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Upgrade your playlist with the coolest women in music

We asked eight amazing female artists to share the women who inspire them and the up-and-coming acts who deserve to be spotlighted. Prepare to upgrade your playlists... 

Sophia Essél

Hey – wanna get some exclusive recommendations from some of the coolest women in the music industry? 

My friend, you've come to the right place. 

We asked eight amazing female artists to select the women who inspire them – as well as the up-and-coming acts who deserve your support.  

Follow every name cited in the below article and you will become approximately 42 times cooler than you are now: and that's assuming you're fairly cool to begin with. (You're on our website: good start.) 

Ladies, take it away.  

Monki

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Inspirations

For me personally the most inspiring female figures have been athletes. I love football and Megan Rapinoe has spoken up on so many issues surrounding gender equality, racism and LGBTQ+ issues in and out of the game. I think Naomi Osaka is also an amazing young woman.

Supporting

I recently released a young producer called Meg Ward on my label &Friends. Her productions are super energetic and fun. A bundle of energy. Manami, AK Sports, Sally C, Effy, Maruwa.... all great DJs / producers I recommend checking out as well!

Queen Of Hearts is out now via &Friends

Laura White

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Inspirations

My heroes in the industry are women who have been pioneers of strength, diversity and musical integrity.

I've always adored Diane Warren not just for being my songwriting idol but also for her independence in her character and in the creative process, Alicia Keys for musically showing me I could be a soul singer and not just another pop singer, which was the only thing I had seen as a young girl. I also adore Beyonce just in everything she is and she encourages me daily to work my hardest. Sia for showing me that great art will eventually find the world no matter what!

Supporting

Little Simz – she is already established but I feel she is a UK talent that we just haven't seen enough of, for me she deserves an even bigger platform. I heard her record 'Wings' and now it's on my running playlist and I was just blown away hearing and seeing her talent. I'd love to write a hook for her, she's a real one!

LA Riots, Max Styler - I Call That Love ft. Laura White is out 12th March via REALM

Ashibah

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Inspirations

On the top of my list is probably Sade both in and outside of music. I grew up hearing her voice and I looked up to her so much. Everything about her is real, she taught me to stay true to myself not only musically. Coming from similar backgrounds she showed me that having a career in music was possible if you worked hard, the music will speak for itself at the end. She puts her soul in her music and that’s how we know her, her private life is her own and she speaks to us through her voice. That has inspired me to be proud of who I am and move to the beat of my own drum.

Another strong lady on my list is the one and only Umm Kulthum, the pride and joy of Egypt. She rejected gender norms with her powerful voice and political message. Growing up in Egypt she was a true inspiration for women of all ages. These two incredible artists showed me how you could move mountains with a strong voice in all its forms.

Supporting

It’s so beautiful to see so many great female artists out there doing their thing, makes me proud to be a part of it. Vocally two artists I think are incredible are Maddie a Danish artist and Naila an incredible Egyptian artist. Their voices are so unique and you don’t forget them. On the producer front I recommend artists like Jess Bay, Logic 1000 and Saffron Stone from England and Carol Favero from Brazil.

Ashibah, Jean Bacarreza “Nobody Else” is out now via Solotoko 

VNSSA

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Inspirations / Supporting

When it comes to female figures in the music industry some huge inspirations have been the women that are advocates of gender equality, push boundaries, and have helped pave the way for artists like me to raise our voices and be heard. Without those women we wouldn't be where we are today, and we still have a long way to go.

Some artists I'm listening to right now that are "breaking the glass ceiling" are: Sara Landry, Grimes, J.Worra, Worthy, Honey Dijon, Nala, Logic1000, Miss Dre, Kaleena Zanders just to name a few.

It's important that we encourage more women to make music and welcome them because it's not easy to succeed in such a male dominated industry and it can be quite intimidating at times. Over the years I've seen more and more women creating and getting involved and I hope that in some way or another I can help encourage them to be their unapologetic selves.

Cuz Of The Beat” is out now via Techne

PRVNA

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Inspirations

My artist name PRVNA – is spelt Praveena and means 'Queen' in Sri Lanka. I am Mauritian, my mum's friend named me when I was born and my mum has always told me since I was born – "remember that you are a Queen and you can get anything you want from life". It's this sentiment which I have carried with me since I was young with boundless confidence! We recognise these statements as positive affirmations today and I guess I have had that built in me since I was a child.

I look up to Jacinda Arden, the New Zealand Prime minister. The way in which she has handled the pandemic and continues to pioneer change positively affects not only women, but society shows me there needs to be more women in power!

Supporting

My friend Ayu Lestari is a brilliant producer/label manager and with her partner Hester Terpstra have started an incredible all female platform for artists to promote gender equality and increase female visibility in the music industry called Sisters in Songwriting. Based in the Netherlands, they organised a writing camp with over 50 female songwriters, singers, producers and engineers together. It was such a special event and together we made the first all-female produced album to come out of NL called '20 Feet Tall'.

