Name: Haniya Aslam
Title: Composer, Producer
Company or Organization: Citrus Audio
FEMMUSIC: How did you get started in studio production?
HA: I was a studio and touring musician for 7 years, during which time I realized that my basic knowledge of music and audio tech was lacking in many areas. Also, I prefer the studio to the stage – the freedom to experiment and perfect holds a great draw for me. I enrolled in an audio engineering diploma course, and for the past 3 years I’ve been working in music production and audio post production for film and TV.
FEMMUSIC: What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned doing your job? What do you wish you knew before you started?
HA/: As in any creative field, humility and patience are great starting points. A willingness to admit what you don’t know and an eagerness to learn help propel you forward. Personally, a basic familiarity with the physics of sound and the nature of the sound wave would have saved me a lot of time and stress.
FEMMUSIC: What do you look for in a project?
HA: Synergy is vital for me when deciding to participate in any new project. From the beginning of my career I’ve made sure that I work on projects which excite my interest, and with people who are excited about working with me. Also, working with someone who’s aesthetic you respect and trust makes the job so much easier, and so more fun!
FEMMUSIC: What project are you most proud of & why?
HA: I recently finish my first background score for a Pakistani feature film. It was a lot of hard work and late hours, but it was one of my most exciting and rewarding projects to date. Film scoring is a very different beast from song writing, and one of the aspects I most enjoyed was getting to explore a single motif or idea in multiple ways, and take it in completely different directions.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges do you see for women in studio production?
HA: Personally, I’ve never experienced being a woman as an issue in this field. Both in Pakistan and in Canada, I’ve been lucky enough to work with incredibly talented, humble and encouraging colleagues, both male and female. I do tend to be in mostly male spaces a lot of the time, and we can definitely do more to encourage younger girls and women to explore careers in audio tech. And there are some wonderful organization, like Soundgirls.org, who’re already doing great work on that front.
FEMMUSIC: What mentors did you have when learning?
HA: My first mentor was award-winning Pakistani producer Mekaal Hassan. He produced our first album, and I only realized how much knowledge he passed on to me when I was sitting in my audio engineering classes years later. More recently I met a senior Screen Guild Composers of Canada member Tom Third here in Toronto, and I’m thrilled that he’s agreed to take me under his wing!
FEMMUSIC: Are women in studio production treated differently than men? How do you see this?
HA: Not in my experience.
FEMMUSIC: What advice do you give to women wanting to go into studio work?
HA: Follow your passion, keep learning, and keep producing work!
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?
HA: The industry is already changing quite organically. The quick advances in technology have been keeping everyone on their toes, and things seem to be evolving accordingly. Direct contact between artists and fans seems to be the winning formula. From crowd funded albums to royalty-sharing digital distribution, the record label of old is pretty much a dinosaur by now.