International Women's Day: Hannah V
I was born to Indian parents, raised in Berlin and came to the UK to study at the Royal Academy of Music. It was a male dominated world and you just had to navigate your way through by being the best. Sheer professionalism is what got me noticed. After studying at the Academy, I started my career as a session musician playing with artists such as Rihanna and Jessie J. With them, I got to tour the world. Yes, we were female artists up onstage but what you don’t always see is that backstage, management and labels remain male dominated and often, it’s those people making the decisions.
It was then that I decided I wanted to be in charge of my own career. I started co-writing, producing and honing my skills, using all the opportunities inside the music industry that I could. Now I’m producing Stormzy and JP Cooper, with production and co-writing credits on a Top 10 album.
But men need to be part of this conversation too, this isn’t a fight. The musical directors who got me the big gigs were men. The A and R who got me the record and publishing deal was a man and those producers who took me under their wing and helped me hone my craft: men. They didn’t care about the fact that I was female. All they saw was a musician and producer hungry for knowledge. I’ve always been very determined and for me, ‘no’ just meant, ‘not yet’ and it’s that tenacity that we, as female and BAME producers in the music industry, all share; and is the advice I’d give to any young women out there thinking about careers in music.
I spoke recently at the AIM Women in Music conference and yesterday on a music industry panel with Radio 1extra’s Jamz Supernova and award-winning engineer Marta Salogni, following a screening of Play Your Gender, a film that really showed the gender disparity in the music industry. Female producers, engineers, label execs and managers – we’re out there, but we’re not always present in the room when the big decisions are being made.
Yes it’s hard being a female producer in the music industry. Yes, it’s hard being an ethnic minority. But ultimately, change can only happen when we are given the chance to be ‘in the room’. I don’t expect everyone to like my music, but I want a chance to showcase my music and that is all we are asking for. Let us sit at the table; our skills will speak for themselves.