EmpowHer Sound: A seminar to help pave the way for women in music

xylo aria working on mixing music
Xylo Aria, founder of Music Production for Women (MPW); photo courtesy of MPW

As part of Arts Dean Celine’s Parreñas Shimizu's division wide effort to encourage diversity in the arts, UC Santa Cruz will be hosting EmpowHer Sound, a three hour exploration of a music production for women. The event was organized by Nicol Hammond, an associate professor of music, in collaboration with Music Production for Women (MPW) an organization started in 2019 that offers classes to women and women-adjacent people who are interested in getting involved in the music industry.

The July 11 event featuring Xylo Aria, a singer and founder of MPW, is free for everyone. As an introductory course audience members will learn basic skills and tools to help that on their career journey in music. “It’s the very basics: where do you begin? what type of tools are available to you?” says Hammond. Along with the lecture “there will be some hands-on teaching about music.” This will  include beat making, how to set up microphones, and how to set up sound equipment.

This is the first of four EmpowHer Sound events happening across the country, the others are located in Los Angeles, Nashville, and New York City.

Hammond initially got involved with MPW while the Music epartment was looking for a new hire who specialized in hip hop. Hammond reached out to MPW to see if they had anyone interested in the role. When the opportunity for UC Santa Cruz to host an event arose, she took it.

“I have been trying for a while to think of ways of getting women students more confident in classes that have historically been male dominated,” says Hammond. “This seemed like a perfect way to do that.” As a woman in music Hammond knows first hand the struggles of navigating a career field that is designed to hold women back. “There's a lot of areas of my career that have been curtailed because women deal with additional levels of bureaucracy that men aren't.”

Hammond’s work as a researcher and artist largely focuses on gender, sexuality, and queer theory in post-apartheid South Africa, where she is from. While working towards and later receiving her tenure Hammond focused on trying to build a diverse community on campus. 

She notes that a large part of making the music industry more accessible for all genders isn’t only about access to the technology and knowledge needed to grow as an artist. It’s also about access to resources like mental health services and finding a way to support those who’ve been assaulted or otherwise marginalized in the community. “I'm hopefully setting up an environment at UC Santa Cruz in which we all have enough community around us that a lot of these things don't happen as much.”

EmpowHer Sound is one of many steps taken to encourage diversity and campus and promote systemic equality. It will be a one time opportunity for women students and the public to access information that may be game changing in their careers. “One of the things that I'm hoping to do is to set up systems that make it easier for my students and for the folks coming behind me,” says Hammond. “So, if things happen they know where they need to go, they don't have to flounder around looking for access to services and resources.”

More Information

July 11, 2024

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Check-in: 5:30 PM

Theater Arts Second Stage

UC Santa Cruz

411 Kerr Rd

Santa Cruz CA, 95064

Event is free and open to the public.

Tickets available at Music Production for Women

Lot 126 is the closest parking lot to the event

Parking is by UCSC permit, Park Mobile, or pay $5 cash/credit to the on-site parking attendant in Lot 126

More visitor parking information here