• Gabrielle Nowell

Welcome to Cactus City

Updated: Jun 3


Cactus City Studio logo
Cactus City Studio

Cactus City Studio was founded in 2018, as a small pop up recording studio to provide a safe space for women and gender minorities to write music, record, produce podcasts and express themselves freely. We at Cactus City love music and believe that everyone should be able to create high quality music regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, disability or any factors that make them an individual.


Our emblem is the Cactus. The cactus has a tough exterior to protect its precious waters in the harshest environments. This often portrays how women, as artists in the music industry, have to adapt to protect their creativity. We at Cactus City studio want to be the tough exterior, protecting women and leaving them to be creative in a safe environment.


Our organisation was founded by artist manager Vanessa Threadgold, in response to the experiences she was having in the music industry as an exec, and those of the artists she represented.


“When I first started managing artists I had a fully female roster, I hadn’t quite comprehended what this would mean within the industry, or that it would be such a problem.


In 2016, after being told to pretend to be a man in emails so that I would be “respected”, I decided to do the complete opposite and started what was QVEEN management. I wanted those in the industry who don’t want to make space for women to know we weren’t going to confirm to fit in. Conforming and the creative industry are two things that shouldn’t go hand in hand. To me art is about breaking rules, breaking moulds and breaking boundaries. But everyone should be comfortable and welcome to do so within the creative industries.


However, QVEEN didn’t go far enough, it became evident we would need to make a space for ourselves, and Cactus City was born. Initially intended to be a space for my own roster, we eventually opened it up to others, and saw the way it benefitted those who used the space. This pushed us to do something bigger, and we are calling on the music industry for its support.


We always say we don’t want to have to exist, but the reality is that the music industry needs somewhere like Cactus City, and it needs more than just our organisation to make the change needed to make the industry gentler and more kind place to women and gender minorities. We know that not every woman needs us, and for this we are glad, we want the day to come where nobody does. But whilst they do, we will be here.


I’m grateful for my colleagues, Salli, Wolf and Yinka and our amazing team and advisory board for all the work that’s gone in so far. We look forward to what’s to come”


In 2021, our vision is to be a safe recording studio that sits amongst some of the most renowned studios in the world. We want to be known as a studio that creates high quality, award-winning music that is used in Films, TV shows, radio. Cactus City Studio will have a merch line with a strong focus on sustainability and source of product. We want the recording studio to be somewhere that people want to be, a place that doesn’t feel intimidating. A movement for a change in the music industry to make it more accessible for women that is easy to get behind.


Cactus City Studio is now a fully fledged organisation, with marketing being lead by Salli Flaherty.


"I see Cactus City as something I was just 'meant to do'.

Vanessa and I met having worked together in music and I'd always admired her work; so when she asked me to join the team to relaunch Cactus City, it was an absolute no brainer. As a "manufactured" artist from the age of 16, I have personally encountered a wide spectrum of misogyny in music throughout my career.


From having zero license over my appearance, sexuality, creativity (even who I outwardly dated) in my youth, to really struggling to maintain a music career in motherhood. I am beyond passionate about creating opportunities that I never had, this extends to all women and anyone who feels maligned and is at risk of gender violence or discrimination simply because of the body or background they were born into.


Everyone should feel safe at work, and be equal in their ability to progress but the fact is the music industry is woefully imbalanced. I was unwilling to compromise myself in many ways for music and developed a career in journalism and business of which I am grateful for as I am now, along with Vanessa and our team, in a position to create real change in the industry. It's an exciting time and I look forward to developing some bright futures." - Salli

Cactus City Studio has already worked with clients such as EQ Distro, Universal, Sky and Dreamworks. Our state of the art recording studio, live room and control desk has been tailored to be a professional studio with a focus on the wellbeing and safety of the artists.


Cactus City Studio aims to host different writing sessions to help female artists develop their music through expression and healing. There will also be a meeting space at the studio that features plug and play smart technology that will help in meetings and group projects. Clients would be able book meeting space with a chaperone for one to one meetings at their request. Cactus City Studio will also have counselling rooms to offer support to female music artists if they need someone to talk to.

Services at Cactus City Studio include podcasting, songwriting, recording, production, mixing, mastering, voiceovers, writing spaces, Film and TV work.

Our ethos is built following the conversations we’ve had time and time again with women and gender minorities in the industry. We listen to the people who need us. As artists and creatives, we are a female and minority lead organisation - we have been the people who needed us. Cactus City has a true hope for change within the music industry. By partnering and collaborating with the many brilliant organisations pushing for equality that have appeared in very recent years, and those that have been long standing, we know this can be achieved with our collective voice.