My name is Stephanie Collingwood, and I am a female singer-songwriter and producer from London. I have mainly drawn my focus to producing as of late, as I have realised that creating sounds both fascinates and engages me; I love telling a story. I like to experiment with these sounds, playing around with genres and feeling the bass, the synth, the kicks and creating patterns and rhythm to evoke emotion, as I’m quite a deep soul underneath it all.
From hobby to profession
I started my musical journey from a young age, but it was more of a hobby that I thoroughly enjoyed. Being so young it had not occurred to me that this was my passion; I had not thought or fully understood the concept of what passion even meant at that time.
It was my Nan who initiated my journey of singing and writing. She was in performing arts, specialising in theatre and would always encourage me to sing and write - we would even put on a 50p talent show for my family at Christmas. She also used to write a lot of poetry and played piano here and there which I loved watching and listening to, I guess that’s what inspired me.
I myself started writing poetry and then eventually songs. I liked to sing but had always been a very shy person deep down, so I would sing initially more to myself in the mirror than to anyone else. I enjoyed making harmonies and liked to record, but I didn’t really enjoy being on stage.
Inspired by family
My interest in producing happened when I was 15. I’d watch my brother (Sylvester Collingwood) and his mates chill in his bedroom making beats, and I wanted to know what it was all about too. I loved to play piano (or at least I tried to), so I thought I’d give producing a go myself.
My brother taught me the basics and then I was off. I was given an old hand-me-down laptop with the latest version of Fruity Loops Studio (which would now probably be considered retro). Looking back this was the beginning of my production journey, I just didn’t think too deep into it at the time. My older brother very much encouraged me as, in his words, he heard something in me I didn’t know I had. To me it was just something that would take me away and that I loved doing.
My Mum I don’t think realised how much I loved music back then. I was quite a quiet child, at the time I preferred acting and sport which she funded and supported. She always had a great ability to encourage me in anything I chose to do in life, and humbled me with her struggles as a solo, independent African woman. I would say the root of my inspiration was always to give her the life she deserved.
Responding to a male dominated industry
Over time as I grew older, I started to realise how much music was a male dominated industry, particularly in the world of producing. Social media wasn’t as prominent as it is now, so even if there were established female producers around you wouldn’t really know of any.
I have had some uncomfortable experiences in my life, and within music there have been times where I have lost work due to not allowing myself to be degraded or unfairly treated and controlled - which unfortunately a lot of women within the industry experience to this day.
It became clear to me that sadly sometimes people of power and control can take advantage of people who are young, vulnerable or just simply because they are a woman.
I felt a bit trapped I suppose at the time as I had no go-to, and that was what led me to think, why can’t I do this myself? Why can’t I make my own music?
I no longer wanted to rely on anyone, man or woman. This was something that I loved doing and as much as other people can help you, only you can really push yourself to do anything. I wanted to be able to make music from the comfort of wherever I chose to and to not have any worries. I don’t think anyone can truly grow to their full extent in any passion if they feel scared in their environment, or if they have obstacles weighing them down. This was happening to me at the time so I had to find a solution.
I began to work part-time jobs as well as full-time jobs, and slowly began to buy the essential equipment I needed to build my own home studio. Music equipment is definitely not cheap and it has taken me years to build up what I have today, to improve and teach myself - I’m still no way near there yet, but I am on that journey and can hear the difference in my production. I have balanced jobs and studies around music so I have had to share the time but I am a perfectionist, so will keep trying to improve to the best of my ability.
Inspiring future generations and continuing the journey
I felt from then and have done since, that there needs to be more safe spaces for women, as well as visibility in sound and production. This side of music doesn’t get acknowledged as much as it should.
I hope that more and more female producers and LGBTQ+ artists will come forward so that people who have a passion, know that they can express it safely and can also inspire others to create. Lots of people lose track of their own individual talents because they try so much to impress the crowd (and although sometimes that can be a positive), it's important to stay authentic and always be true to yourself and your music.
I have recently signed to EEM Records who I’m looking forward to working with, and produce for my talented partner, singer-songwriter Ronnie Martine who is an amazing advocate within the LGBTQ+ world. She has her own amazing side projects to help women within our community, as well as my talented brother Sylvester Collingwood, who continues to teach and encourage the young talent of today.
I look forward to continuing my music journey and hope that other females within music will do the same.