Femmes Musicales

In celebration of Women's History Month, we showcase a handful of the many female artists in the music industry

 

Illustration by Adrian Carillo

VÉRITÉ

By Tatiana Goldman Social Media and Marketing Assistant, 22 West Video

Only a handful of musicians can convert someone into a fan instantly, and on a rainy Friday night in March I found myself face to face with one of those musicians. She emerged from a cloud of fog that had already engulfed the stage. A single sign pierced through the hazy veil; it read “VÉRITÉ.” If that name seems familiar at all it’s because the woman behind it has been hustling since 2014, continuously self-producing EP after EP until VÉRITÉ became a force to be reckoned with in the electro-pop atmosphere.

Viral hits earned VÉRITÉ a name as an inventive indie artist with mainstream appeal, a feat that hasn’t been done since Lorde arrived on the scene. These two powerful women may not have the same music style, but they both appeared on the internet as already fully formed stars ready to take off.

VÉRITÉ is the brainchild of Kelsey Byrne. Kelsey grew up in Brooklyn, New York and started an all-girl punk band in middle school before beginning to write her own songs at the age of 16. After graduating from State University of New York at Purchase, she started waitressing full time at the Applebee’s in Times Square while making music on the side. After three years of hard work, Kelsey was making enough money to pursue VÉRITÉ full time. She handles everything that affects her brand: the music, the finances, paying publicists. She doesn’t oppose being signed to a label, but currently loves being the CEO of her own business.

While juggling all the tasks required  keep VÉRITÉ up and running, Kelsey still manages to write songs that perfectly encapsulate what it’s like to be human. The experiences of trying to relate with others and being in the moment are broad topics that people can interpret as they will. That’s exactly what Kelsey Byrne wants. Her music is all about truth and living through it. If you try and translate VÉRITÉ, you may even find the truth for yourself.

Currently listening to: “Phase Me Out,” “Underdressed” and “Nothing”

Illustration by Nolawi S. Woldes Yohannes

Billie Eilish

By Samantha Neou Entertainment Editor

After reading this, when you wonder where the future of pop music is going, Billie Eilish should come to mind. The combination of her delicate falsetto and vivid lyricism result in an ethereal, mature pop sound that is unheard of in someone so young. Or anyone on the radio.

At the age of 14, backed with no major label or sponsor, she released her dreamy single “Ocean Eyes.” It became a viral success with dense lyrics that compared love to falling off a cliff surrounded by “burning cities and napalm skies.” But her career doesn’t share this near apocalyptic image: it’s rich and colorful.

At 15, Eilish took on the persona of a murderer in her R&B-influenced jam “Bellyache.” That’s when her bleached hair and puffy jackets became her signature look. At 16, just last year, she dropped her first EP “don’t smile at me,” where her deceptively cheerful ballads appealed to fans of all ages and garnered millions of listens on Spotify. She even got to collaborate on a track with one of her idols, rapper Vince Staples. It’s clear Eilish is far from disappearing from the spotlight. She can only get more popular from here.

Whether her songs are based on imagination or personal experience, it doesn’t matter. Eilish is an enticing storyteller creating a brand of her own.

Illustration by Nolawi S. Woldes Yohannes

Tarja Turunen

By Elliott Gatica Music Editor

The one person who I hope fans of metal, such as myself, can agree is one of the most prominent and leading faces of women in the genre is Tarja Turunen. Most people think of Amy Lee of Evanescence or Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy. They’re also phenomenal singers, but Turunen possesses a vocal range like no other current woman in metal.

She made her debut with the Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish, which was a pioneer in combining: classical opera and metal. While her rise to fame came from being in the band and going platinum with their first few records in Germany and Finland, her departure from the band in 2005 did not stop her from pursuing music as a career. She still maintains her style despite being a solo act.

She’s metal at heart, but a soprano everywhere else.

She was actually the first artist to receive a gold record in Germany, both with Nightwish and as a solo artist. And despite being very successful and well-known in Europe, she is not as popular in the United States. Then again, the metal genre isn’t too popular here either.

While Evanescence is better known in the U.S. I’d really wish for people to expose themselves to Nightwish and also Tarja’s solo work. Her operatic vocals are always so breathtaking and add a whole new dynamic to an already amazing genre.

