In celebration of our 2018 Women in Media Awards, we’ve decided to create a Women in Media Series – because at B&T, we’re a firm believer in: if she can see it, she can believe it and then she can be it. So come one, come all, because we have some amazing women to showcase!
The last industry power woman we profiled was Maggie Shi from Facebook, and first up to the plate this week is Alison Cole!
Alison is a composer, sound designer and co-founder of Groove Q – oh, and a winner at last year’s Women in Media Awards. Now there’s a bit of mid-week inspiration.
What was the best advice you were ever given?
Music is 70 per cent hard work and 30 per cent talent From my wonderful piano teacher Paul Dyer, when I was about 14 years old. It was a great insight into not allowing my ego to get in the way and to be prepared for the hard work that’s involved in any kind of creative pursuit.
What’s your proudest professional moment?
Winning B&T’s WIM People’s Choice Award last year was such a wonderful thrill. I spend so much of my time locked away in my studio, so getting recognised in this way made me very proud!
I have to say that when I heard/saw my work on the screen for the first time I was really proud because it meant that I was an APRA member and that I could finally call myself a ‘professional’ composer.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learnt in or out of the workforce?
So far I’ve learnt quite a few lessons! Patience. You have to make whatever talents you do have matter and be constantly evolving.
Getting stuck in one ‘creative voice’ can be the beginning of the end. You’re only as good as your last piece of work and that there’s always something new to learn!
What drives you?
The joy of collaboration. I love seeing how my work helps create an experience, support the narrative and affect someone’s feelings, even if it’s just for a moment.
Music is such a powerful and complex language, the feelings and emotions it can evoke are core to what drives me in the creative process.
I’m very inspired and driven by other people’s creativity and ideas and I’m passionate about bringing images to life with music and sound design. I’m always trying to do better and evolve as a composer.
What women do you find inspiring?
Growing up I didn’t see many female composers being celebrated, if any at all. I saw female ‘pop stars’, but no screen composers.
Women were usually the ‘eye candy’ and not necessarily in control of their own creative content. Industry magazines didn’t talk about women as composers or writers but there were quite a few exceptions once I started looking.
When I first read about Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, who were working with Prince, I got really excited. Prince’s studio engineer, Susan Rogers has been a major inspiration.
Contemporary female composers I find inspiring, Mica Levi, Lisa Gerrard, Augusta Read Thomas, Wendy Carlos, Kaija Saariaho, Julia Wolfe, Missy Mazzoli, and Jennifer Higdon. Delia Derbyshire, the co-creator of the Dr Who theme, was such an amazing pioneer of sound, and an incredible inspiration.
I find so many females out there in the industry very inspiring. Peaches, Björk, Janelle Monáe, Lapsley, Róisin Murphy, Missy Elliot and you can’t forget Joni Mitchell. I guess I find creative women of any kind very inspiring!
What was your career path to this job?
I took the ‘no clear path’! Starting to learn piano at 13 meant I was a late starter as a musician. At 17 I started studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, left mid way through my degree to perform acoustic jazz and blues around the world for about six years, returned to Australia to finish my degree.
I started composing using computers and putting together my first studio. I started out remixing, performing in electronic dance bands and producing other acts. Once I acquired enough technical skills I started composing. I co-founded Groove Q in 2003 and have never looked back.
What advice would you give to young aspiring women?
Be confident in your talent. Ask questions and ask for what you want.
Don’t waste time worrying about what people might be thinking about you, most of the time they’re not giving you a second thought!
Why are women vital to your industry?
There’s something so archaic and a bit humorous about the creativity bias against women, especially in an industry that values creativity and innovation as a commodity. It’s not so funny when this bias is actualized.
The female creative context is vital to the continuing growth and evolution of the media industry. Inclusiveness and diversity is the only way forward.
The way women perceive is very different to men, so this is a major influence in how women solve creative problems, deal with stress, and in the way women communicate. Competitiveness, self-reliance and risk-taking are also strong female traits!