WMC, Day 2: Gay Music Community Comes Out
"Living for This: LGBT Artists in EDM" made history as the first Gay-themed panel in the history of the Winter Music Conference (WMC) .
During the week of WMC, there are panels on all kinds of issues dealing with electronic dance music (EDM). There is also an event geared for the Gay community and its allies, the annual Keep On Dancin' fundraiser sponsored by the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) in New York. But pretty much, Gay folks have not been given a space to discuss their own history, challenges, and victories.
That changed on Mar. 20, 2013.
Stars of the Panel
The role of LGBT people in EDM has been so vast, we had to keep our focus on one issue, so we chose up-and-coming artists. WMC panels are usually not simply get-togethers of industry people - they are designed to inform and to give people in the industry options for their careers. And that is what this panel did on a number of topics. We began with five up-and-coming artists who each asked a question, then received a response from an industry heavy-hitter. The following is a list of the artists, a synopsis of their question, and their responders:
Noel Aru (Click here for Noel's song, "Lewy Vitton"): As an androgynous artist [Noel came to the panel dressed in glamorous semi-drag with two-inch eyelashes], is there a market for me as a live performer? Respondent: Raj Rudolph of EQ (www.EQmusicblog.com).
DJ Pride (www.facebook.com/djpride?group_id=0): Underground dance music began in the Gay clubs, but now our mark on the industry has faded. What happened to the LGBT influence in dance music? Respondent: Bill Coleman of Peace Bisquit (www.peacebisquit.com).
John von Ahlen of Parralox (Click here for video): Should we be out or closeted when approaching the major labels, or do they even matter any more? Respondent: Lee Dagger of Bimbo Jones (www.leedagger.com).
DJ Jalil Z (www.djjalilz.com): Although I have a fan base in both Straight and Gay communities, I can't get gigs in Straight Clubs. How do I can I break into that market? Respondent: Jonpito Wilson Horna (www.facebook.com/JONPITO).
Ryan Adamés (Click here for video, "Monster"): How does a Gay male singer such as myself succeed in a Gay scene that favors Straight female singers? Respondents: Wilka Claro (www.facebook.com/wilkaclaro.fanpage/info), Jade StarlingJade Starling (www.jadestarling.com, currently collaborating with Bimbo Jones) and Jessica Sutta (www.jessica-sutta.com) of the Pussycat Dolls (all Straight female divas - click on each singer's name for video).
There was also time set aside for Latin@ concerns featuring Adamés, Fernandez, Horna and Claro. Our Straight diva allies (Jade, Jessica and Wilka) described their own involvement with LGBT-related causes, and how our community has helped them.
We had only an hour and a half to accomplish all the above, and we did it in an hour, with thirty minutes to spare for audience Q&A. For details about the answers, feel free to contact the panelists or contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Real Reason for the Panel
One thing that we wanted to do was to help any LGBT members of the audience who were trying to get their break into EDM. One DJ, Jeffrey Beringer (www.monoplosion.com) described how he was able to make it in Mexico but not the USA. Charlene Horton and Anneliese Moest (www.makeemwonk.com), two DJs from Germany who do not play the genres popular in Gay clubs there wanted to see about working in the American scene. And not all the audience members were LGBT or unestablished: the singer Amuka asked about furthering her own career.
Among the up-and-coming LGBT artists that witnessed the panel was DJ Eleganza. Living in NYC by way of Miami, Eleganza is an out Lesbian who, like so many aspiring artists, came to WMC to learn from industry. Tall, with dreadlocks, hardcore tats and piercings that add an edge to her angelic features, Eleganza and her manager are doing WMC right, passing out CDs ("No Tea No Shade") and flyers to get her name out. She loved the discussion on whether to be out or not. Eleganza also liked the point made repeatedly that, for the most part, what makes an artist in EDM is not orientation as much as it is the kind of music.
It heartened her to sit among her own people in WMC - community validation can go a long way to those of us charting unknown territory.
Best Delivery During "Living for This!"
When I introduced DJ Pride, I said she had to represent all Lesbians everywhere because she was the only one on the panel. Jade Starling didn't miss a beat - in a sultry voice, she said, "Lucky bitch."