IN THE HEADING "COMMUNICATIONS" WE TELL ABOUT GIRLS, who came up with a common cause and achieved success in it. And at the same time we expose the myth that women are not capable of friendly feelings, but can only compete aggressively. Parallel Residence is a women's music camp that opened this year at the Powerhouse Moscow studio. Ten girls from Russia and neighboring countries with two mentors and a sound engineer worked for seven days to create new tracks. We spoke with Evgenia Nedosekina (Jekka), the founders, musician, producer and creator of the blog about girls in music Parallel, and Ksenia Carlo, program director and manager of the Powerhouse Moscow studio, about how imposter syndrome still interferes with women in music and why so a comfortable space for self-expression is important.
Evgeniya: I have long wanted to take the Parallel magazine offline. After all, communities develop better when there is physical communication, so I started with parties and get-togethers to test how much this is generally needed. At the same time, I always follow similar foreign initiatives and projects that support women in music in order to learn from experience, to see what can be applied here. I followed sheWrites, a project founded by two female producers, Violet Skies and Charlie McClean, from the UK. They started small, just got a few producers and songwriters together and set up a songwriting camp where everyone was writing music.
Soon they began to make them more and more, and not only in London, but also in other cities of Europe, and then in general in Los Angeles. I wanted to do something the same, because there are few such projects in Russia or they are held behind closed doors, and it is very difficult to get to the Red Bull Music Academy - I myself have applied eight or nine times and still have not gotten there. I wrote to sheWrites and asked if they wanted to make a camp in Russia, but they were busy organizing their projects and Russia was not included in their plans, and they did not particularly share the methods of conducting. But I wanted to make this camp, no matter what, and turned to Ksenia with the idea to hold it in Powerhouse.
Kseniya: I work at the Powerhouse Moscow club - I am involved in the program of events and run the studio, in the past I have worked on tours and at festivals. When Zhenya told about the idea of making a musical residence specifically for girls, providing them with a comfortable place for self-expression and supporting their musical endeavors, I realized that this is a project that is as close as possible in spirit to me personally and our team. When you are in the center of the music industry, you start to feel an imbalance of power that you want to at least try to fix. And secondly, projects that strengthen the music community and support young musicians are central to the Powerhouse philosophy. I would not argue that we have done something completely unique, but as far as I know, our project is the first purely female musical residence in Russia.
“There are guys, who whip in technology?"
Evgeniya: In the world, residences are organized in different ways - they themselves come up with the rules that they follow. Parallel Residence is a space for girls focused on collaboration and the creation of joint compositions. The main goal is to create something collaborative in seven days. Therefore, we divided the participants into groups. It is also a space for personal growth, getting out of your comfort zone and working with confidence in yourself and your skills. It seems to me that the residence is not so much about the result (or finished tracks), but about the process and mutual support. In the music industry, in principle, there are few women - those who have followed the path of a producer or sound engineer are even fewer.
According to a study by Annenberg, which analyzed the 600 most popular songs on the Billboard chart for 2012-2017, only 22.4% of performers are women, only 2% are producers, and 12% are songwriters. You can't even count such figures in Russia. Of course, with the development of technology, everything is gradually changing, but women in technical fields are still catastrophically few for a variety of reasons - because of stereotypes that have been laid since childhood, the lack of role models, and just the belief that you can also enter this region. Some people manage to overcome their fears, but not everyone, and the impostor syndrome is still common. I really want to change this and make the girls believe in themselves more and do not limit themselves to chorus or singing.
During my musical career, unpleasant situations have happened to me more than once just because I am a girl. Now this almost does not happen, but the sediment, as they say, has remained. You have to sweat a lot more so that you are not called a "singer" and asked if you write your own music. Now the intonation of the conversation is changing, since the Internet allows you to put in place anyone who shows condescension or disrespect to other people's work. But Russia, in my opinion, is still very far behind in this.
Kseniya: Unpleasant situations happened to me both as a musician and in other positions. At some point I was working as a technician on a long and difficult tour, and a couple of times I was asked the question: "Who do you sleep with from the group?" I said: "No matter how with anyone, I just work as a technician." Moreover, it was in Canada, and at first I did not understand what it was about, and then it turned out that even in the Canadian outback there are people who think that a girl cannot just want to work as a technician and be a pro. Not to mention how things are for girls in the musical and technical sphere in Russia. Unfortunately, I know literally three female sound engineers - they all know their job very well and they all met with a condescending attitude towards themselves and surprise.
Participants of the residence told how they, for example, come to the site, and they were asked: "Who is in charge of the group?" The girl says: "I am the leader in the group." And she is answered: "Pf, well, there are guys who whip in technology?" Or the girls ask the sound engineer to somehow definitely adjust the sound, and he says: "I've been working on this site for ten years, I know better than you how it should be." Unfortunately, such situations accumulate in the mind and affect the musician's confidence in himself and his work.
