By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
By Bree Davies
By Tom Murphy
By Tom Murphy
Unless you're tuning in to some kind of specialty show, the number of female voices, literally and otherwise, that you'll hear on the radio or see on TV is criminally small compared to those of their male counterparts. That ratio drops further when you try to find women doing challenging or experimental music. While that dismal record seems unlikely to change soon, Titwrench Fest is bringing together some of the most interesting and innovative avant-garde and experimental female artists performing today in an effort to not only showcase their art but also to encourage trends toward more women being involved in musical expression that includes, and goes far beyond, more conventional female roles in the performing arts. We had a chance to talk with DJ and pillar of the local underground music scene Sarah Slater, founder of Titwrench Fest, about the origins of the festival and the importance of DIY spaces to our local culture and music scene.
Westword: If Titwrench is the brainchild, what does that make you?
Sarah Slater: The brainmother? I do feel like this is my baby, in a way. It's something I've wanted to do for years. I've gone to so many musical festivals over the years all over the country. The majority are male-dominated, male-centered lineups, and I felt that the audience reflected that, too. Someone asked me the other day about my inspiration, and I would say that it's the kind of festival I wish I could have gone to when I was nineteen. Luckily, I have magically found this group of people who are really excited, enthusiastic and working really hard. We've created our own community putting this together.
You're having the festival at the three main DIY venues. Why those venues as opposed to something more conventional?
One of the most important aspects of the festival was the all-ages aspect. So we wanted to do it at art/DIY spaces that are conducive to that. That's kind of what they're doing already. I've found that trying to book all-ages shows at bars and clubs is often a headache for various reasons. We also wanted to have a lot of freedom to do what we wanted to do. You can have a lot more freedom to do things at independently run, DIY spaces than you do at a theater or a bar, where there are so many different people to go through to approve whether you can have a film projected on the wall. Whereas at Glob, they have a projector we can use and a wall we can project onto, and they're into it. I've been going to all these venues since they started, and everyone that runs these places has been extremely supportive of what we're doing from the beginning. I think that's something important and that's harder to find in a more conventional venue. I can't think of very many venues that are supportive of experimental music outside these DIY venues, so I thought they were the most logical choice.