Women and transgender artists have too often seen their work in electronic music pushed to the margins. Moogfest’s launch this year puts them first.

Moogfest organizers promise to bring back the mix they’ve been brewing in the latest editions: part music festival, part conference, with music and music technology meeting up with larger themes around science and innovation. The difference is, instead of the presence of female and transgender artists being just another box for curators to tick — “hey, look, we booked some women” — here, they’re leading the announcement. That includes both a 50-hour livestream of back-to-back sets from a pretty amazing and diverse set of artists, plus the first wave announcement of artists.

Here’s Madame Gandhi explaining the idea:

The result is a mixture of people you know really well (legends like Suzanne Ciani, Moor Mother) alongside a lot of artists who are almost certainly new to you – particularly as they’ve been drawn from disparate genres and geographies. Indeed, these are the kind of people who have been quietly pushing music in new directions, but who might get lost in the fine print of music programs, or pushed to the side in music headlines. In fact, I think the upshot is a potential victory not only for gender equality, but for independent and out-of-the-mainstream music, too. And knowing CDM readers, irrespective of your gender, I think that’s a value you’re likely to enjoy seeing represented.

As Ciani tells The New York Times:

For Ms. Ciani, the theme for Moogfest 2018 is only natural. “Women have long been intimately connected to electronic music, perhaps because it offered a path outside male-dominated conventional music worlds,” she said. “What has changed is an awareness of women in the field historically as well as a huge influx of contemporary talent.”

Moogfest Shines a Spotlight on Female, Nonbinary and Transgender Musicians

To that I’d add that it’s worth noting that the “influx” and “contemporary” parts are also closely tied to international artists. Our own CDM contributor will have a conversation with a fellow Romanian woman in the Bucharest scene for one link to that; I’ve also had conversations recently with a some Iranian artists about the situation for women making music there (and the resulting international scene as they travel), and … well, look down the list of countries below.

Moor Mother, the ground-breaking experimental project of Philadelphia’s Camae Ayewa, is one of many people deserving of first-wave headliner recognition – and now getting it.

We’ll have some interviews with artists shortly, so Moogfest’s lineup is your gain, wherever you are.

To watch the livestream:

You can watch from anywhere beginning at 12pm ET on Wednesday December 6 until 2pm ET on Friday December 8.
http://AlwaysOn.Live

Or watch here:

I’m also cross-posting to our CDM Facebook page.

The schedule:

The beginning is – starting very radical, in a nice way! Unfortunately, upstream bandwidth / encoding looks … very choppy. Hoping some of the artists sort that out better. (This is a real roadblock of livestreaming, but that’s a topic for another time.)

Livestream artists:

Admina
(Bucharest, Romania)
Adriana T
(Athens, GA, USA)
Alissa Derubeis
(Asheville, NC, USA)
Amy Knoles
(Valencia, CA, USA)
Ana Paula Santana
(Guadalajara, Mexico)
Andrea Alvarez
(Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Annie Hart
(Brooklyn, NY, USA)
Awaymsg
(Durham, NC, USA)
Aseul
(Seoul, South Korea)
Bells Roar
(Albany, NY, USA)
Caz9
(Dublin, Ireland)
Club Chai (8ULENTINA & FOOZOOL)
(Bay Area, CA, USA)
Despicable Zee
(Oxford, UK)
DJ Haram
(Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Dot
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Ela Minus
(Bogota, Columbia)
Elles
(London, UK, USA)
Emily Wells
(New York, NY, USA)
Fari B
(London, UK)
FOSIL
(Chile, Santiago)
Galcid
(Tokyo, Japan)
Jil Christensen
(Durham, NC, USA)
KALONICA NICX
(Bandung, Indonesia)
Kandere
(Melbourne, Australia)
Katie Gately
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Kim Ki O
(Istanbul, Turkey)
Lauren Flax
(New York, NY, USA)
Lilith Ai
(London, UK)
Lucy Cliche
(Sydney, Australia)
Lya “Drummer”
(London, UK)
Madame Gandhi
(New Delhi, India)
Mileece
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Moor Mother
(Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Nazira
(Almaty, Khazakhstan)
Nesa Azadikhah
(Tehran, Iran)
Nicola Kuperus
(Detroit, MI, USA)
Nonku Phiri
(Johannesburg, South Africa)
OG Lullabies
(Washington, DC, USA)
OTOMO X (Fay Milton & Ayse Hassan)
(London, UK)
PlayPlay
(Durham, NC, USA)
Pulpy Shilpy
(Pune, India)
SARANA
(Samarinda, East Borneo)
Sassy Black
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Stud1nt
(Asheville, NC, USA)
Sui Zhen
(Melbourne, Australia)
Suzanne Ciani & Layne
(Bolinas, CA, USA)
Suzi Analogue
(Miami, FL, USA)
Therese Workman
(New York, NY, USA)
Vessel Skirt
(Hobart, Tasmania)
Zensofly
(Durham, NC, USA)

Of course, even better than live streaming is – being there in person. (No buffering issues! Or… if there are, seek medical attention!)

