March 8th 2014 - NERDGIRLS - herstory of electronic music by Antye Greie-Ripatti

This incomplete research was commissioned by Club Transmediale Berlin and published in a shorter form in their 2014 magazine, please send an email if you find a mistake or untruth. If you are interested to extend this list, please add names to the existing wikipedia entry on List of female electronic musicians .

The "NERDGIRLS Mash by poemproducer AGF 8 March 2014 - for equality, diversity and world peace" includes about 50 artists spanning about 50 years of outstanding, smart, fun, female and pioneering electronic music and is dedicated to my daughter.

look for tracklist here

The artists are sorted by birth year and my selection of arguments for their nerdiness, innovation and uniqueness.

Johanna Magdalena Beyer, 1888–1944, Germany/US, first known electronic piece of music ever, listening tip: Johanna M. Beyer - Music Of The Spheres [1938]

born in 1910s
Clara Rockmore, 1911–1998, US, a virtuoso performer of the theremin, the first electronic musical instrument, collaborated with Prof. Theremin to refine the instrument

born in 1920s
Else Marie Pade, 1924, Denmark, produced concrete and electronic music only existed on tapes, slow elegant dissonant

Charlotte "Bebe" Barron, 1925-2008, US, created with her partner the first electronic film score to Forbidden Planet (1956) and she build possibly the first electronic studio in USA

Daphne Oram, 1925-2003, UK, BBC quote: the unsung pioneer of techno, her own purpose built studio, experimenting with electronic music in the 1940s, she invented her own drawing-sound system Oramics, also founder of Radiophonics

Ruth White,1925, US, electronic music pioneer using the Moog synthesizer “Flowers of Evil” (1969), and “Short Circuits” (1970) extensive electronic discography

Maddalena Fagandini, 1929 - 2012 was an electronic musician and television producer, co-created the proto-techno single “Time Beat/ Waltz In Space” (1962) part of the pioneering BBC Radiophonic workshops

born in 1930s
Eliane Radigue, 1932, France, minimal drone composer, musique concrete, synthesizer, the ARP 2500 modular system and tape, since 2001 compositions for acoustic instruments, extreme minimal music, very influential into 21st century

Pauline Oliveros, 1932, US, currently influential composer, central figure in the development of post-war electronic art music, wrote new music theory on concepts as ‘Deep Listening’, sonic awareness, she is an important teacher & author

Yoko Ono, 1933, Japan, fluxus performance artist, early inclusion of electronics and sound art into her ‘happening’ experiments

Delia Derbyshire, 1937 - 2001, UK, Musique concrète, joined BBC radiophonic workshops, first complete electronic music score on tv

Annea Lockwood, 1937, New Zealand/US, field recordings, fluxes, electronic music teacher at Vassar College

Maryanne Amacher, 1938-2009, US, composer and installation artist, investigated physiological (not psychoacoustic) phenomenon called otoacoustic emission, in which the ears themselves act as sound generating devices, noise musician, influential teacher

Wendy Carlos, 1939, US, synthesizer, interpretations of classical works on Moog synthesiser, film scores notably Shining and Tron, Grammy Award winner

“The circular controller short CirCon is a control instrument that we build for the Shining ...” Wendy Carlos in “Circular Controller on Kubrick's The Shining” (vimeo)

born in 1940s
Annette Peacock, 1941, US, recorded experimental electronic rap in 1970s, ‘I'm the One 1972’ (check the album artwork), one of the first artists to feed voice into a synthesizer

Pril Smiley, 1943, US, significant role in development of CPEMC (Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center) and its program, her first electronic piece ‘Eclipse’ (1967) won 1st price at the international electro-acoustic music competition

Michèle Bokanowski, 1943, France, computer music for film for dance, stunning sound quality and composition, listening tip: "Tabou" (on youtube)

Alice Shields, 1943 technical director of CPEMC, complex electronic vocal compositions, important ‘Study for Voice and Tape’ (1968)

Laurie Spiegel, 1945, US, synthesizers, was one of the first to experiment with computers and algorithmic composition

“This 1977 tape is one of the earliest examples of purely digital realtime audio synthesis. It manages to achieve an analog synth sounding quality, but it is entirely digital synthesis and signal processing.” Laurie Spiegel

I was doing a lot of work with analog synthesizer in the late 60ies... i gotten really excited about analog synthesizers ... I kind of love them... after 3 4 years i was fed up with the fact that they didn’t have memory...” Laurie Spiegel

