Seraphine Collective is an inclusive and supportive community of female-identified musicians and artists in Detroit. In 2016, they launched “Beat Match Brunch,” a workshop series geared towards women-identified aspiring DJs. Along with technical skills, the workshops provide resources, peer-support and encouragement for those entering the electronic music scene. Seraphine Collective recently received a Knight Arts Challenge matching grant for Beat Match Brunch.
Learn more about the project and upcoming workshops in our interview with Seraphine Collective members Linda Jordan and Sophia Softky below!
Why did you start Beat Match Brunch?
Linda Jordan: One of our goals as a collective is to promote women in all aspects of music and art. Women are underrepresented as musicians, in the recording industry, and especially as DJs. Seraphine wants to give people the tools to be a part of it. We’ve been putting on shows such as BFFfest, our annual music festival, but we’ve always wanted to bring workshops and teaching more strategically into our work. We had a connection with Mother Cyborg through our board member Lauren Rossi, so it worked out well.
The goal of Beat Match Brunch is not only to produce professional DJs, but also to introduce participants to the art form, engage with the music and build community. We are excited to expand in 2017 thanks to a Knight Arts Challenge grant, and we will have another call for applications this summer!
What were some highlights from the first Beat Match Brunch series?
Sophia Softky: The first workshop series took place in April and included 8 participants, myself included. I had never owned a record or touched a record player before - we were all basically beginners.
Mother Cyborg had an interesting approach in that for the entire first session we didn’t touch or look at the gear. She asked us to bring in our favorite records and we started by listening - clapping along while listening to rhythms and gently being eased into the technical aspects of how to manipulate records. A big part of it too is fun and relational - we had to come up with a story and persona for our DJ names - that’s just as important as your technical abilities and music selection because that’s your armor.
LJ: Since the series I have seen a lot more female identified DJs out in the community. Five of the DJs that participated in the first workshop series made their debut performances at Seraphine Collective’s music festival, BFF Fest, this past August. Also, Dina and I booked the Mittenfest music festival in December, and we had more DJs we could reach out to for that.
Why is it important to continue this work?
SS: Out of the 8 of us who initially started, Nandi and I play out the most as “BEIGE” and “(___) Stacks”. That representation in the DJ scene is really important, both for visibility and also so that we can teach other people. I have informally started teaching the basics of DJing to some of my friends - lots of people are interested in it and don’t know where to start, especially as women, they’re told it’s not for them or that they don’t have the technical expertise, etc.
LJ: It’s especially important in Detroit with our rich history of electronic music. I’ve heard from a lot of women that they felt they needed an invitation to do this. From my personal experience I didn’t think I had an innate musical ability but the secret is that you can learn.
SS: Even more than technical expertise or skills shared in the workshops - it also helps to have someone tell you what to expect and what the common barriers are for women or GNC people in the DJ community. Mother Cyborg laid out some of these common barriers, so when I encountered them I felt more prepared to not let it discourage me as much.
When will the next series start? How can people support?
LJ: The workshops will be back this September and Mother Cyborg will be facilitating again! We will put a call out for applications at the end of the summer. Right now we are fundraising to meet our Knight Arts Challenge matching grant fundraising goals (donate here!).
SS: We do have a lot of equipment needs ranging from turntables, needles, sound systems, mixers, cables, and records. The full list of equipment needs is on our website.
LJ: We also hold monthly meetings - the next one is on March 20th and open to anyone who is interested in learning more or getting involved. And we are excited for Mother Cyborg’s Record Release Party on April 29th, which is also a fundraiser for Beat Match Brunch!
What are some of the plans in the pipeline for Seraphine beyond Beat Match Brunch?
LJ: We ultimately want to have a physical space - a venue run by women for women where we hold classes and have a recording studio.
We want to keep growing but do it in a way where we stay connected. We don’t want to take over in a neighborhood we know nothing about. We also want to have our own 501c3 nonprofit status and grow into an organization. And we’re coordinating a network gathering at the Allied Media Conference this summer to bring together similar collectives and individuals from all over the country.