Project Traction

Barbara: “For Good Measure” (co-prod. Briana Harris)

Save for those with seemingly disposable resources, often nonprofits get stuck in their original stomping grounds. So when a local endeavor expands enough to inspire, incorporate, and impact folks far beyond their initial reach, it’s cause for celebration.

That brings us back to Project Traction, spearheaded by our personal favorite philogynist audiophile – Spoon drummer/Public Hi Fi producer-engineer Jim Eno. Through Project Traction, female and gender-fluid musicians pair up, put fresh perspectives in the producer’s chair and find middle ground with all-women artists. And sure, Eno is present to provide technical expertise and a keen editorial ear during these sessions, but really, it’s the women who turn Project Traction into such magic. Sadly though, the depressing lack of women-on-women productions isn’t just limited to the creators of Central Texas.

Thankfully though, Project Traction’s already gained enough ground to grow past Austin’s city limits and all the way up to Colorado. And the forthcoming Project Traction: Volume Two kicks off today with a pairing of Producer Briana Harris (alto saxophonist of Greeley soul nonet The Burroughs) with Denver indie rock trio Barbara. Together alongside Eno, Briana and Baraba have mind melded the masterfully-mixed, super moody “For Good Measure”. It starts off as a pretty simple, straightforward indie rocker, but just past the halfway point, the dynamics shift, the arrangement gets more abstract, and the overall artistry goes off the wall all the way to its beautifully abrupt final chord. Well done, ladies. Well done.

The Vapor Caves: “Sacrifice”

Happy Women’s History Month! If you weren’t already aware, over the past year Spoon drummer/Public Hi-Fi producer Jim Eno has been helping to write a new chapter in Women’s History through Project Traction. By opening the doors to Public Hi-Fi and offering a seat behind the board, Eno’s given female and non-binary musicians the skills and know-how to advance their careers and improve representation for their marginalized demographic in the production world. Since finding its footing, this admirable experiment has also provided some unexpected pairings with remarkable results. And from the variety of sounds you can tell Jim’s mainly there to facilitate things rather than steer collaborations in any particular direction, which is awesome in terms of women’s autonomy in this male-dominated realm. But like mud-stuck tires, you simply can’t go full speed ahead to gain any real ground, which is why Project Traction’s singles have trickled out one at a time up until now. At the end of next month, PT receives its first formal compilation, appropriately titled Project Traction Volume 1. It hits wax on April 25th, and limited vinyl copies will be available at Waterloo Records. Rounding out the first edition is a real retro-inspired dirty-disco/tech-house banger that takes cues from Teddy Pendergrass’ “You Can’t Hide From Yourself”, and was co-produced by The Suffers’ brilliant frontwoman Kam Franklin. Performed by the sensuously eccentric Austin funk-R&B duo The Vapor Caves, “Sacrifice” shoots you straight to the other side of the millennium at the crank of an LFO knob. The style is classic, but the mixing is modern, making “Sacrifice” a must-spin for your favorite funk-house playlist. Huge bonus points for live brass on behalf of The Suffers, minor 2nd chord modulations, clever clavinet, and some seriously commanding vocal phrases.

Torre Blake: “Back To You” (prod. Megz Kelli & Jim Eno)

Way back in March we helped to introduce Project Traction, a mentorship program from engineer extraordinaire Jim Eno designed to level the playing field for women and non-binary creatives in the world of production. Well, Project Traction’s got a new batch of tracks, the first of which is a real groove seducer.

About-town Austinites (and loyal fans of The Breaks worldwide) can vouch for the powerhouse passion bestowed in R&B stunner Torre Blake, while local hip-hop connoisseurs will testify to Megz Kelli (of Magna Carda)’s polymath magnificence. But can you imagine what it’d be like if they put in time together at Public Hi-Fi?

It’s not just the stuff of dreams; today Project Traction proudly unveils the latest Jim Eno co-production. Entitled “Back To You”, this one-of-a-kind collaboration captivates straight from the first drum fill. The ensuing synth-guitar sensuality, reverb’d up vocals, coquettish keys, and guest rap verse could easily make high-collaboration stalwarts like Quincy Jones quiver in joy.

Nnedi Nebula Agbaroji: “How High” (prod. Emilie Basez)

You may have already read into Project Traction earlier today, but if you haven’t, here’s the gist. Producer-Engineer Jim Eno of Spoon and Public Hi-Fi Studios is tapping into his resources at hand to diminish the frustrating imbalance between men and women behind the board. The stats are pretty telling – women only represent under 10% of engineers and producers in the music industry – but Eno’s initiative puts his diverse rolodex to good use.

On Project Traction, Eno pairs one Austin producer-engineer with another rising Austin songwriter, for a total of eight female/non-binary-led collaborations. You’ll hear familiar Austin icons like Gina Chavez, Mariclaire Glaeser, and Sara Houser translate their prior studio experiences into these recordings. With its launch so close to International Women’s Day, Project Traction has a big potential to level out gender disparity in the studio and make the most of these infectious new tracks. First out of the gate for Project Traction – Ley Line guitarist-vocalist Emilie Basez teaming up with Nnedi Nebula Agbaroji (of Trouble in the Streets) for their retro-style synth-pop single, “How High”.