Maddy Storm On Her New Single and Female Representation In Music
In 2018, Grammy’s CEO Neil Portnow told women to “step up” if they wanted recognition for their work in music. Yes, you read that correctly. This ignorant statement and the resulting outcry did rightly lead to his resignation, but not before highlighting the sexism and misogyny that is extremely apparent within the music industry.
According to Dr. Stacy L. Smith’s “Inclusion in the Recording Studio” report, women are severely underrepresented in every aspect of the music industry – especially in music production, with only 2.1% of music producers identifying as female. Almost half of women in music have had their work or skills dismissed by their male colleagues. Over a third of women in music have experienced stereotyping and sexualisation. The problem is perception. Until the music industry changes its perception of women and recognises their capabilities in music, it will continue to be an industry that sees gender before talent.
Maddy Storm is a music producer that has written, produced and released the entirety of her discography independently. She’s keen to keep it this way in order to contribute to women’s representation in music production.
After turning down a major publishing company that was keen to put her in the studio with a team of writers and producers – she’s now on a mission to break the mainstream without following the traditional trajectory of a pop artist.
“As a female producer, I don’t like the idea of separation or being put into a different category because of gender. Yet, I’m very aware that to make real change, it’s important to recognise the reason for a lack of representation or inequality that a certain group faces. I’m proud to be a female producer and I aim to lead by example, and add to the representation. In future, when people hear the word producer, there shouldn’t be one particular gender that comes to mind. I think it’s all about perception and altering how people view things, but that often takes time. As long as women in the music industry continue to be visible and strong I feel that in the next generation we will take a step closer to equality.
The reason I prefer to work independently is because I find both writing and producing music to be a very personal experience. I use both to express a particular way I feel and I always have a clear vision of what I want a song to sound like. I find that doing it all myself is the best and most accurate way to create a recording that sounds exactly as it does in my head. I’m also a firm believer in the idea that you should write about what you’re too afraid to – or what you think you shouldn’t. But that often means writing about intimate, private thoughts and I find it can be hard to be brutally honest around other people – as on some level I’m always preoccupied with what they think of me. I’d love to work with other artists in future but for now I feel the need to share my ideas and voice and prove that it’s enough. As an artist, I’m very aware of the strange balance that exists between ego and self-doubt. I have found the best way to navigate this dichotomy is to have people around me that I trust who support me. Though I prefer to write alone, I always ask their opinions and advice when I feel I need it.
In the past I’ve had people question whether I’ve produced and written my own music. There is a deeply ingrained idea that producers are only men, or they genuinely believe that women couldn’t possibly create something on their own – either way it drives me to alter how female producers are viewed. I think visibility and representation are key. The more women there are being recognised for their talent; the more chance there is of young girls seeing and knowing that music is a possibility for them. We’ve still got a long way to go and I’m going to do all I can to play my part in the change.“
Maddy’s latest single ‘Surrealist Dinner Party’ is based on a ‘dream ball’ hosted by Salvador Dalí, where guests were invited to dress as their most recurrent dream. It’s about trying not to succumb to alcohol when you’re feeling low, and also more generally finding ways to make yourself happy without relying on other people or outside influence.
On the production of the track, Maddy says “the main riff may sound like a mix of intense guitars and synths but it’s mostly me singing into Apple earphones filtered through distortion and a myriad of other effects.” Maddy constantly experiments with music in her DIY home set up, adopting a kind of “trash into treasure” mentality to prove that you don’t need a fancy studio or budget to make massive sounding pop music.
Image by Isobel Williams