Women in Pro Audio: An Interview with Liliya Gainoutdinova
The L-Acoustics Women in Pro Audio series kicks off another segment in recognizing and celebrating the achievements of many of the phenomenal women in pro audio. From the sound mixers to engineers, owners, and all the women in between, this series highlights these integral individuals who provide their talent and elevate the pro audio field with their innovation, skill, and perseverance. Without their contributions and presence, the industry wouldn’t be what it is today.
Initially, Liliya wasn’t aiming for a life in the pro audio industry. In fact, Liliya was studying marketing and looking to build a career in the world of spreadsheets rather than audio electronics. She never thought her love of music was going to lead her into a fantastic career choice. “I was always interested in listening to music when I was young, but I certainly didn’t know that someday I would be a sound tech person. In high school, I thought that I would get into marketing and would draw price charts all my life.”
For Liliya, it wasn’t until college that she began her entrance into pro-sound. During her time at her University, she started attending student clubs and putting on small performances with her peers. Liliya tells the story of a summer where she went to a student camp at the Volga River in Russia, the longest river in Europe flowing through Central to Southern Russia and into the Caspian Sea. It was there that her interest in pro audio piqued.
“At the summer camp, I met with the tech crew of our performances, who were also students of our University. We became good friends, and I was curious – how does all this equipment work? What are all these knobs and faders about? A few months after that camp, I was already working on students’ festivals in our University as a FOH engineer. And after half of the year, I came to work at a rental company and concert hall. So, my life completely transformed within just a few months.”
Liliya shares some of her favorite experiences about her work in the industry, “Once we went to Saint-Petersburg to work on a private corporate event with the Tower of Power band. That was pretty tough. At the venue, we faced problems because nobody knew how everything was connected there. We needed to change the system’s configuration and find a way to add consoles for the band during setup. So, instead of preparing a mixing desk for the sound engineer, my colleague and I searched for where the cables were going and where the amps were located throughout the venue. But it ended well – we found the amps, rebuilt the system configuration in Network Manager, and connected mixing desks. After that, we were granted an amazing show by one of my favorite bands. Those are the moments I love the most! When there’s a challenge, but we overcome it together, then we get to hear an incredible show.”
As for the challenges, “Sometimes it’s hard to explain that you’re an engineer too. But I think it’s getting better. When I started, I was the only female-sound engineer in my city. But now, I see several women in our industry. I think it’s changing and maturing. And the advice I’d give other women would be to never let people hurt you. Nobody should think they are a better person than you, just because they have been working much longer than you. They might be more experienced for sure, but it’s not always about that. Don’t give anyone a reason to think they are better; you should learn and learn constantly and continually upgrade your skills.”
Her favorite part about what she does is the “start to finish” process. “When starting a new project, crazy ideas flow. The team works hard to solve any problems that may arise, communicating with each other, ending in that final, successful result. It’s a fulfilling experience. And that’s a great feeling – to see how ideas become a real working thing,” Liliya explains.
And if she could change one thing about the industry, “I would be so happy if gear could be lighter! Especially loudspeakers and mixing desks. It would be so much easier for women in our industry if the gear were lighter.”
Looking back, Liliya remembers working on the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi at Fisht stadium. “I came there to work in the audio department of the stadium. We were working with the internal systems of the stadium: press centers, translator services, foyer sound reinforcement. That was a great experience. I felt a great responsibility to the homeland. I remember seeing the guys from Agora hanging the brand-new at-the-time K2. And if someone had told me that two years later, I would work with those systems – I never would have believed them! I thought that was an unattainable goal, but here I am.”
As to her advice to women in the industry, “I think this applies to everyone, but it’s better to know the fundamentals – of audio engineering, mixing, and networking. The rest of it is easy to learn if you already have a strong foundation of understanding. There is so much information out in the open now, especially because of this pandemic year. Everybody is sharing their experiences. You can find every answer on the web now – especially on the manufacturer’s web pages.”
Liliya then softens her tone and reflects upon the hardships of the past year, and how the pandemic has upended the industry. She shares her sentiments of those who have been the most adversely impacted and her hopes for the future, “From touring companies and live sound manufacturers to the thousands upon thousands of crew, engineers, and venue staff, the devastation caused is both unfathomable and incalculable. I do see it’s getting better every day, though, at least here in Russia. Tours have restarted, which gives me hope that someday, we will return to everyday life again and have tours, shows, and fun once again.”
We look forward to seeing what else Liliya has to offer this growing industry. Despite its recent setback due to the havoc caused by COVID, with talented people like Liliya helping to push the pro audio and live events industry back on track, we think it’s going to be inspiring, and it’s going to GET LOUD.