A Dialogue on Female Visibility in Electronic Music

Posted by Sylvia Gozdek on 2/18/2016 in Catalyst

In our first ever dBs Dialogues [now Catalyst Dialogues] event, we discussed female representation in electronic music with music producer, sound engineer and female:pressure member Antye Greie-Ripatti.

Throughout telling us about her on-going career as an electronic music producer and sound artist, Antye Greie-Ripatti made us laugh. Her charm made that part easy, and even though the topic of conversation was the dire state of the gender ratio in the field, it wasn’t much of an obstacle for her optimism. The unequal conditions are obvious within our walls here at dBs Berlin [now Catalyst] too; the boys outnumber the girls. But on the panel of our first ever Dialogues series the ratio was reversed, while numbers in the audience appeared to be balanced.

In between her praises of the sexualized and powerful form of feminism Nicki Minaj embodies, she told us about the challenges of working in a male-dominated music industry. As a core member of female:pressure, an organization hell-bent on making women working in media production more visible, her struggle motivated her to take action for positive change.

From setting up the Nerd Girls website which features an ever growing list of female artists, to the newest campaign intended to raise awareness for women in Syria called #Rojava, she has done some amazing work as an activist. But even with powerful role models like Antye (and Nicki) and the media now in our collective hands thanks to the internet, why are the numbers so slow to change? Are there elements in the electronic music scene, and in music production in general, that discourage women from participating and leading?

The inaugural installment of our Dialogues series has a focus on these questions. After the first session went on for hours, it’s quite possible that we won’t be able to cover everything in all five. But the premier discussion featured topics which ranged from a lack of visibility to how pioneering women get pushed out.

Many of our female participants told us about how they felt isolated and we discussed the myth of the “one exceptional woman.” We all know lots of women who are exceptional, and they ought to have an equal shot at being showcased amongst the talented.

There was also talk about the tension that exists between the different forms of feminism which are being expressed. This seems to hinder solidarity amongst us, which is a critical tool to being able to overhaul the status quo. One of the essential messages Antye wanted to tell us was how important mutual support is. “Sometimes you just need a crew,” she said, and also that crew needs to listen to and promote your creations!

Take a look at our recap video from the first event and if you feel inspired to do something about the lack of visibility of women in music production, consider submitting a photo of a woman working in the studio on this Tumblr run by Antye. She made it in response to a statement made by Bjork. We are certainly following it and we hope to see you on there, or better yet, with us in the room next time.

Watch recap videos from our other sessions of the series with Josa Peit, Mad Kate and Electric Indigo & Emika.