The second mix in our project which aims to feature DJs that aren’t your archetypal heterosexual male by Moonbow, aka Eleanor Hardwick. The mix is based around the political and dystopian sci-fi vibes that inspired the new release and upcoming album.
Why did you decide to venture into music?
I spent so much of my youth being a fanatic consumer of music, and I’d wanted to make music for as long as I can remember – but I didn’t get the confidence to until three years ago. It’s a number of reasons why it took me so long: because of the way music is taught in school here, which to me is very traditional and also very gender-biased. I am much more interested in approaching music from an experimental/DIY/self taught/fine art angle, and I don’t feel like the curriculum here ever promotes that pre-degree level. At that age, I hung out with a lot of guys who did music and for a long time felt inferior and unknowledgeable on it because I felt like there was one way to do music, I’d missed my chance, and now it was too late for me to learn about it.
The instruments and type of music I had access to at that age were also never actually what I wanted to do, because I’ve always been drawn to electronic music, and yet everyone around me at school was making music either on classical instruments or typical rock instruments. So for me, it was meeting a couple of friends who let me learn about electronics with their equipment – particularly just playing with sampling and jamming on loop pedals. It was also when I got my driver’s license – being in a car alone was the first time in my life where I had a space alone where I felt safe to try singing without judgement, so I taught myself to sing by listening to a lot of Kate Bush.
And the fact that software is becoming more accessible now; even getting to a point in my life where I am earning enough money to also buy the kind of hardware I want to use to make the music I want to make – which I think is a really important point, because discussions of imbalance in music do not often delve into financial situation and social class.
Finally, it was simply discovering more female electronic musicians as I got older, got more friends and the web became more accessible – these talented women in music were there all along, I just wasn’t being made aware of their existence as a teenager. I really believe that seeing some of yourself in performers has such a positive impact on the confidence of marginalised groups to take up their dreams. Sexism can even be inherent within women, because if society continually reenforces a notion that women just don’t do certain things, then as a young and easily influenced person, it can be hard to always question that.
Why is it important to not restrict yourself to one medium of creative outlet?
I still don’t understand why we enjoy doing so many different things as kids, and yet society often pressures us to refine and refine that to doing one thing as we get older. I think creation should aim to be about experience rather than results, so experimenting across mediums is a great way to do that – as variety is supposed to be the spice of life.
Another of the reasons I felt really compelled to make music is that it is almost the opposite kind of process to photography, which is the other medium I predominantly work in. For me, the experience of actually planning and doing a shoot is often quite stressful, and your focus is always on creating an end result rather over just shooting because you enjoy sitting in a studio and waiting around all day! Composing and producing is a refreshingly slow and insular process which I find really therapeutic.
Photographs are also really subjective – particularly because my work is much more set up than documentary – so having an outlet where I can write and work with the variable of time allows me a lot more space to be specific with my message, particularly when I want to get political or narrative. That’s why I love creating videos too, because it marries those two end of the spectrum really well.
How do you find your music & visual art overlapping?
I really like combining music with video, and creating zines alongside releases that solidify the concepts even further. I’m currently working on my first album which is a political commentary in the form of a fictional sci-fi concept piece which combines many mediums.
Ideally, I’d love every live performance to be a multimedia and multi sensory performance art piece too, although I often feel limited by the homogeneity of venues; there is always a specific dynamic between audience and stage that feel quite segregated to me – and in regards to the small venues that you play when you’re starting out like me, the spaces with the best PAs are rarely the spaces with more experimental lighting or performance areas. I’d love to collaborate with lots of artists to create immersive spaces inside galleries and warehouses so that I could experiment with this more – but being 100% DIY, I only have so much time in the day and money/resources/energy – so it’s a more long term dream to do that.
How is music a good communication tool?
I think it’s one of the most instantly gratifying and emotional mediums. It’s easy to hear a song and not even be in control of how your body responds to it; whether you’re going to dance or cry or laugh. So to connect with huge audiences, it’s really powerful. I think there is so much potential in music to be political, spiritual and philosophical in a way that other mediums may struggle to engage such large audiences with.
Why did you join Siren?
Originally through Charlotte, who I met on a panel run by Oxford University on women in art that we both spoke at. She then DJed at a multimedia music night I curated in Oxford too. When the idea of Siren was really embryonic, it felt like it came along at just the right time. We all share mutual feelings on the lack of diversity in the electronic music industry, and how to tackle the awful issues of harassment within it. It feels really good to proactively work together to change that rather than accepting it as the norm, or feeling alone.
Who are your go-to non-white, hetero, male artists?
I’d say most of the music I listen to is women, because I can relate to that the most. FKA Twigs, Holly Herndon, Laurel Halo, Kate Bush, Grimes, Bjork, St Vincent, Fever Ray, Jessica Pratt, Joanna Newsom, Peaches, Delia Derbyshire. And Arca, who doesn’t identify as female but definitely non hetero. His productions are the future though.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/267992429″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
Caitlin Aurelia Smith – First Flight
Haruomi Hosono – Ground Floor…Triangle Circuit On The Sea-Forest
Broadcast – DDL
Holly Herndon – An Exit
Gang Gang Dance – Glass Jar
Arca – Gratitud
Laurel Halo – Tumor
Glasser – Window II
FKA Twigs – Hours
OneohTrix – Child of Rage
Fatima Al Qadiri – Power
Fatima Yamaha – To Do Two
Peaking Lights – Eyes to Sea
Daphni – Cos ner bam
Shinichiro Yokota – Do It Again
Chiemi Manabe – Untotooku
D’Eon – Transparency
Doldrums – iDeath
Brian Eno & David Byrne – Come With Us
Words by Eilidh Nuala Duffy.