In this article, we list out five female songwriters and producers who move us deeply with their raw, heart-felt, and unadulterated music.
Music has always taken a more linear and palatable direction over the past few years, at least commercially. Lesser musicians, pop singers, and forebearers of popular music are willing to take a risk with their art, knowing somewhere maybe they’ve set a standard for themselves too high to go back on. Too few care to truly follow the direction their hearts pull them in.
To ignore what is immediately around us, and to refrain from embracing the darkness that comes with living daily is something we’ve ignored for many years. While music is made to entertain in most cases, fewer artists care to educate, cope with, and express their true inner feelings through their art. To simply put it, it takes guts to be real.
As a listener of the darker genres and a fan of experimentation, along with the help of some friends, I’ve put a list of some incredible female musicians, songwriters and producers that have left us with goosebumps, feeling their sorrow to the bone, or even relating to their music.
Read about, and listen to music you’ve probably never heard before!
Lingua Ignota, which means ‘unknown language’ in Latin, is the stage name of Kristin Hayter, a classical multi-instrumentalist born in California, USA. Hayter music strongly reflects her experiences with domestic violence and her condition of anorexia, and lets the pain flow out through her music.
Hayter always found herself to be quite out-of-place even in her hometown, and would never fit into circles of people because she felt different. She started releasing music by herself with the moniker Lingua Ignota in 2017, and had two albums out in the very first year. Listen to Lingua Ignota here.
King Woman’s Kristina Esfandiari
King Woman is one of many acts and names used by singer-songwriter and producer Kristina Esfandiari. She began her career in music as a singer with the shoegaze band Whirr. She later rose to fame because of her unique and dramatic vocals when performing onstage, something that resonated with her multiple personas as a musician as well. King Woman began as Esfandiari’s solo project back in 2009, and she goes by the following stage personas – Miserable, KRIS, Dalmatian, Sugar High, and NGHTCRWLR.
Esfandiari is known to dabble with everything from R&B and hip hop, to shoegaze, doom metal and experimental noise. Her bold approach towards a wide spectrum of music make her one of the most unique musicians today. Listen to King Woman here.
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Chelsea (Joy) Wolfe is a singer-songwriter and musician from California who treads in spaces like doom metal and gothic rock with bits of folk, exploring genres like experimental and noise. Wolfe’s first album compiled in 2006 was a forced and over-produced effort that was very personal, and it wasn’t the route she chose to go with.
Finding new perspective, she began to release music in 2010, often performing onstage with a black veil as she suffered from severe stage fright. With six studio albums and many singles, Wolfe settles for being able to make any music she can, rather than confining herself to a set of genres. Although, most of her influences can be seen around gothic folk music. Listen to Chelsea Wolfe here.
Emma Ruth Rundle
Emma Ruth Rundle is an American songwriter who also plays guitar, and is a visual artist. Based out of Portland, Oregon in the US of A, Emma is also a member of post-rock band Red Sparrowes, and has released five solo albums, embracing her own original style.
Having had to work through life almost nomadically playing in rock bands, her medical condition, her struggle with drug addiction since she was 12, and her rockstar marriage, Rundle knew the only way through was the expression through her music. Mostly rock and metal fans are drawn in by her dark music that tries to settle somewhere in gothic folk. Her work with sludge band Thou was another notable collaboration in 2020. Listen to Emma Ruth Rundle here.
Anna von Hausswolff
The Scandinavian songwriter, composer and pipe organist was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, and is the daughter of avant garde artist Carl Michael von Hausswolff. She started releasing music in 2010, popularly known for her amazing and expressive vocals during live performances. Her music can be described in genres less spoken of – like Neoclassical darkwave, art pop, with influences of experimental, drone, and post-metal. She uses her pipe organ a lot while playing music, and has sold out many concerts in Europe through the years.
However in 2021, fundamentalist Catholic groups began to call her music ‘Satanic’, leading to the cancellation of her concert at Notre-Dame de Bon-Port in France, along with police protection at other places. Listen to Anna von Hausswolff’s music here.
Special mentions to the acts and powerful women embracing their own styles and expression in Esben and the Witch, Brutus, FVNERALS, Jo Quail’s instrumentation on various artists’ music, and many more across the world.