Women and Nonbinary Producers

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Graphics by Sarah Tarlin

As a part of our celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re shining some light on some of the most underrepresented and undervalued people in music: women and nonbinary producers. From who we’re calling ‘the holy trinity of Sylvias’ (producing for the likes of Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash and more) to musicians themselves like Laufey and St. Vincent, we’re excited to help give these talented producers the credit they deserve for shaping some of the most significant albums of all time. 


“As a musician, my goal is to bring jazz and classical music to my generation through a more accessible road,” said Icelandic/Chinese musician Laufey. As a singer, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Laufey does it all. She is an incredibly well-rounded musician whose impeccable lyricism and instrumental composition, get you either deeply in your feels, swooning, daydreaming—or all of the above. Laufey has a magical way with words that bewitches audiences as she skillfully accompanies them with fairytale-like instrumental arrangements. Her 2023 album Bewitched gained the singer international recognition as it placed her in the Top 30 Billboard 200 chart and won her a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Album. With now 13.3 million listeners on Spotify alone, Laufey gained popularity for her enchanting jazz, classic and pop sound. The magic in her music lies in not just her sound but the relatability of her lyrics that create a deep-felt bond with her listener base. Right on time for Women’s History Month, Laufey released a single titled “Goddess” on March 6th!

- Isabella Kohn, Staff Writer



Though Caroline Polachek has caught the eyes of the public through her eclectic release Desire, I Want To Turn Into You, she holds an extensive list of acclaimed artists she has co-produced with throughout the years. From Beyoncé, to Charli XCX, to Travis Scott, Polachek, being the unwavering virtuoso she is, writes, composes and produces for other artists, but tends to go unnoticed. Outside of making music with her seraphic voice, she’s assuredly a master with the pen and electronic composition. Even when she’s not crafting songs for herself, she expels a mystical aura that showcases her presence even when it’s not audibly explicit. Caroline Polachek, though appreciated for her zeal and vivacity in terms of her recent pop release, should also be known for her apt music production behind-the-scenes. 

- Ash Jones, Staff Writer



After establishing herself as a proficient touring musician, Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) officially launched her career as a producer in 2001 with her debut EP Ratsliveonnoevilstar. In the years following that release, Clark was praised for her exceptional guitar playing and off-the-wall songwriting — frequently mashing together sounds of 80s new wave and futuristic alternative rock. Now, she has an acclaimed discography, consisting of seven studio albums with her eighth set to come out later this year. Much of Clark’s polished production is featured on her own records, with the exception of her recent work on Sleater-Kinney’s The Center Won’t Hold, a beautifully crafted album that spans genres and generations.

- Claire Dunham, Music Coordinator



Laura Sisk is one of the most up-and-coming women audio engineers to date. No genre remains untouched in her arsenal of production skills. Sisk has been a freelance audio engineer for the last thirteen years. Based out of New York and Los Angeles, Sisk has probably produced both your pop and indie-pop favorite hits. She has won two Grammys for her work on two of Taylor Swift’s albums — 1989 and folklore — and earned her other two nominations for her amazing sound production on Lana Del Ray’s Norman F*cking Rockwell. Her other notable highlights include work with Fall Out Boy, Portugal. The Man, Diana Ross, Lorde and Troye Sivan.

- Ren Gibson, Staff Writer



There’s a reason why she’s called “The Mother of Hip-Hop,” but her matriarchal title often gets overshadowed by her own descendants. Sylvia Robinson, born and raised in Harlem, was a co-founder of Sugarhill Records. Pioneering rap charters such as “Rapper’s Delight” and “The Message” were produced by Robinson at Sugarhill Records which primarily served as an epicenter for Black artists in the New York Metropolitan area. These songs crafted a new genesis for African-American music, and hip-hop began making waves across the country. Not only was she a skilled producer, but her voice rang loud inside the booth as well. She started recording music for Columbia Records at the age of 15 under the stage name “Little Sylvia,” proving her tenacious strides even when she was a young girl. Singing soul and R&B melodies throughout the ’50s and ’60s, Robinson even hit the Billboard pop charts a couple of times during her heyday. With a rich career that never seemed to halt, Sylvia Robinson has stamped her foot into music history. She has produced songs that laid the groundwork for catchy, breakbeat tunes that have become extremely popularized today. Know the name of Sylvia Robinson, for she was unequivocally a steadfast creative that changed the game forever. 

