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2% Rising: Meet Eliza ‘Nell’ Willmott

Audio Media International is proud to present the latest in our ongoing series of interviews as part of our partnership with 2% Rising. Today, we speak to producer, artist and sound designer Eliza ‘Nell’ Willmott…

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 sees 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, Eliza ‘Nell’ Willmott discusses the pro audio industry, the biggest challenges facing studio talent and plans for the future…

What is your name?
My name is Eliza ‘Nell’ Willmott, and I release music under the pseudonym ‘Azileli’.

Can you tell us where you’re based and what you do in the pro music and audio industry?
I am based in South London and I am a singer-songwriter, music producer and sound designer. I create electronic music with organic layered vocals usually under the umbrella of trip-hop and alternative R&B, but encapsulating a range of styles.

How did you come to work in music and audio production?
I have been producing music since the age of 13, a private passion that led me to undertake a degree in Creative Music Technology at Bath Spa University. After graduating in 2018, I moved to Paris for six months to intern in a recording studio in the heart of Montmartre. As well as studio engineering, I collaborated with local artists, producing tracks for vocalists and providing backing and lead vocals. Since returning I have continued making, releasing and performing my own music, as well as collaborating with other creatives and working on a freelance basis.

What’s been the job you’ve most enjoyed in your career so far?
I really loved working in Basement Studios in Paris. Being in a beautiful new city and being surrounded by likeminded people really showed me the importance of community and how fulfilling it can make what can often be quite a lonely practice. Similarly, I am currently working on a sound design project using live vocal looping for a theatre production, with two women of which we have a very natural working relationship. There is no better feeling than being in the room together rehearsing and bouncing off one another.

Of which achievement do you feel proudest?
For my final project at university, I created an installation piece entitled ‘(Not) Only (A) Girl’. I combined canvas paintings with immersive audio to document my experience being the only female in my year group as a way of shedding light on the issue of the gender imbalance and offering solutions. I put a huge amount of work into this project over six months, being responsible for everything from the creation of the paintings, tracks and scripts to the promotion of the event, and overseeing all the logistical side of things. The hard work and the vulnerability I felt paid off and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with many people reporting leaving with changed views.

What’s been the most difficult or challenging aspect of your job?
Imposter syndrome, back pain and bleary eyes from being on the computer too long, and working for free.

What do you want to focus on in the future?
In light of the pandemic and my own personal development, I am keen to get out in the world and work with people – i.e. more collaboration, getting back in the studio or performing again.

How do you feel the pro music and audio industry has changed (or not) since you started to now?
I have not been in this industry for very long but I have noticed more efforts to be inclusive towards underrepresented genders, though of course there is a long way to go.

Have you ever been star-struck by anyone you’ve worked with?
Not in the celebrity sense, but I am often impressed and inspired by my collaborators, particularly those in the theatre world and who have an entirely different skillset to mine.

Which artists and producers are you listening to right now?
Kelly Lee Owens, Jessy Lanza, way too much Grimes…. and I’ve recently got into SOPHIE who I’ve been really inspired by. I love the way her music straddles between being fun, familiar, otherworldly and terrifying. Much of the music I’m listening to lately has been high energy, which I think stems from a deep longing for the club and a desire to wake up my brain from the monotony of lockdown.

What do you feel that being a member of 2% Rising has given you?
So much! A community, role models, a place to ask questions without judgement or mansplaining. Also, in the monthly listening parties I am reminded of the sheer talent of women and non-binary people in a variety of exciting jobs. As someone who never had this kind of representation at the start of their career, this is hugely inspiring for me.

Instagram: @_azileli / Facebook & Twitter: @azilelimusic

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