Antonia Gauci on being a producer: don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make it happen
It is no secret that studios are not the most feminine of environments. Sound engineers are usually men - not always, but usually. In fact, Laura Marling - singer/songwriter from the UK, has a podcast series dedicated to finding out why there "is a real lack of female presence in the recording studio, and to discuss whether it makes any difference to the final outcome of the recordings." Check it out. Nevertheless, times are changing for women in this space, and most days, you will find the talented, gorgeous hard-working Antonia Gauci working at Studios 301, the iconic Australian studio in Sydney's inner east. Studios 301 is a very busy studio (despite the rapidly changing face of music making environments) and has recorded the sounds of everyone from Kanye West, Lana Del Ray, Lady Gaga to Powderfinger, Delta Goodrem, Cold Chisel and a gazillion other local and international acts from every genre. Antonia has worked at many of the finest studios in Sydney helping document the sounds of Alison Wonderland, Cold Chisel, will.i.am and more. She also is a songwriter, performer in a few different musical outfits, producer and radio host for radio station FBi on a show called THUMP. Music Love was lucky enough to catch Antonia in the middle of her very busy schedule for a quick chat about being an enginner, her favourite Australian women in music and the time will.i.am rode his wheely suitcase from one side of Studios 301's courtyard to the other,
What does music mean to you?
Totally cliché, but it’s my life source - I can’t function as a human being without being fully immersed in music. Apart from it being my day job, it’s also my main source of learning, a release of creativity, energy… Music eases my emotions/stress/anxiety. Its at the heart of many of my closest friendships and helps me connect with people (as I’m a little bit awkward & very shy).
Life in the studio – what was the first studio you worked in? How did you find yourself there?
BigJesusBurger (now closed) was the first big studio I worked in.
My friend Mel Cheng who I’d met at uni mentioned BJB were looking for interns. She linked me up with the studio manager, we arranged an interview and a few days later I started interning. It grew into helping the engineers set up sessions, to sitting in, then eventually assisting. My career basically snowballed from the opportunities the legends at BJB provided me.
Who are your favourite Australian women in music?
Emm Collins and Hannah Crofts from Music NSW. They work relentlessly trying to bridge the gap and create a wonderful community for women in the industry. This year they’ve run various workshops and panels for those seeking advice, whether it be mentorships, a basic understanding of music production/engineering, performance and song writing, or just general validation of music as a legitimate career path.
I’m really excited to see where they go next and to watch this community grow. I wholeheartedly admire what they do. They’re total bosses
Melody Forghani. Melody recently started a management and PR company - twnty three - to pursue her own endeavors and to do right by artists. Her roster currently includes Vallis Alps (mgmt), Airling, Christopher Port & Seekae (PR).
Honestly, Melody is probably the nicest person you’ll ever meet. Her wealth of knowledge in her field is astounding - super switched on! She consistently brings a fresh perspective in our conversations and her advice is always second to none.
Mel Cheng. Mel is truly inspirational. We met 9 years ago when studying. In that time I’ve seen her complete degrees in artist management, law, and work her way up from the bottom to the top - securing a position at one of the industry’s most respected management companies.
She’s over at One Louder Entertainment as an Artist Manager, taking care of all things Ball Park Music. Oh, and she’s a lecturer too! Wearer of many hats and works damn hard. Mel always has your back; armed with a marvellously diverse skill-set and an impressive network, she’s generous in aiding to get that one step closer to wherever I/anyone wants to be. She’s an invaluable member of the industry and one of my dearest friends.
In typical fashion, I’m waiting for the artists I’ve worked with this year to finish off and release their music… I hope that there’s love for what we’ve worked hard to create and that it leads to more opportunities for us all.
I’ve been trying to put more time and care into my production, mixing, engineering, and have been placing a real big focus on my songwriting. Wanting to step it all up a notch.
There’s also GAUCI - an Italo disco project with my brother David and our other brother Felix Lush. We’ve been working on and off for the last few months, bouncing round ideas and have finally released our first track. It’s also the first time I’ve ever been involved in a collaborative project, or ever really revealed that I can sing, so it’s been an exhilarating experience as I never thought I’d be doing something like this. We’re in the middle of preparing for our first show Our friend Anna May Kirk has worked tirelessly to make this happen and it’s going to be a pretty special time. I’m really nervous, but very lucky to be playing with two people I love as well as having our friends Midnight Mutants and Greta NOW supporting us.
Oh, and there’s something else dropping quite soon too…
Who is your favourite producer?
Right now I’d say Nicolas Jaar. I’m a huge fan of Darkside. His latest record Sirens is getting a good work out on my October Spotify playlist.
What was your favourite song or album to work on?
Last Dinosaurs’ In A Million Years will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s the first record I worked on.
Any funny stories from the studio?
I once watched will.i.am ride his roll-y suitcase from one side of 301’s courtyard to the other.
Advice for budding female producers/engineers?
You may have to work for free when starting out, but don’t ever undervalue your skill-set once you’ve got the wheels in motion. Ask questions, have a go, be nice, and don’t be afraid to be yourself. If your aim is to make this a long-term career, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make it happen.
What is your favourite place in Australia?
The hill up above Camp Cove Beach – nighttime. Over the years I’ve gone up there with a few friends after they’ve received their EP/album masters and we’ve blasted them through my car stereo. You can see the city lights off in the distance. It’s pretty spectacular. Sorry to the neighbours.
What is your favourite Australian café/restaurant?
This one is too hard, so here are my favourites in no particular order: Marys, Newtown; Faheem’s Fast Food, Enmore; Maya Tandoori, Surry Hills; Golden Century, Sussex St; Sushi Jones, Alexandria; Café Roma, Potts Point; ACME, Rushcutters' Bay
Who is your favourite Australian artist, fashion designer, retailer, film maker or actor?
Bel Campbell . Bel handcrafts these incredible plant stands. She welds black steel together in her Camperdown workshop. She designs clothes, prints and also greeting cards which are Lena Dunham approved. She’s the best.
Favourite non-music thing to do...
Read detective fiction novels – Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett. Take portraits of my friends. Eat and sleep.