Just how misrepresented are women in the music industry?

Women in Atlanta are working to change these sexist values by producing, writing and playing music to defy society’s standards for women in music. Photo by Envilittle

The music industry has historically ignored women. A recent study reported that only 21% of all artists are women, 12% are songwriters and only 2% of women are producers. These statistics can be frustrating to hear, but Georgia State student female artists are working to change those numbers. 

Channing Gottenmaker, better known by their stage name, Stargirl, is a Georgia State sophomore who started their journey with music around 16 years ago when their mother began giving them piano lessons. From there, they joined the choir and ended up doing musical theatre. 

Photo by Stargirl

They knew they were in love with music for a while, but it wasn’t until their sophomore year in college that they began to consider music as a serious career choice. Their first EP, Stargirl, was written and produced after falling in love with another person and the societal pressures that came with it. 

“I kind of opened up about my personal problems that I felt like I wasn’t actually able to be myself,” the artist said. “I felt like I had a double personality for a while. I wrote about that a lot in the EP.” 

Stargirl is not much for love songs. Instead, they focus on the intensities that pop-rock provides to express how they feel throughout their music. Their genre of music is in-between an alt-rock sound and a bedroom pop vibe. 

Photo by Stargirl

Stargirl produces their own music and is using their Georgia State education to grow her skill set. After making their last EP, they wrote and produced the song “Leverage,” which was recently released. Stargirl described this song as incredibly personal and discussed people who did not have her or her friend’s best interest in mind. 

“A lot of people ask me if it’s hypothetical or real life. This [song] is my real life. The whole summer was [not] filled with the best people,” Stargirl said. “Then I was like, ‘you know what, I’m going to call them out,’ which is how ‘Leverage’ got made.”

Stargirl feels they need to educate themselves and do as much research as possible to succeed in such a sexist place as the music industry. 

“I wrote my whole English thesis on women in the music industry,” she said. “I wrote about how they are sexualized and manipulated. I just feel like I need to do as much research and education as possible.” 

Another female artist at Georgia State, Envilittle, began her music career with the Georgia Country Gospel association. After developing stage fright at thirteen, Envilittle took a break from performing until about September of last year, when she began to take her passion for music and music production seriously. 

Photo by Envilittle

With her guitar and production equipment, Envilittle created and produced the EP titled “Melpomene” and a single titled “Quiet Tables,” both within this past year. She also plans to release an EP this month.  “Quiet Tables” is an ambient-pop jam written during quarantine. 

The song, about her family dynamics, describes things as tense and quiet, based on her need to express herself. “I feel like me, as an artist, I need for everything to have a clear representation of myself in what I write,” Envilittle said. 

For women who want to pursue a musical career but feel like they cannot, Envilittle explained the importance of the “everybody eats” mentality. As the music industry constantly compares women to one another, Envilittle believes women should be working together instead of letting the media get to them. 

“Women shouldn’t be pitted together all the time,” Envilittle said. “It’s about realizing that we can all make music. Society is just pining us against each other.”

For local Atlanta artist Alex Goeke, music is what drives her, inspires her and keeps her going through the ups, downs and crazy turns life throws her way. Through music and songwriting, Goeke can express herself in personable ways she deems essential.

Goeke created her band “Gokey” a little over a year ago, the name being a play on her last name. Goeke started the band as a way to showcase the music she had piled up for years. 

Photo by Gokey

Goeke created songs via her voice memos app and collected over a thousand song memos throughout her writing career. Gokey allowed space for those songs to come to life. 

Songwriting is something that comes naturally to Gokey, as she began writing at only seven years old. She also started playing guitar around the same time and began to take writing more seriously. 

“At one of my first ever guitar lessons at a local music store, my guitar instructor told me he wanted me to give my best efforts at writing a song, even if I only had a few lines to give him the next week,” Goeke said. “I came back with a full song at my next lesson. I’ve been hooked ever since.”

Goeke’s songwriting process usually involves setting up a voice memo to record, playing some guitar chords, and singing whatever feels right at that moment. Goeke likes to keep her recordings and songwriting moments spontaneous, but it depends on the context. 

“Sometimes, the spontaneous lyrics are the ones that come out ten times better than what I ever write in a calculated sense,” Goeke said. 

Along with Goeke, the other members in her band include Foster Wells, who plays lead guitar and is also in a band called Strumbrush and Kam Haliday, who plays bass and keys. Their sound leans more towards an indie-pop-alternative feel, leaning somewhere between Paramore and Soccer Mommy

Goeke describes her relationship with her bandmates as “eye-opening,” leading her into musical directions she never thought possible. Currently, Gokey has one song, “Let Go,” officially out on all platforms. Apart from that song, the band also released a song on Bandcamp and Soundcloud called “IFBW.” Goeke plans to write as much as possible in the coming months to grow in her abilities and her band’s sound. 

She would like to release more music as soon as she feels the time is right. 

“The more material I put out, and the days that I work with the band, the more my vision for the future becomes clear. Right now, I am very focused on getting more music out there so people can connect without sound.”

Women’s representation in music is vital, and it is imperative to support women in the music industry as much as possible. Both Stargirl and Envilittle will be playing at Ape Obelisk Friday, September tenth at 7:30. Both artists will also be playing on October 22nd at “Capture the Fear,” hosted by Capture the People. Gokey will be opening for Liz Brasher in Purgatory at the Masquerade on September 16, 2021.