March has always been a main focal month for women to commemorate not just the highs of achievements made in all industry aspects, but also the increased visibility of women’s rights, raising the attention of issues such as violence against women, and gender inequality where women are always trying to make it in a man’s world. An equal world will see women being free and supported to embrace success on their own terms, making their own mark and identity in the world.
This year for International Women’s Day, French fashion and music brand, Kitsuné Musique brought together talented, up-and-coming female artists whom they love and above all, support. Partnering with global independent association, she said.so which works tirelessly to empower women and gender minorities in the music industry, a community of 13 female artists from all parts of the world was set to pay tribute to women by women with a Women’s Day 24-hour Mix. This included the ultimate women empowerment (online) gathering Japan’s YonYon, Bangkok-based DJ Kade, Peckam raised multidisciplinary creative stephseeks, RinseFM radio host Andy 4000, Afro-funk producer Banga and Shanghai’s multi-genre creative Ji Na to name a few.
At the same time, a shesaid.so x Kitsuné Women’s Day Fund was created to provide hardship payments of up to €250 each to freelancers, contractors, and artists in the independent music industry whose income has been severely affected due to COVID.
Popwire spoke with Paris-based DJ, Banga as well as Tokyo repping music producer and radio personality YonYon on this campaign.
Hello from Singapore! We would love to host you here one day, when life returns to a new norm. Have you visited before?
Banga: I have been to Penang once, but I haven’t visited Singapore just yet.
Yon Yon: Hello from Tokyo! I have been to Singapore twice so far; my first visit was for an event hosted by Singapore-based female DJ / Producer collective ATTAGIRL!, in 2017. This was one of those events that I can’t forget with a great crowd atmosphere and such mindful hospitality by the host. My second visit was for a luxury brand’s reception party. This also was a memorable experience where I had my first 4-hour long set. Singapore is definitely one of my favorite places out of all the world!
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With the current global pandemic putting nightlife on hold, how have you kept it together? What have you been keeping busy with?
Banga: A publishing deal opportunity came to me at the beginning of the pandemic. This kept me busy although fewer gigs, but more music production studio time and collabs with artists, etc. I’m excited for what’s coming up! Besides this, I focus on my monthly radio show on Rinse France.
Yon Yon: To be honest, I was quite rattled when the world first encountered this pandemic, but I also instantly knew that I had to make my move. I needed enough time to balance mind, body, and soul, and realize the possibility of the outcomes that this COVID-19 could result. I moved my studio out of Tokyo to Fukuoka, started my DIY lifestyle, where I started to acknowledge the beauty of cooking, watched movies, and gave myself a day-off where I would do absolutely nothing — things I wasn’t able to do at a busy life in Tokyo. After spending all of this time in 2020, I launched my label Peace Tree last December, where we released our first digital album by a Fukuoka-based rapper PEAVIS, which I produced. My EP will also be released soon through this label, so please stay tuned!
We love how diverse and global this collaborative partnership for Kitsune and shesaid.so is and of how it emphasises a true reflection of the creative community. How did this collaboration effort between Kitsune, shesaid.so and you come about? Have you previously worked with Kitsune on other projects?
Banga: I was reached by Kitsune for this project! Yes, I used to DJ for Café Kitsuné in Paris.
Yon Yon: I have worked with Kitsuné several times started off with a DJ MIX for their Soundcloud. From there I was invited to their tour in Korea where I performed alongside BUTTA B, a DJ from Manilla. She is also taking part in this collaboration, and which I believe is a great example of a truly global creative collaboration. I always look forward to these collaborations with Kitsuné as they give me an opportunity to connect with different female artists around the world.
How does it feel to be a part of this global initiative?
Banga: In a context where nightlife and club music is being put on a hold, such an initiative of gathering DJs makes us feel connected and heard. The fact that we are women fronting this, made it even more special.
Yon Yon: With a Korean background raised and based in Tokyo, I have always dreamt to become a bridge not only between these two countries but for the whole of Asia. I really appreciate my current situation for being able to take part in this through what I truly love: music. I hope my production and music will unite people in the world in peace throughout my career.
Shedding light on talented up-and-coming female artists and professionals in the creative industry, could you share (if any) projects you’ve worked on together with other diverse and talented fellow creatives.
Banga: I was invited to the Redbull music studio for a women-centered writing camp to produce a song featuring upcoming French female singers Sally, Chilla, Alicia, Vicky R, and Joanna. The energy we had together those 2 days was something magic, the song will be out soon can’t wait!
Yon Yon: On 2017’s International Women’s Day, I co-hosted events in Tokyo and Seoul with female artists from the Korean underground scene. The purpose of this event was to emphasize and gain recognition of both scenes by introducing participating artists through interviews via multiple media outlets. This gave me opportunities to support different events in Japan each year, such as New York’s female artist collective Discwoman. When they came to Japan, there was an interview and DJ event with Japanese female artists held in DOMMUNE, one of Tokyo’s live streaming media platforms, where I supported as a DJ. The conversations we had for this were really brightened and opened up my knowledge.
Have you personally experienced any challenges along the way, and what did you do to rise above it all?
Banga: I think my main challenge was to keep it up with DJ sets while producing music at the same time (which can be really time-consuming). I have learnt to be more organized and prioritize things better. Sometimes you just have to make compromises.
Yon Yon: This may not be the biggest challenge of all, but I’m currently playing a role to gap the bridge between Japan’s underground and overground scene. Between these two conflicting scenes, the crowd’s demand is completely different and has always been a hard task for any artist in the same shoes. Yet, I have realized that presenting my own musicality is the best and ultimate way to resolve this problem. To be determined with what you want to do, and to always keep your state of mind loving and caring. This is I believe is the key to have unity in the world!
Do you have any upcoming projects in the pipeline?
Banga: Yes I am working on my debut EP, this includes some songs I produced for singers and it’ll be out soon, new remixes too!
Yon Yon: My first EP ‘The Light, The Water‘ will be released on March 24th. Light and water are two main resources for all living things on this planet, and the message behind it is to understand the most important things in your life. The leading song ‘Beautiful Women‘ represents how wonderful and respective it is to live as a female in this world, fighting against all racism and gender inequalities. You can Pre-Add / Pre-Save here, please take a listen after released.
What music is really inspiring you right now?
Banga: Lately I have been into smoother music than usual, but still with rhythms because I love drums. I think Afro-house music is what I have been listening to the most. Amaarae – SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY is a nice gem, or Shay Lia – All Up To You.
Yon Yon: I listen to Pop, Rock, Hip Hop, and Dance music; it is not about digging into one genre. Embracing the moment of encountering different music suites best for me. There are great up and rising artists with exciting music from scenes such as Gqom, Singeli, and Amapiano. Yet, I believe the most exciting thing about music is to have a mixture of these new genres filtered through different cultures of each country. Gqom in Japanese lyrics should be an amazing approach too!
Listen to Kitsuné Musique Women’s Day 24H Mix, in partnership with shesaid.so: