Where are the Women In Music?

How is the electronic music industry home to one of the most overt gender gaps? How could a genre be so progressive yet fall so far behind?

The number of female DJs and producers are limited. And the number of women taking on more technical roles like sound engineering, recording and management are even more rare.

Some people innocently suggest that maybe there just aren’t as many women interested in the industry. But I don’t believe that’s the explanation and neither do countless women worldwide.

This gender gap could be partially attributed to how the electronic music industry is immensely male dominated. Not only are legendary musicians who pioneered the genre male, but the biggest names in the industry today are also all male. Getting past feelings of inferiority and breaking into the gentleman’s club is hard for aspiring female artists. Other than pure intimidation, emerging women in the industry are also faced with sexualization and negative stereotypes.

Often women are not considered to have the technical abilities to produce nor to have the same drive to succeed. Even worse, Boiler Room, the widely recognized online music broadcasting platform recently had to hire comment moderators after an array of female performances were attacked with sexist comments. The inequality that women face in the music industry is undeniable.

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-4-28-40-pm
Via Twitter

The main element of the gender gap that first caught my attention was that I almost never see women on festival lineups or booked for clubs. Music Festivals are popping up everywhere and booming in popularity, yet according to Vice, women only represent 10% of performers at music festivals around the world. To me this percentage is shockingly small but I believe it. After 5 years of attending Ultra Music Festival Miami, I’ve only seen three female performances. All three of those female artists were vocalists.

I don’t necessarily blame the festivals for this clear inequality because I believe that sexism is systemic. Even among the musicians who’ve transcended the obstacles set before them by our patriarchal society, their gender still precedes their talent. They are female artists as opposed to simply artists.

Women are socially expected to make feminine music and electronic music often contrasts those ideas of femininity. I feel like the gender gap has to do with subtle elements of sexism. Women are more likely to be judged by their appearances. They are more likely to be overlooked in the industry’s sea of males. Women have a harder time being taken seriously. And finally, women are more likely to be underpaid. Hopefully times are changing. But meanwhile the gender gap in electronic music is a topic that needs attention.

For more listen to Sound Of Rome Radio: Where are all the Women?

To the Future of The Beat

I think a lot about the future. Maybe that intrigue with the future leaks into all corners of my life, including music.

Electronic music has peaked in popularity recently and it’s not falling down anytime soon. As time ticks and the clock twirls, this connection with the future and the electronic music becomes more evident than ever. From production to consumption, electronic music is influenced by this connection.

jeff_mills
Jeff Mills: Courtesy of technoszene.com

This idea of Futurism is something often subconsciously ingrained in electronically produced music but for many producers, it is an important aspect for their creative process. “Techno isn’t about dancing, it’s about the future,” Jeff Mills, Detroit Techno legend, comments to The Skinny. Mills often discusses how space, time and the future influence his music. While not all artists are so defined by this inspiration, I think it is deeply-rooted in every creative artist. 

 Technology connects a producer to their bank of sounds, the listeners ears to the mp3 on their computer, the sound waves from a speaker, and the way music is distributed. Technology is changing the music industry and the way music is made. But for electronic music, technology was the foundation for a whole new world of sounds. The new advances in music technology created electronic music. Technology is the vital bridge to electronic music. The two have a symbiotic relationship. As artists progress, new music technology is developed and as this new tech is utilized, new variations of electronic music are produced.

This reliance to technology for music production is an ode the changing of times. When producing digitally, the only limits an artist has are the limits of their own skill and creativity. After the exciting generation who was raised exploring the fairly new digital musical realm, there are high hopes for those to come. The newest generation of producers, with so many genre already explored, are more aware of the unlimited nature of their musical expression. 

Festivals around the world are beginning to commit to these sounds of the future and change is near.

 

Three Rules of Club Etiquette

From clubs to festivals, the dance floor is a sacred place that all too often doesn’t get the respect it deserves. 

3840563028_3ca2160edf_z.jpg
Image Courtesy of Guillaume Cattiaux 

1. How to politely move through the crowd

So many people are unnecessarily rude. Somewhere in the darkness of the dance floor simple courtesy was lost in the frenzy of finding the perfect spot. Basic politeness should always apply.

