By B. Simm
CALGARY – West-coast filmmakers, Ian MacKenzie and Nicole Sorochan, are the creators of Amplify Her, a multi-media exploration that looks at the journey of female innovators in the electronic music industry.
Through a documentary film fused with animated motion comics and a graphic novel, the project features 21 female artists from across North America, many from Western Canadian, who strive to “find their unique voice in a male-dominated realm.”
After working on the critically acclaimed Occupy Love, a film directed by Velcrow Ripper which looks at how a global crisis can be confronted through caring and love, Ripper presented Sorochan with the idea of doing a documentary on female DJs. “He asked me a question. It wasn’t why there wasn’t more girl DJs, but rather what unique expression does the feminine have to offer? As a female I was pretty intrigued and hooked on trying to figure out on how the feminine is missing and undervalued in today’s culture.”
To investigate that perspective, Sorochan says that, while the film does feature women from the electronic scene, it really cuts a lot deeper than that. “It goes into the bedroom, and into the deep personal lives of the characters. More than anything it captures what should be possible in the realm of femininity.” Surprisingly, Sorochan says there’s isn’t quite the bonding, the camaraderie amongst females in their efforts to carve out distinct identities. “One of the things in any industry lacking in women, is there isn’t that camaraderie, although it’s starting to come up now. Ultimately what happens when there’s systematic oppression against gender or race, you’re forced to compete with other people, in this case gender. A lot of times when they only want one woman on the bill, they’re pinned against and competing with each other.” She adds that they discovered most of the female DJs profiled didn’t “think about playing with each other, or even talking about their music to another woman.”
Although not in the film, Sorochan mentions that there was an attempt to create a festival planned by women with an all female line up that “crashed and burned… because when the pendulum swings altogether the other way, it doesn’t work.” Originally the film was to be called Girl DJ, but Sorochan explains that most of the female artists “told them off” during the interviews because “they don’t want to be known only for their gender, they want their music to shine through.” While noting that diversity forms the foundation within the electronic music community, Sorochan also points out a clear difference between the music produced by male and female artists.
“We can call it female, but I prefer to say feminine because feminine isn’t always found in women. Ian (MacKenzie) describes it as men are more focused on the engineering and the sound design, the complexity of the music. Where women are more in tune with the feeling or the space you’re trying to create. The connectivity you’re trying to reach with the audience.
“Sometimes DJing can be seen as having sex with the audience. It’s up to the musician if they want to make love, and that’s the feminine working back and forth. Otherwise it’s just masturbating with the audience, worrying about yourself, the sound design and that side of the music.”
Amplify Her plays at the Globe Cinema on Thursday, Dec.7. The afterparty takes place Friday, Dec. 8 at Broken City with DnB Girls and Girls on Deck. On Tuesday, Jan. 9 Amplify Her screens in Edmonton at the Garneau Theatre.
Amplify, DJ, documentary, elecronic