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Centre Staged: Maud By Lisa J Cosham

Last year, Billboard launched their Hot 100 Songwriters and Producers Charts: just another list that under-represents women in production, with not a single one in the Top 24. The industry unfortunately has not come very far where equality is concerned, with less than 3% of music producers being non-male. But Spotify have recently launched a programme - Spotify EQUAL - which supports all-female music creations. Enter Maud, who with her EP and its lead track ‘Future,’ is ready to discuss the prospects for female producers.

Fired up after seeing that, once again, the headliners for the UK festivals this year have been primarily male artists, I happily sat down to write up some questions. As Maud is in Norway and I was still working on my final assignments, we decided on an email interview.

So, could you start by telling us a bit about yourself? Age, what you’re doing when you’re not making music, some of your hobbies or favourite things to do, and if there’s anything else you’re doing alongside making music.

I’m a 28-year-old artist, producer, and singer from Bodø, a small town in Northern Norway. I’m currently studying for a master’s degree in electronic music, and I also have a BA in journalism. Since 2016, I’ve been combining my music career with a part-time job as a journalist. I’ve also worked with promotion and festivals, but right now I’m focusing on my music. When I’m not making music, I like to hang out with my friends and family, go hiking in the mountains, watch movies, make tasty food, work on my gluten-free baking skills, and sometimes I like to meditate and do yoga.

Whose music inspires you the most?

It goes in waves. Sometimes I don’t listen to music because my mind is occupied in my own music. Right now, however, I’m in a phase where I’m listening to a lot of different music. I’ve always found huge inspiration in Grimes and how she’s shaped her career all by herself. I’m also inspired by Massive Attack, Boards of Canada and Oklou, as well as Norwegian artists such and Emilie Nicolas and Ary. Lately I’ve been into drum and bass, breakbeat, electro-pop from the 90s and early 2000s, hyper-pop and trance.

When did you start making music? And was there anything in particular that helped you realise that this is what you want to do as a career?

Music has been an inevitable part of my life since I was a child, and to be honest I don’t think I had any choice. I remember quitting music entirely after high school because I was so tired of practicing the piano. After a break, I started writing my own songs without any intentions or ambitions, but for some reason I stopped because I wanted to become an author (which didn’t happen) and all of a sudden, I was studying to become a journalist. But whenever I was taking breaks from the music, it kept pulling me back. I felt that something was missing inside of me when I wasn’t playing with others or writing songs. Eventually I pulled myself together and decided to focus on the music, by slowly learning how to produce my own songs.

"Whenever I was taking breaks from the music, it kept pulling me back..."

Where does the name 'Maud' come from?

Maud actually started out in 2013 as a duo with a good friend of mine. We were looking for band names and went searching for names on Google maps. Suddenly “Queen Maud Land” showed up, a region of Antarctica, which is a dependent territory of Norway. It's named after the Norwegian Queen Maud of Wales. I instantly felt that 'Maud' was a beautiful and unique name that fit my artistic identity.

Speaking of Maud: you released your album under the same name, which you have written, recorded and produced yourself, making it an entirely female-made product. What inspired you to create this?

My inspiration and motivation to create this album has emerged from a strong will and drive to be in full creative control over my own music. In many ways, this album stands out as a proof that I can be in charge of all the creative processes of making my music, and I’m so happy to finally share it with the world.

"This album stands out as a proof that I can be in charge of all the creative processes of making my music, and I’m so happy to finally share it with the world..."

How long did it take for you to create your EP? Did you learn anything from the experience?

The album itself has been made over the last two-three years. However, it feels as if I’ve been preparing for this release for ages. This may be due to the fact that I’ve literally learned how to produce and mix my own songs while I've been writing them. It took me some time to understand that I could produce my own music, and it was really difficult for me to work with other producers and musicians before I knew where I was heading both musically and artistically. At some point I knew I had to do it on my own, and I started teaching myself how to produce electronic music. In 2017, I started studying electronic music at the University of Agder in Kristiansand, and I’m now doing a master’s degree in the same field. Being in full creative control over my own project while creating this album has been so rewarding. I’ve developed myself as an artist, producer, singer and songwriter.

"At some point I knew I had to do it on my own, and I started teaching myself how to produce electronic music..."

Women are often overlooked in much of the creative industry, particularly in film and music – much of the UK festival line-ups, including headliners, in 2021 are male-dominated. In particular, female producers are overlooked. What do you think the music industry could/should do to support them? Do you have any specific ideas that you think could work?

The male-dominated festival line-ups are a clear sign that much remains to be done. The lack of female producers is a complex-issue, and I don’t have all the answers. However, I think it’s important that the music industry as a whole raise awareness towards the gender imbalance. This could simply be done by booking more female artists and producers, for instance I know that some Norwegian festivals are aiming for a 50/50 gender balance in their line-ups. I also believe in the importance of encouraging younger girls to produce music and provide them with the gear and space they need for this. If younger girls learn from the very start that this is not a boy’s club, we’ve come a long way.

"I think it's important that the music industry as a whole raise awareness towards the gender imbalance..."

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists that are also writing, recording and producing their own music?

Believe in yourself and trust the process. Hard work will pay off.

Are there any other artists, who have made their music completely by themselves, like you, that you’ve been listening to, and would love to see them grow?

Ary & Sea Change (Norwegian friends & artists).

A question I like to ask anyone in the music industry, if you could have written any 5 songs, which songs would they be?

  • 'Thinking Bout You' by Frank Ocean
  • 'POWER' by Kanye West
  • 'Feel Fine' by Emilie Nicolas
  • 'Only Time' by Enya
  • 'Yesterday' by The Beatles

Where can listeners find and support you and your music?

  • Spotify
  • Facebook - Maudofficial
  • YouTube
  • Instagram - _mmmaud
  • Soundcloud - _mmmaud
  • Twitter - _mmmaud
  • Maudofficial.com

There is of course, a lot of work to be done in various spheres of the arts. The 2022 Golden Globes have been postponed after receiving backlash from celebrities for their lack of representation and inclusion and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) are taking the year off to reform. Perhaps other award ceremonies within acting and music should follow in their footsteps, as well as music festivals. Women in the music industry are still heavily underrepresented and underpaid, as 21.7% of artists, 12.3% of songwriters and only 2.1% working as producers. Moreover, only 4 out of 871 producers were women of colour in the Billboard’s Hot 100 charts from 2012 to 2018. Yet, much of this remains to be discussed on a more mainstream level. It seems that, unless you are involved in the music industry yourself, much of this information and these statistics get lost in news reports. Despite moves being made towards equality for working women, it seems that there is still a large proportion lagging behind, in one of the most surprising areas of the arts. While artists are allowed to express themselves through their work in their lyrics and the music videos that go along with them, women continue to be unrecognised, and more should be done to rectify this.

Credits:

Title Photo: Killing Moon