Interview Series: Joy Ike

“You have to fight a little harder for respect and you constantly have to prove yourself.” -Joy Ike, singer/songwriter

Born to Nigerian immigrants, independent artist Joy Ike’s music, voice, and writing has drawn comparisons to female musicians such as Corinne Bailey Rae, Regina Spektor, Norah Jones, and Fiona Apple. But her percussive piano-playing and soaring vocals give homage to her African upbringing. Leaving her career as a publicist in 2008, Ike has since played hundreds of shows across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest. She has had the opportunity to share the stage and open for Jeffrey Gaines, Denison Whitmer, Deas Vail, Butterfly Boucher, Dwele, Chrisette Michele, Tyrone Wells, Najee, Allen Toussaint, and Serena Ryder to name a few. As a singer/songwriter who purposefully refuses to be pigeon-holed into any one specific genre, Ike’s path has consistently taken an “anywhere for anyone” approach playing for intimate audiences in coffeehouse, Universities, house concerts, churches, and small theater settings. A write-up on NPR's All Things Considered says "The depth of subjects she tackles in her poetic lyrics are perfectly complemented by a unique blend of neo-soul, with just the right dash of pop...a truly compelling act to watch in person, with the ability to create an intimate setting in locations big and small." A  segment on NPR's World Cafe (December 2013) featured Ike as one of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's up-and-coming artists.
Joy Ike, performing singer/songwriter

The following interview is part of a series designed to discuss issues that women face in the music industry. The goal is to empower women musicians to embrace their artistry with confidence and passion.

As a female musician, do you think you face more adversity than your male counterparts?

“I personally think it’s much harder to be a female musician than a male one – on many levels. I think the industry takes female musicians less seriously than males. Everything from biased soundmen who don’t think women know how to check their instruments, to venues that treat women like they’re just pretty voices looking for attention. You have to fight a little harder for respect and you constantly have to prove yourself.”

What is your biggest challenge as a woman in the music industry?

“I think longevity is much more difficult for the female musician. Roughly 5 years ago (2010) when Lilith Fair returned for a minute, I had the opportunity to open for an incredible lineup of women and be on a panel with Sarah MacLachlan, Jill Hennessey, Butterfly Boucher, and many others. Behind the stage, many of these women were taking care of their kids, putting them to bed in the trailers, and going out to do a show. I was so impressed and encouraged by how they were able to balance being on the road with having a family. However, I knew it was a major challenge for them. For this reason, I know that having a long lasting career for women is much harder than for men. There is a lot you have to either sacrifice or balance in order for it all to work together.”

How do you view other women musicians?

“I have a lot of respect for female musicians. There are many that I watch and hope to be like someday – Brooke Waggoner, Sara Groves, Kimbra, Vienna Teng, Priscilla Ahn, Butterfly Boucher, Norah Jones…and the list goes on and on. Being a female musician is bold!”

Have you/do you experience any pressure to sexualize your image as a performer?

“No, I think in my world of music (the folk world) that would actually work against me. You look less professional and people don’t take you as seriously when you dress like a slut. I’m not saying that everyone who sexualizes their image is a slut, but you loose a little bit (or a lot) of musical integrity and respect. But there is pressure to look good – to make more of an effort than the average male musician would make.”

What advice would you give to young women pursuing a career as a musician?

“Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. Actually that is the advice I give every musician. Pursing a career as an artist is no joke. You grow a pretty thick skin pretty fast because you don’t have a choice. You have to hope for good outcomes but brace yourself for really bad experiences and really bad days. Be ready to get sized up, compared, measured, and tested. And good luck! Oh…also, read my blog for working artists – Grassrootsy!”

About Joy:

Born to Nigerian immigrants, independent artist Joy Ike’s music, voice, and writing has drawn comparisons to female musicians such as Corinne Bailey Rae, Regina Spektor, Norah Jones, and Fiona Apple. But her percussive piano-playing and soaring vocals give homage to her African upbringing. Leaving her career as a publicist in 2008, Ike has since played hundreds of shows across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest. She has had the opportunity to share the stage and open for Jeffrey Gaines, Denison Whitmer, Deas Vail, Butterfly Boucher, Dwele, Chrisette Michele, Tyrone Wells, Najee, Allen Toussaint, and Serena Ryder to name a few. As a singer/songwriter who purposefully refuses to be pigeon-holed into any one specific genre, Ike’s path has consistently taken an “anywhere for anyone” approach playing for intimate audiences in coffeehouse, Universities, house concerts, churches, and small theater settings. A write-up on NPR’s All Things Considered says “The depth of subjects she tackles in her poetic lyrics are perfectly complemented by a unique blend of neo-soul, with just the right dash of pop…a truly compelling act to watch in person, with the ability to create an intimate setting in locations big and small.” A segment on NPR’s World Cafe (December 2013) featured Ike as one of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s up-and-coming artists.

Listen and see what Joy is up to at:

Interview Series: Kaitlin Gladney, Perspectives from a Manager

“When it comes down to it, it is about whether the artist creates great music” -Kaitlin Gladney

Kaitlin Gladney, Manager
Kaitlin Gladney is an artist manager, photographer, and writer based in New York City. She currently manages indie folk artist Skout and indie electropop duo DIADEM.

The following interview is part of a series designed to discuss issues that women face in the music industry. The goal is to empower women musicians to embrace their artistry with confidence and passion.

Why do you think there is such a large gender gap in the music industry?

“I think for the same reasons there are gender gaps in most industries. There’s an overarching lack of gender equality in our culture, especially in entertainment. There are a lot of stereotypes and double standards women regularly face that men are exempt to. Things like the idea that beauty and intelligence are mutually exclusive, the glass ceiling, the reluctance to hire women (under the assumption that they’re going to leave the work force to have children and/or become stay-at-home mothers), the “old boys’ club culture, etc. There are also less women working behind the scenes in positions like producers, engineers, and executives, which means that there are less female voices overall.”

