Abhita Austin on The Creator’s Suite, making space, and more

Vocal sample label VOX recently partnered with The Creator’s Suite to create the new “WOMEN MAKE WAVES: Vocal Pack,” a one-of-a-kind collection of sounds made exclusively by women and non-binary creators.

The Creator’s Suite is an inclusive community for women DJs, producers, and audio engineers founded by creative director Abhita Austin, and all of the pack’s proceeds will be going towards creating more opportunities for women in music. To celebrate the release of the pack, we sat down with Abhita to discuss the project and how The Creator’s Suite is making space for women creators in music.

Can you tell us about The Creator’s Suite? How did this platform and its mission come to life?

The Creator’s Suite is a company I started to support women DJs, producers, and audio engineers by providing them with access to education, increased visibility, and career opportunities. I began my career in audio engineering in the late ’90s at Quad Studios in Manhattan. Noticing the lack of women in studio spaces back then, it planted in me that first seed of wanting to create a welcoming space for women in music production.

In 2013, I began volunteering my time to support various community-based music production organizations. Over time, I fell in love with supporting emerging women creatives, and in November of 2018 I officially formed The Creator’s Suite.

Since founding The Creator’s Suite, how have you seen the landscape change for women and non-binary creators? In what ways has it stayed the same?

In the last 20 years, technology has dramatically changed the landscape of the recording industry. With the rise of social media in the mid-2000s, the ability to form communities and connect with creatives that may have otherwise been hidden became more apparent. Also, the cost of entry in terms of buying equipment has drastically dropped since the ’90s. You can now mix on a laptop with just plugins, produce music on your phone, and buy DJ controllers for $99. This has democratized the playing field, allowing more women to enter into the space.

Organizations and projects supporting women in music production have also considerably changed the industry landscape. When I started, I did not know of any organizations that supported women in music production. Now, in addition to The Creator’s Suite, we have Women’s Audio Mission, Gender Amplified, Beats By Girlz, the Recording Academy’s Women In The Mix initiative, and quite a few more. It’s incredible! On the flip side, there are still a lot of hurdles to overcome, as women make up only 2.6% of the producers in pop music.

A priority for The Creator’s Suite is crafting a community for women and non-binary artists. How has this objective been impacted by the pandemic?

Pre-pandemic, a lot of our programming was based around in-person events and workshops. We are adjusting ourselves to this new landscape of primarily online communication, and have been able to expand our global reach in the process. Last June, we had our first festival, which reached close to 200 women creatives across 14 countries. This month, we are premiering our podcast, which we’re proud of because it will highlight some of the most gifted women in our community while serving as an educational resource.

In what ways should male-identifying creators make more space for women in music production?

Everyone has the prerogative to move in ways that feel comfortable to them. I encourage all creatives to listen with their ears and not with their eyes. Take time to honestly introspect about the thoughts that you habitually think, and the biases that you might find within yourself. If you find yourself saying, “I don’t know of any women DJs, producers, and / or audio engineers,” follow the organizations that I mentioned above and educate yourself. Spaces open up when hearts are open and receptive. This work doesn’t happen overnight, but being aware and educating yourself in the triumphs and tribulations of women creators is a great starting point.

Tell us about the “WOMEN MAKE WAVES” pack, the artists who participated, and how The Creator’s Suite brought it to life.

Two words: Kate Wild. I met Kate a few years back at Splice’s Creator Summit in LA, and we’ve kept in touch since. She thought of The Creator’s Suite for this project, and I’m honored and appreciative, as the proceeds from this sample pack will be reinvested into growing and supporting our community of outstanding women in music production.

The pack is a unique blend of vocal samples from 30 ridiculously talented DJs, producers, songwriters, and audio engineers. I personally enlisted the magic of lula.xyz, Ms Madli, Neeta Sarl, EmmoLei Sankofa, KEISHH, Krithi, Yancyabril, Nextdimensional, Jeia, and Brown Jewel, and I’m so grateful for all of the women who contributed to this pack! My intention is for it to be a vehicle of inspiration, positive change, and gender equity.

Lastly, we’re asking creators what it means to be heard – what does it mean to you?

It means being welcome, respected, included, hired, credited, supported, trusted, valued, appreciated, seen, trusted, and loved. It means progress.

Dive into sounds from the “WOMEN MAKE WAVES: Vocal Pack:”

March 15, 2021

Kenneth Takanami Herman Kenneth Takanami Herman is a Content Strategist at Splice who produces electronic music as Kenneth Takanami.