Fort Collins artist, Zembu’s latest release, Mixed, explores the complexities of being mixed race and her journey of understanding what that means more fully. This single is co-produced by Zembu and jackLNDN featuring Colton Boening on guitar.
“Reconnecting with my racial and cultural identities has been a journey of healing and feeling more whole as a human. Spiritually and mentally, I’ve been learning how to hold how my ancestry has simultaneously harmed and been harmed. It’s a constant journey of learning and unlearning,” says Zembu on her Instagram. “I am so grateful for this journey. The deeper and growing awareness of my identities is helping me understand who I am in this world and what that means in different contexts.”
Zembu is a female music producer in Northern Colorado who creates music but also shares her knowledge with others. In March, she is virtually programming Beats by Girlz Fort Collins to bring music production education and mentorship to girls and gender-expansive youth ages 14-18 in Larimer and Weld counties. “I am passionate about getting more women, trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming individuals involved in music production,” says Zembu. “I was connected with Beats by Girlz through some folks at The Music District, and through conversation, I decided to start a chapter here in Northern Colorado! Shout out to The Music District for making aligned connections.”
Beats by Girlz is a 10-week course that uses the Soundtrap curriculum combined with Google Classrooms for assignments. The cohort is limited to 4-6 students. All instructors are women, trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming music producers. “We recognize that seeing yourself reflected back at you in music technology and leadership roles is immensely powerful, and we focus on hiring with that in mind,” says Zembu. “This course has been set up for beginners and is focused on creating the music that you like! It’s going to be a fun, relaxed, and low-pressure environment.”
Soundtrap is an online digital audio workstation (DAW) used in any web browser to create music and podcasts. The students don’t need to download any software. Soundtrap is user-friendly. The students can share music projects live with teachers and other students similar to the way you can in Google Docs.
Through the course of ten weeks, the students learn how to produce their own songs. The girlz will touch on basic music theory, create beats, chords, and melodies, learn to record instruments and vocals, engage in songwriting, and learn how to collaborate. The students have weekly assignments between lessons. Each student is paired with a woman, trans, non-binary, or gender-nonconforming music industry expert for a couple of mentorship sessions throughout the course.
Beats by Girlz Fort Collins provide all equipment and have full and partial scholarships available. To sign-up for the program and request financial support, you can fill out the application here (https://beatsbygirlz.org/bbg-fort-collins/). Towards the end of the application, there is a question to request a partial or full scholarship.
“First and foremost, I hope students have fun and have a space to explore themselves creatively — especially during these incredibly difficult times. I so wish there was a program like this when I was younger,” says Zembu. “I didn’t even allow myself to think it was possible to be a music producer until my adult years! I really hope participants are able to see and internalize that it is an option to see themselves as music producers and/or in the music technology industry by the end of the 10-weeks.”