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Ten women who are doing it themselves in music

London producer Throwing Shade spotlights the trail-blazing women who aren’t content to wait for the status quo to change

In collaboration with Barbie, Girls Like Us opens a window onto five women who have made their dreams a reality. Through this series of features, we hope to inspire a new generation of girls to conquer challenges and follow their own paths.

Since entering into the music industry after training as a barrister, NTS radio show host and producer Throwing Shade (Nabihah Iqbal) is all too familiar with the importance of supporting other women and nurturing communities when dealing with an industry dominated by the opposite sex.

However, rather than dwelling on inequality, she hopes to challenge the culture of competitiveness between women irrelevant of career path. Already laying down the importance of sharing the love and helping your peers, Throwing Shade explained, “I feel a certain sense of responsibility as I feel like a bit of a trailblazer in what I do. I want to help people who have any questions – girls will come up to me asking for advice, and I always do the best that I can.”

But with Facebook groups such as Sister working as free-for-all advice and resource platforms, or collectives such as SIREN creating real-life, female-dominated spaces that push back against the status quo — it seems more and more marginalised people are realising the potential of sharing experiences, advice, and celebrating the achievements of one and other. While the playing field may be far from equal yet, the wealth of women in the music industry pooling collective power to force higher level change is only proof that there’s strength in numbers.

Below, as part of our Girls Like Us series in collaboration with Barbie, we asked Throwing Shade to shine a torch on ten of the women currently working in music that inspire her own practice…

ANGEL FOOD

“I knew Aimee – one half of the DJ duo – through her work as a music journalist. Then I found out about Angel Food, a DJ duo made up of E.M.M.A. and Aimee Cliff. They also have a show on Radar Radio under the same name. They play cool, forward-thinking electronic and RnB music. I've been a guest on their radio show, and we've also played together at a couple of parties in London. I also got them to DJ at my record launch party earlier this year. Any woman working in the field of radio broadcast / DJing is an inspiration because we are outnumbered in a very chauvinistic, male-dominated industry. Their radio show is really good, and I admire Aimee's work as a music journalist too.”

DONNA LEAKE

“I met Donna at a lock-in one night at Brilliant Corners in Dalston, London, where she works. She came up to me on the dance floor to tell me that she was a really big fan of my radio show, and then we just started chatting about music. She is really amazing. She curates the music programming at Brilliant Corners, and she is also a great DJ with an enviable vinyl collection. She's asked me to DJ at Brilliant Corners a few times, and she's also played at a club night which I run called 'Nice Touch' — as well as being a guest on my NTS show. She has such a genuine love and enthusiasm for music, which is refreshing, and I love talking to her about tunes. She just does her own thing, and I know she is going to get more noticed as a DJ because her selections are so out of this world!”

LAUREL HALO

“The first time I saw Laurel Halo play was quite a few years ago, at a gig in London where she was supporting Gatekeeper. I had no idea who she was but when she came on the stage and started playing her set, it totally blew my mind. I loved her music and I loved the fact that she was using so much amazing gear. She had the kind of set-up which you don’t see females using very often… It’s always usually guys doing that kind of thing. She’s totally breaking down gender stereotypes with her live show and approach to making music, and she is also pretty successful in her field.”

GRIMES

“I first started listening to Grimes back in 2010, It’s a dream of mine to work with her. She's totally created space for her own sound in the music industry, and she is doing so, so well. Her production skills are next level, and I like the fact that she really does everything herself. Writing songs, producing them, as well as directing and editing her own music videos as well.”

CAILIN POWER

“She's a producer based in Dublin, Ireland, and makes techno dance-y music. I found her stuff on the 'wherethetimegoes' Soundcloud page – it's the name of the collective that she is a part of in Ireland. I've only been in touch with her on the internet, but I love the music that she’s making. I didn't even realise that Dublin had this throbbing techno scene. Again, she's working in an area of music that is totally dominated by men, so it's just cool to see her doing her thing. I hope more people pick up on her music because it's really good.”

CECI

“Ceci (or Cecilie) got in touch over email. She’s from Copenhagen and saw that I was going to be in her city for a DJ gig – so asked to meet up because she was a fan of my music, and because she also produces her own. I admire the drive that she has. She's got a vision and she is trying to fulfill it, and I'm sure she will succeed. She's been studying music production at university and was telling me how she is the only girl on the course... No surprise there. But that hasn't hindered her determination in any way.”

ERICA MCKOY

“Erica got in touch with me after following my music and my radio show. She presents her own show on Roundhouse Radio called 'The Elektrik Cave' where she explores all different kinds of music from all over the place. She also conducts some great interviews with artists / musicians that feature on the show. I know that Erica has featured some of my music on her radio show before, and perhaps we can collaborate on something together soon. You can tell that Erica puts a lot of effort into each of her radio shows and I find this really admirable. She is a great example of a young female in London, making the most of the opportunities that this city has to offer when it comes to working in music and radio.”

DEBONAIR

“DEBONAIR also has a show on NTS Radio, and that's how I found out about her. We've also played at some of the same nights and parties in London. Debi is a really great DJ and definitely plays a strong part in the city’s scene. It's so good to see other girls doing their thing on the DJ decks, and not taking any nonsense from anybody. Her sets are always good to dance to.”

MARY GRIGORIS

“I first met Mary earlier this year, when I went out to play some shows in Australia. Mary is based in Melbourne, and she’s a notable figure in the Australian music industry. She works as a promoter, booker, manager, as well as running her own sustainable music festival in Melbourne which is called ‘Off The Grid’. Mary helped me a lot during my first trip to Australia earlier this year by setting some cool radio appearances for me in Melbourne and Sydney. She's also just helped to arrange another Australian DJ tour for me starting in a few weeks, so I'm looking forward to hanging out with her again.

When you look at female DJs or producers, it's quite obvious that we are very outnumbered in our field, but what people don't always realise, is that the rest of the music industry (the more behind the scenes work) is also extremely male-dominated. Most promoters, record label managers, and journalists are almost always men. I think Mary is the first female promoter / festival organiser that I've come across in my work so far, and so I have so much respect and admiration for what she does.”