It’s no secret that club nights – especially those rooted in techno and electronica – are usually male-dominated. Boudica is the London-based collective looking to change this, offering up a safe space for womxn and non-binary clubbers to dance, get messy and thrash out their stresses to a stellar line-up of hand-picked DJs. This Saturday’s launch at the Pickle Factory, a unique, multi-purpose venue nestled away in East London, will give fans a first taste of the collective, featuring sets from Becky Stroke, Lewis G Burton and Berlin’s Melania. Also on the line-up is Samantha Togni – an internationally-renowned DJ in her own right, and Boudica’s founder.
Togni’s plans are ambitious: she describes the project as a collective, a club night and a record label, with the first releases tentatively penciled in for early 2020. The decision to focus Boudica solely on womxn and non-binary artists stemmed from her own experiences as a tutor at London Sound Academy, where she regularly hears from students of the misogyny, transphobia and racism they experience when trying to break into the industry.
London’s club scene is slowly diversifying – courtesy of collectives like BBZ and Pxssy Palace, as well as nights like Inferno and He.She.They – but there’s still a lack of queer spaces for fans of electronica, particularly the darker, murkier side. High-energy sets and industrial beats look likely to set Boudica apart, creating not only a safe space, but an environment where hedonism, weirdness and queerness are actively celebrated. Ahead of the launch, Noctis reached out to Togni to talk industry change, the political power of music and the unbridled joy that comes with letting your freak flag fly.
What inspired you to launch Boudica?
ST: The music industry still needs changing, so we need to act by offering variety. Boudica was born as a project to celebrate and give voice to artists who aren’t given the same opportunities; instead, they’re constantly challenged by sexism and white male supremacy. I wanted to offer London a platform for female and non-binary artists to explore the darker, heavier side of electronic music.
This is a club night, a record label and a collective – how important was it for you to have all those different elements?
ST: It was a necessity, both to express the full concept of Boudica and to make the project feel complete. From the first second I started making music, I felt it was the most powerful political tool I possessed; I felt it could change things. So Boudica being a club night, a record label, a collective and a radio show means it gives a wider range of opportunities for visibility.
Do you think the presence of womxn and non-binary musicians is generally missing in London’s electronic music scene?
ST: We still have a lot of work to do – some of the biggest clubs still don’t celebrate difference, but I have seen the scene change rapidly here. We have platforms like Inferno and He.She.They, which always ensure their line-ups represent artists from all different backgrounds. This city is such a benchmark for the rest of the world, so it’s important that we create these spaces to inspire other cities to take action.
What have your experiences been like, and have they made you even more determined to create space for other womxn DJs to break through?
ST: Being a womxn in a club environment hasn’t been easy! I’ve had experiences where bookers have crossed a line and made me feel uncomfortable; I’ve been objectified countless times. The reality is that, if you are a minority, you have to work ten times to harder to be seen as credible, and to have your art recognised. I’m a tutor at the London Sound Academy, and I hear experiences from many other womxn and non-binary artists on a daily basis. Many of them mention their frustrations at navigating a male-dominated industry, which is one of many reasons I felt Boudica needed to create space for these unsung talents to break through.
What can people expect from the launch party on Saturday night?
ST: It will be a party to celebrate diversity, and show appreciation for the darker side of the electronic music spectrum. Boudica is a space for female and non-binary partiers, and their allies. I want it to be an honest representation of what we claim the project to be, as well as a place for people to have a good time and embrace their weirdness!
How did you choose your headliners?
ST: I wanted a strong figure that represented the radical message we want to send. Melania is proving a strong competitor in a pool of up-and-coming talent – her sets and productions are a constant inspiration, as they challenge the audience fearlessly without holding back. Lewis G Burton and Becky Stroke are actively known for breaking stereotypes in the London scene, and using their club nights as a political tool to break with normativity. Boudica couldn’t have asked for a better portrayal for its debut!
You’ve said the launch will be a safe, sex-positive space. In your eyes, what are the most important things that event organisers can do to ensure this environment?
ST: At a time where all venues and promoters claim to offer a safe space, we need to make sure we stay true to our promise. The Pickle Factory team is working closely with us to ensure security is briefed on our beliefs. Myself and members of the collective be wearing badges with the Boudica logo – anyone that feels uncomfortable or gets harassed in any way will just have to apporach us, and we will be sure to take care of the situation. Boudica is a sex and body-positive environment; sexism, homophobia, transphobia and racism won’t be tolerated.
Finally, what we can we expect in the future – new releases and more club nights?
ST: You’ll definitely see more parties from us – we’re already planning the next one! We also have a residency at Threads Radio on the first Friday of every month; the next show will feature myself and our beloved Lewis G Burton. We’re also going through demos at the moment. We’re planning our first release at the beginning of 2020!
Boudica’s launch party will take place this Saturday (October 5th) at The Pickle Factory, London. Tickets are available through this link.
Words: Jake Hall