Carmena (aka Red Corvette) and Evangeline Elder are two women on a mission. As women of color working in the music industry, they were frustrated by the male-dominated music scene and its refusal to value the voices of female artists. Thus, the Women In Music festival was born, disrupting the boys’ club of the Bay Area music scene and nurturing networking and entrepreneurship among women in the community. The highly anticipated event runs Friday through Sunday and features performances, parties, panels, and more.
Cliché: You two seem like quite the dynamic duo! How did you meet?
Carmena: Evangeline and I were at this day party and she introduced herself to me. From there we would meet up, talk music stuff, and work on our separate projects together. We collaborated on a few events together and finally found our groove. I came on board as her artist, Rayana Jay’s tour DJ and we started the Women In Music festival together in a cafe in Oakland.
What was the thought process behind creating Women in Music?
Carmena: The ultimate goals were to educate, empower, and celebrate women in all areas of music and entrepreneurship.
Evangeline: We wanted to increase the amount of women in dominant positions in the community also. We wanted to create a real intersectional platform and not just talk about intersectionality.
Who is the conference geared toward?
Evangeline: The conference is geared towards woman-identifying creatives but we welcome anyone that wants to attend.
The conference will be held in downtown Oakland. How would you describe the music industry specific to the Bay Area? Why choose the Bay as the locale?
Carmena: The Bay Area music & culture scene is like the fly cousin that comes to hang during the summer. We have our own unique steez, sound, and slanguage that people love to borrow from.
The Bay Area is also so rich in culture that we felt the need to create events here to make a bigger statement in the industry. We’re both born and raised here as well so it’s a perfect place for us to put on some dope shit instead of fleeing to attend these types of events elsewhere!
Evangeline: The Bay Area music scene is hella independent! A lot of indie artists and music brands are pushing their own stuff hard and it’s really about originality out here. We chose the Bay Area because we’re really rooted in community. From our relationships with venue teams to vendors and creative entrepreneurs, we wanted to stimulate the local creative economy here first. Plus, I’m from Oakland and Carmena is from San Francisco.
Have you ever experienced sexism in the music industry? Do you think sexism and the male-dominated nature of the industry hinders the progress and success of female artists?
Carmena: Yes I definitely have. Behind the booth I’ve had all kind of weird stares, set-times disturbed/cut short, passive aggressiveness, you name it but I learned to not take these things personally and speak up for what I deserve. Whether I’m being labeled as a bitch or not.
Also, these things have never hindered me but I can see how it can/have in the past. I believe women of our generation aren’t backing down and are fighting for what they want and how they deserve to be treated. The future is really female and we have to continue to dominate and speak out. Lastly, It’s definitely empowering to have created such a dope experience and checking every dude that asks, “Well why is it named ‘Women in Music?”
Evangeline: Of course. I’ve definitely experienced it. The boys club is real. Men in the music industry are so comfortable with all-male rooms and settings that women are often left out as factors from the start. Women have to become powerful on their own just to get an invite to these spaces. Women have to earn their right to be invited to a room of influence whereas men are invited from the very beginning. That’s why saying fuck the boys club and starting a girls club where women can nurture each other is powerful.
How would you say that Women in Music cultivates an environment for women to explore their careers and network professionally?
Carmena: Every event gives room for people to actually talk to our influencers during the periods of welcoming etc. We purposely don’t have green rooms at almost all events, so our attendees can feel more of a connection.
Notably, WIM is a women of color-led music festival celebrating women & promoting entrepreneurship. What does it mean to be able to support and showcase women of color in music?
Carmena: it means I can start to feel more comfortable in these big important rooms that look like me.
Evangeline: It means everything. It means we’re shifting the story and widening the narrative to include stories from WOC that have been put on the back-burner in media.
How can we better acknowledge diversity in the music industry and music itself? What does an intersectional community look like to you and how can we achieve that?
Evangeline: We’re still figuring it out honestly but we know that an intersectional community starts with the staff. It is so important to have women from all walks of life as a part of your core team to really craft an intersectional platform. That’s the best form of advocacy and representation, when it starts from the top down.
What do you hope women take away from the conference?
Carmena: I hope women are excited to start/continue their creative journey in whatever industry they work in. I also want women to make amazing connections and be blown away with all the experiences we worked so hard to create.
Evangeline: I hope women leave feeling more empowered than they came. If that happens, we’ve done our job.
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Founders of Women In Music Festival Discuss Celebrating Women and Intersectionality. Photo Credit: Kate Dash (@been.milky)