Grammy-winning producer/engineer Chris Lord-Alge (far right) moderated the first all-women panel at AES, talking about their careers and working in a male-dominant profession. Shown here, left to right: singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb; Larrabee Sound Studios Manager Amy Burr; lead vocalist for September Mourning Emily Lazar; recording and mixing engineer Marcella Araica; and singer/songwriter Brenda Russell.
While the audio industry continues to remain a male-dominated profession, there’s no denying that women have established their own legacy within the audio world. New to AES this year, "Chicks In The Mix," a panel of five leading women in the industry, shared a candid discussion about staying creative and accomplishing what needs to get done in a ‘man’s world.’
Moderated by multi-Grammy award winning producer/mixer Chris Lord-Alge, a self-proclaimed testosterone-driven, egotistical industry pro, the panel, consisting of recording and mixing engineer Marcella Araica; Larrabee Sound Studios manager Amy Burr; lead vocalist for September Mourning, Emily Lazar; singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb; and singer/songwriter Brenda Russell, shared their stories on their careers and working collaborating with men and women.
A major part of the discussion centered around balancing creativity with business, and how these women stress standing your ground while working with producers, engineers, and businessmen.
“It can be a real challenge,” said Araica, who now owns her own studio and record label in Miami. “You want to be creative, but the business side is all numbers and that can get in the way. It’s easy to become a 'yes person' in this business, but if you believe in something, you have to stand your ground.”
Loeb echoed Araica’s points, emphasizing that if you are passionate about your music, you have to fight to keep your creativity in the mix, instead of letting the producer dictate your final track.
“It’s always been important for me to get what I want,” Loeb said. “It’s great to collaborate with other producers, but sometimes you have to sacrifice something. I’m happy to compromise, but the final product still has to stay true to me.”
Lord-Alge agreed there, saying that working in any creative environment with other people requires compromise, a concept he is still working to perfect. Of course, Loeb said as long as the collaboration works and can create a product everyone is proud of, then the process is a success.
“I love working with people who have an opinion,” Loeb said. “Sometimes it’s hard to work with business people who don’t really have their own opinions.”
From a musician’s perspective, Lazar said she can really tell the difference between the mixes of her early work compared to her final album, and credits that to the talent of her producer and engineer.
“You have to go into the studio with an open mind and trust who you’re working with,” Lazar said. “When we butt heads, I agree to try new things because I’m not an artist with tons of gold or platinum records yet. I need to learn, and this will teach me and make me better at what I do.”