Today we’d like to introduce you to Leyla Kumble.
Leyla, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When I came to Los Angeles from New Zealand to go to college, I wanted to be an A&R.
Every quarter I was at UCLA, I interned in the A&R departments at record labels, publishing and management companies. When I got my first job, I ended up working with film composers. There, I met and learned about session musicians and classically trained instrumentalists and how their jobs have been affected by the popularity of the ‘bedroom studio.’ I found that female composers were harder to find and, though definitely working, hardly got the exposure of big projects that male composers got; additionally, many of the instrumentalists I met lamented not getting offered any contemporary projects.
Whenever I met female composers, they were eager to work on projects that moved them, rather than just projects that paid the bills. As a woman in music, I found women had to work twice as hard to prove themselves and fight even harder to stay where they worked themselves up to. This was true across every department of music I was in, and especially clear in the predominantly male landscape of film composition.
I wanted to inverse the landscape and spark the conversation by having women at the forefront and the majority. For once. My love of championing artists at the start of their career, combined with a deep love of ‘Wrecking Crew’ style-recording, melded together with what appeared to be a deep need for increased collaboration in music.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Like feminism itself, sometimes the hardest part of starting a business is moving away from people’s placid approval and encouragement to words of action. At first, many of the artists and instrumentalists I approached were supportive of the idea but couldn’t see the benefit for themselves. This resulted in changing tacks: Girls are Loud created multiple streams of interest that would, not only support our concept but also benefit the artist and creatively stimulate the instrumentalists involved at the same time.
Artists had a few options when working with Girls are Loud; they could come in with a fully realized song and the instrumentalists could play it straight, or they could come in with something as rough as a voice note, and the instrumentalists would arrange and write their own parts. Additionally, we decided to film all the sessions so everyone left with more interesting and exciting content to add to their credits reel and promotional material to boot.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Girls are Loud story. Tell us more about the business.
At Girls are Loud, solo or unsigned songwriters can come to us with a demo of a song, and we will work with them to develop it and pair them with instrumentalists that we work with. All of the team meets on one single day and records the song 100% live. We are filming the sessions too. All of our instrumentalists, engineers and producers are women.
GAL plans to develop as a label, releasing these singles under our brand banner.
Employing a ‘freemium’ model, we have a membership plan, where different tiers of members will gain access to instrumental stems, artwork, and can attend or live-stream sessions.
Currently, there are few, if any, women-in-music organizations that specialize in anything outside of the events space. There are also few, if any, record labels that are lucratively taking advantage of all aspects of media to get the most out of a single recording session.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I’ve been lucky to work with artists that I truly admire and who, I think, are at the top of their game, as well with instrumentalists – some of whom had never recorded live prior to this experience – that run the gamut from novice to professional and watched those relationships prosper and change over the course of a session, or two.
It’s been amazing to be embraced by sister organizations like SoundGirls and Gender Amplified who have supported the idea from the onset and who continue to be a resource for our growth. To be embraced by the community we wish to join is a majorly assuring feeling.
- Website: www.girlsareloud.squarespace.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kiersten Friesen, Mr Bonzai