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- Luke Awtry
- Alison Turner aka AliT
While sampling some of Burlington's finest indie rock at Radio Bean recently, a friend turned to me with something like a revelation.
"Have you noticed that all the new bands in town have girls in them now?" she remarked. "They're either all girls or the singer is a girl. It's full-on girl power in Burlington now! We're taking over, baby."
While I concurred with my friend's observation (and shared her excitement), I also knew the numbers. Having done plenty of research for my story this week on the GRRRLS to the Front event taking place throughout March at the Stone Church in Brattleboro, I knew that women's overall involvement in the music industry is still woefully low.
To be clear, I'm not talking about how many female or female-fronted bands or artists exist in Vermont currently. I wouldn't know where to start in ascertaining that — new bands appear and disappear more quickly than a Burlington apartment listing. But anecdotally, I agree with my friend: We're seeing more and more female and female-fronted acts in our local scene, from Lily Seabird to Robber Robber to Heady Betty to the Burning Sun, just to name a few.
What we're missing here, however, and in the music world at large, are woman producers. A recent study underwritten by Spotify found that slightly more than 22 percent of titles that appeared on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 Songs chart between 2012 and 2022 were produced by women — and that number has held steady for a decade. The stat suggests that the situation hasn't improved, despite concerted efforts to get more women in the producer's chair — specifically, through an initiative the Recording Academy launched in 2019 called Women in the Mix.
AliT, aka Alison Turner, knows this all too well. The Royalton-based singer-songwriter is preparing to release her latest LP, Pancakes at Midnight, this month. It's unlike her previous records in that she produced it, as well as played every instrument on the album.
"I've wanted to do this for a while," Turner revealed in a phone call. "Take Dua Lipa, for example. She's huge! But what if we listened to her stuff and knew she did everything by herself on her record, from the production to the writing? Wouldn't that be incredible?"
Though Turner quickly noted that she isn't attempting Top 40 hit-machine music, the idea of producing a record on her own became something of a mission for her. As she recorded the album, she sharpened her skills as a producer, a journey she began in seventh grade with her trusty Mac and the GarageBand app.
"The biggest takeaway from doing this thing myself has been learning that there's no one way of producing," Turner said. "Everyone has their own style, and the new record is me continuing to build my own. I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing that every part of this album is me."
Turner initially felt overwhelmed by the Byzantine world of recording technology, and she said she suspects other women might be similarly intimidated by that aspect of self-production. She admitted to getting flustered when parsing tech issues, even down to getting new guitar pedals.
"I didn't grow up learning about gear; it wasn't something taught to girls unless we sought it out ourselves," she said. "But just seeing a woman behind the console is so powerful to me, just as representation, really."
Turner hopes other women notice that Pancakes at Midnight was both performed and produced by a woman and decide to try producing their own work.
"If this record can inspire some women to take their shot at producing music, or going into sound engineering at all, that would make me feel amazing," Turner said. "We shouldn't be afraid or intimidated by anyone."
Pancakes at Midnight drops on March 24 on all streaming services. Turner celebrates the release with a show on April 26 at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge in South Burlington.