For me, the difference between amplified and unplugged has always been somewhat gendered.
Picture this: it’s dress rehearsal for Fjords. The four women of Chicago Q Ensemble are tuning to A 441 and discussing measure 27 while our two (beloved, male) friends, Kyle and Ben, scurry around us plugging our pickups into various speakers, amps, mixing boards, etc. Do we have much of an idea what they’re doing? No.
Or picture this: I’m singing at my first “battle of the bands” type event in college. Total lady singer-songwriter deal. I’ve just gotten onstage and started to survey the landscape when … three guys pounce on my equipment and start setting it up. Were they faster than me? Yes. Did I learn anything? No.
Fast-forward to yesterday. I’m twenty-seven year old, with an advanced degree in performance and I’ve been writing my own music since I was probably nineteen. And — for the first time — I plugged my condenser microphone and Yamaha keyboard into a PreSonus interface, started up GarageBand, checked my own levels, and recorded — by myself — a multi-track song.
For reasons we don’t need to get into here, I’ve found that the recording and technical sides of music production are overwhelmingly male. So I’ve always really admired musicians like Imogen Heap, Zoe Keating, Bjork, St. Vincent — there are tons of others, I’m sure — because they have mastered the technical side for themselves.
I’m excited about learning to do some of this stuff for myself. Not only so that I can record solo stuff effortlessly, but also so that next time I’m recording a song with one of my musical soul mates, I’ll be a full contributor rather than a clueless bystander. It’s about time!