This is a compilation of female artists, but that’s not – at first – why it’s worth mentioning. I would write about this particular compilation anyway. It’s dark; it’s heavy. It’s full of names you probably don’t know but should.
The compilation is out now on Bandcamp from Barcelona’s inventive and adventurous label Different is Different Records.
If techno isn’t your thing, skip straight to Electric Indigo’s crackling granular universe, “109.47 b.” Susanne Kirchmyer is a master of turning granular instruments into rich ambient landscapes of sonic color and shape, and this is eight and a half minutes of that. (More experimental sounds on their way to CDM, too, soon, so don’t think this is Create Techno Music – it’s not.)
if techno is your thing, this is a map to artists who are worthy of more attention. They’re each of them veteran DJs in different ways, from different corners of the world. This is a testament to the surprising diversity of the female:pressure network: just by hanging a welcome sign on the door for women artists of the world, extraordinary stuff rolls in. (It doesn’t hurt that people like Electric Indigo serve as nodes, attractors to a web of artists with some experience and skill – and their friends of friends, and so on.)
I’d say music like this is flying “under the radar,” but I know better – the radar too often isn’t switched on in the first place, let alone doing a full sweep. Women making music suffer because of that. So, too, do other groups. You get lost because of identity politics or economic strata or geography or just don’t know people who know people who can get you noticed. And sometimes, and I’m sure this is true of many of you reading this, you get lost just because you’re weird and different, even though that should be wonderful.
Music isn’t a meritocracy, partly because there isn’t a quantifiable way to measure its worth, but also because the entire industry measures worth on other things. It pre-judges what it thinks will be popular. To some extent, that’s inevitable or an acceptable evil. But to some extent, it’s inexcusable. At the end of the day, our job as press or selectors or musicians or just listeners is to actually listen.
So do listen to this, and if you don’t like it, you know we have more music around the corner.
Once you’ve listened, let’s talk about where it is arguably worth putting this “female” label on this release.
Let me share a personal frustration. I still can’t believe how often I hear these sentiments. I hear “women don’t want to produce,” or “women don’t care about being so technical,” or “women make music but that doesn’t mean they care about production.” With techno, especially, I hear it sometimes from people I normally agree with – “oh, women don’t really want to make techno music.” Or “techno is masculine music.” (As if some women don’t also sometimes like loudness or aggressive sounds or bass or whatever it is this is supposed to mean.) Or “that’s mostly appealing to boys.”
It’s just a lie. And the repetition of this lie is a crime, because it robs individual women of making the choices they want to make. Hey, if they hate techno and hate technology, that’s a choice, too – they can record a banjo solo on a tape player and that’d be fantastic. But that’s why generalizations aren’t victimless crimes: they’ve made that choice for you before you even have a chance.
I don’t expect all female artists want to identify themselves as female. But for those who do want that, I think it’s worth letting people know about it, so lies don’t continue to spread.
Some topics deserve debate or discussion. But some topics deserve just more music, and more loudness. And this one, whether you like it or not, I really like. So I’ll turn it up loud.
Postlude: this is techno, and it’s labeled as a compilation of female artists. Not everyone is comfortable with these labels. So I really look forward to getting to participate in a conversation at Ableton’s Loop event. It’s organized by female:pressure, and features one Electric Indigo (with some other great people):
Defy or Classify: Electronic music beyond genre [Ableton Loop]
How we define our identities, musically and otherwise, is a huge part of what we do as artists – all artists. And I think it’s also a place where a lot of us find ourselves limited and frustrated. So I am humbled to join this group of people talking about it, and it’s a conversation I will absolutely bring back to CDM so you can share in it, too.