Zane Lowe on gender representation in music: “Keep the conversation loud”

"Make sure we support the people who are speaking the loudest"

Zane Lowe has called for greater gender representation in the music industry after the lack of female nominations at last night’s BRIT Awards faced intense criticism.

The shortlist for last night’s prestigious ceremony (February 18) previously came under fire for the all-male nominee lists in both the Album of the Year and Group of the Year categories.

In the four categories which were open to male and female artists, only four female nominations were secured. There were only three female winners at the ceremony: Mabel for Female Solo Artist, Billie Eilish for Female Solo Artist, and Celeste in the Rising Star category.

Speaking to NME on the BRITS red carpet, Lowe said: “It has to change. It has to change from festival billings all the way to award ceremonies. However we reflect the year in music, we have to acknowledge that it has to change, for the simple fact that it’s just wrong.

“Some of my favourite artists making music right now are female, and it shouldn’t be an issue any more. Look at the three artists who owned last year: Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish and Lizzo – do the math.”

Lowe, the Creative Director for Apple Music, also stressed the need for constant “conversation” to ensure that gender representation takes place.

“Great music, just like anything else we’re trying to change, we need to keep the conversation loud and up front and make sure we support the people who are speaking the loudest,” he said.

“Contribute and communicate as and where to support it, whenever you feel comfortable and righteous to do so.”

The Beats 1 host also praised the rise of Billie Eilish, who performed her James Bond theme ‘No Time To Die’ at the ceremony.

Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish performs during The BRIT Awards 2020 (Picture: Samir Hussein/WireImage)

“It’s unprecedented, but it makes total sense. If you think about the kind of artist she is, and what she’s saying in her music, she’s speaking the truth according to people her age,” he said of Eilish’s rise.

“When I was growing up, I’d look to people who were 5-7 years older than me to tell me what the world was going to be like. Now everybody knows at the same time, it’s all right there on your phone.”

He added: “The access to information is unprecedented, and she’s the kind of artist who can absorb that, acknowledge it, and speak a language that kids her own age can identify with. I didn’t believe in anyone my own age making music. It was like: ‘You ain’t lived the life yet’, but that ain’t the case any more.”

As for the acts who are currently exciting Lowe, the DJ said he was excited to see the continued rise of Celeste in 2020.

“I remember, I sent ‘Father’s Son’ to a bunch of my friends in the US when I first heard it and I was like: ‘You gotta get check this out,'” he said.

“I needed people to know, you still get there thing where, being on the radio or being on a magazine, you still want to personally send shit to people because you get that excitement. She’s a no-brainer.”