Introducing the all-female DJ collective championing women in music.
“You can wait around for a job or love but you can’t wait around for change. Our generation is DIY” says Ludo, one half of record label and collective Femme Culture. Looking at London’s nightlife scene, this seems undeniable. Even against a backdrop of council reforms and venue closures, socially-conscious collectives such as Pussy Palace and BBZ have revolutionised the capital’s clubbing culture. Femme Culture is a proud part of this movement, and have been providing a platform to women and non-binary people in dance music since its inception in 2016.
If you’re London-based, it’s likely you’ve headed to one of their infamously sweaty club nights, where diverse line-ups challenge EDM’s unjust male bias. However, Femme Culture is so much more than this. Combining carefully curated exhibitions, parties and music releases, it’s a multifaceted force of nature showing no signs of stopping soon. We sat down with co-founders Ludo and Elkka to talk about community, the power of grassroots activism and Elkka’s latest EP, “Full Circle”.
What’s the story behind Femme Culture? What motivated you to create your own label, and how did you get started? Elkka: Before starting my own record label I was working as a writer for other people’s tracks. I was successful at doing that but I was really struggling to get my own body of work together as an artist. I just got to a point of sheer frustration and decided that my best move would be to try producing for myself. I put together my first EP and decided that I wanted to encourage others to set up their own platforms and champion women and non-binary people in the arts. To do that, I started running my own club nights and through that I met Ludo. I was looking for great female and non-binary Djs to include in my line-ups and a friend introduced us.
Would you be able to talk more about your club nights? What do they bring to London’s nightlife scene? Ludo: We started doing club nights because we wanted to have real life encounters and see what the Femme Culture movement was creating in real life. Our nights are about inclusivity and diversity. You can turn up by yourself and make friends, it’s not cliquey at all. I’m really happy to say everyone who comes to our events feels welcome. Like a lot of club nights now, we have a safe space policy and as long as you adhere to that, you’re welcome to our parties. Our parties attract people who want to have a good time in a safe space with music that represents them.
Electronic music is still male-dominated, how do Femme Culture events work to combat this? Elkka: At our events we try to have more balanced line-ups. By proactively putting on events like this, we’re providing a way for people to be seen and heard. There’s a party which provides a platform but then there’s also the media collateral which gives exposure to these artists. Ludo: It’s a community thing, there’s a responsibility to help your sisters even once you start becoming more successful.
You’re part of a wider DIY movement to create diversity in London’s nightlife and music scenes, why do you think there has been such a growth of collectives like yourselves? Elkka: This moment is quite dark politically, there’s so much is going on around us which is affecting our socio-economic status, our access to the arts and women’s rights. The need to fight for your rights has created a DIY attitude, which we express in our own creative field of music.
Have you been affected by the venue closures taking place across London? How? Ludo: Nightlife spaces closing has affected us pretty strongly. The Alibi [a now-defunct club, formerly located in Dalston] really helped us out when we were getting started, they would always welcome us and our crowd.
What’s the best party you’ve ever thrown? Elkka: We had this incredible party at the Alibi this summer, maybe a month before it closed. The club was packed with sweaty people who all belonged to different scenes, having a great time.
As well as working on Femme Culture, you, Elkka, still create your own music. Would you be able to talk more about your “Full Circle” EP, which comes out today? Elkka: It’s my second EP and it’s a body of work I’m really proud of. I didn’t overthink what I created, it felt very natural. It’s in two parts; the one body of work but different sides of my mind.
What else have you got planned for the rest of the year? Ludo: One of our artists Ehua is putting out her “New Moon” EP via Femme Culture at the end of November. We’re putting on a wellbeing workshop and at the end go the year we’ll do a round-up compilation to collate all the music we worked on this year.