Feminist Synth Lab Is Making Music Accessible For The Marginalized

Change comes when inspired people start seeing obstacles as opportunities. That’s what happened to Natalie Robehmed, the writer and musician behind Feminist Synth Lab — a synth lending library and workshop series catering to marginalized genders in Los Angeles.

In the latest episode of Show Up, Robehmed recounts her entry into L.A.’s thriving EDM music scene, a space she describes as “free of restriction” where creators are encouraged to experiment with boundaries and produce something “new and cool.” Unfortunately, that freedom came with caveats. Too often, male-dominated industries like music production hinder progress by way of gatekeeping, something Robehmed experienced first-hand. Tired of the gear purism, misogyny, and mansplaining, she decided to partner with some friends to build a community for people like herself — women and nonbinary creatives eager to make music on their own terms. That’s how Feminist Synth Lab was born.

“There was no place to go to learn about this stuff that was woman-centered and sort of opening and welcoming to us,” Robehmed says. The group hosted a workshop and Robehmed was blown away by her community’s appetite for this kind of creative space. She planned more classes and opened a lending library where people could rent out gear — microphones, sequencers, amps, and spin tables — with a small deposit.

“It’s so expensive to even get started in music production,” she explains. “The idea came about to actually loan out instruments, like library books, where you could take it home with you.”

With help from others in the music community who donated equipment, built websites, and spread the word on social media, Feminist Synth Lab was even able to thrive during the pandemic, when in-person workshops were limited and music creators lacked the financial means to buy their own instruments. Now, seven years after Robehmed helped launch the organization’s workshop series, Feminist Synth Lab has become a mecca for artists of marginalized genders hoping to further their musical education and break into the world of music production.

“My hope and dream is that every city could have a resource like this,” Robehmed shares. “That people could see this and say, ‘Hey, you know what, I actually can go out and start something with my friends.'”

To hear more about Robehmed and Feminist Synth Lab’ journey, watch the full episode above.