Many, because of such stories, have accumulated complexes, which manifested themselves on the residence. We had girls who cried: it seemed to them that they could not do anything, that they were not talented. She just put together a whole arrangement of the track, did a lot of work, but at some point she stalled - fears began to creep out.
Selection of participants
Evgeniya: Ksyusha and I drew up a questionnaire that had to be filled out. We looked at how detailed the answers were, how much a person is aimed at collaborations, and not at personal gain, and, of course, listened to the music sent. The residence is not a school for creating music, PR or promotion, vocals and so on. It is a place where a person can try new things and learn from their colleagues. Therefore, for those who wanted to be taught something in the "teacher-student" mode, the residence was also not quite suitable. We also wanted to select very diverse musicians to push different parties together and see where it all leads.
Kseniya: We received 125 applications and were a little shocked by this, we spent almost two days auditioning. The process was very difficult: there were moments when our hearts just bleed - we realized that we had a lot of vocalists or a lot of producers. We needed to come up with interesting combinations that would make the girls push each other out of their comfort zone and, in the long run, would help create some kind of interesting union.
Zhenya and I set ourselves the task of bringing the participants from other cities. As a result, three girls came to us from Naberezhnye Chelny, Murmansk and Minsk. We did not think about the age of the participants when we selected them, and only in the final of the residence it turned out that someone was twenty-one, and someone was thirty-two. If it somehow influenced it, it was only positive. There was no sense in the process that the difference in age or background mattered. For us, the motivation of the participants was more important so that the person wanted to express himself, because this is a very intensive format, and of course we did not want the situation to arise in two days: “Oh, well, this, guys, is not mine. I seem to have gone."
Parallel Residence I 2019 by Parallel
Evgeniya: During the residence, Ksyusha and I were more likely moderators-counselors - we made sure that everything was connected, everything was in place, everyone ate on time, tried to somehow help if there was any friction. It was important to reveal all the participants, to achieve a situation when they had already relaxed, became friends, were not afraid to fool around and tried something new. It was exciting to listen to the first demos of the tracks that the girls made - it was very cool.
Kseniya: We both threw some ideas to the participants: Zhenya is well versed in musical programs, and I recorded the bass and guitar parts in one track. The coolest moments in this residence for me were the moments of universal unity - when common jokes and memes arose, when we all dined together or, at the suggestion of one of the participants, did a voice meditation - and, of course, the final day with a joint performance.
Even at the residence, for example, a very cool friendship developed between the vocalist of the "Wooden Whales" group Sveta Matveyeva and the vocalist / guitarist of Lucidvox Alina Evseeva. Despite the close genres of their projects and performances at about the same festivals, the girls did not know each other before, but here they literally found each other. As a result, they came up with a bunch of jokes, which constantly amused everyone, and generally helped to maintain chill and positivity.
Watching the participants rethink themselves, their background, fascinates and inspires. For example, multi-instrumentalist Alina Petrova with a conservatory education and an absolutely amazing classical base created a track with Anya Makeeva, who sings modern electronic soul, and Anya Sova (ANSV), who makes very rave music - they got a very fresh synth-pop track. One of the most popular tracks among the participants themselves, which turned out at the residence, is "Dog-Fox" with rap by Polina Frolova and arrangement by Ksenia Kruchinski and Rita Medzhovich. Ani Zhdanova from Minsk, Rita Medzhovich from the group "Fedor's Garden" and Anya Makeeva - a mixture of folk tunes, hip-hop and glitch, worked out an excellent collaboration. And the most sticky song, it seems to me, turned out to be from Rita Marinina, Sveta Matveyeva, Alina Evseeva and Anya Zhdanova.
Evgeniya: We have planned three master classes for the residence: on mixing - sound engineer Daria Pisarenkova, on sound synthesis - by Maria Teryaeva, and on songwriting and overcoming creative blocks - by Yana Blinder. The latter turned out to be the most unusual and very useful, since it was not so much about some kind of skill, but about the psychological and emotional state and self-acceptance. The company, which provided us with a very large number of synthesizers for the residence, invited its colleague to conduct a master class on sound synthesis using the example of Arturia instruments. It seems to me that absolutely all of the master classes were useful. And about synthesis, and about the legendary synthesizer Buchla, and about mixing. Plus, Dasha also listened to the draft versions of the tracks and gave comments, and Yana charged everyone with incredible energy. I would also like to say about the sound engineer of the Powerhouse studio Sasha Basian, who helped the participants of the residence at all stages and was really interested in it.I think it was not so easy to join the girls' team, but he became a full-fledged part of the residence, and it was very comfortable and easy to work with him.
