June 28, 2022

Hill Kourkoutis is an engineer, producer, musician and songwriter.Handout

Within the early twentieth century, recording engineers all wore lab coats. And whereas they not don the white garb, the uniformity stays.

When the 2022 Juno Award nominations had been introduced final week, it was Charlotte Cardin, Justin Bieber and the Weeknd, with their a number of nominations, who attracted consideration. However additional down the press launch was a little bit of historical past within the making: Hill Kourkoutis, within the operating for engineer of the 12 months. Kourkoutis, primarily based in Barrie, Ont., is the primary feminine to ever make the quick listing for the award.

Over the previous a number of years, progress has been made within the male-dominated music business towards a greater gender stability. It was a big growth this week, for instance, when the annual Boots and Hearts nation jamboree in Ontario’s cottage nation introduced its first-ever all-female principal stage for this summer season, led by headliner Shania Twain

“For so long as I’ve made music the pageant house has been monopolized by white male acts, which didn’t essentially symbolize what was hottest in music,” Twain stated in a press release.

Much less strides have been made behind the scenes, nonetheless, the place ladies have lengthy been underrepresented and underrecognized as producers and engineers. In a 2021 research carried out by the College of Southern California’s Annenberg Faculty for Communication and Journalism, it was revealed that of 900 widespread songs, the ratio of male to feminine producers was 38 to at least one.

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Doug McClement has taught at Toronto’s Harris Institute for 3 many years. Whereas he’s seen a rise in ladies getting into technical packages on the audio and music business faculty, he says feminine enrollment has stalled at about 10 per cent previously two years.

“I used to be was amazed and considerably saddened once I discovered Hill was the primary lady to be nominated for engineer award in Juno historical past,” says McClement, head of the manufacturing/engineering program. “For an arts-related subject, that’s a humiliation. It’s been a boys’ membership for a lot too lengthy.”

Which is why Kourkoutis’s Juno engineering nomination this 12 months – and the Juno Award within the producer class final 12 months by Ebony Naomi Oshunrinde (identified professionally often called WondaGurl) – is so essential.

“The seen illustration within the engineering and manufacturing world is integral to the shift in gender equality,” says the 34-year-old Kourkoutis, who can also be a producer, musician and songwriter. “To see one represented evokes hope and exhibits that one thing isn’t unimaginable.”

Early on, Kourkoutis’s soundboard heroines had been Sylvia Massy (identified for her work with Device, System of a Down, Johnny Money and the Pink Sizzling Chili Peppers) and Trina Shoemaker, the primary lady to win a engineering Grammy (in 1998 for Sheryl Crow’s The Globe Periods).

At this time, Kourkoutis serves as a mentor to younger producers and engineers. “I wouldn’t be the place I’m with out mentorships, and I imagine in paying issues ahead,” she says.

Kourkoutis’s manufacturing credit embrace manufacturing for Leela Gilday, Digging Roots, Royal Wooden, Martha and the Muffins and Amanda Rheaume. She has carried out remixes for July Speak, Adam Cohen and the Good Lovelies. As a musician, she’s performed with Serena Ryder and the Weeknd. Her engineering Juno nomination is for the songs The Drought, by Ontario singer-songwriter Tania Pleasure, and Howler, by Toronto singer-songwriter SATE.

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Kourkoutis’s manufacturing credit embrace manufacturing for Leela Gilday, Digging Roots, Royal Wooden, Martha and the Muffins and Amanda Rheaume.Laura Pleasure Pictures

Requested in regards to the gender imbalance within the music business, SATE, the daughter of the late, nice Salome Bey, says it’s a societal situation. “We’re conditioned to suppose sure jobs are males’s jobs, and that, as a lady, I don’t belong there. For the ability dynamic to shift, dudes should step again and take their egos out of it. It’s about doing the most effective job.”

SATE herself is up for a Juno within the various album class for The Idiot, which she co-produced with Kourkoutis. When selecting a producer, she desires to work in an surroundings the place she feels heard and supported, and the place the vitality is true. “That’s what a producer does, handle the vitality and handle the vitality of the tune,” she says.

Provides singer-songwriter Rheaume, “Hill’s energy is letting folks discover their approach by way of the tune earlier than making a suggestion. She flows by way of the method and doesn’t attempt to management issues till we’d land on one thing, and he or she would have a killer concept.”

One in all causes younger producers and audio engineers have extra alternative within the subject at the moment is expertise. Albums (corresponding to these made by pop star Billie Eilish and her producer-brother Finneas O’Connell) might be made in bedrooms on a laptop computer pc. Now not does a budding producer-engineer (feminine or male) should serve internships in main studios or go to high school to study the commerce.

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“Expertise is certainly a catalyst,” Kourkoutis says. “I got here from a do-it-yourself-background.”

Kourkoutis started by producing her personal work: As is the case with many younger artists, she couldn’t afford to pay somebody.

She has her personal studio now, referred to as the Lair. “It’s very a lot a laboratory,” she says. “My sister used to joke that I appeared like a mad scientist.”

If the lab coat suits.