Tomorrow evening, one of our favorite Brooklyn female-empowerment collectives, Discwoman, will host a panel discussion on women in the music industry. Born in response to the overwhelmingly male-dominated state of dance music, Discwoman’s first event was a two-day festival at Bossa Nova Civic Club this past September, which showcased the wealth of female-identified DJ talent in Brooklyn. Although Discwoman has evolved considerably in the last six months by rearranging the structure of the festival, hosting dates in other cities (San Juan most recently), and creating an in-house booking agency, Discwoman’s primary goal has remained the same: Empower women through music.
“After our inaugural event, growth was the only option really,” Discwoman co-founder and moderator of the upcoming discussion, Frankie Decaiza Hutchinson, told us via email. “Obviously we love our parties but we wanted to become a more sustainable model, something that could potentially give women regular work and encouragement, so moving the festival structure around has made sense to us in order to engage bigger communities of women. The booking agency kind of naturally occurred from so many people reaching out wanting to book us.”
And now, Discwoman is expanding its net of representation, encouragement, and empowerment even more with a new panel discussion called Industry Women. In partnership with Red Bull Studios and POWRPLNT—a new digital-arts collaborative studio and garden run by Angelina Dreem—the discussion will be by women involved in various genres of music and in various ways with the music industry; some of the women involved include Venus X, founder of GHE20G0TH1K; DJ Jasmine Solano (JSMN); Katie Garcia of Bayonet Records; and Michelle Lhooq, features editor at VICE and Thump. “The issues that concern women in dance music are not separate from what women experience in general,” Hutchinson said. “So getting broader perspectives is imperative to making sure people can relate.”
In anticipation of the event, we asked each of the panelists, “If you could only play one song to empower another woman, what would it be?” Here are their awesome selections:
“I had to pick two songs. I couldn’t just pick one! It was actually pretty tough for me to pick a song for this. I listened to a bunch of my favorite feminist punk tracks but I realized that they’re mostly focused all critiquing society. Critique of a system that is flawed is definitely a form of huge empowerment! However, I wanted to pick songs that I felt any woman, at any age could listen to, relate to and feel empowered and none of those seemed to fit my goals.
“So I thought of one of my mom’s favorite songs ‘Downtown’ by Petula Clark. It’s an introspective song about losing yourself and figuring out who you are while walking around ‘downtown.’ That ‘downtown’ could be anywhere. You could meet someone kind along the way, get lost watching a movie or be mesmerized by the bright lights of the ‘city,’ who knows? It should also be noted, that the idea of a woman walking around a city by herself was bold at the time. My favorite line is ‘Everything’s waiting for you!’ She’s talking about a whole world of possibility for you, so what are you waiting for? Go downtown!”
“The other song I would play is Lesley Gore’s ‘You Don’t Own Me.’ This was really one of the very first feminist anthems. It came at a time when most female singers dominated the scene with the ‘damsel in distress’ storyline. She’s so confident and is telling this person to let her be herself and let her speak her mind! Lesley is not about to let her partner dictate what her life should be. She is the original HBIC who gave zero fucks!
“I would play Steffi’s ‘Selfhood,’ off her recent album Power of Anonymity on Ostgut Ton. A few years ago, I went to Berghain for the first time and watched Steffi play twelve hours of brutal techno at the upstairs Panorama Bar, where she’s a resident DJ. It felt like I’d been waiting for that moment my entire life: to watch a woman command a room full of burly men in leather asschaps with effortless mastery, using the punishing industrial sounds that I love most.”
The talk, which kicks off at 5 PM tomorrow, will be followed by DJ sets from Abby and Shyboi, plus a special live performance TBA. Email POWRPLNT@gmail.com to RSVP.