Maggi Payne, 1945, US, composer, flutist, video artist, recording engineer/editor, and historical remastering engineer who creates electroacoustic, instrumental, and vocal works, currently Co-Director of the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM) at Mills College in Oakland, CA, teaches recording engineering, composition, and electronic music

Suzanne Ciani, 1946, Italy/ US, innovative electronic music. sound effects for "Star Wars, studied computer generated music at Stanford's Artificial Intelligence Labs in the early 1970s

Hildegard Westerkamp, 1946, Germany/ Canada, composer, radio artist and sound ecologist, soundscape workshops and lectures internationally, performs and writes.

Laurie Anderson, 1947, US, composer, performance artist, tape-bow violin uses magnetic tape instead of horse hair, MIDI, etc, she developed a talking stick, a six-foot-long baton-like MIDI controller that can access and replicate sounds, first artist to have an Artist-in-residence at NASA, recent EMPAC residence

Christine Kubisch,1948, Germany, sound artist, "Electrical Walks" series of works, studies electromagnetic radiation which turn into electronic sound walks, developed new headphones for it.

“I found headphones which were large enough to install my own electronic equipment into it...which is coils and amplifiers and other little secrets... so the audience becomes a composer with in the work.” Christine Kubisch in “Electrical walks” on vimeo

born in 1950s
Christine Newby (Cosey Fanni Tutti, Cosmosis), 1951, Britain, industrial electronics, known for crossover to performance art and was part of avant-garde groups Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey, listening tip: Selflessness (on youtube)

Ikue Mori,1953, Japan, drummer, digital composer, visual artist, drum machines, digital percussion, experimentation with musical form

Carla Scaletti, 1956, US, harpist, composer and music technologist

Zeena Parkins, 1956, US, besides standard and electric harps, her work also incorporates Foley, field recordings, analog synthesizers, samplers, oscillators and homemade instruments

Pamela Z, 1956, US, processes her voice in real time to create dense, complex sonic layers in her solo works that combine experimental extended vocal techniques, operatic bel canto, found objects, text, and sampled concrète sounds. MAX MSP and Isadora software on a MacBook Pro along with custom MIDI controllers that allow her to manipulate sound and image with physical gestures

Laetitia Sonami, 1957, France/US, composer, performer, sound installation, designs and uses her own instruments, wearable technology in composition and sonic story storytelling

Schimana, Elisabeth, 1958. Austria. composer, performer and radio artist practicing and researching musicology, ethnology, space-body-electronics, woman, art and technology

Cio Dorbandt (Cio D´Or), 1958, Germany, cologne based DJ and producer, warm techno-derived to ambient production, tools: Reason 4, MPC2000, Pro Tools & Komplete

France Jobin (i8u), 1958, France/Canada, minimal digital music composer, audio art, using today ableton live, doepfer ms-404, analogue solution filter, korg ES-1, korg poly 800, morpheus emulator, releases on LINE label

Miya Masaoka,1958, US (japanese descent), electro-acoustic, works for koto and electronics, field recordings, laptop, video and written scores for ensembles, chamber orchestras and mixed choirs

born in 1960s
Gudrun Gut, 1960, Germany, founding member of Einstuerzende Neubauten, Malaria!, Monika Enterprise, first solo record 2006, techno song writer, uses sampling and Ableton live for production

Kaffe Matthews, 1961, UK, is an influential sound artist and digital music composer, multi-channel composition, uses Lisa software and Max, founded ‘Music for Bodies’ and builds sonic furniture

Ana-Maria Avram,1961, Romania, spectral music style. spectral, acousmatic, heterophonic and transformational. electronic music and computer assisted music.

Valerie Olukemi A "Kemi" Olusanya (Kemistry),1963-1999, UK, pioneering drum’n bass as part of the DJ duo Kemistry & Storm, Metalheadz founder and substantial to the genre

Jane Conneely (DJ Storm), highly regarded as the first lady of drum ‘n bass, founding Metalheadz back in the early 90's, favorite piece of equipment: Technics 1210 Mark II, involved with Feline, a collective of DJs and MCs who are all female

Saskia Slegers (Miss Djax), 1962, Netherlands, Techno & Acid DJ, founder of Djax Records

Susanne Kirchmayr (Electric Indigo), 1965, Austria, DJ, composer, musician, spatial-temporal placement of subtly textured sounds, founded the international collective female:pressure

