“Allowing Women to Create Their Own Stories from Their Perspective”: The Making of OBUXUM’s “H.E.R”

Toronto-based producer OBUXUM doesn’t make music as a mere hobby, she creates “art as a means of healing and survival.” Her new six-track EP H.E.R is evidence of this, as OBUXUM draws on a variety of real life experiences that encompass a broad spectrum of emotion that everyone can relate to — anger, feeling carefree, frustration, loss, and inspiration.

The Bandcamp version of H.E.R.

But H.E.R isn’t just a random assortment of tracks designed to capture an emotional release, the EP tells the unique story of a producer demanding her due props in the male-dominated, oftentimes sexist world of instrumental music.

The name of the lead track “HE(R)STORY” plays on the EP’s title and sets the tone for the entire project. When OBUXUM crafted the instrumental she says sought to challenge, “the idea of patriarchy and allowing women to create their own stories from their perspective.”

The song’s somber tone and slow tempo help set an appropriate musical mood for the project as “THE 6IX GODDESS” and “PU$$Y POWAH” also build off of an atmospheric, melancholy sound.

“I wear my heart on my sleeve and I wear my art on my sleeve.”

PU$$Y POWAH” sees OBUXUM voicing the frustration she often feels at live shows where everyone from event organizers to fans seem hesitant to give female performers their hard-earned props. The song is, “basically a big fuck you to sexism, especially in the music production scene with live performance.”

OBUXUM rocking a live set for Cosmos Records West’s “The Build” series.

In addition to OBUXUM’s efforts to address the imbalances of power within the producer community, she also confronts the loss of a close friend on “ZIPP DISKKSS (TO AN ANGEL)”. “A very good friend of mine died of a brain aneurysm this summer,” she tells me. “I cried so much, but I made this beat out of frustration maybe hours after I found out he died.”

Though H.E.R certainly deals with some very daunting themes and experiences, there are also more lighthearted moments like “Betty Blue’s Interlude”, a song that was inspired by “my alter ego, the ego that is super carefree.” Apparently this alter ego likes to come out once OBUXUM’s had one too many beverages and is feeling nice. “My partner calls me this when i get too lit,” she says with a laugh.

“I cried so much, but I made this beat out of frustration maybe hours after I found out he died.”

Her partner also inspires H.E.R’s final track “DUNKIN VIBRATIONS”, which rounds out this short, powerful listen. “He sent me so much fire and was in the process of creating his album,” OBUXUM explains. “I created this out of that inspiration.”

OBUXUM performing songs from her Luul EP live.

When I first interviewed OBUXUM in the summer of 2017 she told me, “I wear my heart on my sleeve and I wear my art on my sleeve.”

After talking to her about her latest release this seems truer than ever. While navigating the endlessly complex maze of being a woman in a male-dominated art form, OBUXUM confronted the issues at hand and channeled them into a cohesive listening experience — all while navigating the loss of a dear friend. Though the album doesn’t shy away from darkness, it addresses it while also giving the listener some hope.

Connect with OBUXUM on Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, YouTube, and on Twitter @OBUXUM.

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