If I say electro music you think Skrillex, Martin Garrix, Avicii, Calvin Harris, Diplo or Flume.
You’d be forgiven for thinking EDM is only produced by white men. Most of the time, there are very male lineups: female DJs get just 17% of the bookings, hence why this badass collective is reclaiming dancefloors for the POC and women, who actually represent more than a half of the industry.
Discwoman is a New York-based collective, booking agency, and event platform representing and showcasing female-identified (cis women, transwomen, and gender queer) talent in the electronic music community. The collective was founded in 2014 by Frankie Hutchinson, Emma Olson (aka DJ UMFANG), and Christine McCharen-Tran.
Discwoman highlights both emerging and established artists from around the world. The collective aims to highlight and correct the gender imbalance in EDM clubs and festival lineups.
It all started as a two-day festival in September 2014 at Bossa Nova Civic Club. Discwoman has since produced and curated events in more than fifteen cities and worked with over two hundred and fifty DJs and producers thus far. Since its first event, Discwoman has thrown events with all-female lineups in Boston, Philadelphia, Montreal, Detroit, San Juan, Puerto Rico…
I was booking women guests and my DJ partner is a woman, but I actually thought it was cheesy to market it as a ‘women event’, but I realized it’s important to be outspoken about it instead of pretending we’ve moved on and that everything’s fine–to talk about the fact that it’s not.
– Emma Olson, DJ and co-founder of Discwoman
A culture created by queers and people of color now is dominated by the same people who run everything else: straight white males. When safe spaces are lost—as dance music was once was for people of color, women, and LGBT-identified fans—the essence of what dance music is and should be is lost too: a place for everyone.
“EDM, or Electronic Dance Music for short, has become a big and lucrative genre. The once nerdy and uncool phenomenon has become quite a profitable business. Superstars along the lines of Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Avicii, and Tiësto have become the rock stars of today, and for many, the role models for tomorrow. This is though not the case for females. The British magazine DJ Mag has an annual contest, where listeners and fans of EDM can vote for their favorite DJs. In 2016, the top 100-list only featured three women; Australian twin duo NERVO and Ukrainian hardcore DJ Miss K8. Nor is it easy to find female DJs and acts on the big electronic festival-lineups like EDC, Tomorrowland, and the Ultra Music Festival, thus being heavily outnumbered by the go-go dancers on stage. Furthermore, the commercial music released is almost always by the male demographic, creating the myth of EDM being an industry by, and for, men. Also, controversies on the new phenomenon of ghost production are heavily rumored among female EDM producers. It has become quite clear that the EDM industry has a big problem with the gender imbalance.” wrote Daniel Lund Hansen in his thesis.*
The old-school conditioning of having to dress a certain way to be ‘taken seriously’ is still around, and there will always be some idiot claiming you’re using your looks, or worse, sexual favours, to get places.
– Nightwave, Glasgow-based DJ
Indeed, not only festivals perpetuate misogynistic imagery but also toxic bro culture in order to attract crowds. Women in EDM are pushed to flaunt their youth, beauty, and sexiness instead of their musical talents. The genre’s anti-woman traps are reflected in an undeniable absence of female DJs and producers from “Best Of” lists and lineups.
Hence why, filmmakers Nicole Sorochan and Ian MacKenzie directed Amplify Her, a documentary showcasing some of these up-and-coming women in the EDM scene and focuses on their experiences making and performing electronic music.