Ladies in electronic music. Interview with John Trevetan (FEM Records)
Hello, John! Tell me how you came up with the idea of creating such a label as FEM Records?
Hi Dmitry! The basic idea came to me when I discovered a vast empty space in the electronic music world. I became aware of this space a few years ago when I asked myself the simple question: where are all of the female producers, composers and beat-makers in electronic music? I was trying to find the female music makers, the instrumentalists and creators. I saw a need in the musical landscape and decided to address that need.
How was formed roster of artists, which is now available on the FEM Records, how all of you have gatherd together? And who represents FEM Records besides you?
At first I could find almost no female electronic musicians — but after some serious research, I was able to assemble a short list — and out of that list I asked my favorite artists if they would like to join the team. Almost all of the artists that I asked said «yes!», which gave me inspiration by showing that FEM Records was something that could work.
At this time the label is only the artists and myself, which has been good because we are able to keep our vision focused. As FEM Records grows we will be adding to our staff as needed.
How difficult is it to start a new label when such conditions in musical business now? Everywhere P2P networks with uncontrolled downloading music. How do you feel about these phenomena?
Well, my background is in the major-label recording industry and we began to see the downward spiral beginning around 2000. No one had any idea that the major-label music business would be almost dead within ten years. But — it had to change, the old system was corrupt with only a few very wealthy and powerful people controlling everything.
Even though technology has all but destroyed the old music industry, now is an excellent time to start a label such as FEM Records because of the fantastic advances in technology. The tools that are now available are incredible and allow an indie label to do many of the things that could only have been done previously by the major labels. Of course it's all because of the computer: powerful audio, video and graphics software. Internet tools such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Stickam and so on.
With FEM Records we are appealing to a small market compared to mainstream rock or pop. However, the current technology allows us to operate with very low overhead costs — and that means we can function and survive in a small market.
Would you like to work with such girls-musicians as Mira Calix, Hecate, Tonikom?
Yes, absolutely! I have actually asked one of those three that you mentioned to join, but she never replied! As the label grows I think more of the well-known female electronic artists may begin to take notice. In all honesty it's been very rewarding working with lesser known artists. For me it's more meaningful to be a part of raising people's awareness of new artists and music that they might not have discovered otherwise.
Also, all of the FEM Records artists are an absolute joy to work with. Working with female artists has been fantastic, and very different than working with men. For one thing there is zero discussion about gear (something men seem to go on and on about). Although all of these women are highly technical they don't seem to feel the need to discuss their equipment. For them it's all about the feeling, or intention, or statement in the music that matters. It's like someone who builds houses talking about their hammer or saw... they don't care about that! They want to show you the super-cool house that they just built. It's such a refreshing way to work, and as I said these women are very technically savvy — but they know that the priority in music is emotion, not technology.
How do you think why in electronic music so few girls?
In my opinion a big part of it is that girls are not exposed to technical things at an early age like boys are. It's amazing that we are in the 21st century and the male/female stereotypes are still so ingrained in society. This is one of the reasons why FEM Records is in a partnership with the Expanding Your Horizons Network, based in San Francisco. Their mission is «to encourage young women to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers». This is why we are donating all proceeds from the sale of our first compilation CD to the Expanding Your Horizons Network.
What kind of music do you listen besides, of course, that that is issued on FEM Records?
Of course I love what I call the «holy trinity» of electronic music: Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada, and Autechre. Other favorites include Bola, Tipper, Gridlock, Maps & Diagrams, Biosphere, Isan, Kelpe, etc. I have also found many unsigned indie artists that are great such as Orange Crush, Mark.Nine, Apparent Symmetry, Cilocub, Track 53, Redpoint, and many others.
Did you participated in any musical project before FEM Records? :)
Yes, I make my own electronic music under the name of SecondaryCell, having released three albums myself. Before that I was in an experimental, industrial band known as Element 115. (Not to be confused with the cover band from Arizona with the same name!)
Do you have plans for the future?
Yes, our plans are to build FEM Records into a major force in electronic music, while continuing to help the public realize that there are many creative and talented women who are also a part of this industry. We also intend to become more heavily involved in video and live audio/video broadcasting as well.
Thank you very much, John, for your time, I wish you and FEM Records success.
Thanks Dmitry — I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to discuss something that I'm very excited about!