When someone tries to push past me in crowd I hold my ground. But if someone attempts to pass by in a polite manner, I’ll gladly move to the side. Pushing is never necessary and if you do it accidentally or feel like you absolutely must, apologize so they don’t think you’re an asshole. There is a simple method to avoiding this brass behavior. Graciously smiling apologetically, a courteous touch of the shoulder, or an “excuse me” all go a long way. Another way to move up is when you spot other people moving in, move with them. If you see a line of people moving out, squeeze into the path they’ve just created. Another issue is if you roll up with a larger crew and there isn’t enough space, don’t huddle together. It creates a cramped space for everyone, just disperse a little bit. No one wants their experience hindered by ignorance or just plain inconsideration. 

2. Party responsibly for a good time all night

I can’t emphasis this point enough. Party responsibly not only for your own safety but also to ensure a good time for you, your friends, those around you. Whether it be substances or alcohol, don’t over do it. No one wants to have to take care of a fucked up friend. No one  even really wants to be near someone overly intoxicated, that is unless they are a predator of course. And finally I promise you don’t want to end up on the ground or worse, in a hospital. Another aspect of partying responsibly is taking care and listening to your body. Stay hydrated and be sure to eat before attempting to dance for multiple consecutive hours in a steamy environment. Safely partying is truthfully much more fun then being uncomfortably intoxicated, dehydrated, or drained of energy.

3. Don’t get R-rated

One of the beauties of going out is the potential chance of meeting someone. When eyes meet and you share that lusty knowing glance just keep in mind while moves are being made what is appropriate. Kissing and of course dancing with that new potential lover is perfect. But just know when take things off the dance floor. Getting R-rated is not classy and really pretty weird for other dancers to be around. Proper club etiquette is knowing when to “get a room” when things get hot and heavy.

 

Club to Club Festival 2016

Tucked in the northern Italian city of Torino, Club to Club Festival is a hidden gem. The city itself is industrial and historically a hub for underground electronic music. The experimental and avant-garde lineup pays tribute to the city’s atmosphere. Club to Club spans over five days and different venues, but mainly took place at the Lingotto Fiere, a spacious convention center that’s reminiscent of a warehouse with the high ceilings of its main stage. Down a long hall of bar stands and wandering festival goers was the hazy Sala Gialla. Hosted by Red Bull Music Academy, Sala Gialla was a smaller stage that provided a more intimate experience. Both stages presented impressive sound systems that paired perfectly with the diverse range of artists.

While I didn’t have the opportunity to see every set, these are what I consider to be the leading performances of the weekend.

Mura Masa

14991872_10207321101094457_3010369292843136374_n.jpg
Photo by Gabrielle Small

Mura Masa, the young producer and multi-instrumentalist also known as Alex Crosson, delivered a strong and dynamic set at Sala Gialla. Rapper and vocalist Bonzai generated unmatchable energy as she utilized the space and connected with the crowd in the way a DJ can’t. Together they worked off each other, strong vocals tied into Mura Masa’s unique blend of hiphop and future electronic beats. Each song was distinct and the audience rippled in response. Mura Masa dropped quite a few fan favorites and got the crowd singing along at some points. He and Bonzai had the crowd dancing with their combination of drippy beats and powerful vocals.

Listen to the popular What If I go?

Fatima Yamaha

Dutch producer Bas Bron under his alias Fatima Yamaha played my personal favorite set of the weekend. The energy was unparalleled. Almost ethereal, the performance was uniquely his own. Every moment of his set was recognizable by his soft beats and synth riffs that carried the performance song to song. The set was sonically interesting with the dance floor foundational techno beat but each moment shook with sounds that brought the music further, almost floating away. He perfectly guided the crowd with his slow-burning, hypnotic rhythms. Fatima Yamaha ended his set with the underdog What’s a Girl to Do and continued to do the unexpected. As the unmistakable melody of the “low-key classic” began to mix seamlessly in, everything slowed and melted down as the captivated crowd swayed. Almost unaware, the audience swooned to the electronic grace of the synths and emotion of the vocal sample. And just as he’d managed to seduce us into the slowed rhythm, the tempo came bouncing back for the last few moments of the set.

