Check Out These 10 Sound Engineers Changing The Game

Andrea Dwyer
Posted by Andrea Dwyer on May 23

As with most jobs in the music industry, women are unfortunately underrepresented. This is no different where it comes to female engineers in the field. Here these dynamic women hold their own and prove why they are ones to be reckoned with.

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When it comes to technical jobs in audio, women often need to work twice as hard.

Not because they’re less capable. Rather, the boys’ club of audio production often doubts their talent to begin with.

Historically, girls have been denied or discouraged from pursuing technical jobs in STEM fields—science, technology, engineering and mathematics. When they do, they’re often held to a much higher standard and expected to continually prove their worth.

But the tables are now turning. How do we keep changing the imbalance—and give credit where credit is due?

Get to know the women who are doing exceptional work—they exist and they’re killing it across genres. Give credit to the work of women working both in front and behind the scenes in audio production. Treat your females colleagues in the audio industry with respect—create a collegial environment. This will inspire a new generation of girls to enroll in audio engineering programs and make tomorrow’s hits.

Meet the visionary women behind the sound of Jay-Z, Prince, Aphex Twin, Brian Eno, Jamie xx, Pearl Jam, Sia, Timbaland and more.

1. WondaGurl

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 Ebony Oshunrinde a.k.a  WondaGurl is a beatmaker and producer from Brampton, Ontario.

A video of Timbaland in the studio inspired nine year old Ebony to teach herself how to produce. After winning Battle of the Beat Makers at 16, she sent a beat to Travis Scott. Next thing she knew, the rapper was calling to let her know her production was going on Jay–Z’s record next record. WonderGurl became one of the youngest women to have production credits on a platinum hip-hop record— Jay-Z’s Magna Carta:Holy Grail.

Since then she hasn’t been resting on her laurels. She’s part of the crew who made Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money,” one of the Best Tracks of 2015. She produced two Travis Scott records: Rodeo and Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. She also made SonReal’s “Money Money” and Jahkoy’s “Odd Future.”

 2. Susan Rogers

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 Susan Rogers’ first sound engineering gig was with none other than Prince in 1983. After he came back from tour, Rodgers repaired Prince’s tape machine and got his studio up and running. The rest is history. She went on to work on Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, Sign’O’The Times, The Black Album and others.

Rodgers worked as an engineer, mixer and producer for other artists like the Jacksons, Barenaked Ladies, Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Violent Femmes and many more.

Recently, she pursued her dream of becoming a scientist. Rodgers got her PhD in music cognition and psychoacoustics from McGill University, exploring the subject of auditory memory. She now teaches at Berklee College of Music, where she runs the Berklee Music Perception and Cognition Laboratory.

 3. Mandy Parnell

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 Mandy Parnell is a British mastering engineer who gets visits from the Chemical Brothers, Max Richter and Brian Eno when they want to get that finishing touch on their records.

Parnell hasn’t had an easy time getting there. After running away from home at a young age, she lived on the streets for a while. One day, her friend took her to his workplace: Richard Branson’s Oxford studio The Manor. It clicked instantly, she wanted to be behind the console for the rest of her life.

Her credit list is nothing short of impressive: Syro by Aphex Twin, In Colour by Jamie xx, Vulnicura by Björk, Love Streams by Tim Hecker, Metals by Feist, Drums Between the Bells by Brian Eno, Coexist by The xx, and a whole lot more. Parnell runs her own mastering studio called Black Saloon Studios.

 4. Shani Gandhi

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 Shani Gandhi was born in Singapore and raised in Australia. When she found out about sound engineering as a field, it all clicked. “I can take my hobby and my scientific background and put that together” she told The Tennessean. She graduated from the Performance and Sound Recording Technology from Ithaca College.

Look into engineering credits of current bluegrass and Americana artists, and you’ll likely find Shandi Gandhi. Those include artists such as Alison Krauss and Parker Millsap, along with several Sarah Jarosz records. She also mixed Kelsea Ballerini’s hit single “Peter Pan.”

Gandhi’s work was nominated for ‘Best Engineered Album’ at the 2017 Grammys for Sarah Jarosz’s album Undercurrent. David Bowie’s Blackstar and Prince’s Hit N Run Phase Two were also nominated in the same category.

 5. Karrie Keyes

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 Karrie Keyes has been Pearl Jam’s monitor engineer for two and a half decades. What’s a monitor engineer? The person who adjusts the sound in the band’s monitors for live performances.

Over the years, Keyes’ adapted the design of the monitoring system to make sure the band hears exactly what they want.

As a teenager, Keyes was a punk fan who went to lots of shows. It was at a Black Flag show that she met a sound engineer who hooked her up with a gig.

The constant travelling and her passion for sound is what keeps her going. Her takeaway? “Everyone’s had a mentor, a teacher, a guide” she told NPR. Keyes recently co-founded Sound Girls, an organization that helps train and support women in audio production.

See entire list here.

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Andrea Dwyer

Written by Andrea Dwyer

Andrea is a key member of the A3C Team. She is the A3C Social Media Manager and a dope writer.

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