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2% Rising: Meet Anna Hetherington

Audio Media International is delighted to present the latest in an ongoing series of engineer and producer interviews as part of our partnership with 2% Rising. Here, we catch up with Edinburgh-based composer and musician Anna Hetherington…

Launched by artist and producer Rookes and mastering engineer and AMI columnist Katie Tavini, 2% Rising was founded in response to the widely reported statistic that female producers only make up two per cent of the industry. The hub, which is currently over 380 members strong (and still growing), is intended to serve as a safe space for women and gender minority producers to converse, share opportunities, ask questions and network. Sound designer Suze Cooper recently joined Rookes and Tavini as one of the group’s core staff members.

The partnership between AMI and 2% Rising will see us posting monthly spotlights on some of the most exciting new talent emerging from the network, while providing regular updates on its latest developments and activities.

Here, Anna Hetherington tells us about her path into studio work, the challenges facing audio professionals and her plans for the future…

Can you tell us where you’re based and what you do in the pro music and audio industry?
I’m based in Edinburgh, Scotland and I work in the industry as a multi-instrumentalist composer.

How did you come to work in music and audio production?
I’ve been writing and playing music from a young age. This is something that I’ve nurtured my whole life, having spent most of it performing live and writing music in bands or as a solo artist. For the last five years or so l years I’ve focussed on composing TV and film music, and have released albums and individual tracks through various publishers. I’ve found this stage in my career is the most prolific I’ve been as a creator.

What’s been the job you’ve most enjoyed in your career so far?
Recently I composed music for a UNICEF advert. It was great to help structure the narrative of the video with music, and I enjoyed the challenge of trying to strike a balance in mood between being serious and thought-provoking, but not too melancholy.

Of which achievement do you feel proudest?
Composing for UNICEF has been a highlight, but having my music broadcast on international radio and TV, including Channel 4, Channel 5 and BBC Radio 4 has been very encouraging.

What’s been the most difficult or challenging aspect of your job?
I find self-promotion and making industry contacts a challenge and have been considering getting some kind of representation for a while now! (if any composer agencies are reading this….)

What do you want to focus on in the future?
I’d love to compose directly to a feature film – my music has a cinematic quality and I’m heavily influenced by film scores, so it would be an absolute dream to be a film composer full-time.

How do you feel the pro music and audio industry has changed (or not) since you started to now?
Self-releases are much more common now, which has empowered musicians and creators. It’s like a return of the DIY punk ethos where anyone can create and upload their music – it’s not completely necessary to hire a recording studio. However, it could be argued this has led to the airwaves becoming filled up with music that’s less quality: so it’s just as hard to get your voice heard.

Streaming culture has maybe meant musical moments are experienced as fleeting, unconnected parts, compared to our previous habits of listening to albums as a whole. Plus…the streaming platforms give artists such a minuscule percentage of royalties. This is perhaps why vinyl has made such a comeback. Album listening seems to be a more niche, dare I say it ‘muso’ thing to do now. I feel the gender imbalance is still sadly prevalent in the music industry but especially in production/tech. But at least this is being addressed now – before it was just accepted I think, whereas now thankfully there’s much more of a dialogue.

Have you ever been star-struck by anyone you’ve worked with?
Not yet…

Which artists and producers are you listening to right now?
Since COVID hit I’ve been listening to a lot of ambient and minimalist music – perhaps it’s to bring me some peace and serenity in contrast to the chaos and misgovernance that’s happening out there right now. Max Richter and Brian Eno are bringing me some solace right now. At the moment I’m also currently obsessed with Jon Hopkins and Sons of Kemet. Oh when we can see music played live again.

What do you feel that being a member of 2% Rising has given you?
It’s great to be part of such a positive, supportive community of audio and music creatives who just happen to be female. I’m finding the opportunities and tips are really relevant to my work. It’s really inspiring and encouraging.