Riz Maslen (Neotropic), 1965, UK, keyboardist, built a home studio early 90ies, collaborated with 4hero and Future Sound of London, now Ableton Live, zoom H4N digital recorder, Reason

Tone Åse, 1965, Norway, working with both electronic sound processing and acoustic sound on voice

Barbara Hallama (Barbnerdy), 1965, Germany, DJ in Munich 1990ies garage parties today cultural initiator for Berlin "Support Your Local Ghetto", publishes mixes extensively on Soundcloud

Björk Guðmundsdóttir (Björk), 1965, electronic music producer and song writer, connected UK club sound with elaborate song writing and innovative production, influential record 1993 “Debut”

Merrill Beth Nisker (Peaches), 1968, Canada, beat and song writer, pioneering beats, sexuality, otherness, video artist, influential record: “The Teaches Of Peaches”

“I was interested in notes, the minimal one note, i guess more like a bass player... very simple.” Peaches in the video interviews on Her Noise Archive

Bev Stanton (Arthur Loves Plastic, ALP), born 1966, Bahamas, downtempo electronica, queer culture

Vicky Bennett (People Like Us), 1967, UK, music & sound collagist, radio maker, multimedia artist, sound films, currently WFMU radio show ‘DO or DIY’

Keiko Uenishi (o.blaat), 19??, Japan/USA, known for her works formed through experiments in restructuring and analyzing one's relationship with sounds in sociological, cultural, and/or psychological environments

Ellen Fratz (Ellen Allien), 1968, Berlin techno DJ with her own label and network Bpitch Control

Andrea Polli, 1968, US, digital media artist, addresses issues related to science and technology in contemporary society

Terre Thaemlitz, 1968, USA, critically combines themes of identity politics - including gender, sexuality, class, linguistics, ethnicity and race - with an ongoing critique of the socio-economics include electroacoustic computer music, club-oriented deep house and more

Marina Rosenfeld, 1968, US, sound artist and visual artist, influential turntable-as-instrument work

Iris Garrelfs, 1969, Germany/UK, composer and performer of raw voice into machine noises, curator of SPRAWL series

Beth Coleman (DJ Singe), 1969, US, co-founder and in-house DJ of SoundLab, innovative turntablism arts group dedicated to creating location-specific performances of sound and visual art, master stylist of illbient

born in 1970s
Sachiko Matsubara (Sachiko M), 1970, Japan, minimal electronic composition, Sine wave Solo (1999)

Barbara Morgenstern, 1971, Germany, beat-blasting hardcore electronic music and songwriter, first wave bedroom producer movement in Berlin

Rekha Malhotra (DJ Rekha), 1971, UK/US, almost solely responsible for putting Bhangra music on the western plate-os-phere, DJ, producer, curator, and activist, fuses the Indian genre of Bhangra music with international hip-hop and drum beats. runs an infamous club night in NY, also an activist

Bevin Kelley (Blevin Blectum), 1971, US, electronic crazy laptop punk, multimedia composer, works with Ableton Live, ProTools, Max/MSP/Jitter, Apogee Duet

Monika Kruse, 1971, Germany, successful Techno- DJ, Music producer and Record Label owners

Leila Arab (Leila), 1971, Iran/UK, IDM derived personal irregular ambient, electronic pop

Andrea Parker, 1971, Britain, DJ and club music producer, sampling, remixes, bass, listening tip: Ballbreaker

Jo Thomas, 1972, UK, multi speaker systems and writes for vinyl, tape cassette and digital media. Golden Nica in Digital Music from Prix Ars Electronica, releases on Entr'acte label

Maja (Solveig Kjelstrup) Ratkje, 1973, Norway, composer and performer, expressive voice in digital music, electro-acoustic composition, part of the noise band ‘Fe-mail’, releases Rune Grammophone

Caroline Hervé (Miss Kittin), 1973, France, electro clash DJ, singer, and songwriter

Tara Rodgers (Analog Tara), 1973, Canada, DJ and electronic musician, writing about sound and audio technologies in important book: Pink Noises

Nicole Lizée, 1973, Canada, composition with unorthodox instrument combinations that include the Atari 2600 video game console, omnichords, stylophones, reel-to-reel machines, Simon and Merlin hand held games, and karaoke tapes

