With the third Sónar Reykjavík festival just around the corner, the local organisers recently revealed that they’re continually working to increase the presence of female artists in the mostly male-dominated electronic music scene. In doing so, they are also encouraging more girls to take to the the synths, mixers and turntables, by providing positive role models for Reykjavík’s creative young women.
We reached out to Sónar Reykjavík’s head booker Steinþór Helgi Arnsteinsson to find out more.
In what way are you working on improving female representation at Sónar?
This undertaking is both a conscious and unconscious one for us. The festival is about more than just booking music acts; it’s about a certain concept. That’s why we put on a special children programme, Sónar Krakkar (“Sónar Kids”), where we teach children how to make electronic music. Then some years down the line, maybe they can come and play at our festival. The programme has equal numbers of boys and girls, because we feel like there aren’t enough female artists in the scene, and we want to change that.
And how do you go about making that happen?
We try to provide strong role models, and bring in artists who have been vocal about the fight for equality in the music industry, like The Black Madonna. It’s also great getting names like Holly Herndon, Ellen Allien, and Angel Haze to perform, because they are good examples of women doing cool things in the electronic scene.
Have you received criticism in the past for a lack of female artists?
Not that I can recall, no. From the very beginning we’ve emphasised getting good female artists and DJs—but it’s not like we sit down at meetings and talk about gender quotas or percentages. We just keep it in mind when booking.
Is it more difficult to find good female artists?
No, not at all. We do really want to encourage more Icelandic girls to DJ and make electronic music—we have numerous examples of good female DJs, like Julia Ruslanovna and DJ Katla who are performing this year, so we know they can do it. We’re particularly honoured to get to premiere new talent like Karó, Hildur, and asdfhg., who are all performing live for the very first time at Sónar.
What can you tell us about the Women In Music panel?
It’s one of the most interesting panels in our brand new Sónar +D programme. I’m super interested to hear what these girls have to say on the topic.
Women In Music is held on Thursday February 18 at 17:45 in the Flói Area.
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