There has always been an air of secrecy amongst DJs. In the 60s, Jamaican dancehall DJs used to spin one off dubplates as a way to stay unique, and later, hip-hop DJs in the 80s would cover up the labels on the records for the same reason. For the listener, there was something special about hearing a real bomb out, then having to either wait patiently for its general release, or at the very least scour record stores just to find it. But things have changed. Today, the landscape of modern dance music is massively different in light of the ‘age of information’, with the ease of availability giving rise to an infestation of ‘chauffeur knowledge’ amongst our generation, which some fear is devoid of any real substance.
Consequently, many seem frustrated with a new wave of selectors that seem to lift entire track lists from their idols top 10 charts as oppose to organically developing their own sound. 2013 saw the popular app ‘Shazam’ integrate with dance music giant Beatport, meaning users can now literally identify tracks dropped by their favourite DJs at the touch of a button, even before they get home. The crate-diggers are furious, but are apps and charts like this really that detrimental to budding DJs, or are they brilliant tools to aid and educate? Eager to delve a little deeper, I asked some of the people affected. From DJs, to label owners, to record shop workers… here’s what they had to say:
Axel Boman (DJ: Pampa/Hypercolour/Pets Recordings)
I’m basically FOR music, in every way… I don’t mind people shazaming every track I play! I do however find some weird pleasure in playing un-shazamable music (maybe its the crate digger in me).
I think the personality of the performer/DJ is the most important. Like – when Moodymann plays “7 Nation Army” its kind of cool (hey, it is from Detroit and IT IS a badass bassline!), but if Tiesto does it, well… it comes off a bit shit.
Audiojack (DJs: Gruuv, 2020 Vision, DIYnamic)
It’s fun to see people figuring them out but we’re all for sharing track IDs, unless a track isn’t out for a long time, is unsigned or we’re asked not to by its maker. A lot of the music we play is unreleased or pending release so name checking those tracks helps us and the producer see the reactions and builds interest for when the music comes out. Regardless of what it can do for us though, unless you prefer playing at home on your own DJing is a two way deal and people should be entitled to know what they’re listening to, if they’re taking the time to listen.
Dan Farserell (DJ: Act Natural/Fear Of Flying/Othertones)
I’m not necessarily for or against it, but I don’t see it as a problem. I think it is a good thing that people want to know and share the tracks you are playing as a DJ. The annoying thing is when people try to become other DJs and have no identity themselves. They just play music that their favourite DJ does and that is a problem for me… although saying that, these people never become someone on the scene anyways.
Ben Rau (DJ: Fuse/Luna/Save You)
Any deeper knowledge about who made the tune and what else that Artist might have done has got to be a good for us creators. After all, I became I DJ because I like sharing the music I love and make people dance to it. On the other hand, tunes now break extremely quickly once you receive the promo. It is often less than a month until a tune is rinsed, whereas back in the day, you could play secret weapons for years! This is certainly annoying but the antidote is this – make your own music! Put in the time and make good music, share the music with a few trusted producer friends who will give you their music in return, and that way you can be fresh all the time while testing your own material, in the only place that matters: on the dance floor, I get a great deal of satisfaction of playing out music I made, and Shazam won’t be able to tag any of those.
James Cotterill (DJ & Label Owner: Illusion Recordings)
I genuinely couldn’t care if some one went to the effort of researching every tune I played from a DJ set and published it online. If, anything I would be flattered! I think this boils down to pure pretentiousness on the DJs part. They are happy to go share this music with the people that pay their wages, but no one’s allowed to know what the tracks are? How the hell are the producers who make the music that allow you to be a professional DJ meant to get paid, if people can’t go buy the tracks because they don’t know what they are? My answer is if you want to be that pretentious, don’t DJ, because you are not supporting the community that supports you! And if you do want to play more sought after tunes… buy vinyl.
Silky (DJ: My Favourite Robot/OFF/Faceless)
I think it’s great. At the end of the day, DJ’s get promo’s before they are released to see if it fits into their sets, so they can play them, and promote the release and artist… that’s the whole point of getting a promo. Music is for everyone.
Terrence:Terry (DJ: La Vie En Rose)
For me there’s no problems for sharing tracks who are already in shops or online, but off course many of us have our own special tracks from our crew and family, or secret weapons that we like to keep… and this is exactly what the people need! Stay informed, and follow your favourite artists and labels.