Here’s the first-wave lineup announcement, including a couple of friends (and a couple of idols)!

Amber Mark
Annie Hart
Armen Ra
Aurora Halal
Bonaventure
Carla Dal Forno
Caterina Barbieri
DJ HARAM
Ellen Allien
Emily Sprague
Fatima Al Qadiri
Fawkes
Gavin Rayna Russom
Helen Money
Honey Dijon
Jamila Woods
Jenny Hval
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Karyyn
Katie Gately
Kristin Kontrol
Kyoka
Lawrence Rothman
Madame Gandhi
Maliibu Miitch
Midori Takada
Nadia Sirota
Nicole Mitchell
Noncompliant
Pamelia Stickney
Sassy Black
Shanti Celeste
SOPHIE
Stud1nt
Umfang
Upper Glossa

Updated: One artist has chosen to respond critically to her placement in this way. Caz9 aka Caroline Polachek expressed dismay on Twitter that she wasn’t consulted about this announcement, saying “I don’t need a sympathy pedestal,” and several hours later announced she would no longer play the festival. As I wrote here, though, the centerpiece of this announcement was taking artists booked for Moogfest and announcing the non-male artists first – which is different than suggesting gender earned some different consideration apart from gender. Polachek also refers to a decision by a “male curator,” but Moogfest has a curatorial team, which is mixed. Pitchfork covers this, including the Moogfest response.

An excerpt from that response (worth highlighting):

We believe that using our platform to center women, non-binary and transgender people is an important tool to combat the erasure and invisibility that can occur when these identities are kept on the periphery. Please know that no musician was booked for Moogfest for any reason other than their own unique artistry, and today’s announcement is just phase one of our 2018 lineup. As always, the full Moogfest artist roster will be a diverse lineup of talented performers across a wide spectrum of gender, culture and politics.

CDM has reached out to Polachek for comment.

Polachek has posted an explanation. The short version: it’s not the she objects to the idea itself, but rather the fact that she didn’t herself want to be represented in this way. That seems fair, generally, and it’s a theme I hear from artists pretty often (including some friends). I would certainly respect artists’ wishes, and it seems at least in this one case, there was some absent communication.

As festivals and media (including this one) embrace the notion of addressing equality and marginalization, I think it’s only healthy we have reminders that we need to consult artists and listen. That’s not to criticize Moogfest – I think we simply need to hear out artists involved and improve all we do as a result.

  • Must be an awesome experience to see live…

    • Yeah the streaming is making me hungry for some live stuff in person. 🙂

  • Velocipede

    Nonbinary musicians must use analog instruments by definition!

    • Polite Society

      yeah, i thought this site was all about digital music with 1’s and 0’s. *usual troll*

      I heart this so much by the way. thank you moog. <3 the stream seems to be on hiatus though. or audio only. enjoying the sounds though.

      • Velocipede

        I did not mean to troll. Just a bad joke.
        I think the idea is great too. Hope the performances are all available post stream too.

        • Polite Society

          My apologies, i was trying to join your angle of humour, not call you out on it. <3

          • Velocipede

            Glad you got it. I was actually a little concerned when I posted it that it could be misconstrued. Cheers!

  • baju-baju

    As an honest question – are non-straight people being marginalised in the electronic music scene and festivals? Really???
    As someone involved in organising, promoting and playing at (small scale) events and festivals, I have never seen that happen. People of all ages and walks of life gather and play and have fun.
    Where does this discrimination happen? Why isn’t it trumpeted about? Why are the organisers not named and shamed?

    Does it create a difficulty to crate an event for non-binary people only?
    How do you have to prove your identity? Is it healthy to demand that people divulge their secrets to ba allowed to take part? Doesn’t seem all that inclusive to me…

    • Honest answer: yes, people do face discrimination and hostile environments. But I think it’s also worth saying that smaller scale, experimental events, niche events, underground events (heck measured even just by money) – these are in fact often radically more positive environs. Moogfest I think deserves some leeway here as they’re speaking to larger scale big money festivals. The fact that they opened with a live stream with some seriously weird music is already a good sign. 🙂

      But absolutely, just ask. Of course people have a rough time out in the scene. Of course your identity can add layers of further resistance.

      We’re going to talk to some people about specifics of this scene. As I said one of my contributors is looking at what these issues have meant in Bucharest, how it’s changing there. You might hear different answers in Tehran.

      It’s tough to generalize. So I’m all for listening to people talk about their personal experience and their ideas for how we all progress and build better festivals and communities.

      And that said, of course all musicians can use support from one another, full stop.

  • “Gender is not a genre.”

    Right on Polachek!