How many female DJs can you name? Even the most diehard EDM fan will have trouble. DJ Jenny Lafemme (known offstage as Jenny Feterovich) and producer Maggie Derthick are aiming to change that with their documentary Girls Gone Vinyl.
While telling the stories of EDM performers and professionals from all over the world, Girls Gone Vinyl is the first documentary about female DJs’ struggles and success, and brings attention to this issue in the industry. Featuring interviews and performances, Girls Gone Vinyl began filming at the Movement Electronic Music Festival in 2011 and is scheduled for a 2013 release. Since its start, more than 40 women have been interviewed.
To talk about this innovative and important documentary, Crossfadr interviewed Feterovich and Derthick.
How did your last women-only DJ lineup at the Movement festival go?
Maggie Derthick: The event was wonderful and the women were so fun and played so good. It was great to have Camea back again, as she has grown so much as a musician, and we have known each other quite a while now. The girls from Montreal – SWACK (Stefny Winter and Claire Kenway-live and DJ set) – are really doing something that I love to see, and I think more and more duos are starting to try… Bringing Stefny for her first major gig since becoming a mother was also important to me. Modesty (Dahlia Lachs) is becoming a staple of Girls Gone Vinyl and is a joy to work with. Nymra and Sofisticated… I don’t even know what to say… These girls are so fun and just love the music and are so good! And our youngest, Gabi… She is going to be going places!
Jenny Lafemme: The “Girls Gone Vinyl” Event at Movement 2012 was amazing. Great line up,
beautiful venue, full of great energy music and laughter.
Your Girls Gone Vinyl party has been going since 2006. How has it changed over the years?
Maggie Derthick: Well it began just with me, Maggie Derthick, organizing the event as an a u x e t i c event. In 2010, Jenny came in, and we started working together and last year really grew the whole concept of GGV by producing this documentary and spreading the concept across the globe. Other then that, the concept of the event has remained the same… So many of my girlfriends make and play music and it’s just great fun to all get together at one time when we are in the same town and make a party!
How did the idea for the Girls Gone Vinyl documentary come about?
Maggie Derthick: Jenny owns a film studio in Detroit and, after one year of working together, approached me before 2011 Movement and said, “Why don’t we make a movie about these women?” I didn’t hesitate and immediately said “YES!” I think it wasn’t until mid summer, when planning our whirlwind Euro tour, that I started to have any doubt… But doubt that pushes you to continue, not cause you, to stop.
Jenny Lafemme: As we were gearing up for our Movement 2011 event, we were sitting in my
TV/Film Production studio, as a little light bulb literally went over my head, and I looked around, looked at Maggie, and said, “Why don’t we make a movie about this?” This story needs to be told, and if we are not going to do it, I don’t know if that will ever be told. We have an opportunity, so we should do it. We literally shot a trailer in a week and never looked back.
What stage is the Girls Gone Vinyl project in at the moment? When do you think it will be finished for viewing?
Maggie Derthick: We are in the last five percent of filming left to finish, and then the rest of 2012 will be scriptwriting and editing. We hope it will be ready to be seen by early 2013
Jenny Lafemme: We are wrapping up shooting after travels through U.S. and Europe, and we are almost done with the shooting part of the project. We will go to edit shortly and are hoping for a 2013 release.
How did you choose the interview subjects?
Maggie Derthick: Hmmm… Well, I guess first and foremost, it needs to be stated that the purpose of the film is to inspire (many people but especially young women wanting to get into the business), so it was important to me to choose women that have worked very hard and have made a name for themselves in this business as artists. I also then wanted to include women that are like me, not DJs or producers but work behind the scenes in this business as agents, promoters, club owners, label heads, managers, etc. Then, there are also women that work at places such as Beatport and Native Instruments that have yet another angle into the business.
I know a lot of women from working in this business for 15 years that fit the criteria just listed, so I started with them and for every women I knew personally, they sent me one to three women I did not know and the list grew to about 70 women (and we keep getting emails weekly, almost daily, from women around the world asking how they can help).
Jenny Lafemme: Really, to us, it was important to go across electronic music genres, as well as age groups and race to tell the whole story as much as we could. It’s important that we show the women what other women are doing in the industry and inspire them to the best of our ability. We went also across continents to give a story the complete view between U.S. and European markets, as well.
From those you interviewed, were there any trends you noticed for women in EDM?
Maggie Derthick: The major trend is that they are all sure that more women are coming into the industry and will have higher profiles and that it will be sooner than later.
Jenny Lafemme: An amazing trend that I now love the most is women in the industry having children and coming back strong to continue and develop their careers. The sad and funny trend that still continues is being told, “You are pretty good for a girl,” or being judged and having to work so much harder to prove yourself just because of your gender. Most women who are in the industry all carry pretty strong characteristics of being able to withstand that.
