Down the Rabbit Hole: A collection of sites from the internet that inspire or intrigue us. Each site leads to another, creating an endless journey that takes us into the beautiful depths of the internet. Click on the photo links and escape into our world as we venture: Down the Rabbit Hole.
This installment of DTRH highlights the innovative contributions to music and technology from leading female minds of the past and present. Often overlooked in two male-driven industries (technology and entertainment), women are rarely given the accolades they truly deserve, and are systemically offered less for their talents. And yet among the constant push-back for simply doing, they find ways to surpass and demolish any preconceived expectation or stereotype. So here’s to the female warriors out there creating, disrupting, and moving mountains, making us proud to use the phrase “You make music like a girl”.
Let us start with not one, but a team, of women pushing the tech-boundaries with a musical focus. The 8-person team of the non-profit startup, mi.mu gloves, is comprised of 5 women. They are former NASA scientists, futuristic textile designers, clothing designers for Marvel superheroes, and performers not afraid to explore the uncharted lands of gesture-triggered music composition. Here’s the artists, Chagall, performing with the gloves.
Probably the most well-known musician of the mi.mu glove team is Imogen Heap. Always pushing the boundaries in the studio and on stage, Imogen and her electro-pop music have transported fans to Strange & Beautiful places. Our first concert together was to see her in Norfolk, Va in 2006. It was vital in our influence, and to this day, we remember it fondly with love.
One of the many tools in Imogen’s arsenal is something called a Vocoder. It transfers sound waves from your voice into an electronic signal usually through a synthesizer instrument. You can hear this instrument most noticeably on the track “Hide and Seek”. Another pioneer of the synthesizer world who uses vocoders is a woman named Suzanne Ciani. She was one of the first to popularize analog synthesizers to a large audience, and is also responsible for creating the coca-cola bottle opening and pour sound you hear in 1970’s ads. The documentary “A life in Waves” screened at the SXSW Music-based Documentary Series this past month. See the trailer here.
In her early years of studying music composition and apprenticing with synthesizer creator, Don Buchla, she worked on the assembly line for the Buchla machines in Oakland California. Just a short 25 mile drive today from where the Oakland factory once stood, is the homebase for a collective of woman musicians and DIY synthesizer enthusiasts called the Analog Ladies. They’ll often put on workshops and performances throughout the Bay Area promoting woman and electronic music. Super Cool stuff.
Last year they traveled all the way to Detroit to perform at the MOCAD festival along with an Artists known as Mother Cyborg. We’ve had the wonderful pleasure to collaborate with Diana (aka Mother Cyborg). She’s an amazing DJ, Cellist, Community Organizer, and all-around tech guru. She’s releasing an album this April 29th at El Club in Detroit. It’s bound to amaze. Here’s a preview track called “3Souled Woman”.
Mother Cyborg is part of a group called the Seraphine Collective. It’s “an inclusive, supportive, and active community of feminists designed to foster creative expression and camaraderie among underrepresented musicians and artists in Detroit.” They’re doing some pretty dope stuff, and recently started a series of workshops called Beat Matching Brunch to teach female-identified and gender non-conforming individuals how to work with DJ equipment and vinyl record sampling. They have a seasonal mix tape highlighting members’ work. Check it out.
That concludes another Down The Rabbit Hole adventure. I hope you enjoyed it, and hope you learned a little about the many amazing things women are doing today with technology and music. And what they’ve been doing for many years leading up to today. Always creating. Always discovering. Always pushing, disrupting, redefining. Keep your eyes and ears open. They’re coming.