Simon Rigg (Phonica Records)
To be honest, Shazam isn’t THAT upfront with many forthcoming releases or new labels etc., and it doesn’t have lots of old or obscure catalogue…so Secret Weapons are still secret weapons!
The responses certianly raise a lot of interesting points. It seems the general concensus is that it’s ultimately people buying the tracks, feeding the scene and allowing producers to dedicate all their time towards actually making more music, so to educate the crowd is surely a good thing! Those actually making something interesting will shine through, not only with their own productions but also with their track selection – meaning the art of DJing is still very much alive – the landscape has just changed. The accessibility only encourages DJs to keep their fingers on the pulse, support eachother and keep it as creative as possible! It’s not over yet…
MEOKO is a 360° events and promotional agency / Online Magazine specialising in cutting-edge, underground electronic music and events based in Dalston, East London. With a stong client porfolio, MEOKO has garnered a strong, reliable reputation in the two years it has been running. As well as PR, MEOKO is also passionate about top-quality journalism and regularly hosts reviews, interviews and features on its website written by some of London’s finest journalists. MEOKO also publishes it’s own mini magazine each month (x4000 copies) which is distrubted throughout London with the MEOKO flyer packs and recently hosted The MEOKO Project at Village Underground celebrating electronic music. Over the coming months, the agency will be also launching their new weekly online radio show.
Applications are currently being reviewed, interviews will take place between the 10 – 17th July. MEOKO is looking for a hard-working, passionate individual who has a strong knowledge of electronic music, is organised and reliable and who enjoys social media. We are searching for the perfect candidate who can jump onboard and is not afraid to get stuck in. During this internship you will able to network with promoters, artists, agencies, lables, press, festivals, designers and many more creative types. You should share an interest in events and promotion as well as holding either a PR/Journalism, Design and Creative OR sales and music background. All would be a bonus.
He or she must have excellent people skills, be creative, be able to communicate well as an individual or part of a team and most of all, relish working in a fast-paced, busy environment.
This is great experience for someone wanting to break into the music or events industry. The role will be varied and will include some writing, website, social media, sales and admin work, as well as other random tasks.
The internship will run for 4 months from July -December / 10 am – 6pm Tuesday – Friday.
Requirements for the position:
Must have own laptop
Be familiar with Excel/Word / Web / Photoshop / indesign / basic HTML
Background in PR/Journalism
Strong passion & knowledge for electronic music
Be able to work at least four days a week 10am – 6pm
To apply for the Internship, please send us your covering letter explaining why you would like to work for MEOKO along with your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘MEOKO Internship 2013’ as the subject heading.
East Village today made the shocking announcement of its closure following two arrests by the Metropolitan Police that caused their licence to be revoked. The club has been a staple in East London’s electronic music scene since opening in 2008, playing host to some of the industries most in-demand artists, from disco legend Greg Wilson to techno star Radio Slave.
The closure is the latest in a string of closures in the scene from some of the most beloved establishments in the country, including Sankeys in Manchester and Cable in London. Below is a statement from the club on the matter:
‘The promotions and music team had the shocking and totally unexpected news that East Village’s license was suspended this week with a full review pending within a month. Unfortunately we are unable to open this weekend so Player’s Ball and The Village on Friday and Sunday respectively have both been cancelled and we apologize to both promoters and fans of the nights for the serious inconvenience caused.’
Further details are yet to be released, but this statement from Hackney Police on Twitter links the closure to ‘serious crime’.
It’s certainly devastating news, but we’re crossing our fingers that the club will be back up and running soon! Here are some of our favourite parties over the years…
We’ve already mentioned Greg Wilson’s appearance at their sell out Christmas party in 2011… he never fails to impress, busting out pumping edit after edit on his famous tape deck!
Rootikal has ben another favourite for reggae heads, here’s a clip from this time last year when they welcomed down Mad Professor, Aba Shanti-I and Earl Gateshead plus Enos McLeod live…
And here’s house veteran Joey Negro spinning back in October 2011 in this extended clip from his set!
