We are thrilled to receive Alma Linda for this special interview; The multi-faceted artist, booker, journalist and love-activist joined us to talk about her references in music, diversity, politics, sustainability and more. Born between the good-nature mountains and the far-reaching seas of Chile, Alma Linda, a soul traveler, was raised between Italy, England, France and Germany. With a natural willingness to break down the borders she has the amazing ability to make her audience enter into her world and build with her castles of love and hope.
“A World where our insecurities are turned into money, loving yourself becomes a political act.” (Alma Linda)
1 – You´ve been moving from one country to another since you´re young, when and where exactly you get into electronic music?
Music has been the biggest love of my life ever since I can remember. I moved around a lot and got to know and to love different genres along the way. However, it took me some time to arrive at electronic music. There was a phase in my youth when I felt connected with the gothic scene. Even if it’s hard for many people to imagine that there was a time in my life when I only wore black. But I believe it is still an exciting subculture. These dark wave sounds were my earliest connectors to electronic music. Even though I don’t have the same access to this sound anymore, I for example still love the playful simplicity of the firsts Depeche Mode Vinyls. Thanks to one of my best friends, I got introduced to minimal and grew a love for it. The chilean artist Luciano left a deep impression on me. As well as Magda, one of the few women in the scene, who I appreciated as an exceptional artist. I would still play some of the classics of that time, but maybe not in the original speed 😉
After this, the music of Acid Pauli entered my life. Unlike anyone, he is so capable of telling stories and he was (and remains!) a master in merging the most different kinds of sounds and styles. He is until date one of my big heroes, not just as a producer, but specifically as an emotional, genuine, often humorous and always unpredictable storyteller. Another very important inspiration for me was and still is Mimi Love. Her distinctive soft yet strong way in which she tells her musical stories and in doing so remains so sensuous is something that excites me even today. I’m looking forward to the day, where I can play a little B2B with her.
2 – You lived in Chile, Italy, England, France and Germany, what were the best references you could get from each country you lived in for your music?
I was very young when we lived in these countries. From when I was two until I was six we lived in four different countries. I do remember that we always had a small radio with us (and that I was fascinated by this device that was able to speak so many languages – hahaha). But I don’t know if I can claim that I already consciously engaged with music genres as a small child. Only later did I find my true interest in music and that curiosity quickly moved beyond regional borders. Friends of my mother used to send her tapes with music from around the world. We spent so many nights in front of the tape recorder and dived into a poetry of sound – we still do that today. I really appreciate these musical journeys of my early childhood. These musical journeys around the world influence my work as a DJ greatly until today.
3 – You are an artist, event producer, booker among other activities in the music scene, you have years of experience in each area so what kind of approach do you think is necessary to create diversity in each one of these areas?
Humans mimic. That’s our most primal condition. That’s how we learn. That’s how we grow. That’s how we live. We find ourselves in the process of claiming and promoting diversity, which crucially depends on the visibility of underrepresented people. We need diversity in the things that we see, and in the things we want to mimic, how we identify, what inspires us, what drives us, and eventually maybe let’s create.
As a curator and booker, I regularly and consciously acknowledge my privileges. I live in Europe, I enjoy a steady income, I had the benefits of an education and have an easy access to the arts. Not everyone in this country has these kind of privileges, let alone in the world. Let’s say a young girl from the Favelas in Rio de Janeiro wants to start as a DJ: she first of all has quite some struggles in finding access to the necessary gear, to the internet, to music. And this list goes on. I feel a caring sense of responsibility to counter these unfair structures in my work. That is why I work so passionately to promote diversity and the visibility of variety in our music scene. One recent example is a music and talk programme that I designed for our Berlin-based underground club “Beate Uwe” called “CLUBcultureALL”.
I do believe that we can’t always avoid conflict and we sometimes have to face our wounds. There is no denying that the electronic music scene has made some tremendous financial gains in the last two decades. And when I speak of ‘the scene’ that gained financially, I unfortunately speak of the mostly white european and
US-american white man. Even though our music is so rich in different influences, one of the biggest being the African culture, the profits aren’t shared with everyone. Additionally, it is a sad fact the we see few POC (person of color) artists perform on our stages. This doesn’t only lead to a double disadvantage, but also conveys a wrong image. As a booker, I often find myself in the difficult situation that there are only a handful established artists that identify as FLINT* (feminine, lesbian,
intersexual, non-binary, trans) and POC (person of color). This gives the wrong impression, that there generally are only few such acts. They just don’t often get booked as headliners or for popular time slots and therefore remain unknown. I am often amazed at how many FLINT* POC artists there are and how strong their artistic messages are. But what we need is targeted promotion of these artists. Many booking concepts rely on the big names and event organisers forget in the process that their influence is huge in promoting famous artists. Why don’t we more often let talented people play directly before the main acts, so that they become more visible and receive a well deserved boost in their work? The situation is by no means complex. That’s why it is so important that we consciously deal with the world we want to live in and ask ourselves what each and everyone of us can contribute to this vision.
