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Wxmbmates: Meet Carly of Sister Collective

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

1. For those readers who have not seen or heard of your collective yet, can you describe it in 5 words?

Global Electronic Dance Music Collective

2. Can you tell us about what brought you together, your mission, and the purpose that drives you today?

Why is this cause important?

One of the reasons that SISTER Collective was created was to highlight the conversation of balance within the electronic music world. Its core is also about uncovering and shouting about new talent, and putting on events and takeovers with balanced line ups and a spectrum of artists from established to developing, whilst reaching out to a global audience. We have always believed that if we could get this right within the music industry, then other industries may follow suit.

3. What is a challenge you've had to overcome so far as a collective? What has been the response of the London community?

We made the decision early on to include guys within the movement so had everyone welcomed into the collective. People can have quite strong opinions as to whether or not they agree but we believe that we all need to be part of the conversation. Creating a polarity to the previous music industry structure just isn’t the answer.

4. If you could pick anybody to collaborate with, who would you choose and why? Are there any other collectives who inspire you?

In the future we would love to collaborate with more international festivals to bring forward the crews and talent that we work with. We have people from all over the world that we love and respect and it would be incredible to give them the chance to perform together internationally. There are so many collectives doing incredible things right now. Absolutely love Places + Faces and how they fuse music and fashion.

5. Looking back, can you tell us about one of your collective’s favourite projects to date? And looking forward, what is something you are currently working on that you are excited to share with the world, and where we can find you over the summer?

We recently worked closely with Apple to curate a week of workshops for International Women’s Day. We had voices from various fields of the creative industries teaching the audience their skills from He.She.They to Fenn O’Meally, Serine Karthage, Julie Adenuga and Phildel. It’s always really powerful to see technology bringing people together in real life and them being able to come away with new skills and connections.

And some Industry insight…

6. What is your favourite aspect of the music industry and why? Conversely, if you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

There are so many aspects of the music industry that I have fallen in love with. The people you meet and being surrounded by artists doing what they love is very special. The different genres of music and the changing elements that they bring, the fact that it’s an international industry with so many different voices, opinions and sounds, and the way that it’s ever changing. When I started working in music, I really felt accepted for being me and I love that being unique is celebrated.

If I could change one thing about the music industry right now, it would be for people to reconnect with the soul of music and for the real reason it exists. The music business has become more statistic, ‘like’ and hit driven than ever before. Songs are getting shorter to get more stats on the streamers and there are more and more tactics being used to get people to listen.

7. A 2018 YouGov survey reported that girls are much more likely than boys to say they enjoy studying music (48 per cent against 34 per cent). Yet, in 2013, Creative & Cultural Skills reported that the divide across all music industry related jobs is 67.8% male to 32.2% female. Why do you think this is happening?

I think that there are so many different reasons behind this and it’s something that so many of us are challenging. I think confidence plays a massive part, plus older business structures, and the fact that getting into the music industry was quite a closed and difficult business to break into. But things are changing and collectively more and more girls are starting to step forward and deciding to work in music. We are living in a very exciting time and there are so many support networks in place to change this for future generations.

8. Among the 75 female songwriters and producers interviewed by the University of Southern California in 2019, over 40% admitted their colleagues dismissed or discounted their work or skills and 39% have experienced stereotyping and sexualization. Have you ever had a negative experience in the music industry specifically because of your gender? Alternately, has it ever been an advantage that has worked in your favour?

I’ve experienced both in many different ways. There are definitely times that I have almost walked away because of things that have happened. I also know that my gender has played a massive part in being able to nurture new artists and in bringing a different opinion to outdated conversations. It hasn’t been an easy journey but once I decided to step away from the politics and just focus on the music and the parts of the industry that I love, things not only became easier but I actually felt like I started to make a difference.

9. A 2019 study (University of Southern California) examining the Billboard Hot 100 chart between 2012-2018 found that women only made up 21.7 percent of artists, 12.3 percent of songwriters and 2.1 percent of producers. Some advocates have promoted gender quotes as a means of placing external pressure on promoters to book more female artists and to ensure more inclusive programming. Do you agree with this? What more could be done to reduce sexism and create more balance in the industry?

There is still so much more work to be done but we have also come a long way. This year has been really ground breaking. The conversation goes way beyond festival bookers and promotors: it’s also down to re-education, accessibility and awareness, and making music production and sound engineering more available in schools at a younger age. We are living through a very exciting and progressive time - the doorways of possibility are wide open, it’s now down to us to take the first steps. I feel massively proud to be a woman in the music industry right now.

10. Any parting words of wisdom for folx out there looking to pursue careers in the music industry?

Jump in, get involved, be fearless and go for it. It’s one of the best industries in the world and there really are zero limits if you’re prepared to work hard and be focused. Collaboration is key. Connect with like-minded people, grow your network and believe that you can do it. It starts with you.

For more from Sister Collective follow:

Come meet Carly Wilford in person at our Femme Summer Fête taking place at Grow, Hackney (E9 5LN) on Friday 30th August, 6pm-2am!


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