New documentary amplifies women in electronic dance music

New documentary amplifies women in electronic dance music

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Pictured (from left to right): Kytami, Blondtron, A Hundred Drums, DJ AppleCat, CloZee, and Lux Moderna, stars of Amplify Her. The film centers around DJs Blondtron, AppleCat, and Lux Moderna as they

Pictured (from left to right): Kytami, Blondtron, A Hundred Drums, DJ AppleCat, CloZee, and Lux Moderna, stars of Amplify Her. The film centers around DJs Blondtron, AppleCat, and Lux Moderna as they "come-of-age amidst the emerging cultural renaissance of the feminine."

Courtesy of AMPLIFY HER

In most theater experiences, it is expected that every cinema patron will be quiet throughout the entire movie to deter from distracting others. At most, we’re allowed to whisper a few sentences to the person sitting next to us. Therefore, it is definitely out of our society’s social norm to be cheering and applauding during the movie in a theater, which was what the audience at the premiere of “Amplify Her” did, and were encouraged to do.

In addition to challenging gender norms, “Amplify Her” brings up the topic of women’s breakthrough into the electronic dance music (EDM) scene, which is a heavily male-dominated field. While the mini doc featured many different female EDM producers, the film focused on the five main talented up-and-coming female electronic music artists: WALA, CloZee, AppleCat (Mya Hardman), Lux Moderna (Madeline Fauss), and Blondtron (Samantha Mathews). Artists Kytami and A Hundred Drums were also featured as supporting roles.

The mini doc is an on-screen adaption of the graphic novel series written and illustrated by a team of 16 female writers, illustrators, and animators. The directors wanted to create a transmedia experience that resonated with its audience. Many of the scenes containing outstanding cinematography work of nightclubs and EDM festivals also included an animated version of the vivid illustrations from the original graphic novel series.

The documentary was co-directed by Canadian film producers, Ian MacKenzie and Nicole Sorochan. On a surface level, the directors and featured EDM producers in the mini doc were challenging the notion of the existing inequality within the realms of the EDM genre. Female electronic music artists, both DJs and original producers, occupy a particular role in this emerging culture. Women often navigate their way through this male-dominated field with a burdening patriarchal expectation to “look sexy” on stage. And when these women fail to “look sexy,” their roles as female DJs and artists are frowned upon. To say the least, their talents and hard work are overlooked so often that they struggle to pursue their passion in the face of society’s doubts against them.

As said by Blondtron in the movie, “Female sexual energy is so insanely powerful that it’s scary for a lot of people. It’s like a bottomless abyss of creative energy.”

Sorochan also invites us to dig deeper into the issue of gender equality by asking the deep question, “What does feminine expression look like if women feel free and safe to express themselves?”

The narratives in the mini doc are attempting to redefine ways women can express their authentic selves and the meaning of enacting feminine traits. An example of Blondtron’s trending hashtag #SetYourPussyFree was to encourage women to remove themselves from isolation and brainwashed mentality, but instead, to simply “Set Your Pussy Free.”

The female EDM artists’ tribute to modern femininity is unified contemporarily around themes of competition, body image, and sexuality, which transcend through their music as a form of expression.

While the mini doc is centered on serious issues and themes, it is entertaining with its upbeat and hard-hitting bassline, which left the audience dancing in the theater during the premiere.

Nevertheless, the mini doc left me with a lingering concern with the lack of women of color representation in their message. A Hundred Drums was the only featured female EDM artist who represented women of color, and even so, her air-time in the film felt disproportionately short. There is also a missing puzzle piece for the trans society in the aspect of the #SetYourPussyFree hashtag. Despite its positive message, the hashtag serves to be a trans exclusionary form of movement that is being promoted by the mini doc. This further curtails into critiques of female white feminists leading the pathway in the world of EDM.

The Purple Carpet Tour finally landed its two-day premiere show in Seattle Oct. 26 at the Seattle International Film Festival Uptown Cinema with an after-party at Re-Bar, and a sold out show headlined by CloZee.

Verdict: The beauty of the shots and illustrations incorporated in the film is worth investing 89 minutes of your day. Not only will this mini doc extend your Soundcloud playlist, but also widen people’s perspectives on the narratives of EDM artists and producers and the EDM genre as more than just a hedonistic platform for art.

You can support the “Amplify Her” movement by purchasing the graphic novel and soundtrack through the website:

Reach writer Ellisha Rosli at Twitter: @erosli23

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