Perhaps you have heard of Feminatronic, a website that is worth to be bookmarked as your eyes and ears will be receiving an almost unstoppable stream of interesting artists, music, articles and documentaries. To make it even more special; they all happen to be female. It’s in fact a celebration to them who make electronic music of all sorts, and for a music consumer it is also a celebration as the diversity and quality will always set you to discover one new thing after another.
Some people might think but why only females? It’s a good and reasonable question perhaps as why not a mixed crowd of electronic music and sound artists of all kinds? I believe it has to do with that unfortunately there is tons of electronic artists out there, but it seems to be a very male dominated world. So if you want to enter a online site in which not 1 out of 20 solo artists is a woman, but 20 out of 20; it’s safe to say that Feminatronic delivers!
The website is vague about who is behind it, which is not only a thing to respect, it is also something noble and noteworthy. The good karma vibes are all piled up but the person behind it is too kind to receive it! Worth to take your hat off for, & gracefully take a bow.
The little information about the mysterious person behind Feminatronic tells us that she too is an artist in the electronica fields. Which means she not only knows inside information, but also knows what she is talking about from a personal perspective. I’ve always wanted to know a bit more about Feminatronic but never found the time to come up with some descent questions… Until (hopefully) now…
I have enjoyed and admired your postings since the discovery of your platform. I was wondering if I could ask you some questions for an interview.
Hello YIKIS, lovely to talk to you and thank you for your interest in Feminatronic.
Feminatronic (correct me if I’m wrong) is an online place that celebrates female artists active in electronic music at the broadest sense of the word. From experimental, to noise, to avant-garde to techno and all in between.
Feminatronic comes across very open minded in this aspect, where would you draw the line towards music / artists that you will and won’t feature?
To begin, I couldn’t have put it better myself. I’m so glad you used the word “celebrate” because that’s what it is. I suppose the name Feminatronic speaks for itself. It’s a site that covers, in its broadest sense, music, sound and noise creators who utilize electronic processes, who just happen to be people who identify as women. As such, I suppose that I wouldn’t include an all-male guitar band, but only because they don’t fit the increasingly loose criteria I use and certainly not in an exclusionary way. I’m a bit of an idealist and hope for inclusion. There are lots of sites that specialize to the ever widening genres of music created and if you are into Deathmetal or Rap or Jazz or Classical etc. etc. then you can go there. However, if it’s created by electronic means, i.e. synths, samplers, turntables, etc., and the artist identifies as a woman, then it would be included. Obviously, if it’s plainly derogatory to women, racist, etc., then I wouldn’t include it here.
That’s the beauty of the Net; you can discover and widen your horizons if you wish.
To break the ice with a very serious question, something that is most crucial in an interview… Could you please let us know what your favorite color is and is there a reason for it?
Mmmm… Blue, because it’s the colour of the sea and sky (but not often here :D).
My friendly friend Alex Spalding wanted to know how Feminatronic started? I believe that he means to ask if there was something that made you decide to start it up?
There wasn’t an epiphany as such. It had been in my mind for some time to do something about a subject dear to my heart, but thinking about this question has brought up several answers.
• Originally, it began with a simple idea – find a way to link with other women who were, and are, creating electronic music (mostly in the Ambient / Space community), spurred on by being included on an all-female electronic artist podcast.
• As I began to surf the net, I came across many women creating wide ranging and interesting electronic music, but it also made me face my own personal naivety. I was shocked by the lack of perceived visibility, or rather the invisibility, of many female electronic artists. There are some very well-known and feted artists but others are well under the radar and in all corners of the world. I had a feeling that there were others like me quietly creating music, soundscapes and sonic art, beavering away using a huge range of electronic means to create music, a sound, installations and a voice for themselves, but they were unknowns to me and to a wider audience. The more I looked and listened, the more artists I found. I was shocked at my own personal ignorance and thought if I didn’t know, others surely wouldn’t know but should because there was so much to enjoy and appreciate.
• I also think that the huge changes in technology have made a massive difference. When I began there was limited Net, no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and no Smartphones. I sound Neolithic but that did make it very difficult to connect with people and hear and discover new artists. The age of the easily accessible digital world is fairly new and has grown massively. It has been a great thing for artists to just create and upload their music and have a web presence or to develop a sense of community. However, with this has been the huge increase in the sheer amount of information on the Net and the growth of differing classifications/ genres now means that there has been, and is, a massive amount of music on the web on a plethora of platforms causing a fracturing of music. What on the surface is a great disseminator of information and art is also a problem, as the least visible can also become invisible. A personal journey of discovery is also at the same time a means to highlight as much as I can and let people go off and listen and discover for themselves without the straightjacket of genre.
