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It was summer in May on the lower mainland and We, a mixed bag of artists with varying degrees of involvement in “the scene”, packed into the hot and poorly ventilated Goldsaucer studio. Located three stories above the hustle of Vancouver’s infamous Cambie and E. Hastings intersection, this hard-wood floor box provided just enough space for everyone to sit or stand, just barely shoulder to shoulder. The intimacy however didn’t seem to cramp anyone’s style, it felt right.
The topic of this discussion was Woman in Electronic Music and Creative Technology and the panel consisted of Kiran Bhumber, Nancy Dru, Soledad Muñoz, The Librarian (Andrea Graham) and moderator Jen Sungshine. Sitting there in the front row, face to face with these accomplished women, I noticed how empowered they felt and how ready they were to share with us the audience, and for that matter, any audience.
Jen Sungshine kicked things off with a question about the ladies’ musical background, asking whether they thought a formal education in the field was necessary or helpful for what they did. Where Kiran and Soledad do carry with them institutionalized experience, Andrea and Nancy have both pursued their interests outside of the formal realm, and though they have all managed to succeed accordingly, the consensus was that formal institutions are beneficial to the extent they provide benefits like funding, industry access and structured learning protocols.
However, this formal approach comes with its own problems. One in particular being something called the “imposter syndrome”, characterized by “a feeling of not deserving to be where you are in the industry”. This question spurred a discussion on having confidence and being self-motivated, being able to move forward through the fear of not being accepted; by women or men, peers, authorities or current trends. The panel mostly agreed they did feel like imposters at times, though I personally think “imposter syndrome” holds true for any creative person willing to make honest art.
There’s a fine line between genius and madness.
The last question I’ll get into here is regarding sexist micro-aggressions, which happen more often than we think. Perhaps you’ve heard the following, “I’ve never seen a woman put on such a good performance” or “that girl in the bikini must have had help programming her set”. Moments like these do happen and are definitely toxic. The panel agreed that looks have nothing to do with technical ability, though they can influence market-ability and branding, in a positive or negative way. One prime example of this dichotomy being the “all-female line-up”, a topic that brought up a difference of opinion among panel members and within the audience, who touched on this topic during the Q&As. In brief, the idea of an all-female line-up does seem to promote women’s involvement in electronic music performance, however it does at the same time restrict men from playing those events.
On that note, there are no (marketed) “all-male line-ups” out there, but the notion of the scene being infested with “boy’s clubs” is pervasive. Ultimately, the panel wasn’t able to come to a clear conclusion regarding how to move forward in avoiding these micro-aggressions, but one suggestion that struck home for me was a shift in focus from the promoting of gender to that of art itself. For me it begs the question, does paying attention to these “issues”, with panels like these, make people more aware and able to act when necessary, or are we fostering the problem by even giving it a name and space to inhabit? You tell me.
Long story short, it was a great discussion. It left me with more questions than I arrived with. I looked around and saw artists, not genders. It was very inspiring.
This mix was inspired by all those out there who make moves, who hustle, for the music – DJ Guests
While his head nods to the sounds of the proverbial metropolis, our young hype-man finds himself uprooted from his darkling inner-self, through a process of sleeplessness and dance, that galvanizes a thick layer of party onto his style. This is the beginning of what is sure to be a long and upbeat summer.