Photography Bec Martin

meet the women reshaping australia's electronic music scene

As Melbourne continues to grow as a hub for Australia’s club scene we sat down with six female acts making it their own.

by John Buckley
|
13 February 2019, 5:39am

Photography Bec Martin

If 2018 was anything to go by we’re witnessing a phenomenal era for electronic music, particularly its emerging female artists. The success of artists like Marie Davidson and Helena Hauff, among others, suggests the genre is moving away from its male-dominated past.

In Australia electronic artists and DJs flourish both at home and abroad. While the success of acts like Mall Grab, Roza Terenzi and Nite Fleit could be attributed to cities all over the country, the introduction of Sydney’s infamous lockout laws focused much of Australia’s club culture on Melbourne. Despite the city’s status as a nightlife refuge, it faces its own challenges but continues to flourish despite them. With the inimitable efforts of groups like Cool Room, a club night committed to progressive line-ups and positive partying, and even Instagram accounts like Melbourne Club Culture Memes leading the way in burgeoning a safe and diverse path forward, there's never been more reason to champion Melbourne’s emerging class of electronic artists.

As we settle into 2019, i-D spoke with six female artists in Melbourne about their experiences in the city’s electronic music scene and what direction is needed for its future.

Jennifer-Loveless-women-shaping-Australian-electronic-music

Jennifer Loveless

How would you describe your sound?
I’m a House and Techno DJ. I’ll leave it at that.

Where are you from?
I’m from Toronto, and I’ve been in Melbourne for six years now.

Do you believe women in electronic music are having a moment?
I thought that we were so past that. I would say that Cool Room — I was with them from the start, and would put my money where my mouth is — started the movement of trying to change that landscape. By making a hard line, and saying that all the lineups had to have over 50% female-identifying or gender nonconforming artists. And we stuck to that. And at the time, everyone was like, “this is so tokenistic.” Everyone thought that it was kind of... not cool. But now we’re in a place where it’s almost ridiculous to see an all-male line-up. I mean, if we’re having a moment, we’ve been having a long fucking moment.

What are some of the challenges emerging artists face in Melbourne today?
Well if we’re speaking about Melbourne specifically, geography-wise, it’s incredibly difficult for an artist to tour and break into that international scene without a strong financial backing — or at least a decent one. I guess that’s the biggest challenge that’s specific to Melbourne. You’d have to have someone backing you, or just have the money yourself to go on tour. But in the same respect, I also like how isolated Melbourne is because it has its own language and its own sound. The dancing here is thriving like I’ve never seen, and it’s so young — it seems like it has a future.

The future of electronic music in Melbourne is...
Bright, exciting and refreshing.

Toni-Yotzi-women-shaping-Australian-electronic-music

Toni Yotzi

How would you describe your sound?
Naughty. Lots of UK influences from jungle, bass and 90s tech house and rave, to delicate Japanese house, trap, dancehall and disco. Whatever feels right at the time.

Where are you from?
I grew up in Perth, but have lived in Melbourne for the last three years.

Do you believe women in electronic music are having a moment?
I don't necessarily think women are having a moment, but I think the awareness for equal representation is really powerful at the moment. People are sick of white-washed all-male lineups, but while it’s undeniably positive to diversify bookings and create safe spaces for people to feel creatively heard, Australia's pool of artists is still relatively small and I don't think tokenism does any favours for electronic music. I think there has to be a cooperative relationship with awareness, insight and musical integrity between promoters, media, artists and audiences.

It has been so exciting to have women reaching out on the internet saying they want to DJ but aren't sure where to start or who to talk to and I'm able to offer them help with connecting them to promoters or helping them learn to mix. A lot of them have said they hadn't felt confident enough to do so until now.

What are some of the challenges emerging artists face in Melbourne today?
A lack of safe venues and ability to be seen and heard internationally.

The future of electronic music in Melbourne is...
Going to see creative problem solving and open-mindedness in response to venue closures, I hope.

CFrim-women-shaping-Australian-electronic-music

C.Frim

How would you describe your sound?
It’s really Afro-driven. I play a lot of music which derives from that style. So a lot of Nigerian music, and a lot of Spanish-influenced stuff.

Where are you from?
I’m from the south-east suburbs of Melbourne. I grew up there and have pretty much been here my whole life. I was born in New Zealand, but moved here when I was three months old.

Do you believe women in electronic music are having a moment?
I think they’re having a moment because there are so many amazing girls doing exactly what they want, and not giving a fuck about what’s popping. It’s just the stuff that they’re influenced by, and the things that they love, and they’re sharing it with everyone else, and challenging what’s happening at the moment. I feel that Melbourne is really house/techno-driven, so it’s really good that the audience is being challenged.

