“Discwoman” Festival Unites Women of the Electronic-Music Scene & Showcases NYC’s Vast Female DJ Talent
Irrelevant: Sony Discman. Relevant: the two-night, all-female electronic music festival, Discwoman.
Dreamt up by women, produced by women and performed by women, the first-ever Discwoman festival is happening Friday & Saturday Sept 19 and 20 at Brooklyn’s epicenter of electronic music, Bossa Nova Civic Club, which has been a huge supporter of female DJs since its opening almost two years ago. The festival will include sets by twelve of New York’s dopest female DJs: Lauren Flax, Shannon Funchess, Lauren Dillard, Volvox, Ana Lola Roman, Kim Anh, Beta Librae, Amber Valentine, Ciarra Black, Ariele Max, Bonnie Danger and Hannah Daly. Additionally, a percentage of all bar profits will be donated to The Sadie Nash Leadership Project.
The three women behind the disc are familiar faces at Bossa Nova: Emma Olson, who DJs under the name Umfang, Frankie Decaiza Hutchinson and Christine Tran of creative agency Witches of Bushwick. They took the time to sit down and answer a few questions about the creation of Discwoman and what it means in the scope of the electronic-music scene and feminism:
From Left to Right: Christine, Frankie and Emma at Bossa Nova Civic Club
How did Discwoman come about and develop into this event that’s getting so much attention and support? Was there a need/goal in mind or did it come together more coincidentally?
FRANKIE: Emma and I were drunk, actually, and we were talking about all the talented women DJs we knew, and then we both just sort of blurted out “WOMEN DJ FEST,” so we brought it to John Barclay (owner of Bossa Nova Civic Club) and he was very supportive...Then, we brought in Christine because she has so much experience in big events and production; her involvement was key to us being more professional. Emma has exceptional taste in electronic music, and I love creating platforms for women...
EMMA: ...And we wanted it to be a charity event, so Christine suggested working with Sadie Nash Leadership Project, which could not be a more perfect fit as young women’s empowerment is their main agenda.
CHRISTINE: I Love being involved in projects empowering creatives, and specifically women. Frankie called me up telling me about this project and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of it.
How do you define the word “Discwoman”?
EMMA: Discwoman is mocking the idea that music is gendered in the first place.
FRANKIE: The image of the Discman now being Discwoman is a lot more political than I think we anticipated. Discwoman, for me, means transforming technology in order to incorporate everyone.
In the '90s, there was a pro-women movement in the underground-punk scene called "Riot grrrl." Amongst other things, it celebrated, empowered and organized women in the scene. When looking at the current state of the underground-techno scene and the underground-punk scene pre Riot grrrl, there seems to be similarities, specifically in being male dominated. Do you agree? The Riot grrrl movement went on to largely define '90s feminism. Do you hope to achieve something similar with Discwoman?
CHRISTINE: Girls to the front!
FRANKIE: Definitely. Like any other field of work, women should be acknowledged for their contributions to the techno scene and the broader dance/DJ community. Discwoman seems so natural, like it’s been here the whole time. It’s weird it hasn’t been done yet, but better late than never.
EMMA: We’re lucky in New York to see a representation of women killing it in the industry. I lived in Kansas for a long time before coming back to New York and I read about women making waves, but I didn’t necessarily think I was a part of it or that I could be. I am! I want every young woman to feel they have a place in whatever they want to pursue, and events like this can expose more people to that idea. It should not be a novelty to throw a women’s DJ festival...Learning how to use a drum machine is empowerment. Learning how to mix records is empowerment. Engaging in technology is empowerment. Discwoman can function as a reminder that women are a supported minority within the broader techno community.
Is Discwoman something you hope to continue and possibly expand outside of Brooklyn?
FRANKIE: Literally was talking to someone about doing it at Output next year. Definitely expansion. We want to build the Discwoman brand/collective out until we achieve my personal fantasy of being a record label for women DJs.
EMMA: Discwoman became bigger than the sum of its parts almost immediately after the idea was pitched. New projects already in the making.
What would make Friday & Saturday a success in your eyes?
CHRISTINE: Showing up, dancing, supporting the Sadie Nash Leadership Project and the future of Discwoman.
EMMA: If people feel supported and inspired, we did it right. I’m going to start crying when I find out how much money we raised for Sadie Nash Leadership Project. Stoked.
Check out their website for interviews with the DJs performing and to stayed tuned for what’s next from Discwoman.