Here is my story I wrote for the Cornish Freelance Task Force during lockdown.
Like many musicians, lockdown knocked my musical path sideways. So much about music involves other people. Whether it’s rehearsing with your band, working in a studio or performing to a group of people. Finding myself cut off from all these things was very challenging. I had an album ready to launch in May but all my plans for its lead up involved other people so it needed a complete rethink. Also I was super excited about representing Cornwall at the Pan Celtic International Song Contest in April. I had won the Song For Cornwall 2020 in January with my first song written in Cornish and was all ready with my band to travel to Ireland. But naturally that was cancelled too. A four day event taking over an entire town in Ireland was probably the worst nightmare for Covid.
My one saving grace was that I write and record my music myself so being in isolation at least I could do the thing I love and keep making music. But you still need community even if you work and create alone at home. It wasn’t the first time I had longed to find fellow musical spirits in the same boat as me. hear about their work, see their home made recording spaces. In fact for several years I had been researching women in music and in particular female producers who were thin on the ground. It didn’t take long to discover that there were far too few women producing their own music.
So I decided I wanted to create a community where female musicians and producers could find each other, share stories, become more visible in the world and inspire other women to explore the amazing world of recording. Visibility seemed to be one of the key things that was missing. Just to see an image of another woman doing something you hadn’t considered before makes you realise what is possible. I had barely any role models or even pictures of women working in this area to inspire me. The image in my mind of Sybille Baier recording her guitar with a tape reel on her kitchen table was a constant source of uplift and motivation. Likewise the picture of Delia Derbyshire cutting up tape at the BBC in the 1960s. I just loved the idea of women finding a space or a corner, and creating. And I wanted to find those women who were doing just that and build a SheProducer community.
During lockdown, one day while I was wrapping my microphone around an old wooden clothes rail (I didn’t have my mic stand handy) I got an email from Kath who was conducting some research on female musicians in lockdown and trying to find out how they were managing to make music without all the usual networks and social spaces available. I was immediately intrigued because the response was almost consistently the same – women were struggling and lacked the confidence and technical skills they needed to be able to produce in isolation. As we talked, we both realised we were passionate about the same thing – helping and empowering women to become self sufficient in their musical careers. Lockdown had made this need all the more urgent. We also shared an excitement around creating a community, giving female music-makers more visibility and discovering the wealth of talent here in Cornwall that hasn’t been heard yet. So we brought together all of our ideas and aims, set to work over the summer and launched SheProducer last Thursday.
Despite all the things that were closing down and falling apart, lockdown seemed to provide the perfect moment for two visions to come together. In fact lockdown actually propelled it into being. And It makes me realise that, being knocked sideways can mean exactly that. You just have to go sideways and see what’s there.