• Feminatronic began with a question – How many women were out there creating electronic music? I hadn’t any idea how many. If I didn’t know these artists, how was the music getting to listeners, especially with, as I thought, the lack of wider publicity? Feminatronic’s main aim is to get the word out there – that there were and are, women from all genres of electronic music making, creating music in a variety of interesting ways. It’s a small cog in a growing movement (see Links page) and is not the only site trying to shed light on artists who create music and sound who just happen to be women who deserve to be seen and heard, and these also need to be supported.
To me exploring Feminatronic is pleasant as it is so diverse, even though you have sometimes ‘themes’ going on. I was wondering (considering your knowledge of so many artists who make so many different things) if there is (next to the artists being all female), something in the audio output that you think is typical (if such thing exist!) in all artists featured on Feminatronic?
Well hopefully creativity, art, fun, challenging, eclectic….
If you are expecting me to say a feminine sound then no…to me music has no gender, and there is no typical sound or audio output that I am looking for. It literally is what I happen to come across on my journey that day that sparks something off. It could be new releases, articles, reviews, websites, books, festivals, artists, etc. etc. anywhere in the world. I post about movements/ gigs across the world I can’t get to but, importantly, someone might.
Recently I had a discussion about gatekeeping. There is an element of that and some things do really excite me sonically, so they may end up on the site. However, I see real value in people creating things whatever the electronic genre and a typical scenario is this – I post what I’ve come across today, which could literally be anything and very eclectic, and you can make your mind up as to whether you like it, want to discover more, read up or leave it, but at least I’ve tried to get the word out. I’ve tried to get around the issue of gatekeeper or concentrating on certain artists or genres by being on several platforms and the themed weeks and playlists are an attempt to give space to as many genres and artists as possible. The Today’s Discovery posts are also a very effective way to give publicity to new releases, back catalogues, new and more established artists, and to give some space to genres that don’t often get a wider audience to hopefully challenge the perception of women’s music. Of course, I can’t cover everything, but luckily there are other organisations and sites that are also getting as much out there as possible too.
As a music and sound lover we frequently scroll and browse the internet in search for new stuff, something I’m sure you relate too.
How do you find the articles and artists for on Feminatronic?
The mammoth task to shine a spotlight on as much electronic music, artists, news, events and sites is firstly only possible because of the Net. Despite issues that the Net has, it can be a wonderful resource and has enabled me to discover so much. Social media and web surfing is what I do like everyone else. I also believe in collaboration and support, so reblog articles and reviews that I feel readers would be interested in, which now often creates a chain reaction of posts and tweets, increasing the visibility and widening the audience for artists. I have developed over time a few connections that I reblog / post as I believe in giving credit where credit is due and since I don’t see myself in competition with anyone, by linking, learning from, cooperation and acknowledgement of others expertise, I manage to find interesting things.
I’m a bit of a magpie and there are few days when I don’t find something to read or listen to that’s new to me. More and more it’s taking over my life. It’s morphed into something much bigger than I ever expected.
When browsing around in the requests of YIKS or go ‘hunting’ on the digital highway for electronic music makers, it somehow comes across as a fest of men. I’m not sure how and why this is, (it isn’t about barbecuing) but it looks like women are less visible or perhaps a lot less out there among electronic artists, why do you think this is?
This is such a huge and multi-faceted question. I think the key word here is “Visibility”, a word that is championed by many sites but initially by female:pressure. (http://femalepressure.tumblr.com/)
It’s not that women are not creating music, but for several reasons we have just not been very visible.
This is on several levels:
• Electronic music has strong associations with masculinity as performers, creators and disseminators / reviewers and as the major consumers. Yes, there have been some extremely important women in the development of electronic music, but for the handful of well-known artists there have been many under the radar that you have to search for. I cannot say whether this has been deliberate, but I do think that there is a subconscious blindness to the wide range of artists. Only recently, looking at a playlist, there was an 18:3 split between men and women and the genre was piano music. Surely there are more female pianists out there than represented?
• This leads to the question of women having the green light to be accepted as a creator or performer of music as a norm. I know that I may be over simplifying here, but years of not seeing women produce and perform in certain electronic genres has only contributed and reinforced the notion that women are not actively there. Yes, there have been women who have broken through into the popular consciousness but they too have had to fight their corner, such as the concentration on Kate Bush’s look in the video for Babooshka rather than her contribution to the craft of songwriting and sampling (Fairlight), or the recent undermining of Bjork or Grimes as self-producers.
