Producer TRAKGIRL is on an uphill battle to settle into her deserved tier in the music industry.
Through seductive pieces like Jhene Aiko’s “Overstimulated” and Luke James’ slow, symphonic lament to loneliness “Pearls”, TRAKGIRL exudes her emotionally sophisticated personality in the world of production.
I got the chance to catch up with TRAKGIRL we spoke on her music career, upcoming projects, and love for all things technology.
Conversation with TRAKGIRL flows free and easy, much like the persona she exudes on social media: talented, artistic, and approachable.
Whether you know it or not, you’ve probably heard one of her songs. She’s worked with current artists like Omarion, Tiffany Evans, Luke James, Jhene Aiko, and Timbaland, to name a few.
She always knew she liked music. Shakari ‘TRAKGIRL’ Boles comes from a family of musicians. Originally from the sunny palm beaches of Florida, her family moved over to the governmental DMV area when she was still young.
As she shares in a previous interview, her mother had always played classical instruments. It was at the age of 15 that Shakari began her research on complex sound interfaces such as AKAI LPD 16, teaching herself the module of percussive instruments.
It was during this time she pursued her love for music, discovering the nuances of sound through some of her favorite R&B legends: Prince, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Timbaland, Missy Elliot, and Pharrell.
“I love creating with my friends,” she tells me matter-of-factly.
Female music producers are on the come up. The music industry is a tough-love kind of space, with the need for many tweaks and adjustments when it comes to new artists.
Some are moving past the stigmas and entanglements that come with finding their fit in the industry. Others start off in a different direction.
Although her music is considered R&B, TRAKGIRL seems to have taken a spin at her own sound. While she focuses her singles around the R&B and alternative genre, some may describe her sound capabilities as genre-less.
“I like to pull at heart strings,” she tells us of her emotionally charged beats.
As for a record deal, TRAKGIRL is enjoying keeping it single by remaining unsigned.
“I’m taking my time when it comes to that. I’m big on compensation and being treated and paid fairly.”
Of course, this is where the movement Pay Us Today comes in.
What started off as some merchandise turned into something so much bigger. Pay Us Today has expanded to a unified message for everyone in the music industry.
After a few fellow producer friends warned her of the issues that remain persistent throughout the stories of various artists, such as not getting credited or paid at all, TRAKGIRL decided to ensure her worth.
“It’s a systematic issue that Pay Us Today recognizes occurs for everyone in the music industry.”
Originally starting as a platform for a unified message on merchandise, Pay Us Today’s dream can be summed up into its opening sentence statement:
“Give credit where it’s due.”
Now, Pay Us Today is expanding, moving forward to becoming an educational platform for women involved in the music industry.
“Over the years I’ve watched my friends fight through the daily journey of surviving as a creative [producer, artist, etc.] and it’s given the perception of how the music industry sometimes undervalues creatives.”
Recently, TRAKGIRL was the panelist for the NAMM conference with Women’s Audio Mission, speaking on the method of recreating blockbuster albums for concert tours. Moving forward, she hopes to work with more female-focused organizations and shed light on women in the industry.
“I’m doing a few speaking engagements the next couple of months that I’m really excited about. The goal is to hopefully open doors and bring access to women who want to be producers and engineers and get into the industry and maneuver in a male dominated industry. We have to build some type of protective blanket for us. I want the conversations that are happening to continue.”
I mention gaming. We bond over our love for it, she laughs and refers to herself as a “super nerd.” TRAKGIRL tells me that she’s been playing The Last of Us lately and shouts out her favorite innovative corporations, sharing an agile dream of designing her own tech equipment.
“I’m a super nerd! Again partnerships is key for me this year. So I’ve been focused on tapping into music tech. I’m interested in innovative products that enhances my workflow and creation. I’m a fan of companies like Native Instruments, Spectrasonics, Moog to name a few… I recently was invited to the ROLI house at the NAMM conference and got to try some really cool products. Who knows… Maybe I’ll design my own equipment or software one day.”
She hopes to have her own record label one day and claims that her ownership of her art is what’s most important to her when it comes time for work. Until then, we have many more years of authentic music production to look forward to.
“Ownership is important. Building something from the ground up has been my thing. It feels good to build something from the ground up.”
I ask TRAKGIRL if we have anything else to look forward to this year, like her partnership with fellow collaborative artists Crystal Caines. She leaves us with an enticing answer with just enough ambiguity to leave you hanging onto her last word.
“Definitely working. Mystery has always been my thing, but I’m currently working on something this month, next month and the months beyond.”
For everyone out there who plans on taking any industry head on, she has some advice.
“Never compromise, stay true to yourself and keep pushing have faith.”