‘BEATZ: The Divergences and Contradictions of Electronic Music’
London Premiere Screening, The MEOKO Project @ Village Underground – Friday June 28th
Featuring: Laurent Garnier, Juan Atkins, Carl Craig, Carl Cox, Luciano, Derrick May, Loco Dice, Monika Kruse, Technasia, Kenny Larkin, Nicolas Jaar, Seth Troxler, Apparat, Boys Noize, Craig Richards, Ben Klock, Ambivalent, Agoria, Paco Osuna, Angel Molina, Oscar Mulero, Blake Baxter, DVS1, Damien Schwartz, Murcoff, Dj Deep, Tadeo, Surgeon, Ben Sims, Jerome Sydenham, Stacey Pullen, Marcel Dettman, Maceo Plex, Marshall Jefferson and many more…
On Friday June 28th, The MEOKO Project will play host to the exclusive premiere screening of new music and DJ documentary, ‘Beatz: Contradictions & Divergences in Electronic Music’. This will be one of the only opportunities to see this exciting project screened publicly in the U.K., and so is a unique chance to gain an insight into the electronic music industry from the perspectives of the artists who make it, the shops that sell it, as well as the managers, promoters and agents who spread it around! All those interested in the music industry, whether you currently work in it or have a desire to, take heed now…
Created and directed by Spanish DJ and producer, Eduardo De La Calle (Cadenza/Analog Solutions), ‘Beatz’is an 80-minute documentary intended to explore some of the most important issues surrounding the world of electronic music, such as its impact on society, the influence of technology, the external images conveyed by DJs and the industry itself, through over 150 interviews with the many different actors shaping the scene – past, present and future. From artists, distributors, shop owners, label managers, bookers, and club/festival promoters, all the different contributors to the industry are featured, giving a well-rounded perspective of how electronic music is changing, progressing, and even struggling behind the scenes of this burgeoning international industry.
The documentary was made from scratch, without any previous funding, meaning Eduardo alongside his team had to crowdsource for contributions in order to complete the project and achieve its full potential. It was produced with the help of Daniel Arasanz, writer, director and producer of “Venid a las cloacas: La historia de la Banda Trapera del Rio”, which won two prizes at the Inedit Film Festival in Barcelona. Visit their site here to find out more about the project and the ways in which you can support it!
Tickets for the ‘Screening + Party’ also include the following:
● A free beer courtesy of Desperados
● Complimentary canapes from Dim Sum restaurant The Drunken Monkey
● Free popcorn courtesy of PROPERCORN
● Interview with BEATZ director DJ Eduardo De Le Calle chaired by Toi Toi Musik co-founder Isis Salvaterra
● London Nightlife Photography Exhibition hosted by Daddy’s Got Sweets
● Pop-up Streetwear Market featuring the likes of Puckoo Couture, In Real Life London, Fuudhoods, Done London, Only Child & more…
Bank holiday weekends can be stressful sometimes, hectic often, and bad for your health presumably always. No need to worry though, MEOKO’s Weekend Guru is here to help with all your raving requirements; from warehouse parties, all day blow-outs, Sunday summer shindigs and more. Below is a selection of this weekend’s top house and techno events, where you can expect to see at least one of the MEOKO team gracing (ahem) the dancefloor!
Tief presents Underground Quality Label Night @ Corsica Studios
So many people it’s actually ridiculous. From Sven Vath to DJ Sneak to Kerri Chandler and Deetron.
With stages being hosted by the likes of Cocoon, Kehakuma, Speakerbox, Mulletover, Creche, secretsundaze, and Crosstown Rebels there is so much to see, we’re working ourselves into a tizzy trying to plan our movements tomorrow. The predicted modicum of sun also helps!
Toi.Toi.Musik presents Cab Drivers Live (Summer Series Party)
Cab Drivers, Voigtmann, Lamache & more
Our beloved Toi.Toi family are starting of their summer season with a bang, bringing down Cab Drivers (aka Berliners Zky and Daniel P) for an extremely rare London live show. This kind of underground quality is what we’ve come to expect from Toi.Toi.Musik!
THE MEOKO PROJECT IS MOVING TO VILLAGE UNDERGROUND!
The MEOKO Project is a very special event, and it requires a space that can accomodate all the different elements involved, from the film screening and the pop-up fashion market, to the epic party afterwards. For this reason, we have relocated from Red Gallery to the spectacular Village Underground, which is still right in the heart of Shoreditch but is more able to suit our needs and trading hours. The whole ‘project’ will now run from 5PM until 4AM, with music and DJs from the very beginning and complimentary cocktails and delicious canapés served to all those who have purchased the ‘Full Project’ tickets for the film screening and party.
The MEOKO Project is a 11-hour musical and cultural experience located right in the heart of East London. Alongside a stellar musical experience featuring rare London performances from the likes of Cadenza’s Valentino Kanzyaniand Jun Akimoto of the London label and party collective, Fuse, it will bring together individuals, brands, and collectives under one roof to showcase the creativity and innovation that surrounds London’s colourful nightlife and music culture.
