She Knows Tech co-founder Jasmine Kok is on a mission to ensure all womxn have the opportunity to thrive in music tech
We had the opportunity to learn more about where she started, what she’s built, and what she’s doing next.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
BOUNCE GVNG: Tell us about yourself. Where did your love for music begin?
JASMINE KOK: My parents started signing me up for music lessons when I was 4 years old. Though they wanted to cultivate my artistic side, they were secretly hoping that it wouldn’t be more than a serious hobby. When I decided to major in music for my undergraduate degree at City College, CUNY, my parents just got it. They are the most supportive pillars I can ever ask for, and even financially supported me for my Master’s Degree at Berklee Valencia, a journey that kickstarted one of the most important projects of my life.
BG: You helped found She Knows Tech which strives to empower female-identifying professionals in music tech. How did it go from being a grad project to a full-blown company?
JK: To be honest, I never thought SKT would be more than a one-year side project while I was in Berklee. We started out as a peer-to-peer support outlet at the Berklee Valencia campus as a response to the lack of female faculty in the Music Production, Technology, and Innovation program. After graduation, I was given the opportunity to continue my project for the post Master’s program at Berklee Valencia. That’s when I pondered, “If I were to continue growing SKT as a project, how can I start measuring the impact?” That inspired me to launch the Tech Training Program, a one-semester long training program where I collaborated with 5 graduate students to each train 4 undergraduate trainees. We received a total of 40 applications and accepted 20 of them. We were very fortunate to be supported by sponsors like Ableton, Izotope, and Max MSP. The result from this program was astonishing: 50% of the mentees of this program were accepted into the Music Production and Engineering program and the Electronic Production and Sound Design program back in Berklee Boston campus, and almost the other 50% minored in tech. This statistic proved that female-identifying creatives are interested in music production and engineering and that by providing them a safe learning space, it encourages them to pursue that interest further.
BG: What excites you most about your job and why?
JK: Through She Knows Tech, I have been connected to a lot of womxn who are killing it in the music tech industry. These are women who are fearlessly opening paths and normalizing careers for women in the music tech industry. That, and connecting with allies who are passionate about being a part of the change in the industry.
BG: What’s one practice that’s helped you better serve the community you’ve cultivated?
JK: To elevate myself as a producer and artist. The more I pursue my art, the more this journey shows me the support that this industry lacks for female creatives. By continuously pursuing and elevating my craft, I am constantly challenged to create and share resources with the community.
BG: What was one of the greatest challenges you faced when establishing She Knows Tech and how did you overcome it?
JK: One of our biggest challenges is to grow our community beyond the Berklee circle. Since we started out at the Valencia campus as a student-led project, it was challenging for us to engage with people outside of Valencia. However, when COVID restrictions forced everything to go virtual, we were motivated to adapt to this new virtual reality. We continued organizing our monthly free masterclasses and opened it to everyone. We started reaching out to companies to sponsor our sessions and started compensating our presenters. We even organized a KMD Pro Speed Mentoring program and Flash Beats Lab speed production challenge. To our surprise, by October 2020, we were having people from Australia, London, New York, and LA participating in our events!
BG: How do you envision She Knows Tech changing the music industry as we know it? What are you most looking forward to?
JK: We aim to change the industry by highlighting, celebrating, and supporting one womxn at a time! There are plenty of female producers, engineers, and technologists killing it out there, and we just simply don’t hear enough about them! I am most looking forward to the first womxn to win the Producer of the Year for the Non-Classical genre at the GRAMMYs. It’s about time we are given the recognition that is due.
BG: Where are the gaps in achieving gender parity and its misconceptions in music production and audio engineering? And what can supporters do to help further your mission?
JK: This is a very big question that may be difficult to be summarized into a few sentences. However, one of the biggest misconceptions in the lack of womxn in music production and audio engineering is because of the lack of interest among female-identifying creatives. That cannot be further from the truth. Womxn are simply looking for platforms that would make them feel safe and comfortable to get started! The easiest way to help is by simply asking: “How can I help?”
BG: From the resources to the events, She Knows Tech sounds like an amazing community to be a part of. How can anyone interested get involved?
BG: The She Knows Tech summit is fast approaching. Tell us about it.
JK: OMG! This is the biggest event we’ve ever put together! She Knows Tech Summit is a multi-day all-female line-up conference to celebrate International Women’s Day (March 5 – 8). This summit will be packed with SKT’s signature events: Flash Beats Lab speed production competition, workshops, masterclasses, and panels. This event is officially in collaboration with Women in Music, AES, She Is The Music, Keychange Europe, and Ableton. We are also supported by sponsors like Izotope and Sonarworks. Our phenomenal lineup of presenters includes Piper Payne, Marcella “Ms. Lago” Araica, Laura Escudé, Dresage, badsnacks, and Rachel K Collier! We have also confirmed Andrew Huang as one of the panelists for our discussion panels. It’s gonna be a big party to celebrate womxn in the music tech industry! Get your tickets!
BG: What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give to womxn along their journey in music tech?
JK: Just do it! Your questions are not stupid and you got this! It might be challenging in the beginning, but I promise you, the results are rewarding and so worth it. You are not alone and there are plenty of support organizations/ communities like She Knows Tech with resources to get you started. You’ll be surprised by the amount of support you’ll receive once you’ve taken your first step.