Young Thugs Studio and Liina Turtonen team up for music production placement project for women and non-binary people

Liina Turtonen: Leading the Level music production placement scheme run by Young Thugs Studio in York

YOUNG Thugs Studio, in York, are to run a six-month placement in music production and studio engineering for women and non-binary people aged 18 to 25 under the title of Level.

Working in partnership with the Youth Music Incubator fund, Young Thugs are offering this opportunity to three people in York and surrounding areas to explore studio production and the chance to build skills as a studio engineer and producer.

Participants in this paid placement, funded through players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, will work with industry mentors, led by Liina Turtonen, to acquire knowledge, skills and a CV and gain direct access to industry professionals. 

No qualifications or previous studio experience is needed, although basic music software skills are required, and childcare and travel support can be provided.

“These are very exciting times at Young Thugs despite all the Covid shenanigans,” says Dave Greenbrown, co-director of the studios upstairs at the South Bank Social Club, in Ovington Terrace, York.

“Following on from York band Bull’s EMI deal [in tandem with Young Thugs], not only have we now secured our permanent home with a long lease at South Bank Social Club – saving the building at the same time – but we’re also now in receipt of this Youth Music grant to develop a Women In Music programme in York.”

Outlining the programme, co-director Jonny Hooker says: “Over a six-month period, you will receive ongoing one-to-one studio mentorship, personal development, and be given a chance to work on real-time projects with established artists and industry professionals. 

“We’re looking for three women or non-binary people who have a passionate interest in wanting to work in a studio environment. It’s OK if you have no qualifications or studio experience, but this opportunity does require you to have some basic music recording and production experience.”

Jonny continues: “Young Thugs will offer a bespoke support package for you that will cover your time, as well as help with things like childcare and travel if required. 

“This programme will give you a toolbox, live project experience and could open up opportunities for you to consider further or higher education and employment.

“This opportunity is open to all women and non-binary people who are 18 to 25 and we really want to hear from you.” 

To apply, you need to send your answers to the questions below in written, video or audio format to by the closing date of March 31 2021.

* Your name, age and location?

* Why do you want to take this opportunity now?

* How would this opportunity help you moving forward?

* What previous music experience do you have?

* What other information do you feel we should know about you?

* Do you have any access requirements?

If you need this information in another format, send an email to or call 07812 605833 for more details.

Summing up the Level project, Dave says: “Promoting Women in Music Tech over a six- month period, we will teach, train and mentor three women in music technology and production.

“With a chosen industry mentor and in a safe environment, they will work within a busy professional recording studio, working with female artists or bands to create a series of singles, EPs or an album of their choice from conception to release.”

Finnishing touches: Music producer and musician Liina Turtonen in her studio

RUNNING the programme for Young Thugs will be Nordic-born Liina Turtonen, and aptly for an international woman now living and working in York, CharlesHutchPress caught up with her on International Women’s Day.

“I’ve been in York for about four years and in the UK for eight years,” says Liina, from Finland, who lives in South Bank, where she has a home studio. “I first studied in Scotland, in Ayr, when I’d been travelling around the world from 18 to 21.

“I was in Glasgow, and I’d fallen in love with electronic music. I was supposed to be on my way to Australia but never got there.

“Instead, I studied commercial music at the Ayr campus of the University of West Scotland. Commercial music means ‘popular music’, and the course was a combination of many things, but I just fell in love with studios and technology. You’d find me in the basement, on the soundboards.”

Liina decided her next step should be an MA in music production and duly headed south to the University of York.

How did that go? “I would say it was among best things I’ve ever done,” she says. “York Uni was one of the most supportive environments I could have had, and that’s why I’ve been able to make advances in my career so quickly.”

Liina’s own trajectory tells only part of the story, however. “Only 2.6 per cent of the industry are women producers or engineers, and I would say that’s 2.6 per cent of the whole industry across the world,” she says.

“That tells us why something like this Level placement project is necessary and that’s why it’s great that Young Thugs are doing this for young musical talent in York. I think there’s a lot needed to make sure the levels are better for the future.”

Studying music production, “I always felt very alone as a woman”, reveals Liina. “I didn’t have any female lecturers. I’ve never been taught music production by a woman.

“There were two women in the tech department, but for my course, it was two women studying among 15 guys.”

What characteristics are needed in such an environment for a woman to thrive? “I would say one word: confidence…because confidence opens up all the conversations. Everything comes back to confidence,” says Liina. “What you’re up against is the social structure, the patriarchal society.

“The difference between male and female confidence is that, for men, lack of confidence doesn’t stop you doing what you’re supposed to be doing, but not having confidence can stop women from doing what they’re inspired to do. It’s so powerful that it literally stops us.

“It needs so much constant effort, so much courage, to be the minority in this industry. So much so, a woman may not want to go into a studio as the only woman there, feeling you’re not going to know what you’re doing, so you fear being called out. It’s about imposter syndrome, and there’s benevolent sexism too.”

Liina’s own experience affirms why the Level programme is so important to give more women and non-binary people the chance to break into music production to change the prevailing landscape.

“It’s such a strong feeling that even if you know how to do it, like going to university to study – that’s a very encouraging environment, but then you go into a space where you’re the only one that looks like you and people talk to you in a slightly different way, so you start thinking you can’t do it,” she says.

“I would say I’ve encountered that every single day of my career, every day I go into a studio. I go into the studio for the fifth time and I still have to prove that I’m worth it, both to myself and others, which is exhausting. It’s part of my everyday life to prove that I deserve to be where I am, but I have the courage to keep doing it.”

The Level project, with its emphasis on a safe environment to nurture women producers, working with women musicians, is but one avenue for Liina. The musician, songwriter, music producer and educator also hosts LNA Does Audio Stuff, her own music production-focused YouTube channel, featuring tutorials, reviews, vlogs and fun audio challenges.  

“I’ve been doing it for two years and it’s one of my key jobs,” she says. “I’ve just published a song made by 90 women and non-binary people, made long-distance with six women producers pulling it together.

“My channel is mostly an educational forum, but it’s also my point of view from my life.”

In addition, Liina is co-founder of Equalize Music Production with Emily Johnson, aka Emily J Electric, a performer, musician and DJ. Proud members of the Musicians’ Union and associates of the Yorkshire Sound Women’s Network, they deliver courses and workshops in music production, song-writing and performance…and creative confidence (that word again).

“Because of that we got to know Young Thugs, and that’s why I’m doing this project with them,” says Liina. “What they’re doing as a male-led organisation is exactly what every studio should do, asking what we need, which is not something I’ve seen before.”

Looking forward to working with three placement participants, Liina says: “I can’t wait to see them, bringing them to spaces where they don’t need to prove themselves every day.

“The great thing is that they don’t really need to know anything in advance; they just need to be passionate. This programme says: ‘Everybody is good enough. Just get yourself in there!”

Creating a safe space is vital. “Even as a professional music producer, I know studios are very male dominated, so many women I know prefer to work from home, but for Level we will make it a very approachable space,” says Liina.

“I feel very comfortable in a studio, and when we feel comfortable, men do too, making such spaces less toxic.

“We’re still far away from it not being like a locker-room male environment, but these projects fight against that environment for everybody. We want great music, great musicians, great producers, great engineers.”

Do apply, stresses Liina: “If there’s someone who really wants to apply, or someone has a daughter who wants to apply, but maybe needs some encouragement, then go on, apply, even if they’re not confident, because it’s an amazing opportunity.

“I wish I’d had this chance when I was starting because my journey would have been easier and more pleasant if it had been easier, and maybe that’s why I always work so hard to achieve things.”