Some of our favourite up and coming streetwear brands will be showcasing their creations. The collections on offer will be closely connected with club and youth culture in the UK, with the outlandish partiers who wear them, with the sweaty bodies that dance in them. Featuring the likes of Puckoo Couture, Fuudhoods, and Only Child London.
5.00pm – ALL NIGHT: London Nightlife Photography Exhibition curated by Daddy’s Got Sweets
For half a decade, Beth Marsh, under the alter ego Daddy’s Got Sweets, has been observing, documenting and commenting on the colourful and controversial culture that runs through London’s clubs and parties. A photographer, clubber and large personality, Beth exposes the true grime and grit, the honest beauty, and the un-posed perfection of the people and artists who make up the underground scene.
7.15pm – 9.00pm: Film screening: ‘BEATZ: Divergences and Contradictions of Electronic Music’ (Tickets must be purchased in advance) + POPCORN (tickets must be purchased for screening) MEOKO are excited to be hosting the London premier screening of the new and highly anticipated BEATZ documentary. Filmed and directed by DJ Eduardo De La Calle the ‘Divergences and Contradictions of Electronic Music’ and features the likes of Loco Dice, Derrick May, Carl Craig, Laurent Garnier, Monika Kruse, Levon Vincent and more. With no prior budget, they managed to collect over 150 interviews with influential tastemakers and important figures in all areas of industry, from DJs to label owners to promoters and management. Watch the trailer below
We are delighted to announce our first official MEOKO event since launching back in 2011: The MEOKO Project is our way of celebrating our achievements over the past two years and saying a big THANK YOU to all those who have supported us along the way. So please join us for a truly special party that represents everything MEOKO is about – celebrating music, art, culture and more.
The MEOKO Project is a 12-hour musical and cultural experience located right in the heart of East London at celebrated arts venue, the Red Gallery. Alongside a stellar musical experience featuring rare London performances from the likes of Cadenza’s Valentino and Jun Akimoto of the London label and party collective, Fuse, it will bring together individuals, brands, and collectives under one roof to showcase the creativity and innovation that surrounds London’s colourful nightlife and music culture.
Spread over two floors, from 5.30pm until 6am, The MEOKO Project will feature a host of ‘exta-musical’ activities, including a London Nightlife Photography Exhibition curated by celebrated underground photographer, Daddy’s Got Sweets, alongside a ‘pop-up’ fashion market showcasing some of our favourite up-and-coming street wear brands including festival-ready Puckoo Couture and Fuudhoods.
We are also massively proud and excited to announce that we will be hosting an exclusive London premiere screening of new electronic music documentary, BEATZ: Divergences and Contradictions of Electronic Music which features over 150 artist interviews with industry professionals, label owners, managers and DJs such as Craig Richards, DVS1, Luciano, Loco dice, Derrick May, Carl Craig, Monika Kruse, Laurent Garnier and more. The screening will take place in Red Gallery’s basement from 7.15pm onwards, and there are limited tickets available with only 80 places – so please make sure you purchase your tickets for the BEATZ screening & party as early as possible to avoid disappointment. Watch the trailer below, and buy your tickets here.
Plus, of course, it wouldn’t be MEOKO without a delectable house and techno lineup to take us through the night and for this party we have gone deep into the underground to bring you nine hours of partying with a selection of our favourite DJs and producers from Slovenia, Germany, Japan and London herself.
Labelled as one of the “founding forefathers of Slovenian techno”, Valentino’s laid-back but skilful approach to his craft (providing serious tech-house music and sets to the masses) has taken him around the world thrice over, making him one of the most respected vinyl DJs. As well as founding his own label, Jesus Loved You, and his own clubnight in Ibiza, Next Wave, Valentino is a celebrated producer with releases on Cadenza, Tenax and many more, as well as being selected to feature on Richie Hawtin’s upcoming Minus compilation.
Flying in from Japan, exclusively for MEOKO, Jun Akimoto’s return to the Big Smoke has been long awaited by all those who know and love the London institution that is Fuse. Jun’s love for electronic music truly began to flourish when he moved here in 2003; mixing, producing and striking up a passionate affair with dancefloors across the capital. 93 Feet East (RIP) was a particularly special haunt, and is where he met and became inextricably connected with Fuse London, a relationship that has allowed the musical careers of Jun and his frequent partner Ittetsu to blow up rapidly. Now with a collaborative project with Yaya Desolat under his belt, we expect to see big things from this artist in 2013.
