In our ongoing efforts to empower, enable and inspire the next generation of music makers and DJs, we’ve teamed up with Berlin radio station Refuge Worldwide to conduct an EU-wide DJ workshop tour across 11 cities during October, November, and December of 2022.
ABOUT THE TOUR
Each workshop on the tour will be accompanied by a club night, following the workshop. One of the DJs playing at the club night will host the DJ workshop and give a tutorial, before participants have time to try out playing on a club setup for the first time.
A continuation of our partnership with Refuge Worldwide on the Zaatari Radio workshops in Amman, and our bi-monthly Freedom To Create talk show on Refuge Worldwide, these DJ workshops are aimed at empowering a new generation of DJs, creating free access to DJ equipment, removing barriers to entry and striving for greater diversity in the DJ community.
Artists booked for the 11 dates include Mark Ernestus, THC, Bradley Zero, Yen Sung, Charisse C, PLO Man, Konduku, Shannen SP, Roska, DJ Fart In The Club, Stella Zekri, Laura BCR, plus station residents such as Sarah Farina, CCL, Gramrcy, Ophélie, Sally C, O.N.A, YUI and Refuge co-founders No Plastic and Richard Akingbehin.
A CHAT WITH
Can you tell us a bit about Ampfeminine - who are you and what do you do?
AMPFEMININE is a DJ Collective that stands for diversity in every sense, be that color, gender, or genre. We aim to add more variety on the decks as well as on the dancefloor by creating safe spaces for everyone to feel comfortable. We are made up of five members (Bella Hall, Camgurl, DEBORAH X, Nala Brown, Soft Break) and based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
We throw events with primarily female/non-binary DJs in the line-up, as well as occasionally throw a workshop to help share our knowledge and empower new artists. We also made a documentary, called EQ the Industry, that put the spotlight on four female/non-binary music producers in Rotterdam that gives an insight into the minds and studios of these young artists.
You recently joined us for a DJ workshop at Garage Noord in Amsterdam, how do you feel it went?
We really enjoyed the workshop! It was beautiful to see a group of womxn coming together to share their insecurities and challenges with DJing, and to share the knowledge that we have learned so far. I think the most interesting–and comforting–part about it is that we have all had similar struggles and to come together in such an open setting can really be reassuring in such a competitive industry.
What were the main topics you covered on the night?
As most of the participants had some knowledge in DJing, we actually opened the workshop up to the participants for the most part because we wanted to make sure that they came out of the workshop feeling that they learned something new. We explained what we do to prepare our sets, what to do when arriving at your gig, and what you can do in case something goes wrong. But most importantly, we stressed that confidence and having fun is probably the most important part of performing.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned yourselves over the years?
Camille: I’ve learned to not stress too much and to try to keep calm when performing, because most likely no one in the audience will notice that you may have messed up. But also that “messing up” can actually turn out to sound better than you thought and happy accidents can and do happen! Having fun with your music is what you are there for, otherwise why are you doing it?
Bella: That you can never please everyone at the same time. When you DJ, you should balance out what you do for the crowd and what you just want to play/do for yourself–for if you focus too much on what the crowd might want you have a higher chance of walking away dissatisfied from your set.
What are some of the biggest challenges you see the next generation of music makers and DJs facing as a whole, and how do these differ from when you were coming up?
Increasingly DJing has become tied with social media presence. Though you have the rare exceptions, (like Helena Hauff), the amount you post, what you post and the number of followers you have, seem to correlate with how much and where you get booked. This puts a significant amount of pressure on DJs to always have to promote and market themselves, which is fine if it comes to you naturally. But if it doesn’t, that means that the music scene could be missing out on significant talent just because that person is not social media savvy enough.
How do you feel these obstacles can be overcome?
In the end, we can spend all our time promoting on social media but it will be real life where you make the strongest connections. Connect with your peers in the industry and you will realise that you are not all that different. As well, sometimes it can be hard to remove yourself from the competitiveness of the industry, but at the end of the day we are all just music junkies who want to share the joy of listening to our tracks that can make a group of humans dance til they sweat. That is already a big thing you have in common.
What does 2023 have in store for you?
In 2023, we have a club tour of our own prepared, where we will throw an event once a month in some of the cities of The Netherlands. As well, we have a couple collaborations in the works. As for the summer, we are waiting to see what it will bring!
With your very first Refuge Worldwide club and DJ workshop tour starting on October 1st, what’s your vision behind taking the radio station on the road?
We have been so inspired by the workshops and parties we host in Berlin and wanted to take that vibe to some other cities around Europe. We can’t wait to connect with the crews and crowds of these venues, and also to bring some of our residents and admired artists along for the ride. The workshops before the parties are our way of providing something extra for the local music community - we are grateful for the support of AIAIAI to be able to realise this.
What was your process behind selecting the tour stops and identifying the individual venues in each city?
Mainly it’s just places we would like to go visit and party ourselves, and venues we feel have a similar ethos. Some of the promoters and club residents also have come through our space to do radio shows before, so it’s nice to go and visit them now.
What can the participants in the DJ workshops expect from the events?
The participants will get an hour-long tutorial from some awesome DJs, each with their own unique style, and they will get a chance to have a quick mix on a high-level club setup and soundsystem afterwards. Hopefully it inspires some people to push on with their development as an artist and also creates connections between them and the venue.
What are some of the things you are looking to achieve by connecting and collaborating with like-minded communities across Europe?
We are of course looking to grow our community and listenership, but also looking to offer opportunities for some of our residents to play big international venues for the first time. Most of all, we’re excited to meet a lot of like-minded people and have a good time. Who knows what can come out of those new friendships.
While you identify as a radio station, we at AIAIAI see your community as much more than that. Could you explain some of the activities and projects Refuge Worldwide is doing outside of hosting the radio station?
Yes, the radio is the core of what we do, but the project is expanding far beyond that, into extensive workshops, podcast production, online and print editorial, parties and more community initiatives.
What’s next for Refuge Worldwide?
The next big projects are our annual Regenerate Festival weekend, taking place at the end of September, the launch of a daily breakfast show and chat room in October, and, of course, this tour!
Earlier this year, we teamed up with Zaatari Radio and Refuge Worldwide to build a studio and deliver four weeks of workshops and talks at the 7Hills skatepark in the Jordanian capital.
At the Al-Raseef urban education space at the 7Hills skatepark in Amman, Zaatari Radio has been collaboratively working alongside Refuge Worldwide, the local community, and other partners to build a recording studio in the heart of downtown Amman.
Four weeks of workshops and talks were delivered by musicians, artists, and industry experts, aimed at young people from marginalised communities in Amman. Participants had the opportunity to create radio shows to be broadcast throughout Jordan and on Refuge Worldwide, which resulted in subsequent radio residencies on the station.
Now that the project is over, the pop-up studio and all donated equipment remains in place at 7Hills, to become a lasting resource for the local community.
We caught up with Zaatari Radio founder Tom Critchley and three local participants to find out how the project went, their future goals and ambitions, the music scene over in Amman, and more.
Freedom To Create is our new six-part talk show series, broadcasting live on Refuge Worldwide.
The bi-monthly episodes will explore themes of identity, migration, and music creation through hour-long live interviews curated and moderated by Refuge Worldwide’s Editor, Chloe Lula.
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