It took a while, but female DJs and electronic music producers are finally commanding the respect and recognition afforded their male counterparts. It wasn't that long ago that Belgian artist Charlotte de Witte felt pressured to release music under the male pseudonym “Raving George”; now she and fellow artists such as Amelie Lens, the Black Madonna, and Peggy Gou are among the most in-demand acts in dance music.
Though the worldwide circuit is progressing, Miami native Laura Sutnick believes the Magic City's push for gender equality in the DJ booth has lagged.
"There are a lot of female DJs coming to Miami, and that’s kind of like a fad now,” she says. “There’s no real focus on the local girls, and I felt like that was really missing.”
Sutnick, who DJs as Laura of Miami, is putting her money where her mouth is and launching a monthly party dedicated to putting local "shejays" in the spotlight. Matriarchy will debut this Thursday, January 16, and recur at the Anderson on select Thursdays.
“I have been DJ’ing for 20 years now, and it’s always been such a boys' club. It was time for a change,” Sutnick tells New Times. “Usually, these girl events are more like a ladies' night or an LBGTQ [focused] kind of thing. We wanted something more inclusive and more of a regular party that highlights female DJs."
Sutnick partnered with Mau Pino as well as former New York City resident and recent Miami transplant Beki Powell to realize the concept for Matriarchy.
“I met Beki Powell through Eli Goldstein, one of the members of Soul Clap. I asked her if she wanted to do a radio show, and she was for it," Sutnick recounts, adding Powell heads a female DJ collective, the Fate, that plays at the Anderson. “I asked Beki and her partner Mau if they wanted to do something separate. I explained to them my idea and the concept, and they loved it."
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The Anderson also approved of Sutnick's idea and gave her the green light to curate Matriarchy. Thursday's inaugural party will be something of a "founder's edition" because Sutnick, Powell, and Pino will all man the decks from 8 p.m. until late. They each bring their own style and flair: Sutnick's sound spans a variety of electronic music genres, Powell relishes DJ'ing on vinyl, and Pino spins deep house. One stated goal of Matriarchy is to avoid playing a streamlined sound; diversity is key.
“The performer is going to have define what the night will be with their sound; that’s kind of the point of showcasing and highlighting all these [acts],” Sutnick explains. She's no stranger to thoughtful curation: Sutnick was a program director for WVUM, the University of Miami’s alternative and electronic music radio station. While working at WVUM, she serendipitously met Patrick Walsh, and the two went on to form Klangbox.FM.
“We started when I was at WVUM, and I met Patrick when he was promoting his Night Drive party. He wanted to work with the station, but the station couldn’t do much with him because his events sold alcohol,” Sutnick shares. “So then I said, 'Well, I can work with you separately,' and we started putting on shows with Bardot and Grand Central.”
Fast-forward to today, and Sutnick and Walsh are still working together to shape the myriad sounds of Klangbox.FM. “We both do everything: I designed and renovated the trailer, and we both work on booking talent; Patrick helps with contacting agents.” You can listen to Sutnick's Klangbox series, Vamos a la Playa, every Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m.
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Ladies will score free drinks from 8 to 9 on Matriarchy's first night. There's no cover, and the party will begin early enough to please 9-to-5 workers but run late enough to satisfy Miami's many nocturnal creatures. Sutnick says the plan is to build momentum behind Matriarchy and use the funds from each night to sustain and expand the evening's mission.
“We are doing this because it needs to be done," she says. "Whatever we make from it will be going back in to improve it and bring in more talent.” Sutnick stresses she's incredibly grateful to everyone involved in making Matriarchy a reality, as well as to local female DJs such as Ashley Venom, VakDevi, and Sister System, who are helping advance the conversation in the scene.
Asked what people can expect from Matriarchy for its debut and its future, Sutnick says, “I hope it’s a mix of people from all gender identities and sexual orientation; the trans community is very welcomed — it's all-inclusive. We just hope [crowds] come and support the girls and see the importance in this until it is normalized."
Matriarchy. With Laura of Miami, Beki Powell, and Mau + Amigas. 8 p.m. Thursday, January 16, at the Anderson, 709 NE 79th St., Miami; 305-757-3368; theandersonmiami.com. Admission is free.