Listen to Jun’s MEOKO mix below
Although a Dusseldorf native, Binh’s name and reputation is inextricable entwined with the modern underground Berlin. When he finally settled in Germany’s capital, he immediately made his mark with a residency at the reknowned Club der Visionaere and founding his own night, Noon. He has since taken his refined, deep techno style around Europe’s most iconic clubs and festivals, rapidly gaining fans and industry respect even before releasing any of his own material. Nevertheless, his first release on Concrete Music is imminent and the scene is waiting with baited breath for more to come…
Gaining a reputation from early DJ sets as resident and co-promoter for Toi.Toi.London, Voigtmann has, in a considerably short space of time, established himself as an electronic music producer with an ear for high quality underground output, as well as co-founding new label and DJ roster Toi.Toi.Musik. As a DJ, gigs at fabric in London, Rex in Paris and Club der Visionaere in Berlin have further cemented his reputation as a vinyl mixologist of the highest calibre. Now with a solid release just out on Assemble Music and many more in the pipeline, Voigtmann’s patience is paying off and MEOKO is excited.
Listen to Voigtmann’s MEOKO mix below
In today’s day and age of over produced and over hyped tracks constantly doing the rounds, it’s rare to find a young producer who has forged such a unique and special sound. MEOKO describe his experimental style as ‘Music from Mars’, futuristic funk meets deep minimalistic techno and house grooves. Rico Casazza certainly has our attention.
Listen to Rico’s MEOKO mix below
Friday June 28th, 2013 17.30 – 06.00 Red Gallery, 1-3 Rivington St, London
Next Wave have been doing their thing since the 2011 season, from hotel clubs, including Corso and Club Punta Arabi, before eventually settling at the monumental Privilege towards the end of last season. Making it clear just what they’re about, their legendary closing party last year hosted the one and only Ricardo Villalobos, alongside a ridiculous lineup of Raresh, Rhadoo, Petre Inspirescu, Valentino Kanzyani, Dan Andrei and Ian F. Shying away from the VIP culture that seems to be taking over the island, Next Wave are all about putting on good music, good deep and tech music to be price – without any booths or bottles of champagne. With a price tag to go with the ethos, tickets last year were a fraction of a pricise of its competitors at €15.
Since Ibiza last year Next Wave have toured Europe, with parties in Barcelona, Sarajevo, London and Berlin to name a few! Taking hold of the underground party scene and gaining solid fans along the way, Next Wave are in no way just a passing tide.
Romanian DJ, Rhadoo, returns this season but this time to headline their newly announced opening party on 19th June 2013 at Privilege. A household name in mainland Europe, and teetering on the edge of being huge, he’s played alongside Derrick May and Mathias Kaden, as well as performing at the much talked about WE ARE FSTVL. Finishing off the lineup is German artist Thomas Melchior, who is providing a live set, and Japanese DJ Fumiya Tanaka, as well as Russian artist agency, Gipsy Music, controlling the ‘Vista Blu’ room.
Purposefully keeping their online presence to a minimum, Next Wave really needs to be seen to be understood; no amount of hype can really do justice to such an event. As they state themselves on their Facebook, “no philosophy, just music”; and we plan on being right alongside them to ride this wave together.
The OneMore collective have been providing London with some of the best below-the-radar parties since way back in November 2010. Matching their underground music with underground venues, their debut event was held in a former leather factory. In the years since, they’ve become a London staple, creating a community around their parties that is rare treat nowadays and goes someway in explaining why people return month after month. These guys are serious about keeping a certain vibe, and are not in the business of selling out.
A venue which they have eventually come to call home is Hearn Street Car Park, an exciting, industrial space, whose attaching ‘chill-out’ room adds to the unique OneMore vibe. But with unconventional spaces you are met with issues, and their biggest issue was that of the licensing kind. This meant that last minute their Bank Holiday event last month with Carl Craig had to be moved to Area in Vauxhall. Fighting for their beloved venue however means that they are back at Hearn Street for their upcoming event on the 27th April.
Headlining their event this Saturday is Mr G, (who recently contributed to our Music Through Pictures series) a DJ and producer who’s been there from the beginning. Being part of many different musical ventures including KCC and The Advent, his music has travelled via dub and reggae through to his driving and unique style of techno. After laying low on the DJ circuit for years, 2011 saw the return of Mr G, with steady bookings being made from all over the world.