Listen to What’s a Girl To Do

Jessy Lanza

The Canadian producer and vocalist Jessy Lanza together with Jeremy Greenspan from Junior Boys gave a dreamy performance that felt at times.experimental. Touching traces of R&B, the femme fatale jerked and soothed the crowd and no once knew what to expect. A highlight of the set was when Jessy Lanza dropped the summer favorite Kathy Lee. Jessy Lanza melodic voice was shrouded in reverb as the bouncy track hooked the crowd. It was one of the most danceable and strongest moments of the performance. The sparkly yet glitchy electronic pop was perfectly in tune with Club to Club’s futuristic feel. The set was excitingly different and truly memorable as the night progressed.

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=3432081795/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=de270f/tracklist=false/artwork=small/track=1842202912/transparent=true/
Listen to Jessy Lanza’s Kathy Lee

Motor City Drum Ensemble

Motor City Drum Ensemble (MCDE), the moniker of the world renowned German DJ and producer Danilo Plessow, kept the crowd grooving till the sun literally rose early Sunday morning. MCDE’s unique blend of soul and his instinctual understanding of what makes us dance is truly what pushed his set apart from the rest of the weekend. Rooted in funk, his performance awoke the crowd from the 4am low. The set built in energy and MCDE proved his mastery of the turntables has he spun us into a fun filled oblivion.

Here’s a taste of MCDE

While Club to Club attracted a small international audience, it consisted of a mostly Italian crowd. According to a few festival goers I spoke to, the festival is really one of the most important electronic events in Italy. It brings so many artists to the region, where because of the lack of festivals, might not otherwise include Italy on their tours. Torino, much like Detroit, is evolving and electronic music events are becoming one of the leading touristic attractions to the city. Club to Club is known for it’s devotion to futurism and the 2016 lineup confirmed the festival’s progressive reputation. 

Stop Being Afraid of Dancing Alone

Going a to a music festival or an event alone has its perks. Here’s why everyone should try flying solo at least once. 

  1. Dance all night if you want to. Or don’t.

You have no curfew to abide by but your own. You never have to go home early. You’ll never miss an anticipated set because someone else is tired. Sleep is optional.

On the contrary, if you feel satisfied there is no shame in calling it a night.

  1. Freedom to do you.

Going by yourself to a festival means that you get to pick which artists you want to see. No compromises. No leaving a set because your companion isn’t “vibing.” You have the freedom to do whatever you want – whenever. 

  3. Exploring new artists!

Instead of shmoozing with your friends during down time, you get the chance to wander around. And that set you just meandered into could be your favorite.

  5. Music sounds different on your own. 

Without the distraction of your friends, a partner to dance with, or the subconscious effects of what your friends may think. You might find your musical preferences slighter different than normal.

4. You’re never really alone at a festival.

Making friends with fellow festival goers is one of the best parts of being at a festival. What’s easier to bond over than the love of music? Sometimes being surrounded by your own friends restricts you from meeting new ones. While when you’re by yourself, you have no choice but to be gregarious. If you are serious about music, you’ll attract like minded new friends. And despite what you might fear, people you meet on your own are going to think your brave, not lonely. 

 My personal solo anthem.

 I love to hit a festival with friends and I also really enjoy going on my own. But they’re definitely two different experiences. I learned a lot from attending my first festival alone and I apply some of those lessons to almost every event that I go to now.

Even if you’re with a group, it’s cool to do your own thing and meet back up when you want to. For me, I always know who I want to see, so I tend to stick to it whether or not my friends want to join.

The dance floor doesn’t always feel like real life. So why would regular social norms apply?

On the dance floor everything is different.

On the dance floor there is really no social anxiety about being on your own. Seriously, no one is even going to notice. To me, nothing’s better than closing your eyes and losing yourself to the beat, with or without an entourage.

