You might say recording engineer Hill Kourkoutis got a head start on celebrating International Women’s Day.
Last week, when the nominations were announced for the 51st Juno Awards, Kourkoutis became the first woman to be nominated for recording engineer of the year. The award has been presented every year since 1976.
Kourkoutis is nominated for engineering Tania Joy’s “The Drought” and SATE’s “Howler,” which she also produced and co-wrote. In addition, SATE’s The Fool, which she also produced, is nominated for alternative album of the year.
“I feel deeply honoured and grateful to the Junos and those who nominated me in this category,” Kourkoutis said in a statement to Billboard. “I truly believe this is a turning point in our industry and as visibility and representation increases and more opportunities are presented, we will be seeing many more women being recognized for their incredible work in the technical fields. There is so much talent within our community and we have barely scratched the surface–this is an exciting time, and I am looking forward to what the future holds.”
Kourkoutis is competing for recording engineer of the year with Evan Miles, another first-time nominee; and three past winners of the award – Serban Ghenea, who won last year; George Seara, the 2012 winner; and John ‘Beetle’ Bailey, who won in both 2007 and 2020.
This breakthrough comes 23 years after Trina Shoemaker became the first female engineer to receive a Grammy nomination – and also a Grammy Award — for best engineered album, non-classical for her work on Sheryl Crow’s The Globe Sessions (1998).
Two more women have since also won Grammys in the category. Imogen Heap won for engineering her own album Ellipse (2009). Emily Lazar won as a mastering engineer on Beck’s Colors (2018).
Wendy Carlos was the first woman to receive a Grammy nomination – and also a Grammy Award — in the equivalent classical category, best engineered album, classical, for her work on her own hit album Switched-On Bach (1969).
Leslie Ann Jones is the only three-time winner for best engineered album, classical. She has won three times since 2010.
Kourkoutis is a producer, songwriter, composer, artist, musician, and director who works out of her Toronto studio, The Lair.
Kourkoutis played on, produced and mixed Leela Gilday’s North Star Calling, which won a Juno Award last year for contemporary roots album of the year.
Kourkoutis has also produced and engineered recordings by Royal Wood, Jules, POESY, Digging Roots, Cassie Dasilva, SATE, Madison Violet, Pavlo and Martha and the Muffins. She has done remixes for July Talk, Adam Cohen, Dear Rouge, Good Lovelies and Jill Barber.
As a musician, Kourkoutis has played with such artists as The Weeknd, Serena Ryder and Tara Slone. For two seasons, she performed as lead guitarist in the house band on the CTV series, The Launch.
Along with Ryder, she produced and co-wrote the theme song and the end title song for Universal Kids’ Remy and Boo, an animated children’s television show. Hill produced and co-wrote the theme song for Disney’s Dino Ranch, a pre-school children’s series. She is currently in the studio collaborating with Damhnait Doyle on songs for upcoming TV series.
Kourkoutis is managed by Joe D’Ambrosio. She is signed to Daytripper Music Publishing, the new music publishing division of CCS Rights Management. She inked her first worldwide deal with them last summer. Daytripper’s roster of songwriters, artists, musicians and producers also includes Tribe Friday, Featurette, POESY, Nuela Charles; CARYS, Yukon Blonde, Laurent Bourque, and Mikhail Laxton.
The Junos will be held May 15 at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto. Marvel star Simu Liu is set to host the show.