Name: Liz Horsman
Title: Songwriter / Producer
Company or Organization: Mike Spencer Productions and Youthemic Publishing
Artists or projects worked with:
Rudimental, Rizzle Kicks, John Newman, Zara Larsson, Foxes, Years and Years, Emeli Sande amongst others – (programming, engineering and assisting).
Gabrielle Aplin, Anna Straker, Fono (writing and producing).
FEMMUSIC: How did you get started in studio production?
LH: I was the artist that wasn’t meant to be. I always knew that I loved the studio and hated performing so it was natural for me to move into the recording environment and hone those skills.
FEMMUSIC: What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned doing your job?
LH: What do you wish you knew before you started? When I was 22 I really wish I had known that nobody has all the answers. When you’re totally green and working in a professional environment it’s easy to think that everyone else knows everything and you know nothing. Now I am the professional I used to look up to, I realize that although I now know what I am doing I am also still learning and I love that. I don’t feel I need to prove myself anymore and that’s very liberating.
FEMMUSIC: What do you look for in a project?
LH: A voice. I have come to realize that a great song is a wonderful thing but for me the voice is everything. I can do loads of cool technical tricks with vocals to make them sound interesting but I can’t fake a tone that invites the listener to stay and get lost in the track.
FEMMUSIC: What project are you most proud of & why?
LH: Gabrielle Aplin’s most recent EP is a real triumph. She is one of those singers whose voice just begs you to stay and listen and working with her is a joy. She is a great writer and recording her vocals is just so easy. Gabrielle and I wrote ‘Miss You’, which I co-produced with Mike Spencer and ‘Night Bus’, which I produced and mixed.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges do you see for women in studio production?
LH: I heard a few horror stories – One A+R guy specified that he didn’t want the female engineer working on his artist’s session – I happen to know that she is that studio’s best engineer. That kind of crap makes my blood boil. So immediately the girl in the room has more to prove and that’s a huge disadvantage.
However, on the whole I feel that I do get respect for what I do and I am not fighting any battles. Some men will stifle a surprised look when they realize that it’s the woman who is in charge of all the buttons but to be fair to those men, it’s because it’s not the norm. When more women take on those roles it will get easier for everyone.
FEMMUSIC: What mentors did you have when learning?
LH: My husband! Mike Spencer has taught me pretty much everything I know. He is a genius! He has produced and mixed some massive records and I have assisted and engineered for him for the past 8 years.
FEMMUSIC: Are women in studio production treated differently than men? How do you see this?
LH: Not in the studio or at least not by other tech people. Very occasionally by A+Rs who don’t get to see them in action and see that they can really do their shit.
FEMMUSIC: What advice do you give to women wanting to go into studio work?
LH: Don’t try to prove anything. If you are really good at what you do then that will come through in your work and you will get the jobs you want. Network and stay in touch with good people you meet along the way. And connect with other women who are in the same boat. I’m not a fan of creating ‘women only’ networks because I think that can compound the issues. Women need to join the forums and societies and create a more equal industry, not segregate themselves.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?
LH: The charts are a nightmare. Stop including curated playlists in the numbers and we’d have more movement in the top 10. I love playlists and what they can do for our records but they shouldn’t be considered for the charts. Other than that, things feel pretty good right now. I am psyched about making records in 2017. It feels like it’s going to be big!