Could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself? Childhood, and living in a multicultural setup, how did you find yourself, growing up? What got you interested in music?
I’m Xylo Aria, an artist, music producer and the founder of the online learning platform Music Production for Women (MPW). I was born in Delhi but moved at a very young age to Australia with my family. To be honest, even at the age of 7 I found it quite difficult at that time to adjust. There are so many differences between Australian and Indian culture and I think what impacted me most was the move form a very collectivist society (at that time anyway!) to a very individualistic society. Eventually, though you do end up adjusting and feeling like you’ve never lived anywhere else!
My grandmother introduced me to Carnatic music at a very young age and even now I have a deep love for that music. I guess that was my first introduction into music, after which I took singing lessons and started writing my own western songs (always with some form of Indian influence, I’m told by some!) at the age of 12.
To produce these songs I was always working with other producers which for many reasons didn’t end up being a positive experience. This eventually led to my decision to learn to produce music. A few years down the line I noticed the significant under-representation of women in the field of production and audio engineers and felt compelled to do something about it. This is when I decided to launch MPW, with the main aim being to create a platform where women could learn the basics of music production in a supportive and collaborative environment.
For those that are in the dark, what is music production — how tech-dependant is the process?
Music production is the process of capturing the essence of a song and turning it into a completed audio track for an audience to listen to. Production has changed significantly over the years and the role of technology has changed a lot with it too. Electronic music production, which is mainly what I do, is heavily tech-dependent. In many songs that I produce, almost every element of the track other than the vocals is completely programmed or created using music production software. This reduces the need for a recording space/studio and also the need to involve multiple musicians and instrumentalists. Obviously this also results in a different feel to the tracks.
How different is music production in general compared to composing for a film?
Composition and production are two different elements in the creation of audio. A produced song would have gone through its composition stage just like the composition of a film score will go through its production stage. The approach to both of these, however, would be different mainly due to film compositions having a visual element that needs to be considered during the composition and production phase which is (usually) not the case in composing and producing a song.
You are offering free courses for women who are interested in music production, it is such an awesome thing to do. What got you interested in offering these courses?
I was basically reflecting on my journey into music production and how I often felt a bit lost and alone in the process. I then decided to create a course and community which has everything that I wish was available when I was learning and a portion of it which I wanted to keep free and accessible to everyone.
Is one available right now? Who can take your course, and what will they get to learn?
Yes, we run free Introductory Music Production classes for anyone who would like a taster of what production is and how you can get started. In this, students will learn the very basics of how to navigate a music production software and how to create a very simple beat. For those who’d like to take this further, we offer an Intro to Music Production Course which consists of 6 modules, includes access to our community and numerous other benefits. Anyone that is interested in production is welcome to take the course — men too — but this will always be that one space in music tech where the majority will be women. No experience is necessary and every aspect of the course is taught from the ground up.
Do you plan to compose for films? What’s 2020 looking like for you, work-wise?
I haven’t really thought about it, but I guess I’d be open to it! I’m working on an album at the moment which is a personal project and one I’m very excited about. For MPW, the focus for 2020 was to run more workshops and talks in schools to spark more interest in music tech among young girls. COVID-19 has obviously had an impact on these plans so far, but the plans are still on and will resume as soon as they can. I have also just launched the trailer for the MPW podcast which will talk about different areas of music production and the first 2 episodes to this will be launching very soon so also very excited about this!
Music Production for Women MPW links
Music Production for Women (MPW) is a global movement and community which aims to encourage and empower women who are…
Music Production for Women! — Facebook
This group is a community of support for those identifying as women who are wanting to or just starting to get into…
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Music Production For Women
"I strongly recommend this masterclass to anyone looking to get started with music production. The techniques of making…
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Vaishnavi is a writer, self-taught filmmaker among other things. You can read all of her work by signing up for her newsletter.