The picture is of a black and white synthesiser up close

Women in Electronic Music

By Elise Montemayor
Music Journalist

When one thinks of electronic music, they think of a big stage, laser lights and a fist pumping DJ that is usually a man. Now, no shade to male DJs or electronic artists. There are so many amazing ones out there including, but not limited to, Kraftwerk, Daft Punk, Aphex Twin, Flying Lotus, Disclosure, etc. But like basically all genres of music, electronic music is not an exception of being a boys club. If you look a little deeper into the genre, you will find some amazing female electronic musicians that deserve the same amount of attention as the men.

To give an electronic music history crash course (because I know we don’t have time for all that), I always thought that the German band Kraftwerk was one of the first pioneers of electronic music, but it goes way back. The experimentation of electronic music originated earlier than the 1930s, dealing with high pitched tones and the theremin. To name a few pioneers, Johanna M. Beyer in the ‘30s made the first all electronic score, Clara Rockmore was one the firsts to play the theremin and Delia Derbyshire, who created the first all electronic TV show opener for Dr. Who in the ‘60s (which is a banger by the way). Lastly, there’s Wendy Carlos, who made the score for iconic films like “A Clockwork Orange,” “Tron” and “The Shining.”

Now, there’s a sense of more diversity and many types of women from different backgrounds taking part of making amazing music. With artists like Fka Twigs, Grimes, Jessy Lanza, Tokimonsta, Empress Of, Peggy Gou and many more, it seems as though they’re taking this genre by storm and into a new direction. Many of these musicians are classically trained, with a lot of influences from R&B, jazz and pop that’s so apparent in their music. Not to mention, there are more women producing their own work and killin’ it.

One of my favorite self produced musicians is Claire Boucher, also known as Grimes. She personally really inspires me so much because every single sound, beat and lyric on each album is all her own work. I remember back in 2015 before her long awaited album, Artangels, came out, she was taking her sweet time with the production and the release. Because she makes everything on her own, the process and release took about three years since her last album, Visions. But in the end, it led to an amazing album. Another example is Empress Of, a Honduran-American singer that has also paved her way in a niche of electronic music by making pop songs with a unique twist. With two LPs out, Lorely Rodriguez is booked, busy with a tour and has done many collaborations with artists including Blood Orange and DJDS. This is just scratching the surface of what women are doing in electronic music. The women mentioned are really doing some amazing things and are worth checking out if you haven’t heard of them.

There’s a fine line between quality electronic music and really cheesy electronic music. There seems to be one outlook on the genre. It’s way more than raves and flashing lights. There are so many sub-genres and so many different types of people putting their unique sound out there. With that in mind, women are often overlooked especially in electronic music. Hopefully as time goes on, more and more women will take over the genre and get the attention they deserve.

Image by Jeff Juit.

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