2% Rising: Meet producer and artist Mouse

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 Bristol-based artist and producer, Mouse…

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 regular spotlights on some of the most exciting talent from the network, while providing regular updates on its latest developments and activities.

Here, Mouse talks production methods, the challenges facing audio professionals and plans for the future…

How did you come to work in music and audio production?
I was a huge Elliot Minor fan when I was around 15 years old. You could definitely say I was part of their fandom and they had an active YouTube channel, which included videos about their writing and recording process. Without that YouTube channel, I’d never have had the opportunity to understand how my favourite records were made. They introduced me to Logic, which I bought as soon as I could. I found myself volunteering at a local recording studio during my gap year but I only fell in love with ‘in the box’ production after I’d graduated university. I had a lot of time on my hands and no job after moving city so I had a pressure-less environment for the first time to properly experiment and that’s where I found my feet. After that, it clicked and I’m currently growing my YouTube channel with production content so anyone interested can be exposed to what I was as a teenager, which ultimately set me on the production path. 

What’s been the job you’ve most enjoyed in your career so far?
I’ve recently started mixing other artists’ work, which feels like such a privilege to do. I feel so much can be said musically in the mixing stage alone so these people put real trust in me to carry their art through the next stage of the creative process. I also have had the pleasure of teaching music production to other women. Being able to support women in their journey to confidently articulate their ideas musically with technology feels so special. I didn’t have another woman mentoring me when I was learning initially and I think it would’ve made so much difference. There aren’t many feelings like seeing someone nail something they weren’t able to a few weeks ago. 

Of which achievement do you feel proudest?
I definitely feel the most pride when I listen to the classical pieces on my EP. My main goal with Angels Never Die was to create something so authentic it only could’ve come from me. I wanted it to offer listeners complete escapism and mental freedom so it only felt right to treat the EP as though it was a film and introduce it with an overture. It was such an affirming task to pick my favourite melodies of each track and arrange them for orchestra. 

What’s been the most difficult or challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging thing so far, aside from the assumption that most if not all of my music is produced by a man, is making my often free classical VSTs sound convincing. It’s no secret that reliably great-sounding classical VSTs are often very expensive which I can’t justify at this stage. 

What do you want to focus on in the future?
I’d love to do more classical programming and play with ambient music. I don’t think I’ll ever stop making pop but I’d love to produce an album for meditation purposes. Mindfulness goes hand in hand with music and I’d love to incorporate that into my output, most likely under another alias. 

How do you feel the pro music and audio industry has changed (or not) since you started to now?
I’d like to be proved wrong or told otherwise, but I feel it hasn’t changed. The women of 2% Rising, as an example of a female audio collective, have always been there, just not with the spotlight or perhaps the community. There’s still so much misogyny but I do feel hopeful it will change one day. This is definitely my interpretation though and I’d welcome being proved wrong! 

Have you ever been star-struck by anyone you’ve worked with?
As a producer, I once worked with Acle Kahney of TesseracT and that was a great experience. I wrote my masters dissertation on mastering and interviewed him for it at his home studio. His approach to production, mixing and mastering has always been so inspiring to me. I’m still to have the same experience with a woman or non-binary producer. As an artist, I once supported Dua Lipa but this was the week Be The One was released back a few years ago. It was a free entry show and there were more people to see our set than at the beginning of hers! I have to say though, I wasn’t star-struck. I’d probably feel different now though… 

Which artists and producers are you listening to right now?
I’m very inspired by the hyper pop and PC Music scenes. Producers and artists who push boundaries are influential generally, but particularly when it comes to pop music. Rejecting what would count as a ‘chart appropriate’ or the idea that music needs to be made for the masses if it has a hook is a powerful notion. Whether or not you enjoy it is one idea, but it simply has to be respected if you don’t. Within this scene, I particularly enjoy Dorian Electra and Caroline Polachek. I also love Rina Sawayama’s music (produced by Clarence Clarity) because she’s unafraid of writing lyrically about usually untouched topics in pop music, like heritage and generational trauma. 

What do you feel that being a member of 2% Rising has given you?
A community I didn’t know existed for one! The group was recommended to me by a mentor and I’m so grateful. It can be so isolating navigating this industry as a woman. The group also offers me accountability too because I can see what other women are up to and we can support each other. 

Mouse www.shescalledmouse.com