Plans for the future
Evgeniya: I intend to hold residencies four times a year. I believe that once a year is very little, because I want to give the opportunity to participate in them as many people as possible. And I plan to hold residences not only in Moscow, but also in other cities - I think it is very important to decentralize such things, because not everyone has the opportunity to come to Moscow, besides, I want people to be able to organize such projects on their own later. Therefore, now I am looking for partners in other cities who are ready to help the project and who want to change the world around them. The hardest part is finding a site. Even in Moscow, not everyone is ready to allocate several rooms for a week or require a large rent. But I think it will work out.
Kseniya: I hope that the "Parallel Residence" has a great future and it will be held several times a year. The number of applications that we received indicates that there is a request for such projects. It was a completely unique experience for me - inspiring and warm.
One of the coolest moments: when we were working on the track "Baccarat", we started to improvise and sing gospel - endlessly breaking the word "Jesus" into four voices. It was wonderful - incredible freedom, the coolest girls sing with you and everyone is happy. Feeling - as if you are open to the whole world!
I really liked to feel the energy of other girls, how they turn my musical thought in their direction or come back to me. It was interesting to overcome each other's boundaries, to let in new people and their ideas about music, to open up. I sang along, came up with bass lines on moog, recorded and came up with a guitar line, helped to write backing vocals, form the structure of the song, create an arrangement. I played a lot of acoustic instruments: bells, pipa, erhu, maracas. Having made two compositions, I realized quite clearly that it is very, very difficult to write a good song - this is a valuable discovery for me.
In addition to the creative process itself, I very much remember our post-work gatherings with the girls and Sasha Basian (who gave excellent mixing tips), when we talked, listened to music, shared experiences, danced, and went to concerts at Powerhouse. The residence turned out to be a great opportunity to meet new talented musicians who eventually became my friends. And Powerhouse has become a home.
Initially, I wanted to move away from my usual role of singer-songwriter and go deeper into producing others. This happened in the work with the first group: I think there I was responsible more for the drama of the track and production. In the second track, I rap with the girls and wrote music. We really swayed our usual "phlegmatic", taxiing into some completely insane ending with dirty guitars, glitch synths and grasshoppers. I think that everything that was created without regard to your habits became an unforgettable experience of the residence - to forget who you are and to do something new while listening to the rest.
The first track together started with my ideas. I was pretty nervous and just threw in ideas, and the girls were hooked on what they liked. I think it turned out to be pop in a good sense of the word, because for Ani and Alina, with whom I did it, it was a novelty. The idea of the residence, among other things, was for the musician to create something unusual for him, and the girls succeeded. And I succeeded in the second track with another group - there I sing.
Garden named after Fedor
While we were doing the first track, my whole group completely forgot that we were planning to get out of the comfort zone and do something new, so I came up with harmonies, bass, vocal melody, sang and barked (probablyit was the only new thing, because in the end we made an instrument out of my barking and put it into the beat). In the end, the track turned out to be a very real mixture of the three of us, a little bit from each - no more, no less. But in the second group we roamed and I realized all my innermost dreams of pop: rap and r'n'b, the whole track on one bass note - tonic (and also in major), drum'n'bass insert - in short, just class!
On the first day of work on the second track, we jammed with instruments several times for ten minutes, without stopping or agreeing on anything, except for a certain set of instruments that we would use, and then listened to the recordings and discussed where we wanted to go next. True, nothing came of this (except for very pleasant recordings that I still listen to), and I had to start all over again to get out of the impasse. Then, over the remaining two days, the track shed the skin of the next genre several times, after which we managed to find a balance that everyone liked.
Mix / ontape
At some point, Ksyusha and I caught fire with the idea of percussion in the track and realized that there was excellent acoustics on the stairs between the studio and the Powerhouse bar. We sat down on the steps: it was incredibly cold; we took with us a laptop, a microphone, a sound card … and also a bucket, sticks and rattles. And they clapped, stomped, hit the bucket, hit the walls and wrote it all down. Cooks, waiters, participants of the residence passed by, and everyone asked: “Girls, is everything okay? Is there enough space for you? " And it was just super fun and well worth the results!
Most of all, I remember the moment of the jam that happened after we met. After him there was no doubt that I was in the right place at the right time. It was there that we all opened up and stopped being afraid and shy. How amazing it is how music unites and helps to communicate in your own language.
Wooden Whales/ Cetacea
We got down to business with the first group as soon as we got to know each other. We brought a cool synth into our studio, began to wind up all sorts of sounds. Then they chose the option they liked, prescribed the bass, threw in a schematic cue ball. Then I recorded a part of the voice that sounds in the chorus. I remember that everything happened spontaneously, at some point we got into courage and began to record everything. Then for a long time they could not understand what needed to be thrown out. Everyone in turn sat down to arrange, thought and rewrote.