Krewella "Unplugged" and EDM's Sexism Problem
The alleged proof that Krewella wasn't plugged in, taken from a live stream of Ultra.
Over the weekend, drama-prone DJ Joel Thomas Zimmerman, also-known-as Deadmau5, asked an Ultra-related question that has Twitter buzzing: Did Krewella, the electronic-music-producing female sister duo, fake their set? This all started when Deadmau5 tweeted, "Aw man. Krewellas got them new completely wireless DJMs??? I'm jealous," during their set at one of the world's biggest EDM festivals in Miami this weekend. The context of why Deadmau5 sent out this tweet is as irrelevant as the answer to whether, in fact, Krewella did or did not fully perform their set (although they did — this video explains the logic behind their performance setup).
The debate stirred is bigger than one set, one performer, or one festival. Why is it that at again, at a mega-music festival like Ultra, there are so few women on a massive, three-day lineup? And more importantly, why is it so easy to set off a stream of negative tweets about the one female headliner at the festival when the criticisms about the lack of gender equality on the lineup meet so much resistance? Large publications and industry leaders are drawing attention to the extreme inequity that female producers face. It's not just an industry problem when the conversation opens up to a public audience. It becomes mainstream sexism.
Why were so many on the Internet so fast to take Deadmau5's word for it? After all, he has a long history of being an online heel, so much so that there's a whole listicle dedicated to scoring his trolling tweets. As I was browsing the word "Krewella" and "unplugged" on Twitter, hundreds of messages scrolled by about how embarrassed Krewella's sisters must be, how funny the situation is, how right Deadmau5 is and more. It was harder to find people wondering why the industry (and its fans) aren't shutting down the conversation from the start.
Krewella is without a doubt the biggest female act on the scene, and there is not a close runner-up. NERVO, TOKiMONSTA, Maya Jane Coles are all leaders in the female producing world — but I believe you would be hard-pressed to find a group that has heard of these names to the same degree that they have heard of Bassnectar, Tiesto or, yes, Deadmau5.
Unfortunately, the male-dominated gender stereotype is accepted as the norm, even though the industry as a whole is paid for heavily by young female fans. Female musicians in the EDM community are underrepresented by a startling ratio at festivals, and one tweet can set off an attack that has sexist undertones.
Let's take back the #Krewellaunplugged hashtag, because there's a better conversation to be having than how a DJ plugs in her gear.