Femme Africa's Sound Lab: Empowering Female Creatives in Nigeria's Music Industry
The Sound Lab by Femme Africa is an audio accelerator program with the principal goal of equipping independent and upcoming female creatives aspiring to take their place in the music industry, with the needed audio technological skills and know-how needed to kick start their career within the industry.
Popularly known for their annual festival, Femme Fest, dedicated to connecting and celebrating women, Femme Africa is a women-led and women-focused organization committed to curating content, cultivating culture, and fostering community through women-focused events, networks, and everything in between.
Femme Africa has shown over the years their devotion to creating safe and enriched spaces for women to connect and thrive, and the Sound Lab program is their first ever space curated solely for the women in the music industry; a FREE five-day boot-camp experience that offered participants hands-on technical training in Music Production, Disk Jockeying, and Sound Engineering, with a bonus masterclass on The Business of music, from industry experts including, DJ Dope Caesar, Sims The DJ, Febe Adedamola, Simisola Badiru, Anita Amangbo and music producer, Loc The Plug.
Document Women attended the final day of the program and we agree that indeed a seed was planted, not only in the careers of the 18 participants but also in the community of women within the Nigerian music landscape. It was a wholesome experience watching the participants showcase all that they had learned during the program, as well as watching the mouthfuls of gratitude they showed to Femme Africa for giving them the opportunity.
We of course could not leave without speaking to some of the key women who made the entire experience possible.
Speaking to the Femme Africa CEO Ayomide Dokunmu, she expressed that the only challenge they faced with curating the program was a testament to the problem they are trying to solve with projects like The Sound Lab.
“I think the only challenge I would say is the problem we are trying to solve here. There wasn’t a wide pool to pick from in terms of the number of women within the industry and because they are not that many, they weren’t a lot available to be here. Hopefully, our students will come back as facilitators as well.”
She went further to tell us that a major impact she wants the program to have for the participants is to jumpstart their careers.
“...if some people are just doing it to experiment or to see if there’s something that they would enjoy, I would like for them to leave knowing that they have explored alternative career options and I hope that this is literally the start of amazing things for them,” she explained.
In conclusion, she expressed that long term, Femme Africa will continue to keep the participants within their network.
We also spoke to Loc The Plug who introduced herself to us as a Music producer, Mix and Master Engineer, Singer, and Songwriter, who facilitated the Music Production masterclass and beat mix-down training for the program. When asked what major thing she wanted the participants in her class to take away from the training.
She said “You are actually the architect of your sound. There’s no bad beat, the beat just doesn't have the right artist yet. You could make a beat and feel like this beat is not good enough, but trust me if the right artist hears it, the artist can kill it and turn that beat into a hit. Believe in whatever you’re trying to create, believe in yourself, consistency is key. Once you start seeing progress in your work, you will see that you were called to this.”
DW: How have you been able to stay afloat and on top of your game in a highly male-dominated space?
“Every woman who comes into this space complains about the fact that the male creatives try to take advantage of them in one way or the other, especially when they want to learn some skills from them. What I did was, I stopped trying to prove to the guys that I could do this, that I could do what they do, instead, I started trying to prove to myself every day that I was called out to be a dope producer.
Instead of looking for male validation, I decided to consistently work on my craft so that I could stand out even amongst them and earn my respect and accolades.
Don’t feel like because it is a male-dominated space you need them to thrive, No!, work on yourself and make use of the female connections you can find. Again, be consistent, keep working on yourself and you will realize you begin to stand out. That’s what helped me.”
For Sims the DJ, who facilitated the Disk Jockey session, a significant impact she hoped to leave on the participants in her class was to make it so much easier for them to get into the industry than it was for her.
“I don't want them to start off confused like I did, it took me a couple of years to be able to learn most of the things they have been able to learn in one week, that’s what I want, for them to learn something.”
DW: What has your journey been like as a woman trying to navigate the industry within a stakeholder position like Disk Jockeying? What advice do you have for other women and girls that would want to go down this path?
“I don't think it’s a thing of gender anymore, right now the talent speaks, if you have it, whether you’re a man or a woman, people are going to recognize you, and they are going to give you accolades for that. So I guess that is part of the reason why I'm here now. I appreciate where we’ve come when it comes to appreciating female creatives within the entertainment industry specifically. My advice is, if you want to start something start it, make sure you keep on learning every day, it’s a process, that’s one thing I’ve learned, I learn something new every day, make yourself better, don’t settle for what everyone is doing or who you were yesterday, stand out”
DW witnessed testimonials from the participants, most of them grateful not only for what they learned but for the sister community of like minds they formed while at it. The Sound Lab is such an intentional medium for empowerment, a highly commendable initiative forged by an amazing community.