Interview – SLUT DROP

Interview – SLUT DROP

A couple of weeks ago, the internet boiled over with fury at the release of the full Reading & Leeds lineup. Some genius with a rubber attacked the lineup poster to uncover the deep-rooted misogyny (and infuriating musical misguidance) of the event, supposedly one of our country’s flagship festivals. R&L is one of the most powerful institutions in UK music. But with great power, comes great responsibility, and the organisers are exploiting their commercial backing to earn yet more commercial backing in a orgy of prepackaged music, pissed teenagers and obscene revenue.

In the hey day of the night out, the clubs of Detroit and Chicago, and places such as Heaven in London, were melting pots for marginalised groups in society. House music was a home for female, homosexual and black communities. Clubs provided a safe space for (often sexual) societal minglings. But, over the years, it seems that the world of DJing has become increasingly white and male-dominated. Techno is the soundtrack of the privileged white middle class student. But, already, some effort has been made to neutralise the demographical imbalance and heteronormativity in contemporary clubbing. DJ Sprinkles and Planningtorock are examples of electronic artists who blur the lines of gender, and encourage the original values of clubbing. More recently, Bestival sardonically (and brilliantly) released a female-only version of their lineup, in direct response to the R&L fiasco. Adding to this record-wielding league of activists are the guys at SLUT DROP (Bernie, Oonagh, and Cat), who are aiming to redress the gender imbalance in clubs.

“We had a quarter life crisis and decided to have a house party. We also wanted to hear new exciting music in Leeds and thought we’d test the water for a new night whilst platforming women behind the decks. We’d been out loads and hadn’t seen many women DJs, so we thought it was time to challenge that.”

“There seems to be a barrier between the dance floor and the decks. When I.T. and computing began, a large number of graduates were women, however the media quickly began to perpetuate an image of computer scientists as male nerds. In the mid 1980s the number of women in computer science began to decline and has been doing so every year since. In the same way, a popular image and discourse is constantly reproduced of the DJ as a man. Research shows time and time again that having role models that you can identify with has a huge effect on what options you conceive are open to you. One way of getting more women into electronic music is just to show that it’s possible, platform the women that are doing it and show other booking agents and promoters that there are women out there who are good enough, if you just look.”

As well as challenging the patriarchal nature of DJing, Slut Drop are also addressing the commerciality of a lot of club nights in 2015 by using the DIY venue, CHUNK, and choosing to be non-profit.

“Modern clubbing is tainted by commerciality, by necessity, as that is the modern economic system we live in – capitalism. It’s a real shame when venues have to compromise on the music and court customers who are more interested in a night out drinking and taking pictures of it all (put your phones down man!) than the actual music. But given the problems we’ve mentioned above, it’s not surprising that it happens. Thankfully there are still some great nights, due to the amount of people in Leeds who are committed to good music.

“Before we started working with CHUNK, finding the right venue seemed to be the biggest hurdle. Everywhere was either too expensive, the wrong shape, in the wrong location, known for a completely different vibe or they were dickheads! Working with CHUNK has been amazing and we wouldn’t have got this far without them. The supportive community atmosphere and their approach to creativity meant that we felt confident to realise our vision. We’ve had much more control over the sound and aesthetics this way. Musically it’s a scene that we’ve not had much contact with before so it’s been great to get to know everyone, create new connections socially and artistically. It’s not easy [being not-for-profit] and it’s a shame there’s not more spaces and support for getting this stuff started. This time round we’re pretty confident that we’ll break even (no jinx), and again that’s thanks to CHUNK. In the end though, your main motivation has to be the music! If you can pull it off, it’s fucking worth it.”

Their personal, anti-corporate approach to selecting a venue will win the hearts of many. But the end result will make the experience doubly unique for punters, as they have fashioned a new space that lies somewhere between a club and house vibe. And they are going to fill it with some boundary-pushing sounds, too.

“In terms of creating a party atmosphere, a lot of that comes from the type of venue; the fact that there isn’t shit loads of security everywhere and the drinks are cheap. Putting time into the aesthetics and art work also makes people appreciate the space in a different way, encouraging a friendly community atmosphere. SLUT DROP is of course open to everyone and it’s great to see it reaching people outside our immediate circles, but the fact that it’s built on friendship networks means it retains a party spirit.”

“Leeds has a great history of drum and bass, dubstep and house. One of the main aims of SLUT DROP is to go beyond this and play music that people aren’t hearing elsewhere, so by definition we’re broadening Leeds’ horizons. Where the music goes will always depend on where we’re at and what we like, we’re always looking out for new and exciting sounds and SLUT DROP is a way to share that. One thing we’d like to do in the future is have live MCs, so any suggestions shout us!”

SLUT DROP takes place on Saturday 14th March 2015 at Chunk (LS7 2JD) and will feature the all-female lineup of MADAM X (Big People Music) , TACAT (Slut Drop resident), MINA (formerly Hannah Mac) and DJ TEETEE (FashBashSoundClash resident)

Oliver Walkden

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