I feature on the album twice and had an amazing time working with people at all levels in the industry. See behind the scenes footage of the third single 'I Want It'. I met Ayu off Instagram and she is my favourite producer to work with! I had some bad experience working with male producers a few years back quite early on in my career and she gave me the confidence and courage to authentically be myself – this lady does something special! Not only innovative and creative she produces total banging hits – watch this space for more from us this year!

“Get Down” out on Needwant on 19th March

Ruth Royall (Paper Dragon)

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Inspirations

Seeing real women represented is so important when you are growing up. I was hugely inspired by Imogen Heap as a young woman. She was so herself and it was all about the music, not what she wore or how she looked. She came across as very female, her approach to songwriting and production was done by feel and intuition. So much so, she ended up developing gloves that literally made music by touch.

There was no one else at the time who I could see a bit of myself in, so many female artists felt like caricatures that I just couldn't relate to. She was explorative, a bit shy and when she performed she chatted in a slightly awkward and excitable way. That was definitely a bit of me. It made me feel like there was a space for me in the industry and this is something I've taken with me.

Representation is key to the development and growth of our industry. Young people need to see themselves in others and we can only do that by inviting artists from all genders, ethnicities, abilities and economic backgrounds to take up space and be seen.

Suppporting

My recent single 'Remedies' with Mollie Collins was such a pleasure to make, she really gave me the space to express myself and it really felt like we were creating something together. Mollie is someone who really champions female artists and has the platform to really make a difference.

Other artists I am loving at the moment are Flava D, she is such a prolific producer and so open to ideas, a true musician. Something Something is also smashing it at the moment and also Emily Makis who I've been a big fan of since I first heard her track Buttons with Deadline. This time last year, Paper dragon got their first editorial on the massive drum and bass playlist! Koven was on the cover to celebrate #internationalwomensday and I remember posting to say what an honour it was to be on a playlist with such a huge inspiration to me on the cover.

If someone had told me then that this year it would be me on the cover, I would no way have believed it!

Paper Dragon X Grafix - Forget The Rain is out via Our Space on 16th April

Sophia Essél

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Inspirations

Hannah Wants: I remember first seeing Hannah light up the WHP about 4 years ago. After a short conversation with Hannah about what I wanted to achieve I then pursued my career in music. Hannah pushed for support in the LGBTQ community which personally helped me along the way.

Nina Kraviz: What a legend she just has something that makes her so unique. Our music styles differ however I still love her stuff and especially her vibe.

Alison Wonderland: Alison inspires me to think outside the box - she sings on her own tracks, writes them and produces them. I often try to do the same but I can’t write lyrics to save my life.

Supporting

I stumbled across LENNI VIBE a couple months ago. This girl's brand is just boss and literally blows me away with her charisma and stage presence. I anticipate this artist will be someone to look out for in the industry when she starts to produce.

Reachin is out now via ON IT Recordings

Clementine Douglas

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Inspirations

Growing up I was always passionate about music Minnie Riperton, Tracey Chapman, Des’ree, Amy Winehouse, all these women’s voices and music has been a source of inspiration for me throughout my life.

Kelli-Leigh, Alex Mills and Jem Cooke are all writers and vocalists that have inspired me in the house music scene. They’ve made some absolute classic tunes. Last year Kelli-Leigh spoke out about the common issue of black vocalists being used for their voices on records and not being given the credit for their work. This is something that as a mixed raced woman I have also experienced in the industry and it happens to women of all colours. I hope moving forward that more producers will begin to recognise this and give the credit where it is due.

Supporting

An artist that I’m supporting at the moment is a great friend of mine, Bobbie Johnson. She is an unbelievably talented rapper and producer. She always comes out with the freshest lyrics and her production style is so unique and tasteful. Go check out her single ‘Grown’.

Wh0 - Out Of Time ft. Clementine Douglas is out now via Wh0 Plays Records

LP Giobbi

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Inspirations

My piano teacher, Carolyn Horn, who I studied with from 2nd - 12th grade and beyond. She cultivated creativity above all else and some days we would just play the inside of her piano or others we would play bongos and just dance. She showed me the joys of music.

At the age of 65 she then went back to school to learn electronic music at UofO. She was the only woman in the program and the only person over 23. She had never owned a computer and by the end of the course they were all asking her for help!

Anna Lunoe. She has built an amazing career and also has two kids. When she was breastfeeding, she would show how she could preserve milk while on tour in a cooler via Instagram. Seeing representation of a mom in the dance / electronic space made me believe you could have this career and a family.

Supporting

Kaleena Zanders. She is a songwriter, producer, singer and unbelievable performer.

“Take My Hand” is out now via Animal Talk

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