Just like the city in which it originated, the BUKU Music + Art Project is a music festival that is committed to adapting to the demands of the world around it.
Gender disparity within the festival scene is nothing new. The culprit often lies primarily within the narrow originating roots of many festivals and the male-dominated subcultures they promote. As for the music industry as a whole, it extends from the stage all the way to the recording studio. To put it bluntly, despite festival attendance demographics saying otherwise, lineups are quite often a complete sausage fest. It goes without saying that proportional representation is imperative. But it’s also important to mention that representation is only the first step.
Countless festivals have overlooked this glaring problem and have not progressed much. However, that’s not the case for all of them.
Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, the BUKU Music + Project boasts a diverse, multi genre list of women artists from across the country and the globe. These artists are all multifaceted and gifted in their own unique ways. In order to explore that, this list is made with the celebration of these women in mind. To highlight their talents, their struggles as women in the industry, and their inspirations that carry them forward.
SZA’s come up has been a joy to witness. While nominated for five Grammy Awards this year she, unfortunately, took home none, much to the dismay of her fans. She’s the first woman signed to Top Dawg Entertainment, which recently announced a North American tour. Her debut album touches on a lot of presently relevant themes, such as women taking power back from men, self-acceptance, and the weight we as women often feel pressure to be “perfect”.
Named one of DJ Mag’s Top 100 artists of 2017 as a new entry, Alison Wonderland’s unique bass driven, grimy sound has landed her some much due success. Despite debuting new visuals at Lollapalooza last year, her 2016 visuals make an important point. They entailed the artist turning GoPro cameras on her hands working behind the decks and incorporating that stream into artistic images. Something that she wouldn’t likely feel the need to do if she were a man since her talent would be less likely to be called into question.
While Rezz is hailed as being “Gesaffelstein’s long lost sister” she has always been unapologetically herself. The past couple of years have seen this genre-bending artist bust their way onto the major festival circuit with a flourish. Last August, she released her debut studio album, Mass Manipulation, through mau5trap Recordings. It quickly charted to #16 on Billboard Dance/Electronic. Her music is dark and complicated, not unlike the artist herself. She credits her previous study of psychology with much of her success. Especially regards to self-motivation and self-love, two important things in any artistic pursuit.
Amelia Meath (Sylvan Esso)
Amelia Meath, the voice behind the pop electronic duo Sylvan Esso, is an engine of creativity. From a background of acting, collage making, and entertainment writing, it goes much deeper than music. She has always been acutely aware of what it means to be a woman in a creative industry. On Esso’s breakout album, the song, “Hey Mami” addresses the issues of catcalling. On their most recent release, the song “Radio” infers to the struggle of trying to break into mainstream radio. Another tune, “Just Keep Dancing” addresses Tinder culture. This awareness translates into the music, where they also play with the complex dynamic between humanity and technology in unique ways.
Yukimi Nagano (Little Dragon)
Established over a decade ago, the frontwoman of the synthpop group Little Dragon has a unique experience in the music industry. Growing up in Sweden, a country known for its progressive gender rights, has allowed her some different tools to navigate the choppy and sexist waters of her chosen field. Waters, that despite more forward-thinking, are just as rough in Sweden as they are in the States. But, these turbulent times haven’t stopped Nagano from baring her soul in her music and live performances all over the world.
Born Sarah Grace McLaughlin, this artist is one who has always explored the darker sides of things. Her Scottish roots and childhood spent growing up in vibrant Japan and Hong Kong played a role, but no matter the influence, it’s led to her unique perspective on sound and the music industry itself. Her “tunnel vision” and dedication to her craft is what skyrocketed her from playing the radio, to selling out the Troubadour and opening for Coldplay.
Otherwise known as Fatimah Warner, this very private artist’s music is more than just relatable to many of her listeners. It bittersweetly holds a mirror up to their emotions. Her 2016 debut project, Telefone, is a light and airy, summertime sounding look into a range of subjects that are just the opposite. From police violence towards people of color, abortion to tough self-development and growth. Noname is here to remind us that it’s okay not to be okay.
Destiny Frasqueri is a New York rapper who’s always been just a little bit messy, but in the best way. As a queer woman of color and an outspoken intersectional feminist, she’s voice that hip-hop desperately needs. Her podcast, Smart Girls Radio, is centered around self-help and feminine empowerment. Her most recent release, 1992, touches on subjects such as how to treat women of color with respect, xenophobia, diaspora, and her ancestry.
Born in the birthplace of house music; Honey Dijon may hail from Chicago, but she has made New York and Berlin her home as well. Her deep and longtime devotion to dance music (and fashion) is more than evident; it’s almost physically tangible during her sets and in her production. Having been present since the earlier days of dance music, she’s in a unique position to examine how it has progressed. As a transgender woman of color, she has been a long time advocate for trans visibility, as well as quite outspoken on the subject of dance floors being overtaken by “heteronormative men of European descent”.
Secret identities are certainly not new, especially within the electronic music industry. Elohim, however, takes it to another level, strictly giving interviews through text to speech programs, donning a mask, and so on. But its not about marketing so much as anonymity allowing her to truly bare what’s in her heart and mind. Her artistic persona’s name means God in Hebrew, and she finds it empowering to call herself something so masculine. Within her music, she breaks apart the stigma of living with anxiety, and mental illness. This transparency is powerful and so precious, especially now.
Having begun learning classical guitar at age 5, this French glitch-hop artist gradually found her way to electronic music through artists such as edIT, Bonobo, and The Glitch Mob, among others. These influences are quite evident in her very first EP, Dubious, although her overall sound is now much more global. CloZee, otherwise known as Chloe Harry, has mentioned the struggle to secure headlining spots in favor of male headliners. An obviously ongoing issue that hopefully we’ll see less of in the future.
Born Morgan Neiman, Ducky got her start in music production as an 8th grade project. Music gave her catharsis and escape from a negative family situation. Soon, she had immersed herself in dance culture, working doors and DJing local clubs in the Bay Area. From there, it was NYU for recorded music with a minor in mathematics then to LA. Her nostalgic rave sounds has given her a rapidly growing fan base. Ducky is different than some of her peers in that she also works in computer science and coding. This gives her a technological edge in terms of live performances and sound design as a whole, so keep an eye on her.
Which of these artists are on your list to see and which are you just discovering? Let us know in the comments and snag your passes here!
Featured image by aLIVE Coverage.