Music business entrepreneurs Gaby Ardill and Jennie Nygren are passionate about their latest endeavor. Girls On Deck is a new event business and agency representing women DJs which only started in May this year, however, the huge response from promoters and artists indicates that the duo might have spotted a gap in the market.
Ardill and Nygren who are relatively new to the music business are by their own admission learning as they go. They met whilst studying entertainment business management and were given the task of conceptualizing an idea for an event. They set about planning the kind of gathering they wanted to be a part of; one where women DJs and electronic artists are the focus and where respect and professional treatment are not in question.
The next step was when on-trend venue The Lord Gladstone which stages some of the most lit events on the music business calendar offered them the opportunity to take their ideas for the event and make them a reality.
The Girls on Deck brand was created and such was the response from those attending that Ardill and Nygren felt that they had to seize the moment.
Gaby Ardill and Jennie Nygren spoke exclusively to The Industry Observer.
Give us the elevator pitch for Girls on Deck.
Girls On Deck is an event and booking agency, created due to the need for greater and more substantial female representation, and support within the music industry – particularly within the electronic genre. Our goal is to create a movement where female DJs are more widely respected as artists and producers.
You launched with a huge event at The Lord Gladstone in May this year. What’s been happening since then?
We’ve co-hosted events at venues including the Oxford Art Factory, Ching-a-lings, Tokyo Singsong, and The Beery in Terrigal. We’ve also been growing the agency side of the business and recently announced that Girls on Deck DJs have been added to some of the shows on Lime Cordiale’s, Dirt Cheap tour. They will be pumping out the vibes at The Howler in Melbourne (16 November), The Zoo in Brisbane (29 & 30 November) and The Factory in Sydney (22 & 23 December).
Who are you representing? What styles of music do they play?
We’re working with DJs across all genres, we pick and choose who would be best suited for the events we play. Our events support all genres and generally include a mix of styles as we work with up and coming DJs. Promoters ask us for specific genres that will suit whatever event they are putting on and we can work with that. For example, on the Lime Cordiale tour, we booked TROPICAL DEPRESSION who plays Indie/Funk, DANNY who plays House & Techno and PAMADELIC who cranks out a hectic Indie Disco set.
What plans do Girls on Deck have for Summer 2018 – 2019?
We currently planning bigger events of our own and we’re on the hunt for a venue where we have complete creative control. We would love to hold some kind of warehouse-style event but the organization and time needed to go into that are pretty intense – if not this summer then next year for sure, maybe as a regular mini-festival.
The events we’ve enjoyed putting on most are the ones where we feel like we’re in control of how the evening will roll out. In saying this, we are all about getting female DJs gigs. If that means being on the line up for someone else’s event, we’re happy. We are always totally thrilled to be a part of someone else’s creative ideas if it means getting female DJ exposure
You’ve mentioned that Girls on Deck grew in part out of the fact that female DJ’s still found it intimidating to engage with the industry. What are you doing to change that?
As frustrating as it is for us to hear so many women’s stories of harassment, intimidation, and exclusion, we can’t change how other people in the industry behave when it comes to female artists. What we can do is try to create a group, a movement where female DJs feel supported. We want to get the word out to up and coming female DJs that although the industry can be intimidating, we are here to help you, support you. We want female DJs to know we have their back and we genuinely want the best for them.
What changes does the music business need to make?
We need more female booking agents, venue promoters. Without having women behind the scenes in leadership roles we won’t see much real change. The public discourse on this topic is strong at the moment but it’s important that this momentum doesn’t just fade away. We need to keep the pressure on booking agents and those in positions of power and let them know how important women are to the entertainment industry as a whole.
Who inspires you? Who’s doing groundbreaking work?
We really look up to people like Jack River. She’s both an amazing artist and business person who we think is doing a great job in improving gender equality on lineups through ‘Electric Lady’.
Earlier in the year we also attended a screening of a documentary called ‘Her Sound Her Story’ created by Michelle G Hunder and Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore. We think any kind of project focusing on the empowerment of women, in general, is doing a great job. All these projects add up and slowly become a movement, it makes a difference no matter how big or small.
How are you finding new talent? Are you looking to take on more artists? How can they reach out to you?
We find new DJs we love through going out to events in Sydney, talking to people about our group. It’s amazing how many people want to get involved through word of mouth or know of a female DJ who they think would like to be invovled. We also often get messages on our socials from female DJs who will send us a link to their SoundCloud. We have an ever-growing list of contacts!
How can people reach out to you?