Meeting Topic: Diversity and Inclusion for the AES PNW Section
Moderator Name: Greg Dixon
Speaker Name: Dr. Angela Dane, Atrocity Drums; Maria Garcia, multi instrumentalist & producer, Ryan Lee, multi instrumentalist and live sound engineer; Lillian Blair, Staff Engineer - Vera Project
Other business or activities at the meeting: Presentation by AES Diversity and Inclusion Committee Co-Chairs Mary Mazurek and Cecelia Wu
Meeting Location: Zoom
The PNW Section explored a topic of concern to the AES, that of diversity and inclusion in the audio world. Local teacher/writer/musician/producer Dr. Angela Dane was the featured speaker, joined by bandmates Johnny Angel (Maria Garcia) and Ryan Lee. In addition, local engineer Lillian Blair was featured. About 46 people attended, with 31 being AES members.
The meeting began with the co-chairs of the AES Diversity and Inclusion Committee (D&I), Mary Mazurek and Cecilia Wu. They reported on the scope of the problem and global efforts by the D&I Committee. Those interested or with concerns should contact them through the AES.
Dr. Dane said that it was time for the AES PNW Section to look at itself with possibly uncomfortable questions about its diversity and inclusion. She told anecdotes of harassment and bad treatment in local studios where they felt unsafe and denigrated. This spurred her and her bandmates build their own home studio, and to established a Facebook group and website, called Womxn & Audio (Seattle) [https://womxnandaudio.com/], which has grown to some 200 followers. She noted a much more supportive environment. They also started gearfanatix.com as an alternative to other, less inclusive forums.
An excerpt of a You Tube video was shown, "Why Aren't There More Female Producers?" by Benn Jordan [https://youtu.be/2Ipb81z46kI].
Next, Johnny Angel (Maria Garcia) and Ryan Lee related many bad experiences and lack of encouragement in the audio world that lead them to start their own home studio. What should AES do? A start would be to recognize the lack of encouragement for those coming up that are women, minority and non-binary.
Next Lillian Blair gave a thoughtful talk about the diversity problem, as well as offering some concrete suggestions, such as audio demos in the schools, and subsidizing some entry level gear for youth. Also, mentorship to young women was described in some detail, as well as separating sex and harassment from work. Hire more women, she suggested.
In summing up, the panel said there was a lack of role models, teachers, safety and encouragement for females, people of color and the non-binary. They are very encouraged with their own home studio and the encouragement of the Womxn & Audio FB group
During the Q&A, many discussion and comments included experiences looking for female engineers; the joy at seeing that they could record themselves during the pandemic; a broken, sexist studio system; women-run studios; comparisons to racism; and problems not isolated to older men.
Lastly, PNW member Jess Berg conducted a round of participant self-introductions.
Dr. Angela Dane lives in Seattle, Washington, and teaches Women's Studies at the local community college. Her book, Sabina Spielrein: The Woman and the Myth was selected for the Gold Medal in Adult Nonfiction by Foreword Reviews in 2017. She is a Staff Writer and Editor for Tom Tom Magazine, the only publication in the world dedicated to female and non-binary percussionists. She owns and operates the only female and black-owned drum studio in Seattle dedicated to empowering women through the drum kit, Atrocity Drums. Additionally, she is the drummer for the all-female heavy rock band Atrocity Girl, whose members are recording and engineering their own debut album through a self-built home studio under the auspices of their LLC. She is currently enrolled in the University of Washington's Audio Production Certificate Program in order to learn the ropes of recording and started Seattle's Womxn & Audio Facebook Group to connect to and collaborate with others in the community.
Johnny Angel (Maria Garcia) is a small engine mechanic in Everett, Washington. She is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and short film director. She is the frontwoman of Atrocity Girl.
Ryan Lee is a live sound engineer and barista from Seattle, Washington. Also a multi-instrumentalist, Ryan fronts two bands in addition to playing bass for Atrocity Girl. She is a videographer and brand consultant.
Lillian Blair is a producer, engineer and audio educator working out of the Seattle area. She is currently a staff engineer at The Vera Project Studios, where she chairs the Audio Committee, teaches studio recording and audio mixing and mastering. Lilian interned at the historic London Bridge Studios, and received her degree in audio engineering from Shoreline Community College (A.A.A.S.), and in creative writing from the University of Washington (B.A.).
Dr. Cecilia Wu obtained her Master of Arts degree from Stanford University and obtained her Ph.D. in Media Arts and Technology from UC Santa Barbara. As a musician, Dr. Wu's work has been published by Cambridge University Press, SEAMUS, ICMC, NIME, Audio Engineering Society (AES), Springer, IEEE, EMI Records, SONY, Warner Music, Universal Music Group, and many music labels and publishers around the world. As a multimedia artist, she received the "Young Alumni Artist Grant Award" from Stanford University and her work was acquired by the Denver Art Museum for their permanent collection. As a scholar, she has received research awards from AES, the University of California, the University of Colorado, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
Currently, Dr. Wu is an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado's College of Arts and Media and the Editor-in-Chief of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS).
Mary Mazurek is a GRAMMY-nominated recording engineer, and also a broadcaster and radio/podcast producer. Her work is regularly featured on WFMT Radio and WFMT.com. Additionally, she is a sought after educator and speaker who enjoys contributing in the classroom and on panels and committees within her industry and beyond. She serves as a role model and advocates for women in the recording industry, which is currently less than 5% female. She loves sharing her sonic insights across disciplines.
She is on the faculty of Columbia College's Audio Arts and Acoustics Department and DePaul University School of Music. She has also taught at The Illinois Institute of Art and the Merit School of Music. She has guest lectured at Cleveland State University, Ohio University, UC Denver, University of Illinois Urbana, and Northeastern Illinois University.
Mary is a voting member of The Recording Academy. She has served as a governor and task-force chairperson in that organization. She was elected the first woman president of Engineering and Recording Society (EARS) of Chicago and continues to serve as a steering committee member. She is a Member of the Audio Engineering Society and is co-chairperson of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She is currently a member of the exclusive DPA Master's Club and an Educational Advisor for Leapwing Audio.
Mary is also an interdisciplinary artist whose work is based in sound and image. She received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Art from Columbia College, Chicago, IL, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Art Theory from IDSVA, Portland, ME. Her work has been exhibited in Chicago, New York, Mexico, and Berlin.
Written By: Gary Louie