The Feminine Revolution of Electronic Music
After years of male domination and overt sexism, DJs and producers grow in number and international impact
In 2015, the German artist Tujamo released the song Booty Bounce , which became one of the hits of the summer. The only sentence of the theme is Let me see that booty bounce (Let me see how that ass moves). The video clip, which is on its way to 18 million views, is three minutes of girls rubbing their asses against a camera. It is not eccentricity. At least, it has not been for years for the EDM, commercial electronic music that triumphs in half the world.
Israeli DJ and producer Borgore, criticized on several occasions for his misogynistic behavior, continues to take and record girls on stage during his sets to organize twerking competitions. Meanwhile, Spinnin ‘Records, the same label that launched Booty Bounce in 2015, premiered in October a video clip in which two absurdly sexualized women accompanying the current DJ surrounded by fame and money.
If we talk about representation of producers and women DJs, things do not improve. Of all the names of DJ Mag’s Top 100 this year, the most important list in the industry, only four were women. In relation to festivals, if the gap is dramatic in general, electronic music is even worse: at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami last March there was not a single female DJ among the headliners; only four women among the more than one hundred artists who stepped on the festival. In Europe, of the 64 artists who spent this summer on the main stage of Tomorrowland, the continent’s main electronic music festival, the figure is repeated: four women.
Although the number coincides, it is not that there are only four female DJs and producers making electronic music. Nor are only four the most representative or popular of the scene. The reality is that, in most festivals, the number of women artists is below 10%. While there is no clear data on how many women hold positions of responsibility and decision in festivals and management agencies , those who work in the industry say that the figure is equally ridiculous.
In spite of everything, the situation is changing and more and more women are taking the DJ dishes. The sexist attitudes of a predominantly male industry are giving way to a feminine revolution that starts from dedication, talent and, above all, good music.
Women like Jennifer Lee, better known by her stage name, TOKiMONSTA. The producer born in Los Angeles discovered the rave scene of the city when she was in high school. Five discs and several million reproductions later, his position is indisputable. “I am sure that I have faced different barriers, such as being a woman in an industry dominated by men. If you are a man in an industry dominated by men, you are part of the norm. However, being a woman allowed me to excel; sometimes with more critical voices or more attention than normal, “he says.
According to Jennifer, “in no industry are things the same for men and women.” In the case of music, the problem is common to all genres. “The sexualization of women in times when people are having fun wildly has been assumed in our society as something that is good.” Even so, she points out, we must not lose sight of the current “rebirth” of a “young feminism that allows women to feel empowered through their sexuality.” “Proud of it, but on our terms,” he says.
– Have you ever felt underestimated by the fact of being a woman?
– All the time, but I try to fight against that feeling. Am I really being undervalued? I have an incredible life as music. A life that many musicians may never experience.
The North American producer is optimistic about the changes that are to come. Especially when it comes to festivals, where some “are trying to take responsibility for changing things.” Although the number of female electronic music artists is low, “there are more and more young artists who are destined to lead those festivals”. Meanwhile, the pressure grows on positions of power. “Without women in high positions, how will the girls know now that they can also occupy them?” He asks.
Strength, patience and conviction are the keys to success for Krewella, the group formed by the two sisters Jahan Yousaf and Yasmine Yousaf. The composers and vocalists of Chicago have toured the main festivals and theaters of the world. Songs like Alive, Live for the Night , Enjoy the Ride or Legacy are authentic EDM hymns that have made Krewella one of the most sought-after sets. The road to here has not been easy. In 2014, after the departure of the group of the third and only male member of Krewella, the sisters faced a wave of comments on social networks, led by producer Deadmau5, which invited them to “dedicate themselves to porn”.
“People have underestimated our work and talent in the belief that we have had access to certain opportunities due to the fact that we are women. And maybe some of the experiences we have had are due to being a minority on the scene. But you have to own that, as a woman, “says Jahan. However, for Krewella most experiences with co-workers have been positive: “I believe that strength is linked to the number, and we are lucky to work together. I can not imagine being a solo artist, where you are more vulnerable and you run the risk of being the target of some unpredictable son of a bitch. ”
– Do you feel that you need to surround yourself with more women in the industry?
