#19 Women in Music: Laura Alluxe Escudé (Kanye West, Iggy Azalea)

AlluxeLaura Alluxe Escudé is not a normal artist. Neither is she a normal sound engineer, a normal producer, or a normal violinist. She certainly isn't a normal DJ.

You might be getting the point, that Escudé has a lot of titles under her belt. Becoming known as a solo artist in her own right, she also has a killer history of collaboration which has taken her to the heights of Kanye West's stage since 2011. Escudé works for the star as a live music programmer. Alongside West, she's worked with Iggy AzaleaSelena GomezThe WeekndSolange, Garbage and Drake, not to mention indie royalty in the form of Yeah Yeah YeahsCat PowerBon IverM83 and Silversun Pickups. Um, yeah. To say we're daunted at the prospect of speaking to her is somewhat of an understatement.

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Yet Escudé is as down to earth as she is shamefully unknown. Undoubtedly well loved and respected within the music industry, she's not yet a household name, and you would expect that given all that she's managed to achieve.

"First of all, I work onstage and offstage," Escudé asserts, when asked to define her role. "With certain artists I do DJ with them and perform with them. There’s a little bit of a misconception with a lot of people, like, “Oh, you’re offstage,” and in the past that has been the case with certain artists."

It's not surprising that people can be confused by her role as a controllerist. Escudé herself avoids the term, opting instead for titles that Joe Public (ourselves included) will no doubt better understand: musical director, musician, producer, programmer, DJ... She's all of these things.

"I got into live performance from being a performer myself," Laura says, recounting how she grew into such a diverse role. "I’ve been playing violin since I was five, which continued at school. [I] fell in love with electronic music and started performing violin, and playing violin over other people’s music. And then [I] just really got into producing music, producing my own music, learning how to create sounds that were in my head. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2004, I got a job working at this company called M-Audio in the technical support there, and also teaching quite a bit, teaching people how to produce music in programs like Pro Tools, Reason, that kind of thing."

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"That led to me working at the software company Ableton."

Ableton was an undeniably important stepping stone for Escudé, who frequently performs under the name of Alluxe. The company have supported her in more ways than one: hiring her to help promote their work but also giving her the skills she needed at the time to develop as a producer and - cough - controllerist.

"I worked at Ableton for a year, and then I became certified in Ableton in 2008. I was actually one of the first people that was certified in the program. Back then it wasn’t as popular, but people started reaching out to me to design and program live shows.One of the first calls I got was from Cirque du Soleil in Vegas. I went to Vegas for four months, and I started learning how to program, and it just kind of went from there. I started getting referrals to work with a lot of different artists."

"It just went from there" probably seems like an understatement, and definitely, Alluxe had talent on her side. However you get the sense from speaking to her, that her down to earth-ness echoes the serene nature of her career. She really has rolled with it.

"It’s been interesting," Escudé rounds up. "I do wear a lot of the hats."

To help raise awareness of her field, extend her knowledge to others and relieve some of the pressure, Escudé has created a new company in the form of  Electronic Creatives: "I’ve been training other people in the company to take over some of the roles that I’ve had, and oversee them and work with them, so it kind of runs the gamut. I will go out for a few days and help design a show, and they will stay on the tour and operate it and that kind of thing. That’s been a great way for me to still keep my foot in the door of the industry and keep my clients that I have happy, and also still be able to focus on what I want to focus on."

Teaching seems to come naturally to Escudé, and so to round off the interview, we ask the inevitable and cliched: what advice does she has for others?

"I guess just to figure out what it is that makes you tick, and what turns you on, and what you feel most alive doing, because I’ve often thought, “If I could just focus on one thing, then I’d be really super-badass at that one thing.” For me, I really do love doing all these different things, and the way they blur together, that kind of makes me who I am, and that’s unique."

Find out more about Laura Alluxe Escudé here and Ableton here.

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