4 – You played at several festivals around the world, how do these festivals create a safe space for diversity in their crew and audience? What do you think must be improved in this area?
Many things have already changed. There is a growing consciousness for the importance of diversity in the booking scene. Paradoxically, at least in Germany, we have witnessed quite a big shift since the pandemic hit the cultural sectors. Most of the clubs are relying on public funding during this time. I am really grateful for the fact hat there is a public funding system in place in Germany, that understand the needs of clubs, festivals and other cultural institutions. Almost all funding has defined diversity as a prerequisite for support. Many clubs and festivals which were not sensitised to this issue before, appear more diverse now. That makes me quite happy to see. At the same time, we have to be aware of the dangers of tokenism. If we are resolute in this valuable claim for more diversity then that means enabling representation on all levels. For clubs and festivals this means that FLINT* and POC people need to be represented in the booking and production teams as well.
Before the pandemic, I was often amazed at how slow things change. The Fusion Festival – one of the biggest alternative festivals in Germany – only introduced an equal gender representation in their booking in 2019. At that time, the inclusion of POC artists wasn’t so high on the agenda. And this is how I see festivals are lagging behind the needs of our times. One reason for this is that the underlying power structures do not automatically change. If the people who remain ignorant to the global disparities in our music scenes continue to make programmes for festivals or clubs, then we will not get rid of the culture of booking ‘alibi women’ to fill the early slots for less money. These sexist structures don’t only translate to artists. It is common to witness unequal pay among teams in festivals, where the stage construction – which is mostly done by men – earns 3 times the amount of set designers, who are mostly equally hardworking women. What we need is a an open, critical and constructive approach to deal with this disparity. Fortunately, there are some encouraging stories that are taking place even in this difficult time. These are not so much related to the festival structures, but I believe that the Label Audiolith Records has taken up an exemplary role. Instead of just talking about equality and equal treatment, the two male managing directors included their former colleague Molly Mönch into the executive management. Equality doesn’t mean that we just need to see more women in the playing field, since it’s not purely about the quantity. Often I see that women who have a lot of work experience are only offered assistance level jobs, irrespective of their talents and qualifications. Also me and my female colleagues it’s quite common to be asked very frequently for help to create a diverse booking, instead of being offered a job or a position on eye level. The example of Audiolith shows us how important it is to work eye to eye!
I have also had some very good experiences in the field. To come back to festivals: I am very enthusiastic about the Brazilian music and art collective Voodoohop. They live diversity at every level. They have a very creative, open and above all diverse team. Of course, this also has an impact on the program and on the experiences you have at the festival as a guest but also as an artist. I have always felt respected and valued as an artist. Isn’t that what we all ultimately want?
We are on an exhausting path but it is a good one. There is still a lot to do. If we just remember that the roots of electronic music lie in POC communities, it is shocking that we have achieved so little in this regard until now. I am convinced that we can combat this. It is important to exchange our experiences with the topic and to find a common language that is non-violent and constructive, and to emancipate and empower ourselves and each other. If we all come a little closer together to support each other in our talents, to bring out the good in us and have each others’ back, that’s how we can win this battle together!
5 – How do you see the potential of the festivals you have been to? Can you give us some examples about this potential that the festivals have in the life of its audience?
One of the festivals that impressed me the most was the Kometa Festival in Latvia. The two female organisers Agnis Leonovics and Liene Jurgelane applied extraordinary sensitivity in order to set up a non-commercial music scene there and were committed to the core to make the festival sustainable. They organise this with so much heart and consistency. I was so deeply impressed and inspired by the line-up, musically as well as conceptually. They managed to keep a balance between an eminent international booking and the promotion of the local music scene. They also created a lot of space for exchange and mutual inspiration. I also really value their sense for slow travel and how they communicate the need and sensibility of this idea. To not just land up for one night, but to take one’s timefor the land and its people. This has touched me so deeply and inspired me to play less international gigs, and instead plan tours along sensible routes and to travel slow.
6 – Where would you like to see yourself and the scene in the future?
I see myself in a future scene where people have come together in solidarity with each other. And I see myself playing in front of people again as Alma Linda. I recently imagined what it would feel like to play in front of happy free people and that thought brought me tears. I genuinely hope that we will be able to turn this global challenge into a chance to come closer as people.
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