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Femme Bass Mafia is knocking on the door, and kicking it open themselves

By: Amanda Sandström Beijer

Femme Bass Mafia
Femme Bass Mafia – From left back: Dangermami, Marie Midori, Luz1e

The lack of options for women, non-binary and trans people to learn electronic music production and how to DJ is the foundation of why Femme Bass Mafia (FBM) got started. Today they are fighting for femme representing people to take up space and being acknowledged as artists in an industry they know from the inside and out.


"As female identifying people, we experience the struggles in our daily life and work. Through exchange with other marginalized people and connecting with like minded folks who have encountered similar roadblocks and gatekeeping, we came to realize that these incidences are quite common", Lilia says and continues;

"It takes an extra amount of work, luck, connections, and the thing is that you need to have all these elements together in order for you to get ‘somewhere’. Most artist agencies have male-dominated rosters and this can definitely be discouraging at first. Another important aspect is the gender pay gap within the industry and behind the decks."


As a booker, Marie still needs to explain to promoters why gender-diversity is important and why she won’t accept male-only line-ups.

"I would like to see more support from male identifying people. The fight for equality is very one-sided so far and this is something that needs to change. I wished more male DJs spoke up or denied offers when the events they got booked for have no or barely any FLINTA* (female, lesbian, intersexual, non-binary, transgender & a-sexual) artists included. Even if it's unintentionally, they keep the system running like that, she says."

"There’s a lot of backend work to do, starting with diversifying the structure behind the scenes, and giving access to leadership positions in the music industry to more FLINTA’s and BIPOC. This also includes showcasing the work of FLINTA collectives, labels, artists by booking, releasing or promoting them", Lilia fills in.


Change cannot just rely on the shoulders of the least privileged

"Change cannot just rely on the shoulders of the least privileged" Luz1e highlights and continues;

"In other words, talk to women and queer people and listen to them. Question yourself, your actions and behaviour and reflect on your own privilege. Hold space for marginalized people and take a step back, decenter yourself and help to support new ways of inclusive coexistence."


Femme Bass Mafia
Photo: Lior Neumeister

They all highlight how one is expected to have really thick skin to enter the scene, which is also a reason behind why the collective’s supporting its mentees with getting their first gigs after the six month program that contains bi-weekly workshops. These include courses focusing on the ins and outs of DJing on CDJs, a radio performance workshop, a course about everything technical, from signal flow to cabling, alongside a few courses on mental health or EPK building


"The application process includes us asking about everything from music taste, prior experiences in the music scene and personal experiences as a marginalized person. It’s essential for us to facilitate a balanced group energy and support system based on trust, transparency and open communication. After the program is done we try to offer our mentees a few opportunities from FBM partners such as a show on Hör Berlin, a radio show on Refuge Worldwide or gigs at different venues in Berlin such as Crack Bellmer and Paloma Bar, Lilia explains."


Asa producer, one of the first technical introductions is many times Ableton Live. Although, a tip from the pro’s is to start out with having a basic idea of what kind of sound you want to create.


"With this in mind you have a vague vision that can guide you through the process. From this point on it is just about experimenting and not being afraid to make mistakes or do something wrong, as in music and art, there is no wrong. Try out different sounds and instruments, layer all kinds of drum elements and beats, just let yourself be part of the process and see where it takes you. Even if you do not finish up a project at first, you will learn a lot from just making music and working with the program."


The most important thing with every skill you are trying to learn is curiosity and consistency

Luz1e herself started out in the program like many others who opened it up the first time.

"I got an old Ableton Live version from a friend back when I was 20 years old. When I first opened it I was overwhelmed and confused because the whole surface looked so complicated. But I was so keen on learning to produce my own beats that I just sat hours and hours on end with the program trying to teach myself and figure out how I could create the sounds I was imagining in my head. The more I got to know the user surface, the better I understood what I was trying to do and able to actually create with different samples and vsts. Ableton is a program which makes a lot of sense once you get the gist of it. The most important thing with every skill you are trying to learn is curiosity and consistency. Those values have helped me to stick to producing my own stuff even though I was at the point of throwing everything out the window many times, she laughs and continues;


"I’m at a point now where I expand in different directions using new Vsts, trying out different effect chains and basically experimenting with everything I already do know. It’s a never ending process of discovery. That’s what I love about making music."

This article is done in collaboration with Ableton.

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