Written by Nicola Osborne (Nikki O), URN, Audiobahn and former BBC Radio 1 DJ Resident
The inaugural Wigflex City Festival saw some of electronic music’s heavyweights such as Honey Dijon, Gilles Peterson, Avalon Emerson, and Midland descend upon Nottingham. The excited atmosphere around the city was infectious. The music, however, was not the only offerings from the weekend, with workshops running all day Saturday in Rough Trade and Four Four DJ Academy.
In a packed Rough Trade, the womxn behind WXMB 2 put together and hosted an industry panel of four music business professionals with discussions focusing on visibility within the industry. The panel was made up of ‘Float PR’ founder Sofia Ilyas, ‘Outer Agency’ founder Carin Abdula, ‘POLY Agency’ co-founder Keira Sinclair, and ‘Foundation FM’ co-founder Frankie Wells. Discussions opened with introductions from each panellist and talks about their journey within the industry. What is clear is that each panellist’s background is very different and this is a testament to the organisation of the panel showing a variety of experiences. From Keira and Carin running nights in Scotland and Brighton respectively, to Sofia escaping her strict upbringing and networking her way to managing Nils Frahm’s PR, and to Frankie’s beginnings in student radio and battles with the big London stations. The one thing the panellists do have in common however is the hard work they have each put in to carving a career for themselves.
With visibility being the topic of the day, Carin discussed her issues with feeling invisible when people talked to her male co-founder of Be Nothing rather than to her, this is echoed in Sofia’s experience of people not believing she is the founder of Float. Moments like these resonate with many womxn as they are a common occurrence within all industries, not just the music business. However, the panellists each gave advice on how to help with visibility in the industry. A key piece of advice was networking, both Frankie and Sofia stressed the importance of introducing yourself to people which, however daunting, can be a great way to make yourself more visible in the business.
Womxn in all industries are told we should be more assertive, to speak up, to be more brave and demanding to get seen or heard, but many of us are more introverted, or don’t have a strong or loud voice. Does this mean we don’t deserve to be seen? Discussions touch on this with Frankie saying she doesn’t think she should have to change who she is to fit the industry, but that the industry should change to accommodate everyone. The truth is society’s concept of what makes a person powerful or dominant is based off of a male template and one rooted in misogyny. Mary Beard states in her book ‘Women & Power: A Manifesto’, “If women aren’t perceived to be within the structure of power, then isn’t it power itself we need to redefine.” To see the panel discussing these similar themes was refreshingly different from the usual advice of ‘just be more assertive’.
WXMB 2 not only hosted panel discussions but showcased a number of female DJs in a huge b2b2b2b in The Chapel of The Angel Microbrewery. A fun filled set of floor filling house tracks had the whole of the Chapel bouncing. It’s always a pleasure to see female DJs being given the space in the industry they deserve, and thanks to the work of the likes of WXMB 2 that is slowly but surely becoming a more common reality.
See you in WXMB 2!