What are some of the challenges emerging artists face in Melbourne today?
Well, there’s a really tight-knit DJ community here, so it can be quite hard — especially as a female — to infiltrate that if you don’t know the right people. I was personally really lucky to know the people I do, because I haven’t been playing music for that long.

The future of electronic music in Melbourne is...
Female.

Modern-Heaven-women-shaping-Australian-electronic-music

Modern Heaven

How would you describe your sound?
If we were good enough to be John Maus, ideally I'd identify as something along those lines. Realistically, we sound like if Sia and Black Marble had a bastard child.

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, and then spent much of my 18 year-old-years-and-over between London and Melbourne.

Do you believe women in electronic music are having a moment?
Well, yes, a moment, a lifetime, whatever you want to call it. We've always been here, and we essentially always will be (sorry neanderthals). I dare point out the obvious and list all the women who have historically changed the trajectory of music. But rather, I’ll focus on the platform that is here today, and with pride, say that women are as qualitative and performative as ever. I'd say the current landscape has had our voices heard, and the social depreciation of what it means to be feminine has seen us more robust and confident in challenging male-dominated industries while being majoritively supported. There are a million other reasons and specific female-run initiatives in music that has accelerated, liberated and proliferated female contribution, but I'd like to say social attitudes are at its core.

What are some of the challenges emerging artists face in Melbourne today?
I'm sure all of my DJ peers will be first to point out this deforestation of music venues, so to speak. Seems like we'll be putting decks on a sticky pub-counter soon, and a pub's glass front-windows will act as a keyhole for bypassers children's tainted future — which actually kind of sounds not so bad come to think of it. Perhaps we'll have to start putting parties on in restaurants soon. Kids always get creative though, I'm eager to see how many more illegal raves start popping up out of legal retrograde.

The future of electronic music in Melbourne is...
Unknown.

Purient-women-shaping-Australian-electronic-music

Purient

How would you describe your sound?
A friend once said to me that it sounds like “a warm hug in a dark hallway.” I love that, it’s always stuck with me.

Where are you from?
I was born in Perth, but I spent the majority of my life on the Gold Coast and then moved to Melbourne nearly six years ago.

Do you believe women in electronic music are having a moment?
People are finally realising that no gender is more "capable". Social media has played such an important role in proving this — more than ever we’re all able to showcase our talents on a larger scale. People are becoming more aware of the amazing female artists out there; it doesn’t feel like such a boys club anymore, finally.

What are some of the challenges emerging artists face in Melbourne today?
I think there are still issues with prejudice against minorities. I have friends who perform at venues and still face abuse, or some kind of discrimination because of who they are, which really fucking sucks. I don’t want to answer for other people, but that’s just what I see.

The future of electronic music in Melbourne is...
Extremely diverse.

Makeda-women-shaping-Australian-electronic-music

Makeda

How would you describe your sound?
I guess the easiest way to describe it would be experimental electronic. I just like to create an emotional experience with my music that is underlying and felt by a lot of people, but hasn’t been created in sound before.

Where are you from?
I’m from Brisbane, but was born in Sydney. I moved to Melbourne a little over four years ago.

Do you believe women in electronic music are having a moment?
I don’t know, I think Melbourne is a pretty open city. I like to think that people here, for the most part, are pretty progressive. Even if they project bias onto something, I think they’re pretty aware of that. And I think everyone has just caught up. I listen to music five years ago from Melbourne, and it’s so white, and it’s so male. I feel like it really sticks to these really particular formats. There’s different archetypes: there’s the tough techno bro DJ; the soft house producer with a nice haircut and a primary colour hat, and so on. And I think people just got bored of that.

What are some of the challenges emerging artists face in Melbourne today?
There’s so many, obviously. I moved to Melbourne to do music, and to leave a city where I felt pigeonholed. I think the great thing about Melbourne is that there are so many different opportunities, and there are so many great different people from different walks of life. Everyone here is just so talented, and I feel like I’m just getting my mind blown by people all the time. But it’s hard to exist as a musician or a DJ here, and I think it’s going to get harder. There just aren’t many financial opportunities to survive outside Melbourne, making it hard to strike a work/life/music balance. And with more venue closures, touring has become incredibly difficult. Yes, people are pretty “woke”, but I find that there’s still a lot of explaining that has to be done. There’s a lot of fake wokeness.

The future of electronic music in Melbourne is...
Open.

Credits


Photography Bec Martin

Disclosure: Sarah Buckley, appearing above as Modern Heaven, is related of the writer of this piece and a previous contributor to i-D. Her connection to i-D and the writer did not affect her inclusion in this piece.

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