At 24 years old, Canadian producer Ebony Oshunrinde — better known as WondaGurl — has built a career most music-business veterans twice her age would envy.
She got her first major credit, on Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, when she was still in her teens, and she has since produced more than 100 tracks for Travis Scott, Drake, Lil Uzi Vert, Rihanna, and other top acts. Her credits include multi-platinum hits including Scott’s “Antidote” and Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money.”
“I’ve always had a love for the instrumental, whether it’s an orchestra playing classical music or the grime beats from back in the day,” she says. When she first started to study piano as a kid, she quickly found it was more fun to make up her own melodies than to learn others’: “I got a keyboard a long time ago and was able to make my own ideas. I realized I was doing that more than actually learning how to play piano. I’d just be letting out whatever was in my head.”
WondaGurl grew up in Ontario, Canada and was inspired by prolific producers like Timbaland, Hit-Boy and fellow canadian producer Boi-1Da. Last year, she signed a publishing deal with Sony Music Publishing — with whom she also heads a joint venture for her imprint company, Wonderchild, where she has signed upcoming producers like 19-year-old Canadian producer Jenius.
WondaGurl is naturally shy, and her aversion to the spotlight made it difficult, early on, to adjust to being one of the most sought-after beatmakers in the business. “I had dreams of being the best female producer back in the day, but I never wanted a lot of fame,” she says. “I always wanted to be behind the scenes, and that’s one reason why I like the production profession. I didn’t know how to handle interviews. People coming up to me, it all would give me a lot of anxiety.”
For years, she’d come into the studio with beats in hand and just let the music serve as the sole guide. Lately, she’s grown more vocal during recording sessions, citing both confidence gained over years of sessions alongside the new dynamics she’s taken on as an executive signing her own artists through Wonderchild: “I just got used to it — I got used to the attention and people caring about me… collaborating [with artists] has made me realize exactly how I should be working with a lot of other artists, and I didn’t see it like that until I really started going in with this stuff.”
She is currently one of the few women regularly getting A-list production work in any genre; female producers in music account for less than three percent of production credits on the 900 most popular songs of the past nine years, according to a recent study. Yet she’s never let herself be discouraged. “It doesn’t matter — at the end of the day, it’s just being the best you can be,” she says. “I always felt if a man could make beats, a girl could too.”
WondaGurl is now readying her own solo album, which is due to push her front and center. She declines to give early details on when the project will come out or name names involved — but she says the album is a pointed evolution of her career. She started out just wanting to be the best female producer in music. But “one day, Melony Fiona told me I didn’t have to specify ‘female,’ that I didn’t have to point that out,” she recalls. “We’re all equal in a way. If a man could make beats, a girl could too, and can just get just as far in this industry as well.” Now, she’s a point of inspiration for countless girls who want to brave music production — and WondaGurl is ready to lead by example.
“I want to make girls feel like they could do this,” she says. “I know a lot want to.”