In your interviewing and research for Girls Gone Vinyl, did you find that the lack of representation of women in EDM (or simply knowing a female DJ) universal, or are there scenes across the world where female performers are more prominent?
Maggie Derthick: It is universal up until the very recent past.. As the number of women grow, obviously some areas become more heavily populated (think Berlin), but I think mostly what is occurring now is the women are banding together… Technology makes that easy… Instead of so many of us being that one girl in our city making it in a sea of men, we now know what other women are doing in other cities, countries, etc., and have even started reaching out and joining together out of pure respect and desire to work together… not just because we are women.
Jenny Lafemme: There are four percent women in the business and they still to this day are not on top 10 lists or headlining festivals. In the world of techno, women tend to be definitely more prominent and more accepted; in the world of the commercial side of electronic music, they seem to be almost invisible and nonexistent. I think it’s a lack on both sides, but so much more in the other genres than techno and house.
What have been your goals for the Girls Gone Vinyl documentary?
Maggie Derthick: The main goal as stated earlier-is to inspire young women or women that want to be in this field..giving them a perspective, stories they can relate to…seeing different paths to get to where they want to go. Secondly forming this community of women to talk to one another, to be accessible to women
Jenny Lafemme: Our goal has always been to inspire first and foremost, and bring light to amazing women all over the world that are in the industry. We have amazing stories of women that have played for 36 years, all the way to the girls that just started. We get so much mail from all over the world – Israel, Brazil, London, and South Africa – and that’s what is inspiring us to keep doing this project.
What’s your perspective on the lack of prominent women in EDM?
Maggie Derthick: Hmmm… Well, this is one that still goes round and round. Some feel it’s definitely just not happening yet because it is such a boys club and it’s who you know and who you bro down with that gets you places… And this may be partly true. I also maintain that women don’t need the same praise as men because they know already how good they are, and all things come when they are supposed to. It’s kind of hard to explain. I guess, unless you are a woman, you may not get it – our confidence comes from a different place.
Jenny Lafemme: Well, we have dove in deep to get many opinions and perspectives. Just like there are many other professions that are still dominated by men in general, this happens to be one of them. I think it goes back to societal roles of men and women in general and what society defines and portrays women to be like, especially in the nightclub environment specifically. And interestingly enough, we found that some women are not necessarily after the fame and glory in the business – they are not driven by that. A lot of them are all about the music and the love of it. So perhaps the driving force is different.
What do you think needs to be done in order to draw more attention to female DJs and producers?
Maggie Derthick: I think women need to not be ashamed to celebrate the fact that they are a woman… It’s a game changer… They approach everything differently, and you can see it, touch it, feel it, hear it when a woman is performing. I think women need to work together more in this scene and help the ones coming after them. It will all lead to success and more acknowledgement.
Jenny LaFemme: I think there just needs to be more. Four percent is a low number. They need to be encouraged to step forward and shine. Headline festivals and appear on the lists. To this day, even the most famous women are playing 3 or 4 p.m. slots at festivals. Why?
How has your career been as a female DJ?
Maggie Derthick: I only DJ at home! My career as a promoter has been a roller coaster, but I love it and I can’t walk away from it… I love the amazing music I am privy to and all the friends I have made all over the world.
Jenny Lafemme: My career as a female DJ have been wonderful. I love what I do and I love music. It does boggle my mind at time when I travel the world and step up to play and still get, “Wow you can mix. I didn’t realize girls can be good like that,” or “I didn’t really respect female DJs until I met you.” Why? We don’t spin with different parts of our body? We all do it for the love of music, and I just love to make people dance. I know how to mix records, make people dance and rock the party better than most men I came in contact with.
How did you get started as a DJ?
Jenny Lafemme: I started many years ago. I first fell in love with house music at “Heaven,” a small Detroit gay club where legendary Ken Collier spun. I listened to the music and felt the vibe before even speaking the language. I then followed the dance vibe from Detroit to Chicago, watching and getting to know many greats like Ralphi Rosario, Steve Silk Hurley, Derrick May, and many others. One day I noticed two women at Crobar – Teri Bristol and DJ Psycho Bitch – and I was like, “Wow they are girls and they are doing it.” T hat was awesome. I started buying and collecting records even before I started playing. I eventually decided to create a party, and when my friends asked who would DJ, I said I have seen how it’s done and I will give it a go. I have always loved making people dance and still do to this day.
What advice do you have for women who are interested in getting into EDM?
Maggie Derthick: Tough skin, hard work and do it, because you love it and it’s a passion… then you will never waver in your direction and purpose.
Jenny Lafemme: Never give up on your dreams. Work hard and don’t let anyone or anything get to you. Most importantly only do it for the right reasons. And be true to yourself.
Watch the trailer for Girls Gone Vinyl below:
Girls Gone Vinyl: The Untold Story of Female DJs from Parliament Studios on Vimeo.