EDM music gained a boost in popularity in the early 2,000s; propelling itself into the mainstream by the present. Its origins are simple; raves were held, and DJs were able to play against the status quo; showing a harder, more aggressive side of music.
Now the atmosphere has changed with the likes of the Warehouse project creating a ‘safe’ environment for raves and smaller, more intimate venues giving underground music a new home. The names in underground music, especially drum & bass and bassline are predominantly male. Let me ask this; would you prefer to listen to a DJ you know play songs you haven’t heard before; songs you know; or a DJ you don’t know play songs you don’t know? We find the first answer to be the most common today; with DJs asking for smaller artists to send songs and mixes to be used in their sets. Ella Spencer, promoter and manager of events brand ‘Bass Junkies’ says that “the women are just as good as men and more events need to be held to show this off. My goal is to show big promoters that women are talented. Most of the women that perform at my events have told me that they aren’t paid a fair rate for their set. Their allowed a plus one and a rider.”
On November 15th, Ella hosted a ‘ladies night’ with a twist. Instead of a female only crowd; there was a female only line-up. The names included Vdubz; Bassline Barbie; Maddy V; Y-zer; and GTA (Girls Take Action).
“I spent a lot of money on getting one of the strongest line-ups for an event like this. I wanted to proper gas my girls and show others that they can make it”, Ella explained. Most of the artists present at the event were all united in the belief that woman need more representation within EDM. GTA, a ‘super group’ of MCs and DJs say that “we struggled to get bookings when we were fresh on the scene. As individual performers we were finding it extremely hard to stand up for ourselves. MC ENIMIE was told she couldn’t perform at an event 7 years ago because she’s a lady and the promoter didn’t think she could pull it off. Since being a collective we’ve always got each other’s backs and we’re a force on our own”. Gathering from GTA; having a group of females seems to be easier that being a single performer.
Maddy V, a southern based MC was founded by Belly man, a veteran drum and bass MC, and she had this to say “I had been following him for a long time and never thought I’d be sat next to him performing. It was such a unique experience and it helped me get my name out there. I hadn’t even performed anywhere other than my bedroom in front of my webcam. I can’t thank Belly enough for the opportunity.” Since her debut in 2016, Maddy V has performed across the region in a mix of clubs and festivals; even going global this year with performances and Innovation in the Sun, a drum and bass festival in Costa del Sol.
It is an artist’s responsibility to push their material. EPs, Q&As, interviews, promotional material: the attention they receive is down to the artists and their teams. We as consumers cannot force them to increase the material released, but maybe if there was more; there would be less of an issue regarding the dominance of the scene.
The social injustice surrounding the male dominance in the scene is being tackled by bodies that aim to diffuse the situation; giving equal opportunities to both genders, and changing the way that women are portrayed within the industry.
Smirnoff, the name usually associated with the drink you continuously knock back on a Friday night, launched a new platform last year under the name ‘equalizing music’. Teaming up with THUMP, Broadly and Spotify; Smirnoff plan to bring music fans and industry professionals closer together and double the amount of female headline acts by 2020. Launched as part of international woman’s day 2017, ‘Equalizing Music’ encouraged leaders to pledge to increase the female representation of females within the industry. This is done through events sponsored by Smirnoff and the venues they work with; giving a platform that women can use to express themselves in the same way as others do.
Non-profit organisations and charities like Woman in Music are sprouting up, gaining following and giving power back to females within the industry by supporting and creating a fair platform for representation and opportunities. Founded in 1985, WIM’s mission is to advance equality, empowerment, and visibility. With chapters globally; WIM hopes that change will happen across the board, not just for the audience facing roles. With a focus on supporting woman by giving them guidance as well as opportunities; WIM aims to remove the dominance; shifting the power evenly throughout all parties.
One of the most important campaigns to have started in recent years, Rebalance, aims to remove the dominance in the scene; promising to increase the number of female recording artists; performers; and engineers. The three-year scheme aims to give recording time to artists, providing them with the tools and means to reach their goals. At the end of each year, the most successful artists will be given slots at Live Nation and Festival Republic; with the aim to increase the female presence on festival line-ups; boosting it from a mere 4% to a more appropriate percent that reflects the female festival audience (that being 51%). Not only will Rebalance be pushing for more female recognition within stage performing; it will also offer studio apprenticeships to women who wish to pursue careers within engineering and production. This scheme; paired with the likes of Women in Music can remove the social injustice surrounding the lack of female representation within this media; making a more balanced and fair platform for all within the industry; hopefully without gender inequality.