Jessica Rylan, (Can't), 1974, US, design and builds modular analog synthesizers, rhythm boxes and distortion pedals, founded Flower Electronic, producing editions of her instruments, first of its kind

Missrepresent, UK, drum & bass DJ and producer, perfected the art of production, now working alongside as part of Silent Code

Chantal Passamonte (Mira Calix), 1974, South Africa/UK, composer, performer, DJ and sound artist, using cubase, melodyne, Roland SH101 vintage synthesizer, releases on Warp records

Jennifer Cardini, 1974, France, DJ and producer living in Cologne, Germany
Esther Venrooy, 1974, The Netherlands, audio art, employing electronic and digital techniques in compositions, work at the IPEM (Institute for Psycho-acoustics and Electronic Music)

Johanna Fateman (Le Tigre, Swim With the Dolphins), 1974, USA, keyboards and samples, made a five-song cassette entitled "the struggle for the full exercise of woman's equality" (1999)

Hild Sofie Tafjord, 1974, Norway, electroacoustic noise music, experimental electronics, also part of Spunk and noise duo Fe-mail

Yôko Higashi (hamaYôko), 1974 , Japan/ France, fearless electronic music production and composition, unique, acousmatic anarchistic, pitch-transposed atonal chanting, samples, distortions and paroxysmal rhythms

Heidi Mortenson, 1975, Denmark, electronic song writer, singer and producer, skilled energetic live performer, entertainer, advanced live sample beatbox-to beat technics, live processing, employs wide range of outboard effects, mixing and loop technics

“I think there is a lot of women in electronic music... invisible women” Heidi Mortenson

Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam (M.I.A.), 1975, UK/Sri Lanka, multimedia artist, pioneering “rest-of-the-world” view approach in off-club music, off-rapper

Magdalena Chojnacka (Magda), 1975, Poland/US, minimal techno DJ/producer, close to Minus label

Sara (That Fucking Sara), 1975, Denmark, early turntablist, enriched nightlife with Hip Hop, disco, electro, grime, jazz, soul, italo disco in Copenhagen and Berlin home studio includes technics 1210 and a ecler 360 HAK battle mixer, logic, MPC 2000 and maschine

“Wow, this is made by black people and brown people and ... when the kids were teasing in school, I had my records, this is how I started.” That Fucking Sara in Interview on vimeo

Manuela Barile, Italy/Portugal, works in the rural region of the mountain range of Gralheira (S. Pedro do Sul Municipality), place-based projects working in social sound, sound in community

Tujiko Noriko, 1976, Japan, unique electronica song writer and film maker, releases on Mego, favorite gear MPC 2000

Ryoko Akama, 1976, Japan/UK, diverse composer, digital music to electro-acoustic, ecology of sound, develops personal instruments, involves Geiger counter in her work

Ami Yoshida, 1976, Japan, extreme variety of vocalisation, electro-acoustic performance

Chloé Thévenin (DJ Chloe), 1976, France, DJ, artist and composer aiming to make dance floor more beautiful, softer, more intelligent, more open

Gina V. D'Orio, 1976, Germany, main former vocalist from German Digital Hardcore band EC8OR and member of Cobra Killer, distorted electronic hard core production

Alexandra Cardenas,1976, Columbia, live coder, passions for code and her electric guitar &supercollider. live coding scene in Mexico City.

“As a programmer I always think ... it is very important to know the rules, to break them and then create your own rules.” Alexandra Cardenas

Jam Rostron (Planningtorock), UK, queer synth pop electronica songwriting, expanding gender perception

Jocelyn Samson (JD Samson), 1978, US, producer, songwriter and DJ best known as a member of the bands Le Tigre and the MEN, electro-activists Ultra-Disco, supporting the Occupy movement

Kristin Erickson (Kevin Blechdom), 1978, US, experimental electronic musician/performance artist low fi, pop distortion, noise, comedy-laptop anarchy

Natalie Beridze (TBA), 1979, Georgia, innovative self producing electronic musician, unique crossover of techno, indie, classical influences, film scores, writes all her music in FL Studio

Laura Escudé (Alluxe) , 1979, US, violinist, music producer, composer, controller-ist, music technologist and Ableton Certified Trainer, designed and played shows for Jay-z and Kanye West

born in 1980s
Sara Abdel-Hamid (Ikonika), 1980, UK, electronic musician, producer, DJ, garage and house, dubstep,releases on label Hyperdub

Maria Chavez, 1980, Peru, sound artist, abstract turntablist, curator and DJ based in NYC, uses broken vinyl

Helena Gough, 1980, UK, powerful expressive musique concrète for 21 century, using REAPER and Ableton Live & midi controllers, listening tip: Mikroklimata on Entr’acte label website

Kataryna Zavoloka, 1981, Ukraine, electronic producer, performer and sound artist, crisp IDM influenced production, unique color, interweaves sampling of ukrainian folk elements using instruments from Waldorf, Dave Smith - and Native Instruments.

