BY OLIVIA TAMBINI & LANA HARRIS
I was lucky enough to grow up in a relatively liberal society, with support from my family to attend an arts and humanities university when I turned 18. Goldsmiths was a brilliant place to study, as an environment which fostered and nurtured creativity, particularly within music, often with a focus on outsider art. From that environment, Omnii was born, a London based collective for female and non-binary producers, engineers, and sound manipulators, created by two pioneering women who regularly put on masterclasses, workshops, and events for female musicians. I spoke to Naomi and Fran about the project:
NM: What inspired the creation of Omnii?
O: I guess when we started taking jobs in studios and venues we realised very quickly that there were very few women around us in sound tech roles. We hadn’t had a formal education in music technology but felt we could skill-swap with other female and non-binary practitioners that had an interest in the tech side of stuff.
NM: What did Omnii start as and where do you foresee it going?
It started as one workshop! We just wanted to meet and exchange knowledge with other people, and we ran a trial workshop and it was really fun. The online interviews came a bit after, as after running some workshops we realised that it would be great to have information and advice from artists up on a free platform for everyone to access.
NM: What is a key goal you hope to accomplish through Omnii?
O: The dream would be to collaborate with other female and non-binary focussed groups in London to build some sort of studio/ workspace run independently by collectives like us. There’s definitely a space for something like that, we think. Ultimately though the goal for us is to to help push for equality behind the scenes in the music industry – more female and non-binary people running tech and producing records is the dream!
NM: Does Omnii have a regional focus?
O: Yeah, I guess at the moment the focus is on London just because that’s where we live! We’ve spoken about doing a kind of ‘Omnii tour’ around the country though. Some of our friends who work in youth education, or just friends who tour with live art projects, have pointed out some areas they’ve been to before that need a lot of community engagement projects and stuff like that, and there’s areas in the country that we’d definitely like to run workshops for. Music, whether creative or technical can be a really powerful tool for inspiring young people so we’d like to be a part of that.
NM: How do you choose your interviewees?
O: Some have been people we’ve been massive fans of, some have been people we know or run in the same circles as, and then some are people we’ve met at networking events or at our workshops! There’s so many people making such cool stuff, and it’s great to be able to pick their brains.
NM: How did you start working with OpenSource?
O: We’ve both worked at Dalston Studios at some point, and they’re owned by Open Source. They put on a lot of events and stuff so we often helped out with running the live sound for them.
NM: What are future collaborators you hope to work with?
O: We’re hopefully running a night in the autumn with an all-female label, but don’t want to say too much about that yet because its not all confirmed! We’re big fans of them though, so to collaborate with them will be amazing if it all works out! We’re also hoping to interview some bigger names for the website, so stay tuned.
NM: What’s your background in sound?
O: We’re both musicians and self-produce our own work. We both studied music at undergrad together, and when we were completing our masters degrees, we ended up working together at the student’s union running the live sound for all their events. Since then Francine has started producing for other people and working in professional studios, and Naomi has done sound design work for live art and theatre and freelanced in live sound.
NM: How did you start working with Universities?
O: We started working with an female collective called WISWOS (Women in Sound, Women on Sound – you should check them out, they’re great), and some of the lecturers at Goldsmiths are involved with them. We started planning some stuff together and they really helped us find our feet. Francine got a job at the Goldsmiths Music Studios, and they were super supportive of our project and helped find us funding to run workshops and supplement students learning.