For this series, Pacific Standard set out to learn how some of our favorite women artists navigate the invisible and overt barriers within a music industry still largely driven by men. We asked them to recount the full trajectory of their careers: the second and third jobs they worked when no one was buying their music, the presence (or absence) of labor protections in the industry, and the sources of inspiration behind their music.
Through their individual stories, these artists help shed light on the spectrum of experiences that women of color face in the music industry. As Wafia, one of the interviewed artists, puts it, "Because our stories aren't told in mainstream media, it's up to us now to control that narrative." In recognizing the narratives of these underrepresented artists, this series aims to offer a more complete picture of what being a working musician looks like today.
- TOKiMONSTA: "Deeply ingrained is this idea that you 'owe' it to [your family] to do what they want you to do. I held onto that idea for so long until I abandoned it."
- Saweetie: "I know they're just mad my name is being mentioned. You know who I am."
- Wafia: "When people see me for the first time, they don't see an individual woman; they see an Arab person."
- Black Belt Eagle Scout: "Portland is really white, and when I went to college I felt like I didn't deserve to be there. I would think: 'I'm the only Native person here. This isn't for me. I don't deserve to be here.'"
- Rayana Jay: "Personally, I'd be doing black women a disservice if I didn't speak up for us."
- Ximena Sariñana: "It's just always been more complicated for women. You're constantly the only woman in the room, or the band, or the tour, or the meeting."
- Girl Ultra: "Sometimes your motherland's opportunities limit your potential. But I've always seen Girl Ultra as borderless, limitless. I just keep focused, and work hard every day."
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