Started this year in Vancouver, Intersessions is a new series of artist seminars aiming to address the significant gender imbalances in the music industry, by offering DJ workshops for female and female-identifying individuals. The goal of the events is to "facilitate/nurture community by promoting safety in sharing in a movement towards intersectionality in solidarity."
Here in their own words, co-organizer Chippy Nonstop and participating instructors of the upcoming Toronto edition tell us why it's so important for workshops like these to exist.
"After being considered a 'thot' backstage one-too-many times, it was time to take matters into my own hands. Honestly, I'm just fucking tired of being treated like shit, just because I am a woman and comfortable with my sexuality. I don't want the next generation to have to deal with feeling like this while doing something that they are passionate about just because the people in their environment are not ready for them.
At the end of the day, we are not each other's competition. I don't want to be an anomaly. I don't want to be known as a "good for a girl DJ." I want to be to known as a good DJ and that's it. We don't want to see anymore 'Best Female DJ' lists. We want to be included, because we know and have perfected our craft, not because of our gender.
I'm not saying I'm the best DJ in the world or anything, but I do have knowledge I would love to share. Creating a safe place for girls to learn how to DJ, when the traditional environment for DJing was never a safe place for me is important to me. All these women involved are so empowering, smart, and inspiring to me, so I asked them why it's important to them to be a part of a project like this."
"When I began DJing, access to gear was the first obstacle, but also feeling outnumbered in a scene full of primarily male DJs was intimidating. I know I felt like I wasn't quite welcome in the boys club when I was starting out.
Hopefully events like this can encourage women to be less afraid to pursue whatever musical ventures they're interested in and foster some supportive relationships among women in the scene."
"The lack of equal gender representation in electronic music is a problem as old as time. As long as men dominate media coverage, label rosters, festival bookings, and mentorship/management positions in the industry, this inequality will continue to feed itself: a vicious cycle that never stops repeating.
For a number of very complex reasons including (but not limited to) heteronormative socialization and limitations within our education system, girls are not developing an interest in tech, electronic music production, and sound engineering at the same level that boys are encouraged to develop an interest in from a very early age.
By involving women in leadership roles, as teachers and mentors, we can set an example and instill in women and girls a sense of curiosity, fearlessness, and can-do attitude, and dismantle this outdated way of thinking that women are biologically not predisposed to enjoy DJing and production."
"The number of times that I have met female-identifying individuals and they tell me things like, 'I wish I knew how to DJ' or 'I wish I could try DJing,' is actually astounding. I learned how to DJ by watching my junior high boyfriend learn how to scratch on a super expensive vinyl setup, and then two years later, teaching myself how to mix via YouTube and torrented apps. The opportunity I had during that relationship made me feel comfortable enough to even think that I could teach myself to mix after we didn't know each other anymore.
These students' first encounters with this equipment will shape their relationships with mixing, producing, and music, a relationship that for me, has helped me meet amazing people and form amazing communities around this form of expression."
"I remember when I first started DJing and bought myself a pair of decks on Kijiji with no real idea of direction or what to start with. I train-wrecked until I could beatmatch. I would have loved to have an event like this when I started to teach me things like what equipment to buy, beatmatching, track organization."
"It's one thing to be one of the few women that are given access and space to do what I love. However, I don't think the job is done until you pass on privilege, knowledge, and confidence to all the women around you that may face internal or external barriers."
Intersessions Toronto is April 18 at Studio Bar, sponsored by Moog Audio and VICE. More info can be found here.
Watch a short video from the Vancouver edition below and follow Chippy Nonstop on Twitter to find out about future workshops in other cities.