Synth Babe… Because of the Internet

Interview With Anya Trybala

by Rachel Ang

Photography — David Lindberg

Hi Anya! Thanks so much for agreeing to talk to us about women in
electronic music, and
Synth Babe in particular. Let’s begin with your
motivations. What series of inspirations, influences, education or events lead to you becoming a musician? At what point do you think your ‘creative career’ began?

When I was little I absorbed a lot of awesome music — CDs, tapes and
records were the bomb. My folks immigrated from Poland in 1980 to
Perth with very little in tow except their clothes, record collection
and old photos — they were both obsessed with 70s rock and synth
music. Dad has a box collection of Pink Floyd and I remember being so
haunted by all the cover art — they were so incredibly abstract and
weird and I would just stare at them and listen to the music for
hours. I remember music classes over anything else in primary school
- something we all had to do was bring in songs we loved and then
everyone had to listen and pick out all the instruments in each song,
which I loved — I had an ear for it and started playing the trumpet -
a pretty hard instrument to play and my lips were so tender after
playing, but I was a pretty rock solid band geek by the time I got to
high school and joined all those choirs and stuff.

Anya with her dad. Photo provided by ANYA TRYBALA

I went through a tough time when I was 16 + but it kind of sparked the
songwriting bug

— my boyfriend David took his life and to deal with
the grief I started producing my first songs — I generally need to be
triggered by something to write, it doesn’t come completely naturally
to me. Fiddling in Ableton and making sounds is something I do
regularly, but actually writing lyrics is a whole other situation.
Just recently I wrote two songs I am a Criminal and Walls just one
week after Trump was inaugrated and will launch these under my Ninoosh
moniker later this year — so I’m highly sensitive to situations and
then the music comes as a means of catharsis I think. So music has
always been a part of my life — in ebbs and flows with it now being
something pretty constant and fulfilling — maybe because I’ve put the
pressure off and just doing what I love with no one managing what I do
- or deadlines!

How do you find being a woman in the male-dominated world of electronic music, or music in general? Do you think there are any perks that come with being female?

I am just so tired of reading about it, discussing it and all that. I
just want to take action. Not sure if there are perks, but I love
connecting with other women-folk who make music as there is this kind
of bond, which is powerful.

What lead you to see a need for Synth Babe Records? Can you tell us a bit about how it’s run, and how you meet all the different and varied artists?

I wanted to release my own music on my own label for a start — but I
also saw a need for other emerging artists to get a leg-up. Just want
to be more of a platform really and shy away from traditional models!
I meet most artists through networks online and some IRL: p

What are the biggest challenges that you encountered in starting up Synth Babe?

Well, there is no shortage of artists to help get out there — it’s the
actual distribution of music that I’m finding hard at the moment — and
lack of money. I’m also going on instinct rather than actual industry
experience, so a lot of trial and error and a lot of experimentation.
It’s all fun though.

You and I met through the labyrinth of internet! I needed to really think hard to recall the series of events, but we came into contact because I’m a writer and I got a press release about your EP from a publicist, via an editor — and I guess through some sense of kinship through being female creatives from Melbourne we stayed in touch and support each other in our various pursuits.

While it’s common practice to complain about the internet and how it is eroding the very threads of our social fabric, I like to focus on its positive aspects. There’s so many of us who owe our creative career and successes, however small, to the power of the internet and social media. How has it changed things for you?

Well, when we spoke, I was living in the Swedish countryside in the
middle of the forest pretty much — but I had my laptop with my wifi
and after launching this whole synth babe caper, so many artists
started contacting me, so that was really rad — when I was hanging out
in a small town.

I try and embrace the good stuff and ignore the awful
news happening at the moment — I just don’t know what to believe
anymore, it’s become a bit of a joke. It does keeps me connected
though.

Just this morning I got an email from Iara Torres, where we
met on Instagram about a year ago and she actually got a grant from
the Mexican government to come and hang out in Europe. She lives in a
small town in Mexico and is a synth lover also.Her music is beautiful
and I hope we can collaborate. She got an arts grant and will come
here. That is powerful stuff I reckon!

Photography — David Lindberg, Drummer — Clay Ketter (who is actually a pretty famous visual artist — his studio is so rad!)

We’ve spoken in the past about the idea of the “girl gang”, online or irl,
and it’s potential to inspire and empower. Can you tell us a bit more
about your experiences with building your own “girl gang” and how it’s influenced you?

Yep, the online girl gang is a powerful thing when done in a positive
way …

— bullying on the other hand is atrocious. When we band together
beautiful things happen. By making compilations in the last year -
Babes of…Melbourne in collaboration with Node Techno Collective and
Synth Babe Records Volume 1 — I ‘met’ about 30 new artists all with
their own sound.

I’m also a part of female:pressure — a network of around 2000 electronic music artists from all over the planet who are so passionate and active in creating more gender equality —

but we have a long way to go to achieve any sort of parity. But things are
moving. Plus, artists that were emerging, like Mila Dietrich and Ok
Sure, who I worked with last year are really kicking goals, so good to
see.

Photography — David Lindberg, Festival — Dunka dunkers Festival — Dunkers Kulturhus, Helsingborg, Sweden

We’re living in a media-saturated time in which people expect to get
music, tv, books etc for free. Which definitely adds another pressure to
the life of the creative — how do we prove to people that it’s worth
paying for what we make — that it has economic value? How have you
approached this with Synth Babe — how do you fund projects and get the word out?

I work a day job at the moment but one that feeds me creatively and
doesn’t stress me out too much — for the bills to be paid and for my
sanity. I like routine and think this is a healthy way to slowly build
this thing.

Eventually I want to create a more sustainable approach to
it all, but these early years you just have to use your instincts and
invest wisely — and work your ass off to get anywhere!

What are your long-term goals with Synth Babe Records?

To build a platform for emerging artists, both audio and visual to get
booked easier and to just keep building this thing — it’s more of a
collective and movement than a traditional record label, which were
initially set up to benefit the business side of things, not the artists. Personally I am making more music than ever under my Ninoosh
moniker and want to get my live show up and running here in Sweden -
but I just love seeing people killing it! Maybe curate Synth Babe
stages at festivals? Fun merchandise? Lots of good stuff! More
compilations. Release music on vinyl as I love vinyl and that has
always been a bit of a dream.

What are you listening to lately? What young artists are on your radar?

I am listening to Hija De Mama Flora, Yollks, Anne Van de Star, The
Fleurs, Mila Dietrich, Tarsier and when I need a good dose of techno -
tchntx (which is another alias from Akaysha AKA Ok Sure) BUOY and
Qualia — who I just discovered on Unearthed. Here in Sweden a band
called Swim and artist called Raindear are super sweet. I also love
Cecilia Nordlund, she rocks.

What advice would you give to young female or non-binary musicians — or to aspiring creatives in general?

The first thing, as many creatives do have to deal with
hypersensitivity or other mental health conditions — try and get this
kind of stuff under control — it can eat you up otherwise.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 Disorder at 29 and just wish I had it under
more control earlier in my life as I was always very creative but my
moods ruled me and destroyed my self-esteem — I was a perfectionist
and this was actually pretty toxic. Sometimes making a list of other
women who inspire you can help — and finding good mentors! Which is
why it’s so important for industries like music to have more role
models.

Listen to Ninoosh here and follow Synth Babe here

Yen Taylor is an Aussie freelance writer & illustrator living in the UK, accessibility, disability, equality, mental health, creativity & culture.