Growing up in the 90s and early 00s, we had all sorts of messages of empowerment and equality from different directions, whether it be Spice Girls’ “Girl Power” or Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Women” but the words didn’t seem to match the outcome. The Spice Girls didn’t have any power over Simon Fuller and Beyoncé’s career was still ruled by her father. The message, although exciting, rang false.
Thankfully the conversation has evolved, and as we moved on into the 2010’s, gender equality and feminism seem to be on everybody’s radar. The music industry has responded to the outcry for more gender balance and representation by acknowledging the problem and opening up a dialog. Who hasn’t been to a festival or a music conference in the last decade and listen to multiple panels of strong, fierce women discussing these issues? But now, years down the line, where has all this talk actually gotten us? In 2017, only 22% of major festival line-up’s were female identifying artists and only 17% of women were in executive positions in the music industry. Without a doubt, acknowledging the problem was important but with years of little-to-no follow-through, it’s obvious that action is more important now than ever.
The reason why we started Basement Bash is because we wanted to challenge ourselves and do cool shit. Being new to Berlin and its amazingly active music industry, we were wide-eyed with enthusiasm and thought “man, we want to get in on this”. Of course, we had a vague idea on how to start a concert series and organize gigs considering our background in events, but our mindset was somewhere along the lines of “Let’s try this, maybe it’ll work out, but if not, we will try something else!” Doing instead of talking…and thinking….and over-thinking.
Like most people, we started out with an idea. Being “rock n’roll” girls, we talked about how we felt there was a lack of platforms and opportunities for up-and-coming rock and indie bands in Berlin, as the scene here is more focused on electronic music. So, as cliché as it sounds, our motivation was our love of music… and hanging out with hot musicians. (Don’t judge, feminists can be superficial too.)
So with that idea in mind we started in a very small bar in Neukölln where there was no real stage, the sound was crap, and we had a budget of 50 euros. Somehow, 70 people showed up. So we kept going. After a year people were still showing up so we decided on another challenge and founded our own events company with the online music blog, indieBerlin. Now we run the company indieBerlin Events, have two concert series (Basement Bash and indieBerlin Exclusives) and somehow we still want to do more cool shit.
Of course, it’s been scary, and hard, and sometimes incredibly challenging. But for us, the best way to getting through anything is to rely on each other and to not care about how we are perceived but rather letting the work speak for itself. We’ve realized that the fear of failure was much scarier than angry managers yelling at us or bands playing to an empty venue.
What is needed in the industry today is platforms where women can DO. We need chances to try things out, make mistakes, learn from them and get better. Or not. More work for us then. But seriously, talking about gender inequality is something we need to keep doing, but let’s make sure we don’t stop there.
Chloé Astruc and Anna Dungal are founders of indieBerlin Events and local rock n’ roll concert series, Basement Bash. They like vodka, karaoke and sausage dogs.