As part of our Music Made Us campaign, Piper Hewitt-Dudding, aka Dilemma, discusses womxn in electronic music, the impact different places can have on creativity, and changing her performing name. Piper is a graduate from BIMM Institute Birmingham, currently putting out incredible top-tier level electronic music and receiving enormous support from some huge names in the scene.
I grew up on metal and alternative music. I lived down the road from Download Festival and I learned classical guitar when I was growing up, so that has definitely affected my music. I still listen to a lot of that now, along with hip hop, rock, electronica, industrial, techno, dubstep, and even classical music from time to time. All sorts, really! I make a point of not listening to drum and bass on a day-to-day basis.
“I make sure I’m pushing the boundaries of what I’m listening to.”
Everything you listen to finds a way into your music, whether or not you’re aware of it, and that makes your music uniquely yours. It’s like a fingerprint in that sense, so I make sure I’m pushing the boundaries of what I’m listening to and that I’m never getting complacent. It means I get ideas that I wouldn’t have usually if I’d limited myself to what everyone else in the scene is making. Electronic music – drum and bass especially – is a template, so really play around with it!
“Exposure to different people and paces of life definitely makes a difference.”
Not only do you have people that like different music and expose you to things you might not have experienced before, and what different cities have to offer, but the vibe you feel inevitably comes through in your music too. Exposure to different people and paces of life definitely makes a difference. There’s a reason Brazilian dnb is so colourful, and Russian dnb so dark!
For those who followed you from the start, you changed your performing DJ name; did the name change affect your identity or do you think the music stayed the same?
Changing My Performing DJ Name
My name change came about around the same time as my first major release, which saw Radio 1 airplay and support from some big names in the scene. So, it was more the fact I was suddenly in the public eye and seen as that alias, that solidified things for me. My new name was much more of a reflection of my attitude towards my music too. Up until that point, I always said to myself that I’ll make what I want and if people like it, great! If they don’t, it doesn’t matter. And while that is still true, changing my name to Dilemma made it all feel much more real to me as a career.
“The key is to turn that into motivation to work towards your personal goals, instead of changing what you do in order to fit what others expect of you to get further.”
To begin with, it was definitely just for the love of doing music that motivated me to create. It is a challenge once you realise others have expectations of you, though. It’s nothing direct like anyone telling you what to do, and you certainly shouldn’t listen to anyone who’s telling you to fundamentally change. But there is a sense of external pressure. The key is to turn that into motivation to work towards your personal goals, instead of changing what you do in order to fit what others expect of you to get further. So for me, it’s playing at Sun and Bass, which I know will happen if I keep at it but, more importantly, if I continue to do it for the love of the music. That will always shine through – you’ll always do better when you remain true to yourself!
Womxn and the Music Industry
Thankfully, I’ve rarely been at the mercy of flagrant sexism (that I know of) and nothing that has prevented me or put me off entirely, but there are definitely barriers that exist for womxn that don’t exist for men. There is much more scepticism that what you’re doing is really you (ghost produced is a phrase thrown around a lot), and of course, your appearance is under far more scrutiny.
“We’re sewing the seeds now for a meadow later on.”
Most of the people that are worth working with are great though and do understand those barriers. Still, there’s a long way to go, but there is definitely a new wave of female talent coming through, which will only snowball. We’re sewing the seeds now for a meadow later on.
Our Music Made Us campaign is told through the students, graduates, journalists, experts and passionate people who have been shaped by music. Discover their stories here.