A continuing conversation in the music industry is the role of female music producers; today, about 4% of the music producers are women. Kimberly Shires, music producer and owner of Hear Me Roar Studio, is looking to change that statistic. Join contributing writer, Margaret Adams, as she and Shires discuss the industry and how producing music isn’t as hard as it looks.
Shires’ deep background with music informed her journey to being a studio owner. She played in an orchestra as a kid, leaning on a classical side for most of her life. After graduating college with a degree in Clarinet, she felt burnt out from music and took a hiatus.
“I just pivoted, I changed directions completely and put it away,” Shires said. “Fifteen years later, I was like ‘I really really miss music in my life’ but I didn’t miss it in the same capacity in which I knew it before.”
She felt as though the classical, orchestral part of her musical life had finished, and she was ready to see what else music had in store for her. Through songwriting, Shires realized that while she didn’t want to be an artist, she still wanted to utilize her voice through the creation of art. She then started writing music for film and television; out of necessity, she realized that producing was something she needed to learn.
“[Y]ou realize while you’re doing that, it’s really really really beneficial if you know how to produce… I started really thinking about, ‘Who’s the market that I want to serve?’ and ‘Can this skill be a part of something bigger than my own purpose?’”
After a few years of producing for film, television, and her collaborators, Hear Me Roar Studio was born; being a mainly online studio, Hear Me Roar Studio works with artists from across the country.
The online aspect of the studio allows many different artists to have their work produced by Shires, but being based in DC definitely affects Shires’ own approach to her work. From the local community to the West Coast, Hear Me Roar Studio is for everyone.
“I grew up in the DC area and have lived in almost every local county plus the district,” Shires wrote. “I grew up on Tori Amos and was obsessed and it turns out she grew up maybe 15 minutes away from where I live now. I love that my main influence was basically my neighbor.”
The idea behind Hear Me Roar Studio is more than the production itself; Shires created a female-centric approach, bringing women to the forefront of a male-dominated industry.
“The fact that I am a woman, and the fact that I am interested in this, and the fact that I am going for this, and the fact that I do have a talent for this, I want to amplify that as much as possible because its so important for women to show up and not be intimidated by what they perceive or what is, in reality, a male-dominated industry,” Shires shared. “When you think of Hear Me Roar, that saying comes from ‘I am woman, hear me roar’… we’re all little lionesses, trying to be heard.”
Shires illustrates the importance of teaching women how to produce, and how increasing understanding of music production can increase the number of female producers.
“I do a lot of these tutorials where I’m trying to empower women who either haven’t thought about doing it [producing], thought it wasn’t accessible, or thought it was somebody else’s job or thought that they just don’t have the right equipment or that it takes millions of dollars and its just too complicated…” Shires said. “It’s just not, and I want to shed light on the fact that it’s accessible to anybody; it’s not a dude’s thing.”
Hear Me Roar Studio sets itself apart from the crowd by elevating and empowering female artists to value their vision and teaches women to take the power of production into their own hands. Free of mansplaining and intimidation, Hear Me Roar Studio promotes the artist’s vision without condescension.
“It’s easier than you think it is…” Shires stated. “It’s not like it’s some mystical secret sauce thing that only a coveted people can do. It’s actually kind of accessible… It’s more about a willingness to want to do it.”
She explained that women anatomically hear differently than men do, and that music without females lacks a whole other perspective.
“If the industry is male-dominated, then it’s coming through the funnel of how a man hears,” Shires explains. “The moment you have music coming out through the funnel of how a woman hears, it’s going to be inherently different, which means it’s going to have a unique sound, a unique feel, a unique texture that you’re not necessarily going to get otherwise.”
Shires advises girls wanting to get into the music production business to do what some consider to be the hardest part: start.
“Start recording yourself and your own ideas now,” Shires writes. “Just get messy and don’t try for perfection. There is a learning curve on just getting comfortable with it. Make that the goal. Once there is a little freedom, pick some of your favorite songs and try to recreate them just by listening and identifying what each instrument is doing. Then, mimic it. It’s the best teacher.”
Shires is committed to showing women how impactful their perspectives are and giving them the tools to rely on their own skills and talents. Hear Me Roar not only produces beautiful music, but also inspires it.
Check out Hear Me Roar Studio and be on the lookout for Shires’s upcoming project: a mini e-book: “It will basically be a guide to recording your vocals from home – 101 style. I want recording to be and feel accessible…because it is.”
Margaret Adams is a Psychology major and Rhetoric and Writing minor at The Catholic University of America from New Orleans, Louisiana. In addition to her work with Alchemical, she writes for CUA’s student newspaper, The Tower, and has recently been named Quill Editor. She enjoys reading, writing, and looking at pictures of her dog, Bella.