Where are all the female music producers? It’s a question the music industry has been wondering for years. In 2014 The Fader posed it to 13 women in the industry, and even then the consensus wasn’t clear. It’s not like women aren’t constantly doing innovative things in the studio, but they rarely ever get the cred given to their male counterparts, reach the dizzying heights of Diplo and Danger Mouse fame, or land at the top of “Best of” listicles. Even Missy Elliot isn’t given proper credit as a female production pioneer.
At least most people are aware of the problem, but things still aren’t changing fast enough. Exhibit A: This recent Time Out feature spotlighting an all-male cast of “cool producers you must know.” Where are the Anna Lunoes and the Asma Maroofs? Are female producers just intrinsically uncool? We’re calling bullshit and naming 10 women who deserve a name-drop. From Drake’s 18-year-old beatmaker to the artist formerly known as 8Bitch, here are the names to know in 2015.
Poster child for the potential of Instagram’s direct messaging feature, 18-year-old Wondagurl used the social platform to send Drake the beat he ended up using on his track “Used To” from the album If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. She also co-produced Drizzy’s “Company,” and crafted the beat for “Crown,” which you might remember from Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail. Yes, that means she was 16 at the time.
2. Ana Helder
Argentine house producer Ana Helder takes inspiration from Chicago house, but also names disco trailblazer Patrick Cowley and R&B legends TLC as favorites. Her awesome debut EP A1 was dropped in November via Matias Aguayo’s Cómeme label.
Liverpool producer and singer-songwriter Låpsley crafts minimalist soundscapes laced with subtle intricacies that belie her 18 years. She recently signed to indie Brit label XL Recordings of FKA, SBTRKT, Jamie xx and Gil Scott-Heron affiliation. Låpsley’s EP, The Understudy, was released in January and it is mesmerizing. Check out the first track, “Falling Short,” below.
Underground genius Shakari “TRAKGIRL” Boles has produced tracks for artists from Luke James to Tiffany Evans, and was given a shout-out by production legend Timbaland via Instagram. But she’s out to become the star of her own female-run show. “It’s just tough sometimes when you have to compete with men in this male dominated industry.” For some it can be intimidating, and then for some it can be like this is it,” she told Creative Jenius Report. “I use [gender discrimination] as motivation honestly.”
Los Angeles’ TOKiMONSTA has been kicking around for a while, working with names like Thirsty Fish, Kool Keith and MNDR, and becoming the first woman to join Flying Lotus’s renowned West Coast label BRAINFEEDER. With a classical upbringing and a progressive approach, her tracks and remixes are sonic experiments that are equally complex and consistently danceable. Her new mini-album Desiderium, which dropped in November 2014, toys with an impressive range of sounds in just 20 minutes. “Steal My Attention” is the second single off the album.
6. Asma Maroof
You probably know Asma Maroof as the female half of Los Angeles production duo Nguzunguzu. She’s responsible for the killer beats on “Enemy” by Kelela, which you have likely had on repeat since 2013.
It’s rare to find women being championed in the world of electronic music in general, but the dubstep genre is even more male dominated. Luckily there’s Ikonika, a UK musician, producer, and DJ, who’s style melds interesting synth patterns and shuddering bass in unexpected yet highly enjoyable ways.
8. Anna Lunoe
Aussie expat Anna Lunoe has taken the West Coast (and the internet) by storm since moving to L.A. in 2012. Her obviously expansive knowledge of dance music spans decades and sub-genres, and she’s just as drawn to the gloomy, gritty stuff as she is the heat-packing summer bangers. She’s collaborated with Flume and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, frequents the Coachella and Ultra festival circuits, and finally released her All Out EP on Ultra Records in September last year.
The artist formerly known as 8Bitch is back with a new name and a slew of fresh releases under the Fortified Audio label. Her recent EP, Nightlife, is a hard and fast banger with a title that has no pretenses about its intended audience. Don’t listen sitting down.
10. Crystal Caines
Harlem-based rapper/producer Crystal Caines is the woman who teamed up with trap lord A$AP Ferg on last year’s “Whiteline,” but it’s 2015 that she’s really out to make her bitch. Crystal recently dropped five new tracks in anticipation of her upcoming EP, Vertigo, slated for release this spring, and they’re hard evidence of good things to come. We love that many of them feature additional production from other lady sound crafters.