Also headlining is Rødhåd, German born Berghain regular, and the co-founder of the Dystopia parties in Berlin. Rødhåd aka Mike – no last name – is getting well known for his marathon DJ sets, saying in a recent interview, “Playing eight hours is like a heavenly trip.” OneMore signifies his FIRST EVER set in the UK.
It’s great to see OneMore back where they belong and joining the party along with Mr G and Rødhåd are the OneMore favourites Arnaud Le Texier, Antonio De Angelis and Outart.
A Think-piece About Female Pioneerism in Electronic Music, Post-post Feminism and Some Sassy Statements On Sexism
An article with such a mighty subtitle is obviously quite a hefty affair. Not only when it comes to the substantial research involved, with the need to dig relatively deep into the history of women electronic music, those involved in analogue technological development and pioneering moments of musical creation, but also in terms of the questions any such project raises. First hand observations and comments made by some of the interviewees – among them veteran punk electronic musician Gudrun Gut, early member of Einstuerzende Neubauten and part of the cult girl band Malaria, and Madeleine Bloom, musician and ex-technical support of the music software Ableton – lead to questions about the impact of feminism and gender equality in the field of electronic music, in which females are still direly underrepresented and, moreover, frequently mis-represented.
Investigating the first generation of women involved in the development of synthesizers and creation of electronic music highlighted the ways in which they dramatically influenced how synthesis was applied, as well as shaping the practice of using prototype analogue technology on broadcasted radio, in science fiction movies and also in what can be called proto-electronics or musique concrete. In doing so, I stumbled upon the a crucial contemporary debate in Germany, which spurred on female electronic music initiative Female:Pressure to gather data that would allow them to evaluate the representation of women in electronic music through looking at the percentage of females on label releases, playing on festival lineups and included in Top 100 lists. The result: according to Female:Pressure, “a 10% proportion of female artists can be considered above average” with most findings putting female representation between 5 – 8%.
Although many argue the issue is tired and rehashed, in light of these figures it is surely important to think about the past, present, and future of electronic music made and played by females? And what about those taking bubblebaths?
Female Techno Heroines
“’Woman’ is not a genre. Stop acting like we’re a passing fad. Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram, Wendy Carlos, Doris Norton, Suzanne Ciani, Cynthia Webster… even Goldfrapp and Add N To (X)’s Ann Shenton. These women weren’t on the periphery of electronic music…they pioneered it”, says Mollie Wells of dark pop band Funerals in an Electronic Beats feature on women in electronic music. And she is right. Females have, since the post-war inception of electronically produced music, played a crucial role in its development and presentation. From the work of electronic pioneers, such as Clara Rockmore, Daphne Oram, Pril Smiley, Bebe Barron, Alice Shields, Wendy Carlos and Delia Derbyshire through to Maryanne Amacher, Laurie Spiegel, Cosey Fanni Tutti of Throbbing Gristle, Ikue Mori and Laurie Anderson to second and third generation examples like Diamanda Galas, Gudrun Gut and Sylvie Marks; there have always been amazingly interesting woman involved in some of the most groundbreaking musical advancements. “It’s only now though”, points out Gudrun Gut, when I talk with her on the topic, “that these women are recognised as key figures and credited for their contributive role in history. Back in the days, no one noticed or knew about it much. It pretty much went without saying that these women were doing just their jobs, nothing else.”
In fact, the reality was very much the opposite; these were people not only interested in new technology but also talented musicians, putting them at the forefront of development, as they played proactive roles in exploring how synthesizers and special instruments, such as the Theremin popularised by Bob Moog, could and would be played. Quietly locked away in sound studios and labs, many of the women mentioned would research and work to improve the performance of music technology, making new proposals on how the machines could be built, and then by trying them out by performing them live on a stage. Clara Rockmore (born 1911) was the first classically-trained musician to pick up on the Theremin and play it as a virtuoso, touring the United States and wowing her audience with classical performances played on this strangely appealing instrument resembling a howling ghost, and which she did not manipulate in the traditional way but played by executing precise movements through the air. She was also behind several of the design improvements later made by Leon Theremin, which she outlined in order for it to meet her unique requirements better.