Illustration by Adrian Carillo

Nitty Scott

By Wardah Imran Contributor

“This is the story of the diaspora / Her tribute to the daughters of a marooned society / Yo soy negra y Latina.”

With these words, Nitzia Scott, who performs as Nitty Scott, closes out her song “La Diaspora,” which celebrates an imagined indigenous wonderland in the pre-colonized world. It is a sentiment that is representative of her latest body of work, the vibrant album “Creature!”

Scott continuously addresses social injustices often pushed into invisibility as well as stressing the importance of connecting to one’s roots. Through her music, Scott says she is able to “teach [her] fellow brothers and sisters a bit more about who they really are and not what the history books say we are or what society says we are.”

The Brooklyn-bred rapper has come a long way since her freestyle over Nicki Minaj’s “Monster” went viral in 2010. The sense of confidence and self-discovery developed over eight years is apparent in her currently spirited and dynamic sound.

Scott has said in multiple interviews that she was initially surprised by the relatability of her music, but soon realized that the longing to accept every part of ourselves, especially the aspects not celebrated by others, is universal.

By embracing the ways in which her identities intersect as an Afro-Latina bisexual artist from Brooklyn, Scott hopes to encourage other women to do the same.

 

Illustration by Nolawi S. Woldes Yohannes

Ms. White

By Jess Kung Multimedia Manager

How do you make an anthem casual? You make it silky smooth, clever and bouncy, but you maintain its steel-sharp heart. Enter “Fuck Men.”

Sung with sultry sass by New York City-based Ms. White, the song speaks with the voice of a protective sister to any women or femmes dealing with men on a night out. She sings, “I’m so done with every guy/Trying to creep all around/Look all around/With their eyes.” Without being preachy or overwrought, Ms. White gently reassures her harassed friends that they are valid, and tells men to fuck off. It is everything.

Her debut EP, “Jade,” was released in 2017. It’s infused with Amy Winehouse attitude, clear-eyed wit and a clean, colorful aesthetic. Her voice is smooth and soothing, and the production oozes with retro-cool: synthy, funky and warm. The electronic elements all have the warm fuzz of analog synthesizers and all the recordings have a gentle, welcoming crackle. The vibe is “classy bitch,” like I should be wearing a silk robe and drinking a cocktail while listening.

Ms. White also uses music as a vehicle for normalizing her trans experience. She takes advantage of her public image to show her as she is, a woman rarely read as cisgender. She told Billboard, “That’s my goal: to help trans people not feel like they need to conform to what society is telling trans people they need to do.”

The music is elegant, the intentions are snatched and she’s just getting started.

Illustration by Adrian Carillo

Ibeyi

By Matthew Gozzip Community Editor

There is no simple way to explain the brilliance of Ibeyi. Twin sisters Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Diaz are a daunting duo who inspire cultural introspection amid a fervor of dance and song.

Born in Havana, Cuba and raised in France by Afro-Cuban parents, Ibeyi are the definition of global citizens. They proudly embrace their roots through their music by singing in multiple languages, experimenting with Latin jazz rhythms and utilizing powerful percussion to create a masterful multi-cultural mosaic.

Nowadays, many artists are modernizing their sound by focusing on synthetic production to stay relevant in pop culture but abandoning other forgotten forms of music. Instead, Ibeyi use the powerful forces of their heritage to form rallying cries of strength and perseverance. Their songwriting has a sense of infectious inspiration, strong feminist ideals mixed with the celebration of being women of color. Yorurban folk tales and themes of santería are the features, retrofitting traditional Cuban cajón and Batá drums to allow them to mesh with electronic beats, heightening the kinetic energy of their tracks.

Ibeyi has only released two projects, a self-titled album and their latest release “Ash,” but they are already making a name for themselves in the music community. On top of being featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series, they appeared in Beyonce’s visual album, “Lemonade.” And at the young age of 20, this is only the beginning for the talented twins.

Ibeyi are the ultimate realization of what music can be —  a compromise between past and present, the ancestral spirit joined to the future. It’s an appreciation of where we come from blended with aspirations of where we want to be.