Hildur Ingveldardóttir Guðnadóttir (Hildurness), 1982, Iceland, use of cello in drone and noise music, live ableton live, SoftStep MIDI controller

Merrisa Campbell (Cooly G), 1982, UK, diverse DJ and remix artist, Dub Organizer, genre-defying, bass-influenced R&B laced tracks, releases in Hyperdub

Rosa Menkman, 1983 , Netherlands, artist/theorist who focuses on accidents in both analogue and digital media, called glitches, compressions, feedback and other forms of noise

Asma Maroof, (DJ Asma, one half of Nguzunguzu), tour DJ for M.I.A.‘s, mixed the Vicki Leekx mixtape Style: Futuristic Global Bass classily hybrid club music. bass music, tropical/global bass, trap, seapunk, moombahton, and other internet-spawned genres. mixed hip-hop and other kinds of dance music

“We started collaborating with an MPC-2000, an Alesis synth, and a contact mic - basically improvising for hours and hours and recording it all to cassette tape.” Asma Maroof Interview for Red Bull Music Academy

Maya Jane Coles, 1987, UK, music producer, audio engineer and DJ, also part in an electronic dub duo called She Is Danger with Lena Cullen

Vicky Wickenden (Lady V Dubz), UK, London drum & bass. founding members of the Feminine Takeover movement alongside MC Lady Blazer

Claire Boucher (Grimes), 1988, Canada, beat and song writer, instruments are keyboards and synthesizers, utilizes looping and layering techniques, particularly with vocals; many of her songs feature layers of over fifty different vocal tracks which create an "ethereal" sound, just signed to Jay-Z’s label

“performing live? ...All the same gear I use to record—a Roland Juno-G, a Roland SP 404 sampler, a BOSS VE-20 vocal looper, and a Line 6 M9 pedal.” Grimes


Lina Bautista, Live composition built up with amplified sounds from the environment, the voice and the generation of algorithms for processing and location in space.
Kate Simko, US/UK, minimal house producer, composer
Tinker, US, original, melodic take on instrumental hip-hop and beat-driven bass music
Laurel Halo, USA, electronic musician written techno, ambient, and synth pop, utilizing synthesizers, drum machines and samplers, as well as voice, piano, electric guitar and violin.
Holly Herndon, USA, digital music, laptop and software based production and performance
Christina Ryat (RYAT), US, producer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and sound manipulator on live electronics, instruments, pedals, and software, signed to Brainfeeder
Jessy Lanza, UK, electronic RnB influenced club music with haunting vocals
Christine Clements (Vaccine), US, dubstep producer, releases on Hotflush and Nonplus
Ema Jolly (Emika), UK, Czech, composer and sound designer, Native Instruments, releases on Ninja Tune label, new, dark, downtempo dubstep
Kyoka, Japan, heavy-rough sound, resulting in a broken pop-beat with experimental yet danceable rhythms, started with tape recorder as her toy, cutting, editing later synthesizers/computers released her debut on raster-noton collective in 2012
Kito & Reija Lee, Australia, producer duo for dubstep-pop tunes
Nina Kravitz, minimal techno DJ and producer
Jennifer Lee (Tokimonsta), US, DJ and producer from LA, utilizing live instruments, percussion, digital manipulation, and dusty vinyl. live on Mac, Akai APC40, MicroKorg XL
Ferhiwot Tadesse (DJ Lee), 1988, Ethiopia, DJ and radio maker in Ethiopia

Sources: books, colleagues, networks, the internet, more specifically:

Pink Noises/ women in electronic music by Tara Rodgers
Keathley, Elizabeth L. (2009). Women Composers and Music Technology in the United States: Crossing the Line. Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture, Volume 13. ISSN 1553-0612
Christine Ammer (2001). Unsung: a history of women in American music.

Thanks to the network of Female:Pressure!

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