She asked her followers to tag female producers in the comments and while people did, she said that the responses were disappointing and sparse.”
“They couldn’t really name anybody immediately. And that’s always been a troubling point for me.”
In spite of that, R&B neo-soul musician, B~Free is standing out as a producer.
Photo by Roché Buford
“I want to be like a martyr or just a rallying person for showing that this is not impossible, this is not unheard of,” she says. “It’s not uncommon, despite the lack of representation.”
She’s always played the flute and piano and she’s been making songs since she was a teenager. But, it wasn’t until a music technology class in her undergrad years at Lincoln University that she learned to use Mixcraft and Logic Pro to make songs from scratch on the computer. She says she was blown away with the new possibilities and freedoms.
After that, her instincts to learn more have been more self-driven. She was inspired to begin the journey of recreating songs, watching a lot of YouTube tutorials and using trial and error to learn production. And though she didn’t have a mentor’s wing to study under, she was influenced by producers like Ryan Leslie, Marsha Ambrosius from Floetry and Gwen Bunn.
Discovering Gwen Bunn was particularly inspiring for her when she found out that the female producer made ScHoolboy Q’s “Collard Greens.”
“Hearing that was like, ‘Whaaat?’ That that’s not even highlighted. When you think about the song like, ‘Oh, it’s got to be a guy that probably produced this.’ But, when you actually go on and read the line of credits: there’s a woman that was responsible for the coolness of this song.”
Like many producers, (especially female ones) B~Free is self-taught. She says that in a way, it was somewhat essential for her to find her way on her own, as art and production are very personal. So, more than mentorship, she says that resources and early access to technology are most important for young musicians. Especially when so many programs are user-friendly, having free-reign to explore is the best way to learn.