This was my original thinking at the outset of Feminatronic. As I didn’t know who was out there or how many women were creating electronic music, I thought there were only a handful of women electronic artists.
Not seen – Not heard – Doesn’t exist, which is blatantly not true but seems to be an all-pervasive notion.
• This also has reinforced the feeling that we (women) don’t belong, which can undermine confidence to get out there, be seen and be heard. This is breaking down, thankfully, and I have noticed some changes for the best. I think with the more positive views of a younger generation of artists, we are seeing a lot more women on playlists, reviews and festivals, but there are still huge steps to take and there are still genres where women are struggling to be seen and heard.
One of the more important questions that I always like to ask in an interview is what your favorite drink is. Normally we would drink it together than to celebrate the success of the interview, but as this is a bit last minute inside the interview we will make sure to have the drink available for a future conversation. 🙂 So what does Feminatronic likes to drink? I know websites don’t drink usually, but after a few drinks even websites do!
Cup of Tea, strong with no sugar, or a glass of Tizer.
You focus and feature on music makers from all over the world; can you hear the music becoming more global thanks to the internet, or do you think geographic and culture plays a big part in how music is formed?
Personally, what I have found are certain genres seem to appear to be prevalent in some parts of the world due to the historical electronic development. Electroacoustic music has a strong historical background in Latin American countries and maybe other electronic genres, such as Noise or Industrial, are prevalent in other parts of the world, as they may be a sonic expression of struggle, personal experience, or politics. I may be oversimplifying, but some music does have a particular sound which you may be able to pinpoint globally, and I think it is because those artists come from countries that have a strong cultural identity. Another way of looking at it is, there are many artists who are creative and experiment with sound and plenty who bring their cultural identities to their music which, adds to a great listening experience for me and hopefully others.
My good friend Alex also wanted to ask what your opinion is about internet-music? I guess he means netlabel’s, or online music releases and streaming… God, knows what he means… What do you think he means & what is your opinion about it?
He could mean anything but here goes. I’ve covered a few things in previous answers but here are a couple of extra thoughts on electronic Internet music.
A few positives are:
-The huge range of music you can listen to on several platforms through your smartphone on a bus, if you like, or on your laptop, or wherever.
– Where once there was a very limited access to the huge diversity in music via record stores, the Internet has become a platform for the rise of small independent and micro labels. This has potentially increased the audience for smaller genres, increasing the chances to hear specialized or under the radar artists.
-The ability to have access to music from all corners of the world.
– Importantly, as an artist, to easily create, upload and enable people to listen to your sounds.
Some possible negatives could be:
-As I’ve already said, this huge increase in access to music can mean that, strangely, as an artist there is less chance to be heard, as there is so much out there.
-Streaming is a great idea in principle and I for one benefit from a huge range of easily accessible music. I could never do Feminatronic without SoundCloud or Bandcamp but the counter is the vast amount of music means that such a lot, and often great, music is just not heard. It may cause the listener to reduce playing tracks to a few seconds to get an idea of what the music is like, or reducing an album to individual tracks, possibly diminishing the overall experience. Of course, just because your music is played on the Internet does not necessarily trigger any financial gains (as it should in my opinion).
What troubles me is that all over the world we are in different phases in our ability to express things. I think it will be hard to find a female electronica artist from Saudi Arabia for example. Then again perhaps it will be hard to find a male artist there too. What I like of Feminatronic is that it doesn’t seem to have a political agenda, just a celebration and interesting place of female electronic artists; Something that comes together as a collection gathered by pure enthusiasm for the arts. This can only grow and grow, what are your future plans, or what are your hopes of Feminatronics in the future? (I’m kinda hoping for compilation albums, you know?) 🙂
Actually, there is a thriving electronic community in the Middle East and there are women who I have connected with and have put on playlists. But yes, you are right that although I do recognize the difficulties and inequalities that women face, I have tried to address this as a personal journey of exploration and enthusiasm.
