We’ve all seen it, festival line-ups that feature way more male than female acts, record labels with similar ratios amongst their artists and staff, and even parties where we watch mostly guys perform. In our classrooms at dBs Berlin the boys also outnumber the girls and we think that this has a huge impact on the learning experience itself. This lack of balance inspired us to begin an investigation into the subject. So we asked the question: why aren’t more women studying music production?
This question led us to a million more and in response we organised dBs Dialogues in partnership with female:pressure, an organisation hell-bent on making women working in media production more visible. This lecture series featured 4 sessions with 5 guests, each from a different part of the electronic music industry.
It all began with Antye Greie-Ripatti, an electronic music producer and sound artist, who led us through a discussion on visibility and the role of the media. As one of the core members of female:pressure, she has dedicated an amazing amount of time in her recent career to showing the world just how many women are already involved in the field. Some of these projects include NerdGirls, a website which features an ever growing list of female artists, #Rojava, a campaign intended to raise awareness for women in Syria and this Tumblr page where you can submit photos of women working the the studio. We walked away with a greater understanding of just how important it is to see images of women in these roles and that there’s more of them than you might think. “Sometimes you just need a crew,” said Antje, and that crew needs to listen to and promote the creations of the women who are a part of them.
In the following session, we took a step back from the current state of things to look at the systems that have led us to this point. We focused mainly on education and prior exposure to fields of technology, but also touched on the imagery concept again. Invited to the session was Josa Peit, a Berlin-based electronic musician, who helps organise the German leg of EU Code Week. Together we talked about how crucial it is to give all kids access to learning about tech. With more efforts in this area we can hopefully reverse the unsettling trends of women perceiving themselves as worse in STEM subjects and being erased from history. Until the gender ratio adopts a more even state, selective organisations like EQ network, (which welcomes trans people and women only) serve as critical resources for marginalised groups. In these safe spaces skills can be shared, mutual support can be offered and confidence can be gained.
The third event was all about politics and philosophy and Mad Kate was with us to share the insight she has gained from her experience as a performance artist and “sex radical dad.” A lot of her work is centred around her profound ability to gaze reflexively at her body. When you have a lucidity about the way the world perceives you and the body in which you reside, it becomes easier to identify when you are encountering prejudice, sexism, racism or anything equally nasty. Whether we are quicker to recognise difference or similarity in others, everyone puts people into boxes and can feel themselves put into those boxes. If we become better at calling out moments when this is happening, perhaps we can all tone it down a bit.
For the finale of the event we wanted to close it with a bang, so we invited two guests! It was an honour to have both Electric Indigo and Emika join us and share their inspiring, and quite divergent, stories of achieving success in the electronic music industry. Electric Indigo is the actual founder of female:pressure and began the online database when she was tired of hearing the same comments at all the festivals she was playing at: “it’s so sad that there aren’t more women in music!” Her focus on collective action juxtaposed nicely with Emika’s more independent streak. It seems that one of the greatest insights from Emika’s career has been developing a solid trust in your own gut and to never let feedback from labels, or the like, interfere with the expression of your own voice. We didn’t even bring up the word women until the Q&As because it wasn’t really relevant anymore. Instead we just sat back and listened to the wonderful tales of two people being triumphant in the pursuit of their dreams.
The end of our inaugural dBs Dialogues series marks only the beginning of our inquiries into issues being faced by people involved in creative industries. At its core, it will focus on the human elements that bridge all the categories people make up.
To know more, we encourage you to watch the recap videos we have put up on our blog. The full audio from the lectures can also be heard on our Soundcloud. Thanks for your interest and we hope you join us next time!
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