When I was thinking about who I wanted to interview for a blog about feminism, Katie Welch was one of the first people to come to mind. She has built her impressive and burgeoning career as a singer-songwriter and producer from the ground up. Welch has even become a household name in certain parts of Los Angeles.
You can often find her performing at one of L.A.’s many music and nightlife venues. Her song, “Something in the Water” with DJ Shitty Princess, has over one million streams on Spotify. Her last EP, The New Renaissance, was featured in Flaunt Magazine. She was one of the headlining performers for the grand opening of Delilah at the Wynn Las Vegas. She played several shows at SXSW and even did a private concert for Britney Spears, one of her idols, along with Cher and Janet Jackson.
In addition to being an inspirationally hard worker, Welch is an exceptionally analytical and spiritual person. So, naturally, she had a lot of strong opinions to share on the changing role of women in the music industry. She took time out of her busy schedule to chat with me about her thoughts and experience.
On What Feminism Means to Her
“Feminism is not about women over men,” says Welch. “Feminism is about balance and the knowledge that we all (men and women) have both feminine and masculine energy.
“For me, as a woman, this is a very exciting time to be alive and to be in the music business. I’m loving all the little shifts that are leading to one much larger shift. Music had been a boys club for a long time. A woman’s voice has just as much right to have a seat at the table. It’s not that you have to take away a seat from someone else. We just have to build a bigger table. The patriarchal concept of competition-for-success is that you have to step on somebody else to get ahead. In reality, there is enough success to go around for everyone. It’s the same way a mother loves all her children equally but is still able to celebrate their differences.”
Welch’s mother analogy lends itself well to Katie’s view that women in the music industry are pitted against each other in a way that men often are not…
On the Lie of Competition for Success
“[From the industry’s view], Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera couldn’t both be great. It had to be one or the other. Whereas men don’t have that same sort of competition within the court of public opinion.”
On Britney Spears’s Conservatorship Battle as a Means of Control
“It’s been so crazy to watch Britney’s story unfold to the public. For so many young girls, she was the ultimate bad girl. It’s so crazy to realize how scrutinized she was for doing things so much less scandalous than men at the time.
“There has always been a huge imbalance when it comes to understanding women’s innate power. We have been snuffed out and diminished in a way that has hurt not only women but also men. We will all be better and happier and healthier when we can see the value in equal opportunity.”
On Janet Jackson and the Super Bowl Incident
“She was entirely blamed for that like it was entirely her fault,” says Welch. “That would never happen today. There are so many amazing pioneering women shifting the paradigm right now,” she says.
In particular, Welch mentioned two organizations that are leading the way for female empowerment within the music industry.
The first is FEMME HOUSE, which fosters more equitable opportunities for women and gender-expansive individuals in the technical and behind-the-scenes areas of music. According to their site, they are creating the future producers, mixers, engineers, DJs, artists, and executives of the industry by providing education and scholarships, cultivating community, propagating visual representation, and offering professional development opportunities.
The second is Women in Music, an organization with a mission to advance the awareness, equality, diversity, heritage, opportunities, and cultural aspects of women in the musical arts through education, support, empowerment, and recognition.
Has the Industry Changed Since She Started?
“Oh my God, yes. One thousand percent. When I first started out, I was doing the hustle and getting into writing camps. It was usually me and a bunch of dudes. As a young girl, that was an intimidating position to be in, especially when people are Grammy Award winners and billboard charting; you think, well, I guess I should just listen to whatever you say.”
Welch’s shyness did not last long, though. She recounts one moment in particular that she feels illustrates the way women still have to fight in male-led industries.
“I’ve been in a room where someone slapped their Grammy on the table and said, ‘everyone sleeps their way to the top.’ And at that moment, I could have succumbed to that situation out of fear that I was missing my one chance if I didn’t do that. Thank God my wonderful parents always made me feel supported. In that moment, I said, ‘Okay, well, I’m not going to do that. We’re either going to make a record, or I’m going to leave.'”
Welch continues to live by her philosophy of knowing her self-worth.
“If something doesn’t feel right in your soul,” she says, “Then don’t do it.”
Welch shared an inspirational message for women, not just in music but in any male-dominated industry.
“This is such an amazing time in music and in history for women to show the world what we’re made of because we are being tested right and left, especially in this country. I mean, what in the Handmaid’s Tale is going on? Hell no. It’s time to show our strength and our power.
By building community and supporting each other, we are really going to shift the paradigm. In a patriarchal society, it’s all about achievement and success and competition. In a feminist society, it’s all about supporting each other and lifting each other up and celebrating our differences. That’s what makes life interesting. That’s what makes music interesting. Different perspectives. So the more voices that can be heard, the more expansive and beautiful our world is going to become.”
Welch would like to extend a special thanks to the queer community for their continued and vital support of women in music and media.
A book Welch recommends is Pussy: A Reclamation by Regena Thomashauer.
You can follow her life and career on Instagram.