In this series, we’ll be showcasing a variety of talented women in the music industry who are acing it right now. To find out more about how they navigated their chosen path in the industry, we’ll be uncovering how they got to be in their current roles and just exactly what that role entails. With the hope of sharing the abundance of career paths in the music industry, this feature aims to inspire more women to find their very own place in the music world by showcasing those who are already thriving in its environment.
For our second Industry Talks feature, we spoke to Jaleesa Germerts and Tessa Origone, a production duo best known as A Good Friend. Since becoming friends and starting the production side of things, the duo have produced for a number of artists and also have their very own EP on the horizon.
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Hi girls, thanks for taking part in our Industry Talks.
Can you tell us what your job title is?
We are music producers and musicians. Teresa is also a keys player and Jaleesa is a drummer. We soon realised that we make a good duo as we’re each influenced by different kinds of music, and we’ve been working together for about two years.
What does your job involve?
We help artists bring their vision to life! Sometimes we make demos and send them out to people, but generally we prefer working closely with the artist and create something together from scratch. We’ve worked in pretty diverse studio environments, from a simple set up like a bedroom studio or a small studio, to a big professional studio with sound engineers and live rooms. During the past year we’ve actually made a lot of music over zoom while being in two different cities (Amsterdam and Milan) from our bedrooms! Tell us a bit about your career so far and how you secured the role you’re in today. We both started our music careers as session musicians. When we moved to London about 10 years ago we really weren’t expecting to become producers! After having played and written on a few projects with some friends, it just made sense for us to start making our own tracks. Our friend Henry (aka Joy Anonymous) suggested we get together and we’ve been having a lot of fun since then. The first project we’ve produced as a duo is a song by our dear friend MEI featuring K4mo, called ‘Make Your Day’ (which came out in 2019). Since then, we’ve produced an entire EP with MEI, which will come out soon and you should be very excited about! We’ve also been working on our own EP which is a collaboration with five different singers and rappers. The nature of our work is really dependent on personal relationships, and we’ve been lucky enough to be part of a really inspiring and friendly environment. In the future, we’d like to potentially work with a publisher or a label, but for now we are enjoying building our own connections.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of this job is bringing out the emotions of the artists, and being able to express ourselves in the music. We love spending time making weird and wonderful sounds and also just getting to truly know people! Sometimes the lines between friendship and a work relationship are quite blurred in this industry, and it’s pretty important to connect with people on a personal level, which will then also enable you to create the best music.
How do you ensure that your job doesn’t burn you out mentally?
By making sure we have days off in which we can just exist and do nothing related to music. It’s funny because people often talk about hustle ethic and how they’ve sacrificed their mental and physical health, but we don’t believe that it should be this way. Jaleesa tries to make sure that there’s at least one day every 7-10 days in which there is nothing going on and we both make sure we get enough sleep too. We also like to think that even just listening to music is a huge part of our work and we shouldn’t feel guilty for not creating something.
Do you have a degree? If so, what is it in?
Teresa and Jaleesa both have a degree in music performance and production and Jaleesa did a masters in music performance with the emphasis on Hip hop that samples jazz.
Were internships important to kickstart your career?
Nope, uni was the most important part. From there we started collaborating with our friends and we both learnt so much by being in the studio with them and asking questions!
Has networking played a significant part in your career?
Our connections through uni have helped us a lot. Networking is everything, but again friendships are also super important. For example, as we said earlier we only started working together after someone recommended us to do it! And without this connection this might not have happened.
If someone was looking to start a career in producing, how would you advise them to start?
There’s quite a few things you can do! – Listen to a lot of music! It’s the most important thing. – Be around studios and friends who are already producing, because just watching someone else do it is so valuable. – Take your own time to experiment with sounds or the instrument you play. It all starts from there and then you’ll see that with practice your sound will evolve. – Try and make ‘type beats’ and mimic the sound of something you really like. Copying is so important to the learning process and the skills you gain from doing that are transferrable to your own sound. – If you are into someone’s music, it can all start from just asking them to collaborate with you. Social media or discord are also great networking tools.
Any top tips for being a successful woman in the music industry?
We both feel like we might not fit a particular standard as our vibe is quite playful and fun, which isn’t really represented a lot. The bar for women to be taken seriously is way higher, and on top of that we are also required to make a bigger effort in the way we look and present ourselves. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and set the new norm because things are changing.
And finally, which other women are killing it in the industry right now?
MEI, Bad Honey, Sans Soucis, Little Simz and Kari Faux are all amazing artists with a very interesting sound. There’s also KASIA, a female production duo who have been doing some really cool things!
Find out more about A Good Friend here.
Industry Talks | The new feature from Lock Magazine.