Julia Church on Being a Producer: “The Systems in Place Make Young Girls Feel Intimidated and Under-Skilled”

Singer, songwriter and producer Julia Church doesn’t need you to put “female” in front of her profession. We’re passing her the mic so can tell you why!

Julia Church
Julia Church

Yes, I am a female and yes I’m extremely proud to be one but by putting “female” in front of a profession, such as a producer, it implies that it is inherently male and that my work is not ‘of the norm’. That’s not the most encouraging premise to start a career on.

On our patriarchal planet, male-ness is default to so many things around us. When it comes to the music industry, womxn aren’t taken as seriously as men and the second womxn step into a role that society tells us is male, their talents become diminished and it means that they have to work so much harder. Gender stereotyping is a tool for oppression and it’s time to stop that shit.

I didn’t realize the systems I existed in until later in my life. I went to a pretty conservative all-girls boarding school in the heart of South Africa between the ages of 12 and 17. It was picturesque but it was also highly traditional and led by men. In fact, throughout my entire schooling experience, I never went to a school where womxn were in charge, despite only attending all-girls schools. I always loved music and took it seriously throughout high school, spending most of my
hours after class hidden away in a piano room writing songs. Our music classes were theory, practical and history based and that satisfied me as it was what I knew and loved.

Julia Church

When it comes to the music industry, womxn aren’t taken as seriously as men and the second womxn step into a role that society tells us is male, their talents become diminished and it means that they have to work so much harder.

Down the road at the all-boys “brother school” counterpart, their curriculam included music technology. They were taught the basics of recording and production and we were not. To make this worse, I’ll tell you a subject we were offered that the boys school wasn’t, “Home Economics” – the study of cooking and sewing. It was so blatantly perpetuating these archaic gender roles yet it was never questioned. I am so grateful for the wonderful education I was given but I
cant help plead with these institutions to modernize their methods. The systems in place make young girls feel intimidated and under-skilled when really they were just straight-up denied the same opportunities the boys got.

I then moved to Liverpool, 17 and wide-eyed. I went on my own, apprehensive but eager, into the northern British city so far away from home. Lapping up every inch of the creative energy that I never knew I had been craving for so long. It was here that I discovered my love for production. I changed my degree halfway through first year when I discovered this amazing program called Logic. For the first time I realized I was totally unafraid to do things my way and to focus on building this skill that once felt unobtainable. I was one of four girls in a class of 25 and there was always this sense that the boys had had a head start. Sense is actually the wrong word, in my case, it was
fact. I was totally dedicated to learning production from square one and putting all my energy into becoming the best producer I could be, even if the world keeps telling me that the best producer looks like a man.

Then, I moved to London working full time as a solo artist and a songwriter. Producing my own work and, for the first time, I was placed in sessions every week with new people – very exciting. There was definitely (and still is) an element of reservation when I would write with groups of men. Like my ideas weren’t as worthy and I was just the womxn in the room there to sing, even though writing is where my love really lies. It makes me sad because those feelings of intimidation are so counter-productive creatively – it was like I kept retreating back into the box that society told me stay in.

As I have grown up and settled into this exciting career, I am better at taking control of those situations but those undertones never go away.

Julia Church has her new EP ‘Cups and Balloons out. Listen here:

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