There has been a lot of buzz in the music industry lately about the lack of equal gender representation, especially on stage.
Electric Forest sought to face this challenge head on this year by introducing Her Forest, an initiative aimed at supporting women attendees and employees alike by focusing on “connection, inspiration, and comfort.” The idea for the initiative was spurred by a panel in 2016, and was carried out through a women’s only group camp, a women artist panel, and a curated female-fronted lineup.
One act that applied and was accepted as part of this year’s special program was Chicago-based producer Jill Brown, known as M.O.B Music. We talked to Jill about her experience playing Her Forest and her overall festival experience.
Was this your first time at Electric Forest?
“This was not my first time at Forest. In 2015, we set up a renegade stage with Autograf and their bus in the RV GA campground and it was definitely a success and a great time! I actually decided not to return afterwards because that year we were surrounded by a lot of younger and somewhat disrespectful kids new to festivals and I thought the vibe of the crowd that Forest is so well known for was changing.
This year, my friend and I decided to buy tickets for weekend two and give it another shot as we didn’t want to give up on such a magical experience and place to be yourself freely. With or without playing, going back this year re-instilled why I love Electric Forest from the curated events, giving tree, amazing people that you meet there, how they give back to the community, and the scene and the values they emphasize, from leaving no trace behind to being all inclusive of everyone without any discrimination.”
What all did “Her Forest” encompass? Was it simply booking female acts or were there other components?
“The Her Forest event encompassed showcasing female artists, from producers and musicians to dancers and more. It was a few hour long event held on the Observatory stage on Friday of weekend on, and led up to Monarch Rachel & the Royal Drag court’s show.
Besides the curated event, Her Forest also offered a panel, similar to the one held in 2016, and an all women’s camp in GA for those who wanted to just camp with other women, connect, create with each other, and have a safe space where they felt comfortable if they were attending the event alone. We had meet ups and circles that encouraged connecting more deeply with each other, looking within ourselves, and haring our experiences, strength, and hope with each other on how Electric Forest has affected each of us.
My takeaway from my experience playing the curated set and attending some of the other Her Forest events was that it was a safe space for women, women identifiers, non-binary, lgbt supporters, and community members to connect with one another, share our experiences, create together, learn from one another, and strengthen the bond us women share. It opened the conversation of what it means to not only be a woman in the Electric Forest community, but in the world as a whole, and how we can share compassion, our experiences, and our passions with the world.”
How did you feel during and after your set?
“I was extremely nervous when I started playing since gates had just opened to the festival after a rainy Thursday night and it was pretty empty! The Observatory stage is also my favorite one to visit when I’m at Electric Forest and I’ve seen many of the artists I look up to grace that stage, so it was a bit shocking at first realizing I was actually playing on it! After a few minutes, people started flooding in and dancing and that was when all my nerves left.
The only way I can describe how I felt during my set at that point was like nothing else mattered and I wasn’t up on stage djing for people; for that period of time, we were all in this place as one together enjoying good music and forgetting about everything else going on in our lives even if for a moment. It was truly beautiful. Someone also got married during my set which I thought was so incredible. It was a coincidence that they were getting married while I was playing but it is still my favorite memory!
After my set, I was exhausted from the amount of energy I had that I never even realized I was projecting outwards until I ran to get water and sit down! I was proud not only of myself for playing such an amazing event, but also the other women involved who high-fived me and praised my song selections and were head banging. It felt surreal for a little bit and then I was purely grateful.”
What did you do while not playing?
“While not playing, I tried to attend as many women’s events that were going on as well as going to other panels. Checking out the art installations is always a favorite experience of mine as well when I’m at Electric Forest, so myself and fellow Nap Girl/Her Forest curated event artist, Alfiya Glow, spent a few hours taking pictures of the art and exploring the different structures and activities that were going on.
I also went to see a lot of music! I didn’t see as much as I would have liked to but I enjoyed every set that I saw and had a blast being able to go support fellow Chicago artists playing, like Louis the Child, Win & Woo, Xonic, and Autograf.”
What were some of the other badass female acts you got to catch that were involved with Her Forest?
“I’m not even saying this just to include everyone — but every female act that I saw perform that was involved with Her Forest was incredible. These were the most talented group of ladies that I have ever seen together.
My favorite was Alfiya Glow. She makes incredible bad ass remixes of hip hop and rock songs with her violin and production skills. She also plays the violin live during her set while dancing and djing and doing so many other things at once. I think she is a force to be reckoned with and will be gracing a main stage again there and all over very soon!
Melody Monroe was also incredible. She is a producer as well as a keyboardist and vocalist. Frankie was a beautiful ballerina that graced the stage. Her performance was so unique it had people stopping in awe to watch. Heartwurkz was an upbeat musical group from California that brought the happiest vibes and then the dance of Anarkali consisted of two women performing an Indian dance that brought a unique culture to the forest that normally you wouldn’t find at a festival consisting of mostly electronic music or really, any other music festival in the country!”
What are some of your upcoming gigs for the rest of the summer?
“I just played Moonshine Music & Arts festival in Georgia this past weekend, and I have Eternal Groove Music Festival, Cosmic Giggle Music Festival, and a secret but amazing festival coming up in September. Unfortunately I have to keep tight lipped about the second September festival until they announce it!
Otherwise for the rest of the summer and fall I am focusing a lot on more production, as well as playing more shows locally. The last few years I’ve been traveling a lot more and neglecting Chicago and I miss playing in my hometown, so I hope to be playing a lot here over the next few months!
Also, July 22nd, I am playing and also hosting and all female DJ night. I was approached by a friend who works at the venue after posting how much I wanted to showcase the female artists here. We get shut out of playing a lot of events because we don’t “know” the right people or there is fear that since we’re women, we may not be as technically skilled as our male counterparts which is obviously not true. I’m hoping that the success and support of the first all female night at Liar’s club on July 22nd will lead to a regular night filled with female, female identifiers, non-binary, etc. musicians!”
Check out M.O.B Music on Soundcloud:
- Go HARD at Red Rocks with Dillon Francis, DJ Mustard + More on 7/28
- Thievery Corporation w/ DeVotchKa and That 1 Guy at Red Rocks 8/5