Women On Proto-Synths
In the same vein, Daphne Oram, was a true pioneer. One of the spearhead figures of the BBC´s Radiophonic Workshop, she was also one of the earliest British composers to produce electronic sounds and experiment with music made field-recorded sounds – “musique concrete”, the ancestry of today´s electronic music. Delia Derbyshire, her contemporary at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, reached true cult-hero status due to her 1963 arrangement of the
, one of the first entirely electronic music pieces used on television, which blew the minds of millions of Brits cosily snuggled away in their living room. Space, time and the universe; all of a sudden these paradigms could be sensed and understood through contemporary composition, and also reach a mainstream audience. Air raid sirens served as her inspiration, her own voice as an instrument, and she routinely employed a lampshade to make music with. Using cut-up samples of her voice and several electronic oscillators, Derbyshire also created the soundtrack to a documentary on the Tuareg desert people in Morocco, ‘Blue Veils and Golden Sands’, as well as producing remarkable proto techno sound pieces, which she apparently made for herself out of mere interest, possibly around the late 1960s. The BBC quotes Paul Hartnoll from Orbital, who says one of the tracks “could be coming out next week on Warp Records”.
It is pure pleasure to delve into the rich cultural heritage produced by these women, who pushed the envelope and managed to receive recognition for their work. Nevertheless, there are many more who have not received the recognition or publicity they arguably deserve; ever heard of Netochka Nesnovas, Mira Calix, Anne LaBerge, Annelies van Parijs, or suGar Yoshinaga…? The list goes on and on (see this website for more). As the author of the essay “Weibliche Elektronik” (who cites even more synth-using women from German-speaking countries) correctly points out, it is not the lack of examples of pioneering women that astounds, its the lack of awareness of their crucial roles. This does not surprise: the role of women in typically male-dominated industries like science and technology is frequently played down and overlooked.
Women And Technology
For instance, did you know that “a handful of pioneering women created the computing revolution, from the world’s first computer programmer of the 1800s, Ada Lovelace, to Austrian-American Hedy Lamarr, Hollywood star and mathematician who invented an early technique for spread spectrum communications and frequency hopping – the basis for the WiFi and Bluetooth we use today”, as writes Kathryn Parsons. Probably not. Parsons argues that there is widespread problem of invisibility concerning women in technology, which means there is a lack of role models and mentors, and a warped perspective of tech-women, due largely to the unflattering and presumably ‘masculine’ stereotypes associated with them. This might account for the fact that, despite more equal participation in the workplace, reduction of the gendered wage-gap educational gap, and women outperforming men across all sectors and industries, women don’t visibly participate in or get rewarded within technological work on the same level as men.
It seems as if this predicament, however, has never been an issue for Madeleine Bloom, a musician and ex-Ableton technical support worker. A musician from the moment she was able to express herself, she moved from singing to making music and playing instruments into producing electronic music. “I just couldn’t find anyone who had the same musical taste and vision so I ended up making music more and more on my own. I was always good at understanding manuals so I just got into music software”, muses Madeleine. One thing led to another, “I was in dire need of a part-time job because music didn’t earn me enough to pay the bills. (…) Ableton were looking for people in tech support so I applied, and since I met all requirements, they hired me.” She later discovered she was the first female tech support to work in the company.
Technicians and Secretaries
It only took some time working behind the scenes until Madeleine noticed some important things about her gender and her new job: there were hardly any female consumers of Ableton products (only 7% of people who purchased products were registered as female) and that, when talking to her, people would generally request to talk to a technician, suspecting her to be just a secretary. Madeleine decided to take a stance, and wrote an essay on “Why Not More Women Make Electronic Music and How This Could Change”. The article had some repercussions – “I only wrote it because I felt I needed to get it off my chest so I didn’t think much about it beforehand. It caused quite a stir and yes, it did surprise me. I got lots of positive reactions, but also a bit of trolling in a forum, although not the worst kind. Female:Pressure contacted me and mentioned the article in their newsletter.” – which led her to resign from her job, to offer personalised coaching. “When working as a technical support I realised that I really enjoyed teaching to others. After my article about women in electronic music I was contacted by someone about giving lectures and workshops as part of a festival for women where they can perform and learn more about music technology amongst peers. It sounds very exciting and I really hope we can make it happen.”
Madeleine´s blog makes an interesting read, largely because she explains these shocking statistics by suggesting there are ‘missing allures’, or less incentives and role models for women, as well a vast gender clichees that are primary reasons for women not being more proactive in persuing skills and careers in electronic music. Gudrun Gut, when asked about this, muses, “to be successful as a female musician is still not viewed as being sexy. And being successful, for a woman, is still not a satisfaction.” Or is it? Talking about her own respective career, she recalls: “I started getting into making music in the punk era, and I did not feel alone at all. There were other girl bands around — the Raincoats, the Slits, Hansaplast, the ex Tussies. We went to their concerts, some were more up my alley, some less, everybody had their own take on things. It was a great moment, the generation of 1968 really caused a stir and an upsurge of women doing their own stuff, and the questioning of gender and relationsship of men and women led to more liberation. It was a huge topic, there were all-female newspapers, and in Berlin we found the perfect climate to be ourselves. Not the usual feminine stuff people were used to, like the flute-playing knitting feminists, but clad with black boots, screaming and making a lot of noise. People loved it. I already knew at that time that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I really enjoyed it and wanted it to go on and on.”