The future you see for Feminatronic is problematic in that if I started to become more formal or release Compilations then this would restrict my original premise. It began and still is a celebration of the diversity of music creation, and if I started to put together a CD or tape then I would begin to be sidetracked from the day to day joys of discovering, listening, reading and posting which is my small contribution to getting the word out. The playlists, themes, Today’s Discovery, tweets, posts etc. all add to visibility and to normalizing of women as creators of art. To go down a more formal route for me may exclude so much more and lead to a concentration on a selected few artists and genres, which I don’t want to do. I try to give as much space to everyone as I can. There are some fabulous mixes and compilations out there which I have highlighted and hopefully there will be increasingly more – which I can spotlight : )
Even though some people stick their heads in the sand and deny that inequality exists, it’s obviously clear that there is prejudice and sexism in music land. I’m not thinking about the big mega stars but more on a grassroots level. The clubs, music venues, and alternative places to perform. I’ve heard some insane stories… a female artist who wasn’t taken seriously when setting up her gear as the sound engineer thought she was the ‘girlfriend/groupie of the artist for example. Or a band not setting up their stuff because they couldn’t cope with the audio technician not being a man… As an electronic music artist (and website) yourself, did you ever encounter such things yourself? And would you have an idea how these kinds of incidents could be wiped out?
Speaking as a non performing artist, I cannot answer your question from personal experience.
However, for Feminatronic, I must admit that I have only met with support and positive reaction. I hope that your understanding of Feminatronic in your opening overview has also been seen and accepted by the wider community.
That’s not to negate the horrendous experiences of some artists and the ongoing misogyny that some women experience in all aspects of the music business and beyond.
How to change this?
The list is endless but a few not original ideas are:
• Supporting websites that promote women artists
• More diverse playlists, reviews, Festivals but not tokenism.
• To break down barriers of entry by having safe spaces to create, experiment, share and perform our electronic music and be accepted as a norm.
• Increasing Visibility so that we don’t really notice the female drummer or bass player, just the human being making music.
I know websites don’t eat, but if Feminatronic could; what would be on the menu?
Something Fusion or pot luck…give it a go…be adventurous.
Some articles and documentaries that you share are quite eye opening. To see a post about the graphic designer of the iconic material of Kraftwerk being actually done and created by a woman was shocking to me, as why is this not very known in the mainstream? As the graphics of Kraftwerk is at least 50 percent of their whole iconic image. Why they would have kept that so hidden is a mystery… Are there more of these unknown mystery women you have discovered that the big public is unaware off while their work made such a huge impact?
Actually, there aren’t many weeks that I don’t read about the hidden women behind music, architecture, art, engineering, science etc. There are many great sites that have interesting articles about the hidden women in music production, or artists and some you can find via Feminatronics’ Links page, which is regularly being added to (https://feminatronic.com/links-2/links-feminatronic-connections/https://feminatronic.com/links-2/links-feminatronic-connections/). If you want me to name anyone, then Lucia Dlugoszewski, a Polish-American composer, performer and inventor of over a hundred musical instruments,including the timbre piano, a sort of prepared piano. Lucia is just one example of the lesser known artists and unfortunately the list is very long, sad to say.
It would be a very unfair question to ask who your favorite discovered artist is on Feminatronic, but perhaps a safer one is to ask if you yourself, have perhaps a female idol that gathered your interest so much that it inspired your journey into music?
Well firstly, this isn’t a question that I’ve thought about really as I have very eclectic tastes and just like music. That is, I’ve not given any thought to gender, as such. There are some wonderful female artists that have remained firmly part of my regular listening – Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Dakota Staton, Billie Holliday, Joan Baez, Kate Bush, Siouxsie Sioux, Polly Styrene, Pauline Black, PJ Harvey, Bjork and Vashti Bunyan to name a few, but this isn’t an exhaustive list.
Imagine a young girl is reading this and wants to make music or experiment with sounds, produce tracks or go ballistic by wanting to create loud noises… What would you suggest to her?
DO IT!!! Be brave, believe in what you are doing and enjoy what you are doing.
Thank you so much for doing this interview! Really grateful for taking your time to make this dream come true. I think we now should end this interview in style by asking if you have perhaps a last word, a shout out, or anything else before we go hunting for that drink!
That’s a danger in light of how much I’ve said already 😀
In a perfect world, there would be no need for specialist sites and specialist days on the radio of women composers. Feminatronic wouldn’t exist because there would be no need to increase the visibility of women in electronic music.
However, because I love this music in its many many forms, I would still go on my journey of discovery for the joy it brings me and anyone can and could come along to discover too.
Finally, sincere thanks for asking me to do this – It’s not for me. Feminatronic is genuinely an on-going evolving project that is perennially under construction and is a means to get some light shone on those who may not necessarily get some exposure. I can’t cover everything or everyone, but I try to spotlight as much as I can and let the reader or listener decide for themselves, so some days it may feel to a follower that I have some form of musical Tourette’s.
Finally, if you don’t appear on sites, don’t give up. Keep on doing the things that bring you joy and happiness and express your creativity. Why? Because you can.