Hi you lot. My name’s Emily Manuel, and I’ll be blogging here at Bitch for the next little while about women in electronic music. About myself: I’m an Australian currently living in the U.S., white, borderline able-bodied, lesbian. My partner and I have four cats and a house full of books. During the day, I work as the editor of Global Comment, a progressive internationalist online magazine where I publish many fine writers including former Bitch bloggers Sarah Jaffe, s.e. Smith, and Chally Kacelnik, and I also do a bit of freelance writing around the place, including for Billboard magazine. Some of you might know me best from my blogging as “Queen Emily” at Questioning Transphobia and Hoyden About Town.
All too often when journalists write about music we forget to talk about the actual music of music to concentrate on lyrics. A lot of music writers come from a literature background, which I do share, but my own background in electronic music is actually as much a technical one as a producer, dj and musician. As a result, my interest is as much in how sounds works as lyrical content. This is especially important in electronic music designed for the sweaty climes of the dancefloor.
In carving out this path, I’ve been far from alone—women have always been involved in electronic music: behind the scenes producing, as musicians and vocalists, voices being sampled, as djs and dancers. But women’s contributions have, as in just about all forms of cultural life, been excluded from the official record, relegated to the marginal, the exception, curiosity. Even when women have been central, their contributions have often been excluded from the canon.
So over the next eight weeks I’m going to explore many of the key figures in both the experimental and pop sides of electronica. I’ll cover pioneer producers like Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Orchestra (she most famously co-wrote the Dr Who theme), disco and electro divas, Bjork, and right through to the present with underground producers like Ikonika and yes, even a bit of everyone’s favourite Swedish popstar Robyn (whose wonderfully inflated CV is above). One question I’ll be coming back to is how we attribute value to women’s roles in music, and what could be changed.
As well as that, some of the things I’m going to talk about include: futurism, who gets to be an author, why so many women talk about robot sex, and female embodiment/disembodiment.
I think it’ll be a lot of fun, and hope you enjoy!