On And On
Gudrun today is not only looking back on countless years in an array of ground-breaking bands and outfits but also funded her own label, Monika Enterprise, which serves as a platform for other females and their projects. “And now, thinking about it, and talking about it, again and again, I am really starting to believe that we are losing out massively if we do not take a stand. Music is not sexless, music is a language. A voice. A statement. You can express things with it. That´s a huge massive statement you can make in a society. So why are we women not taking our opportunity to make ourselves heard?” Is the reward – power through self-empowerment – not alluring enough?
It is, for some. One person who´s heard her calling in recent years and taken up music to transmit her very own message is Nina Kraviz. It seems, however, she is not being heard but rather being seen (in a bathtub! public outcry!) and judged by the same standards that she is trying to break out of. Nevertheless, being sledged by the double-sided sword of double standards is so typical when it comes to being a woman – in music, in this world. And
although people are tired about the outcries and ‘gossip-mag’ style reporting, the controversy about Nina Kraviz taking a bubblebath (Madel
ine Bloom also wrote a great piece about this), while being filmed for Resident Advisor ‘s ‘Between The Beats’ documentary, serves as a perfect example of what it means to be a woman in the electronic music industry.
DJs In Bubblebaths
While some take it with a sense of humour, some also get downright agressive about it. Many people, including a certain high-profile male DJ, have critizised Kraviz heavily for having had the courtesy of letting the team film her in a bikini on a beach as well as in a bathtub, part of her routine when jetsetting around on an average weekend as a DJ. Whilst this is an outrage for many, its imposible to find people critizising someone like DJ Tiesto from the same perspective. The world’s top DJ has scored himself an advert campaigning for Guess. Why it is cool if a man is seen with two ladies on his side, one brunette, one blonde, is just beyond my imagination. Is it trying to suggest that Tiesto is so megahot he can have them all? Now this would be a sell-out worth complaining about!? Most interestingly, it shows how a man can market himself, without backlash, using his sexual manhood as an argument. But however big the advertisement and the implied sexism, it´s always the women who take the blame. If they are sexy, they are criticized for their looks. If they are technically good, they are ignored, as they are simply not sexy enough. If they just simply step up to the challenge, looking good and being good at the same time, people just go ballistic and some get downright envious. Often this envy is canalised into attacks against our gender. Why? All people suffer hardship overcoming their own limitations. Let´s just try to help each other instead of attacking others.
Whether the world likes it or not, Kraviz is a woman leaving a benchmark as a sensual singer-songwriter trapped in the body of a “Siberian temptress’” (as Greg Wilson puts in his article about Nina) writing compelling songs, which also sparkle with sparse rhythmic arrangements and interesting sounds (and if you hear her music without knowing what she is like physically, her sex and her looks are the last things that spring to mind, despite her music being very sexy). It´s remarkable that Nina is frequently undervalued for her skills as a music maker but rather judged by the way she looks, dances and enjoys being herself. Nina has her own vision of her as an artist and thankfully does not shy away of defending herself. On her Facebook she wrote, “Guys, are you serious? Aren’t you bored about this ten times dead topic about females in the industry, the idea that any boy can do what ever he wants and it’s all fine and a girl needs to behave? ‘Behave’ as in ‘not even put on make up because ‘oh my god, she can’t be taken seriously if she is pretty and feminine’- if she is herself. Since when, guys?”
Sexism Must Die
Good question. Until when, one would like to add. Nina continues: “If you think I am gonna change because you don’t feel it or you are full of cliches and sexism: You think you can control people and tell them what they should be like. No, sorry it doesn’t work this way with me. I am producing, exploring, digging records for ages, sharing music with people — all by myself. You can’t control artists and their creativity. Sexism and all similar bullshit must die. And the first step to it is to let artists be who they are regardless of their gender, skin color, sexual orientation etc… People, cliches are for those who have less crafty brains. I hope one day you will find yourself on the other side of the road.”