What do you see as the biggest challenge women face in the music industry?

“Creating a culture in which true gender equality exists. Gender inequality is the source that all other obstacles/stereotypes/double standards women face in the industry stem from. Also gaining respect, because for women in the music industry (and I think this is most apparent when it comes to women musicians) there’s more criticism and skepticism than admiration sometimes.”

As a manager, do you approach managing a woman differently than you would a man?

“No. When it comes down to it, it’s about whether the artist creates great music. From there, it’s about executing our/their vision. Things like determining how to best present the artist/music to the world, what shows to play, which music outlets to work with, etc. There might be times when certain issues come up that have to do with the artist’s gender, but I would treat those the same as any other obstacle – acting in the best interests of the artist.”

How do you deal with the media’s pressure to sexualize the image of female performers? Do you feel this pressure at all?

With the two acts I work with I don’t feel that pressure. I’m interested in challenging that stereotype and proving that female artists who write good music can succeed by presenting themselves in a way that feels sincere and true to themselves. People connect with honesty. I work with a female indie folk artist and a male-female indie electro pop duo. They write great music, which is what really makes or breaks an act. The way they choose to present themselves is based entirely on their aesthetic preferences, not what we think the media wants to see.

I think it’s also worth noting that the pressure for female performers to present a sexualized image varies between genres – while it still exists in indie folk and electro pop, it’s less prevalent than Top 40-style pop; however, working in that genre I still wouldn’t feel pressured to encourage the artist to adopt an image that they were not comfortable with.

One other point worth mentioning is that the media isn’t pressuring female performers to sexualize their images in a general way; it’s in a specific, narrow way. That’s why artists like FKA twigs stands out. She expresses sexuality in her presentation and art, but does it in a way that mainstream culture is unaccustomed to. (She also produces all her own stuff, which is super cool, and I wish that were more common.) I think the pressure on female performers to express sexuality in a very narrow manner is the real problem, as opposed to the general expression of sexuality.”

Ideally, what aspect of the industry do you think needs to change for women to be more involved in the industry?

“I think it’s critically important to encourage and educate girls to pursue engineering/production/business positions in music as well as being performing artists. By showing girls that those jobs exist as viable careers, there will be more interest in them, and eventually more women in those positions. I also think it’s important that women are aware of the stereotypes and double standards that exist in the industry. This way they are better prepared to combat the encounter. To quote a female friend in the business, “Women need to say ‘f*ck your stereotypes’ and own their sh*t and believe in it.”

Check out Diadem:

http://www.reverbnation.com/diadem4

https://www.facebook.com/diademtheband?fref=ts

and Skout:

http://www.skoutmusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/SkoutOutLoud?fref=ts

Interview Series: Sasha Sloan

“In such a male dominated field, it’s almost as if women have ‘something to prove’.”- Sasha Sloan, singer/songwriter

 Sasha Sloan is a 19-year-old singer/songwriter signed with Warner Chappell. She is an alumnus of Berklee College of Music and now resides in Los Angeles.
Sasha Sloan is a 19-year-old singer/songwriter signed with Warner Chappell. She is an alumnus of Berklee College of Music and now resides in Los Angeles.

The following interview is part of a series designed to discuss issues that women face in the music industry. The goal is to empower women musicians to embrace their artistry with confidence and passion

As a female musician, do you think you face more adversity than your male counterparts

                 “Oh, definitely. In such a male dominated field it’s almost as if women have “something to prove.” For men it’s a bonus if they’re talented and good-looking, but for women it’s more of a requirement. If you’re not a good-looking woman then you better be super talented and have some weird shtick to make up for it. On the other end, if you are a good-looking woman, you’re automatically taken less seriously and put into some sort of box. For guys, they can throw on a t-shirt, pick up a guitar and be good to go.”

What is your biggest challenge as a woman in the music industry?

                “Being taken seriously. Not only am I woman, but I’m also 19. Of course I have a lot to learn and there will never be a day where I think I know everything. When I work with others they automatically assume they know more than I do. I often dress down when I go to sessions, which I find helps. If I know I’m working with a guy I’ll wear sweatpants and a tattered t-shirt. It immediately sets me apart, and from there I can develop a rapport and establish some sort of dominance. This may be a little too general, but as a woman in this business I find the less seriously you take yourself the more seriously others see you. “

Have you/do you experience any pressure to sexualize your image as a performer?

              “Yeah of course, but most of the pressure comes from myself. I’m extremely self-conscious. I used to have a pretty vicious eating disorder and never really wanted to pursue music. Of course I wish for smaller hips and a tighter waist, but when I sit down at a piano all of that melts away and it’s about the music. I’m pretty average when it comes to looks and weight. I used to hate myself for it, but now I embrace it. I hope to maintain that throughout my career because it’s important for women to see that it’s okay to be normal. It’s okay to gain ten pounds here and there. You don’t have to be anorexic or obese. Just eat what you want, be healthy, and enjoy life.”

What advice would you give to young women pursuing a career as a musician?

            “Work until you have an incredible product and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. There are so many amazing musicians who never let anyone hear them because they think they’re awful, when in fact they’re usually the best ones! Don’t be afraid to play out and post your music because you never know what will happen. And last but not least, have fun! Just go with your gut… it’s usually right.”

To listen to Sasha Sloan, visit her soundcloud or facebook:

https://soundcloud.com/Sasha-sloan

https://www.facebook.com/sashasloanmusic?ref=hl