In celebration of International Women's Day, I caught up with Meg Carnie, co-founder of South Lanes Studios and the first female studio founder in Brighton. Through our discussion of gender representation and inclusivity, I got an insight into her take on the current music scene, and found out how it feels to break the mould and redesign The Industry Standard.
Successful women deserve to be admired and honoured; that goes without saying. And despite the advances made for women in the progression of the 21st-century, it is essential to retain the notion that there is always room for improvement. The music industry still creates barriers and segments—partitions, in which many novel artists and musicians must bend their own character and creativity to fit into, in order to revel in the visibility that many others enjoy. COVID-19 stunted much of the development of the music scene, but the question remains in how we can use the newfound optimism of its (fingers crossed) return to catalyse the chain in visible spaces.
The mantra of South Lanes Studios is stated openly: Rehearse, Record, Release. Within this, the studio maintains an opportunistic and cultivated setting, in which the idea is to be comfortable and creative in an environment made accordingly. The impact of the pandemic naturally has created juts within the music industry and its community, but the future feels bright and optimistic: and this goes for the inclusivity and visibility of women within the field, too.
Having had the pleasure to have a chat with Meg, she enthusiastically backed the studio’s vision with the same tone, maintaining that the success of her business and its subsequent positive impact has always been the driving force. The development of the working relationship has always been key in her climb within the industry, and she aptly put that she strives to create opportunity in a ‘real-life’ studio, where interaction and openness allows for everyone’s result to be desirable and positive.
To combine both Meg’s personal and business-related success with the celebration of women’s day, I was interested in her opinion of rising representation in female artists and bands within the indie, alternative scene. To take a look at the more popular indie bands is to be inundated with male artists. Meg speaks of bands like Black Honey, Wolf Alice and Nova Twins—female-led artists—who have built immense success with their own rocky, alternative styles.
Although support of talent should ideally be removed from gender, Meg interestingly notes that, at her gigs, female-fronted bands create a more diverse audience-type. An image is painted of a dark, pulsating room amid intense, heavy rock music: “sweat, men, mosh pits”, seemingly a heavily male-dominated scene. Female and non-binary crowds tend to have a less tense aura, perhaps, and this isn’t just due to the genre of music playing. It raises the question of accessibility, and how comfortable an individual feels if they wish to stray from a certain stereotype. It also purports the idea that there needs to be visibility and variation.
Discrimination is an experience that not only a crowd can feel, as it is still rampant within many areas of the music world. Meg details a scene of being at one of her first shows in Oxford; she describes glancing around, and noticing that she was the only woman in the room. The line-up was all-male, as well as the organisational, behind-the-scenes of the show being male-led. “Out of balance”, is what sprang to her mind, and she further implies that it was minor glimpses such as these that quantified her desire to break down this bias within the industry.
To further dismantle the barriers that gender binaries have put in place, it is important to make success about commitment and hard work over anything else. A key word that she uses is Confidence. Meg’s driven motivation encircles around music, and by always putting the artist first before herself, she has allowed certain artists to gain traction through her support and thus has developed established trust and passion. Even if you experience nasty behaviour from promoters, or you’re the ‘only woman in the room’, women in the industry should be inspired to never feel inclined to give up, Meg consolidates.
Lockdown has taught us that these spaces that we cherish so much are crucial to community and inclusivity. South Lanes Studios desires to create a safe-space and a team of equality that pushes for more opportunities in the industry. Meg works incredibly hard to ensure that each of her artists and clients are represented, as well as to create a relationship of trust and confidence. As much as it can be disheartening, it is important to remember worth and place, and that women have the calibre and the right to be commended and celebrated.
Written by: Emma Betts of South Lanes Studios