Review: Perspectives Festival

Last Friday in Berlin female:pressure, the international network for women in the electronic music scene and digital art, hosted their third edition of the Perspectives Festival at ://about blank. The network and online databank comprises of around 1215 DJs, musicians, composers, VJs, visual artists as well as bookers, promoters and journalists from all corners of the globe. The event aimed at giving ‘music perspective’ in terms of raising awareness on the lack of female presence in the industry.

To increase understanding, the event kicked off with a two-hour panel discussion on how to articulate concerns about the status quo as a vehicle for change. The conference started off discussing German parties featuring Ena Lind from MINT, a representative and supporter of women in electronic music, Janine Fubel (://about blank), Dorit Crysler and Anne Groß (Springstoff Agency). The second panel, in English, included Chris Köver from Missy—a feminist magazine for young women—Eva Kietzman (Bildwechsel Berlin), Maria Mohr from Pro Quote Regie—an association of female directors and producers—and Bettina Wackernagel (Heroines of Sound). A number of facts resulting from female:pressure’s latest study were used to introduce the discussion. Surprisingly, in Germany, which stands at the epicenter of electronic music, women only represent a mere 10% of the industry, a figure that is apparently above average and not improving.

We spoke to one attendee who took this away from the discussion: ‘The most interesting part for me was when they spoke about the symbolic fight for women. As a history student, that’s extremely noteworthy because some female historians have been trying to give women a place in history that is often overshadowed by stories of big (white) men. The complex problem here is that historians often use masculine characteristics to describe women in history. The relevance is that women in the electronic music scene are increasing their visibility while veering away from those masculine characteristics.’

The music part of the night was kicked-off by Donna Maya, a Berlin-based musician and the first Ableton certified trainer. She got the crowd moving with her live show, performing a variety of tracks that ranged from dub-step, reggae to tech house that all-in-all produced a very danceable electronic sound.

Maya was followed by the proudly presented Theremin-master Dorit Chrysler. Her show and skill kept the audience in awe, as the full room watched and listened closely to her tastefully dark songs, most of them off her recent album Avalanche produced by Anders Trentemoller. She ended with a song on the founder of Scientology, which she qualified sarcastically, as ‘just what we need – another song about a crazy person in this world’.

Not only was there live music, but experimental DJ sets were also featured in the upstairs room with the likes of Perera Elsewhere, Kate Miller and Magda El Bayoumi.

Perspectives was a refreshing experimental live and thought-provoking event in Berlin. The turn out was good with a strong attendance of women, of course, with one man to every five chicks. But the fact that there were men there at all, is promising, since changing the status quo requires an effort by both sides. Informative, fun and entertaining, the Perspectives Festival was a nice break from the usual hard techno weekenders and definitely one to look out for next year.