Big Names In Dance This Weekend

Thursday October 13

Resident Advisor’s RA in Residence Begins…

 Silent Servant & Daniel Avery @ Goa

Resident Advisor is an online music magazine and community that is devoted to electronic music. This year RA In Residence is a project to showcase the dance floors keep club culture alive and thriving. RA In Residence will be hosting events in 12 of the best clubs around the world. This October, all eyes are on Rome’s very own Goa Club.

Goa has been dedicated to playing avant-garde music that ignores the mainstream club sound repitoir since it’s establishment in 1996.

Silent Servant is an American techno producer, DJ and co-founder of the label Jealous God. Silent Servant prides a rare sound; one deeply influenced by industrial and warehouse techno yet infused with a fearless modern style.

The London native producer and DJ, Daniel Avery stays steadily secured on Resident Advisors “Top DJs” list for now several years. His sound seems naturally construed on his wildly successful debut LP Drone Logic. An ambicious strain of acid infused techno creates a new world on the dance floor. 

Catch the perfectly paired Silent Servant and Daniel Avery at Goa Club this Thursday from 11:30 till sunrise.

Goa Cub

Via G.Libetta 13, 00154 Rome, Italy

_________________________________________________________________

Friday October 14

RA in Residence and more…

Jeff Mills and Neel @ Goa

Headlining the RA in Residence Rome events is Detroit’s Jeff Mills, one of the most distinguished American techno artists. Formerly known as “The Wizard”, Jeff Mills is a founder of the late 1980’s Detroit collective Underground Resistance. Mills went on to pursue a solo career with much success. He worked with various labels around the globe and eventually created his own label, Axis. Jeff Mills transcended the realm of electronic music that he reigns to participate in numerous contemporary art collaborations. Jeff Mills most recent project is combining classical music and his niche of techno with various orchestras around the world creating innovative symphonies that are distinctly his own. Jeff Mills club sets are dark, fast and science fiction inspired.

Opening for Jeff Mills is the Roman Neel, lesser known but uniquely complementary. Neel’s musical creativity is present in all of his discography. He brilliantly combines ambient textures with rhythms to produce an other-worldliness. Simple yet abstract his beats mesmerize.

Goa Cub

Via G.Libetta 13, 00154 Rome, Italy

_________________________________________________________________

Friday October 14

On Friday? Oh there’s more…

Scuba @ Quirinetta 

Originating from the UK, Scuba is a DJ, producer and label owner of Hotflush. Scuba’s most well known for his dubstep days but today, Scuba’s music explores genres. Scuba’s genre-agnostic style has aided his growth within the electronic music scene as his dance floors draw bigger crowds.

Teatro Quirinetta
Via Marco Minghetti, 5, 00186 Roma

 

 

 

Don’t Know Where To Go This Weekend?

Saturday October 8th

A buzz of anticipation fills the air for this Saturday night…

Gesaffelstein @ Warehouse

Warehouse Rome’s opening party of the season will be featuring the French producer  and DJ Gesaffelstein

 Gesaffelstein quickly emerged from the underground after his debut album ALEPH. Now having produced for names like Kanye West and Daft Punk, the French artist quickly caught the center stage. Gesaffelstein’s dark and industrial strain of techno is paired perfectly with the simple and shadowy venue, Warehouse, that is widely known for its events hosted by Rebel Rebel

Closing only when the sun comes up.

Warehouse
Via Sambuca Pistoiese 74, Roma

But for the house music heads…

Marshall Jefferson @ Lanificio 159

The Chicago house and deep house master Marshall Jefferson will be spinning his dance anthems at Lanificio 159 on Saturday. Marshall Jefferson was essential to the creation of the Chicago house sound from the 1980’s to today. His classic “Move Your Body” was the first house music sound to feature piano and the track became widely influential to the genre. The Chicago native is now based in the UK and continues to DJ around the world. 

Earlier in the night catch Marco FIMP. Italian Marco FIMP boosts a similar love for rhythm and groove yet fused with techno influences. 

Lanificio 159 sports a retro yet minimalist rooftop vibe. 

Lanificio 159

Via di Pietralata 159, Roma