There’s talking, there’s showing, and there’s doing.
And there’s listening, too – but we’ll get to that in a moment.
When female:pressure put some numbers behind the relative absence of women in festivals, the long-running discussion about the role of females in the scene was accelerated. Suddenly, the entire music press seemed to be talking about the issue again.
There is plenty to debate in terms of female:pressure’s statement and its take on cause, significance, and remedy. Anecdotally, I’ve found that female artists and friends I’ve talked to are strongly divided around those questions and how they wish to be identified. But since the main thrust of the female:pressure’s statement was the need for greater diversity – “gender, age, culture, ethnicity and (dis)ability” – what the network is doing next is important.
They’re putting on their own festival. And that seems exactly what we need more of: we need people not just opining, but acting constructively.
This week in Berlin, female:pressure is hosting two days with an exhaustive (nearly) all-female lineup, in an event that could be meaningful for the community here and beyond. (Correction: Whø? and Turrican are in the list, too, so not entirely all-female – nearly.) First, the lineup itself makes a statement. There are an extraordinary number of exceptional female artists. For anyone who came away from the debate over the last months with the conclusion that there’s a lack of talented female artists in the scene, this is the latest evidence that it simply ain’t so. Included (with some of my favorite visual and musical artists, irrespective of their gender):
Ada (live), Chra (live), Caro C on Delia Derbyshire (presentation + live), Electric Indigo (live), Gudrun Gut (live), Islaja (live), Kritzkom (live), Kyoka (live), Midori Hirano aka MimiCof (live), Pilocka Krach (live), Sonae (live), Tinker (live), Acid Maria (DJ), Chez Mieke (DJ), Chica Paula (DJ), Deneh (DJ), Dependance (DJ), Dj Spoke (DJ), Ipek (DJ), Janoshi (DJ), Kaltès (DJ), Mieko Suzuki (DJ), Sarah Farina (DJ), Silva Rymd (DJ), Sharon Schael (DJ), Turrican (DJ), Uta (DJ), Vinilette (DJ), Whø? (DJ), Aikia (VJ), Elektro Moon (VJ), Kalma (VJ), Mo – (VJ), Tina Z (VJ)
Second, there’s a series of workshops and networking opportunities, a chance for women hungry for more skills and opportunities to take action themselves. Given that the business of being an artist is challenging and competitive, that seems inarguably healthy.
That includes some great-looking workshops by some skilled educators:
NI Traktor workshop by DJ freshfluke
Modul8 workshop by VJ Kalma
Ableton Live 9 workshop by Maya C. Sternel (Ableton Certified Trainer) & Madeleine Bloom
Isadora + Ableton Live workshop by StratoFyzika ( aikia & akkamiau )
Finally, there’s a series of panel discussions and conversations. That even includes some of the bookers and festivals female:pressure had criticized. For instance, there’s an appearance by CTM Festival, a festival with which CDM collaborates, which was also one of the festivals singled out in the statistics released earlier this year. The event promises to be a venue to discuss this openly in person, and not only in blog posts and editorials and the like. It incorporates everything from people studying sociology and culture to more practical, in-the-trenches chatter and networking about bookings and programming. And, perhaps most encouraging , it could be a place for Berlin’s massive community of artists to feel they can be part of the conversation. I’ll be intrigued to see what happens, and we’ll have a follow up after the event.
This is about music, though. So, let’s listen. female:perspectives has posted some 21 sounds (a total of 16 DJ sets), for over twenty-one-plus hours of music, featuring a number of the artists.
Berlin Perspectives Festival DJs and more [SoundCloud playlist]
Festival organizer and performing artist Electric Indigo (Susanne Kirchmayr) also offers us a mix she made for Austrian radio in celebration of the International Women’s Day Centenary:
Also, I want to single out some music selected by one of the artists playing the festival and on the artist panels, as they’ve been some of the mixes that have inspired me most this summer. German-born, Berlin-based Sarah Farina is especially adept at navigating today’s bass music scene, the fast-evolving global realm of electronic dance connections that has been interwoven in a lot of CDM’s artist discussions of late. As her bio puts it (accurately, I think), that includes DJ sets with “an unpredictable blend of ukg, jungle, juke, hip hop and a hefty dose of bass itself.”
Whether it’s the right fit for all female artists, Sarah Farina’s trajectory has involved building a support network of like-minded musicians, including the wonderful duo Sick Girls and party collective WeBoogie, as well as the “Through My Speakers” collective.
All of these are a reminder that people do need scenes and communities for support. Whatever it is you want to happen, if you want more musical growth, change, and diversity, developing those networks is vital.
And, all of that aside, I generally love Sarah’s sense of taste. Check out two mixes from her from this summer. With Munich-born DJ/producer Ben Mono of Through My Speakers, she has a banging near-hour mixtape dubbed “The Critical Mess Mix”:
1. Shox – Hi Grade (Scratcha DVA Hi Emotions remix)
2. Fisky – Cherry Lotion
3. DJ Bark Lee – Vamp 2012
4. Salva & Brenmar – Let Me Bang
5. Kode9 – Uh
6. Thomas Bangalter – What Do We Do
7. Kry Wolf – Concrete
8. Artifact – Drafty
9. Lil Silva – The Split
10. Strip Steve – Money Trouble Funk (Bambounou Remix)
11. Blawan – Lavender
12. Fantastic Mr. Fox – The Trap
13. Jimmy Edgar – Strike
14. Slammer – Freedom
15. Steve Bug – My Sweet Vital Angel
16. Julio Bashmore & Kowron – Mirror Song
17. John Dimas – State Of Mind
18. Arttu feat. Jerry The Cat – Nuclear Funk
19. Dark Sky – Tremor
20. Walton – Baby
21. Kingdom – Goodies
22. Justin Martin – Ghettos & Gardens
And, with art/fashion/design shop Ucon – in a nice cross-media collab – she built a mixcast full of more similarly-delectable courses:
1. Butch Reid – Prototype Juke
2. Lone feat. Machinedrum – Cthulhu
3. DJ Assault – We Cry Together
4. Dillinja – Art Of Control
5. Machinedrum – Youniverse
6. Africa Hitech – Light The Way
7. Sepalcure – Eternally Yrs
8. Mama Testa – Pasion Morena (Sun People Remix) | Ten Toes Turbo forthcoming
9. Lando Kal – Allthislove
10. Distal – Boca Ratawan
11. DJ Assault – Thunder & Rain
You can also catch Sarah Farina from 6-8pm Berlin time on Red Bull Music Academy radio, along with gudrun gut, Uta, and Chica Paula.
It also goes without saying that a lot of the music here (and in the twenty hours above) is produced by men, but that illustrates why a diverse group of people needs to feel welcome. We rely on one another to spread our music – both from a promotional standpoint, but also in an exchange of musical ideas. The more free that exchange, the more the music can grow and evolve, and the healthier we’ll all be as artists. Of course, that also means we can’t spend all day crafting editorials (not even me, and it’s actually my job). We have to get out there, in person, away from blogs and social networks, and get to know one another and our music.
And that could bring a whole lot more perspective to the music world.
All images courtesy female:perspectives.