Cara Parker is a real-deal music biz trailblazer when it comes to making her mark and kicking down doors in an industry known for its traditionally male-dominated outlook and approach. As the founder of Redmoon Music, an independent Gold Coast music production, recording and management company, her support specialities for artists range from mixing, recording, pre and post production, musicianship development, music business development, consulting and distribution through to DIY Tools, training and composition.
And recently Cara has stepped up and used her experience and influence to co-launch a sound-sisterhood collective called ‘Women In The Mix’, acting as a support group for women and gender diverse people within the sound production industry.
Cara was recently kind enough to give her ‘warts and all’ take on her own journey as a female in a male dominated field, as well as how she sees things unfolding for women to flourish in the sound production field in the year 2021 and beyond.
Can you give us a brief rundown on your background and journey within the music industry?
I come from a long history of performance and business. I started as a brass player and vocalist on the Gold Coast as a child and continued my studies and career throughout the years in varying degrees. I’ve worked as a singer, guitarist, booker, promoter, engineer, producer, stage manager, multi-instrumentalist performer and event and project manager.
My grassroots business, Redmoon Music, has slowly been building up over the last few years while I’ve been studying, growing to a stage where I have now moved into new Premises at Calabro Way, Burleigh.
What’s the story/concept behind your newly established support group, ‘Women In The Mix’? How often do you get together, and how specifically do you support each other?
The group was developed by myself and Ilona Harker, a performing artist from Byron Bay, to help women and gender fluid people in the audio production industry have a safe place to ask anything and to share, collaborate and learn from each other.
We aim to cultivate a community of musicians, artists and females/non binary producers and engineers at all levels and to promote an open conversation agenda (aka a ‘no silly questions’ attitude) and do not support trolling, one-upmanship or ego-based social media interactions.
We can’t wait to hold our first in person ‘home studio set up’ workshop and also carry out some online zoom and streaming events. I will be offering advice, tips/tricks and tools and supporting others to do the same within the group. Our group is very diverse already, including podcasters and professional live and studio engineers. It’s very early days, but it’s clearly evident there is a huge need for this both locally and globally.
Was there a defining moment that inspired you to establish the group, or was it something that you’d been building towards and recognised as necessary for a long time?
This particular group was started after I was contacted by Ilona Harker to see if I would be interested in setting up some workshops for those wanting to learn home studio set up.
Since announcing my new studios, the support has been overwhelming and I have received a lot of work from both males and females. It’s hard to go onto online audio sites and ask basic questions -soundies are a cynical bunch and there is a culture of bullying on a lot of audio sites.
I felt it was best to cultivate a community rather than just host one off workshops. That way we can all share and learn together and I could really pinpoint what people wanted to learn.
We are currently setting up for the first in-person workshop, where we will learn about home studio basics. I don’t claim to be an all-knowing expert, but I do know that I can help others and I can learn from others in the field.
What’s the response been to the group been so far – have you had a lot of support and interest since you got it going?
We first chatted about a workshop for a small group of around ten women. But the response was huge and so far and we have built a community of nearly 100 people within days. This is testimony to the need for more support and mentorship out there. It has been overwhelming and I’m very excited to be able to help others in a safe and supportive way, both online and in-person.
What have been a few of the biggest challenges that you have had to overcome as a music industry professional operating in a largely male-dominated industry?
For me it has been a long road. As a project manager and estimator for several building companies and also business owner, I have been at the receiving end of sexism, bullying and female oversight for years, but have always battled through it.
I have seen great change and continue to do so and I commend industry on their commitment to evoking this much-needed shift. However, it’s still quite hard. This is a tough industry as it is, and flying solo while battling that has definitely thickened my skin. I have received trolling, bullying, unwanted advances, “no refusals” and at times I have felt unsafe in my own studio.
I got to a point last year where I wanted to quit due to patriarchal bullying, but with the support of other women business owners here on the Gold Coast I have been able to reach a point where it doesn’t affect me too much now.
I have always been a huge advocate for sharing knowledge and support to women in the industry and I always try to offer support to younger women coming up, regardless of their experience or skill set. I’ve found there is a distinct difference in how female and male counterparts interact in this role… females generally being more reserved and pensive and males having a gung-ho approach.
Do you feel that the paradigm is shifting and that meaningful progress is occurring in 2021 in relation to women being accepted in male dominated industry roles such as music producers and sound engineers?
Yes it definitely is and I’m so very happy about that – just in the last seven years while I’ve been studying this, there has been massive change.
It’s not easy at all, for ANYONE in this industry. I don’t want special treatment and I work very hard at what I do and still have a long way to go, but I have my feet firmly planted on the ground. There are no rules anymore and I have been building my relationships and networks for a long time and that has been key to being able to move forward.
It does take guts and courage sometimes… I’ve received messages from peers bullying me and belittling my “girly music business”. The truth is I still have more male clients than female – music is a male-dominated industry but I do offer a safe, accepting and welcoming environment for ALL artists, no matter what gender, background, religion, creed or race.
You can see meaningful change happening every day and more and more females are entering the field as the years go on. And with teach the teacher training, peer support and programs like Women in the Mix, we hope they will build sustainable careers within the field, knowing they have peers, mentors, support and an actual understanding from the industry.
You can search Women In the Mix on Facebook to request to join. Follow Cara at fb.com/redmoonmusicaustralia.