- Ash Jones, Staff Writer



Most people have probably heard of Stevie Wonder, but you very well may not have if it wasn’t for Sylvia Moy. Originally signed to Motown on recording and songwriting contracts, Moy went on to become the first woman to produce and write for the label. Berry Gordy, the head of the label, planned to drop Stevie Wonder after he hit puberty and his voice began to change, but Moy intervened and asked if Gordy would consider if she wrote a hit for wonder. And write a hit for him she did; two years after she was signed, she wrote “Uptight (Everything's Alright),” and sang the lyrics one line ahead to Wonder while he recorded. The song would go on to hit #1 on the Billboard R&B chart, and #3 on the Hot 100.

It’s hard to find an exact number, but Moy’s credits range somewhere in the hundreds, if not the thousands. She’d go on to produce for the likes of The Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston (Gaye and Weston’s hit 1966 single, “It Takes Two,” a personal favorite of mine),  Martha & the Vandellas, and Michael Jackson. Later in life, she founded the Detroit-based Masterpiece Sound Studio, and set up a non-profit, Center for Creative Communications, for underprivileged children in Detroit.

- Eden Unger, Staff Writer



Other than their acclaim in the rock and roll community, Prince, Johnny Cash, Tool, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and System of a Down do not seem to have much in common. However, the artists do share one major experience: they all worked with the amazing Sylvia Massy. Responsible for over 25 gold and platinum records, Massy is an incredible producer, engineer and mixer. Famous for her knowledge of recording technology and her ability to create innovative sounds, Massy shared her expertise with the public by releasing her book Recording Unhinged: Creative and Unconventional Music Recording Techniques. As a female musician and rock and roll fanatic, I was thrilled to learn about the woman who played a key role in creating several albums I love. This Women’s History Month, remember Sylvia Massy, the woman responsible for so many headbanging hits. 

- Annie Sarlin, Staff Writer



TOKiMONSTA  is a powerhouse in dance music, having produced for her own critically acclaimed body of work and for other artists, including Anderson .Paak, Gavin Turek and EARTHGANG; she is also the producer behind many official remixes for artists such as Duran Duran, David Bowie and Sia. While she would eventually be nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronic Album in 2019, Jennifer Lee had humble beginnings as a freelance musician and DJ. Her 2010 release Midnight Menu brought about her first praises, and her popularity and artistry have continued to grow from there. TOKiMONSTA doesn’t hide the mechanical aspect of electronic music and enjoys highlighting the artificial tone that comes with its technology base. Her unique style has landed her a tour with the duo ODESZA and multiple gigs at Coachella and SXSW. 

- Sofia Giarrusso, Staff Writer



At this year’s Grammys, Catherine Marks came close to a groundbreaking win — if boygenius had taken home “Album of the Year,” Marks, who produced all twelve of The Record’s tracks alongside the supergroup, would have been the first female producer to win in the category. But Marks doesn’t need a trophy to be considered monumental. Other than boygenius, she has produced for Manchester Orchestra, Wolf Alice, Alanis Morissette and Foals. And along the way, she has inspired countless. While the number of women producers is estimated to be around 3.4% today, the numbers were even smaller when Marks first moved to London to start an audio engineering and producing mentorship in 2005. “When I started, I was the only one. So I wonder if it was a case of ‘You can’t be what you can’t see,’ ” she told the Hollywood Reporter, expressing her hopes that the success of her career will tell more girls and women they have a place in the industry, too. 

- Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator



When looking at the long list of artists Emily Lazar has engineered or produced for, it seems unreal that a single person could work with so many well-known artists, and in such a wide range of genres. But it simply speaks volumes about just how talented Lazar is, and how well-respected she is within the music industry. From more historical artists like the Velvet underground, David Bowie and the Beatles, to artists still releasing music today and as polarized as Foo Fighters and Beyonce, Lazar has truly done it all. It’s estimated that she has worked on over 3,000 albums. It also can’t go unmentioned that she was the first female mastering engineer to win the Grammy for best engineer, non-classical for her work on Colors by Beck. A behind the scenes contributor on so many of the albums we love, Lazar is one final reminder, on this list of talented women and nonbinary people, that producers names deserve to be circulated and remembered for long.

- Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

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