A report conducted by the female-focused community Women in CTRL showed a severe lack of representation of women or minorities in the top-level boards. Many gatekeepers for Black music are solely white men. That’s how it’s always been historically: the not-so-shocking data showed that 0% of CEOs and chairpersons across 11 music trade boards are Black women. Isn’t it sad that the very people who rate our music and make decisions for us are people we probably can’t trust?
If the industry doesn’t start to diversify their teams and listen to women, the life of many young and aspiring artists won’t get any easier. Just take a look at the Billboard charts to get an idea. Or read the redacted lineup of Reading & Leeds that shows how many women are allowed to play the festival. It’s 2021 now and we think it’s time to change this shit for good.
We interviewed Simone Odaranile, drummer for The Go! Team and Rina Sawayama to hear her take on the music industry and her professional development as a Black woman.
Tell us about your career, when did you start playing drums?
I started drumming when I was 9/11ish. I remember being at a family friends house and I saw this huge drum kit and after having a little go I was hooked. From then I began lessons at school and just continued really from there.
Your band, the Go! Team, has received incredible appraisal from the press. As we work with lots of young and upcoming artists, can you tell us how it feels to see your name and your work in places you’d never think of?
So when you are working in the industry you don’t tend to think about this, as you are so busy getting on with the work but afterwards when you have the time to take a breathe it is amazing. Just when you have spent so long imagining something and then it happens its pretty surreal.
How is life on the road?
I love it, absolutely love it. I adore travelling and new experiences so it’s always a joy. At the same time it’s long hours, no routing and irregular sleeping patterns so I would advise anybody that is touring to make sure they take care of their health as a priority and look in to ways of recovering your body after long stints of gigs.
Have you encountered any difficulties being accepted as a Black female drummer?
Hmmmm, sometimes people make inaccurate assumptions about me and don’t quite believe my ability until they have seen a show. But then it’s nice to prove people wrong isn’t it? :)
I am picky about who I play drums for, their values have to align with mine or I not do it. Hence why I play for the amazing Rina Sawayama now !!!
Do you think it’s harder to find your place in the industry as a woman?
I believe less than 10% of performing drummers are female, it’s not shoved in our faces as kids so access to artists or musicians that were female was extremely rare for me growing up. Is it changing? Yes I do believe so, I think social media is helping the world to open up, pushing boundaries and structures that have been in place for so so long.
So in terms of finding your place you may find it, but not see many others like you in it .. if that makes sense??
How can the music industry support underrepresented groups?
Unsure how to answer this question because the industry is so tough I wonder if they even think about this :/ ...
Any tips for girls who aspire to enter the music industry?
GO FOR IT!!!! There is so much negativity out there and horror stories, but if you want to do something then just go for it. You will be amazing and you should not let anything or anyone stop you from achieving your dreams
You can find Simone here: http://www.simoneodaranile.com/