” album which is my favorite album of MJ.  It’s a huge honor to work with the man whose name was in the credits of the albums I was listening to and influenced by growing up.  His stories about the music business are not only fascinating but extremely insightful and informative.  I’m truly grateful.

Two would be meeting Trakmatik of Roc Nation; working with and watching him achieve greatness is inspiring.  It’s a beautiful thing to witness someone close to you reach higher levels of success and inspire the next generation behind us.

The third, I’m going to have to get back to you on as my career progresses. Lol

What advice would you give to upcoming engineers and producers on staying up to date with technology and entrepreneurship?

Study the people that have come before you in your field.  They’ve already laid the blueprint to success.  Learn what they did and then add your own flavor to it to make it unique.  Stay up on current trends but focus on creating what the next sound might be.  Don’t be afraid to take risks because you never know what your ideas may lead to. On a more philosophical note, don’t allow any negativity or adversity to deter you.  You were already born to be great.  Always live within your elite self.  Stay true to that and you will prosper and live the quality of life that you deserve.  You will have doubters, but you will also have supporters and admirers that you are inspiring and may not even know it, so don’t quit.  Be the example, you never know who is watching and using you for inspiration.

Te’ was one of the first people I reached out to when I had the idea of starting a blog. She motivated me when things didn’t go as planned. She always reassured me that I can obtain success, ONLY if I wanted it bad enough. Thank you, Te’ for always being a positive influence. I hope we both can inspire someone else to follow their dreams. Until next time, I encourage all of you to fight against the odds and go for what you want. No matter what career path you choose, don’t let anything hold you back #BeGreat 

 You can follow producer Te’ journey on Instagram via @officialte & on Twitter via@_itsTE_