-We need more voices, creators and women responsible for decision-making in all industries. It is something that transcends music and entertainment. Women are perseverant, emotional, intuitive and ferocious creatures. I think we are neglecting a powerful asset on Earth if we do not put more effort into incorporating feminine energy that balances the masculine energy.
The Krewella sisters are aware that, to a large extent, the problem is that there are more men than women dedicating themselves to this. “However, we live in a time when women full of courage do not allow discouragement to feel rejected or different looks,” says Jahan, who thanks those promoters, agents and fellow DJs who increasingly put the focus “To look for undiscovered female talent and give them the exposure they deserve.”
Female talent also seeks its place in Spain
In Spain the situation is analogous. The attitude and the way of working is repeated. While festivals such as Sónar Barcelona represent a more or less balanced view of the panorama, most summer electronic music events in Spain (Dreambeach, Medusa Sunbeach, Los Álamos or Barcelona Beach Festival) offer year after year the same amalgam of great international names in Spain. those that the representation of women DJs is even smaller than in international festivals.
Marta Fierro, better known as Eme DJ, is a regular on the Spanish scene. Rooms and festivals throughout the country give a good account of his career as a DJ. They are not so clear about some of their colleagues who, along with an eminently male part of the public, continue to make inappropriate comments. “I think that if I were an uncle, the things that they have told me would not have been said to me,” says Marta, who believes that the industry continues to perpetuate macho attitudes.
The critics always go in the same direction, for her and for her companions. From the “you can do it right with the ugly thing that is” to the “no wonder I’m there with how good it is”. These are comments that, he assures, “are still being listened to”. The problem, “social”, is based on the fact that “they do not believe that women know how to do certain things”. “I know many girls who produce, and there are people who think that they do not, that there is a boy behind; they put it in doubt just because they are girls. ” Marta, accustomed to working throughout her career with men, states that “if there were more promoters instead of promoters, the situation would change.” It is also a problem of the agencies: “it is necessary to develop and bet on the artists”.
The future is uncertain and, although he believes that some things are changing, he does not see clearly the path that is being followed. “We are filling our pocket with good feminist vibes, but when it comes to work I do not see so many changes,” she complains. She gives the example of a festival where she performed last April accompanied only by another artist in the poster. “Two girls in three days of festival, and the organization arrives and issues a statement saying that they are going to put pink towels in symbol of the feminist struggle. Can not you hire girls? Do you have to put pink towels in favor of the feminist struggle, but you only have two girls in the whole festival? ”
Moving away from the most commercial aspect of electronic music we find Cora Novoa, founder of the label Seeking The Velvet. The DJ and Galician producer, habitual of the great European clubs, believes that electronic music is “a market niche of what happens in today’s society”, where “it is very rare to see women making decisions”.
With two albums behind her, Cora is one of the Spanish electronic artists with the greatest international projection. Maybe that’s why, in your case, the comments you have received are more flattering . “You do it much better than many men,” he was once told. “They are innocent things, which are said without being conscious, but which are a reflection of a very macho society. The important thing is not to keep quiet and make people think, “he says.
For Cora, who puts the quality of music ahead of everything else, the thing is not to radicalize the industry, but to “naturalize and educate, and be aware of your decisions, which will influence the public that you your brand is already here. ” Nor to force the percentages to fifty-fifty in festivals, although it is something that “is well as a reference or goal, because it leads those responsible for the recruitment of artists to do the exercise of thinking, research and consider if, unconsciously, many times They have programmed without giving opportunities beyond sex. ”
The changes are coming, but “there is still much to do”. It is the social movements and the general awareness “with respect to abuse, values or education that put the little seed for the future.” At the moment, we are still surrounded by attitudes and ways of communicating sexist, “a clear example that decision makers in the industry are men”. “If you really want to attract the public, you do not do that, because women do not feel identified with that profile, that collective imaginary of what it means to be a woman,” she says.
Manu Garrido is a journalist based in Granada, Spain. This article was originally published by CTXT.