Maria Paradinas speaks to Lara Rix-Martin, founder of music label Objects Ltd.
Objects Ltd. is a music label platforming female-identifying and non-binary producers. Launched in 2016 by Lara Rix-Martin, Objects aims to specifically address the gender imbalance in electronic music. I spoke to Lara about sexism in the scene, rewriting history, and what STEM has to do with music.
Exercising the methodologies of intersectional feminism, Lara addresses the erasure of women and non-binary people’s narratives from electronic music and expresses the necessity to rewrite these voices into the history.
‘Innovation comes from lots of different people’, she says, ‘and we’ve been too focused on white men being innovators. Women have been erased from history – or their involvement has been skimmed over. What’s important to show is that [women making electronic music] is not just happening now, it’s always happened, so I’m interested in looking back.
‘For example, Jana Rush (one of Objects’ artists) has been producing for 20 years but was never given the platform or been able to reach a wider audience. Electronic music is a male orientated clique, and maybe she wasn’t given the support, but it feels good to give those people a boost’.
Since its birth two years ago, Objects has released music from women and non-binary people from Chicago to Shanghai to Berlin. 2017 saw the release of the compilation album Object: Resistance and all profits went to Black Lives Matter and the Albert Kennedy Trust (a homeless charity specifically for LGBT youth). The Bandcamp description reads: ‘This will be a digital-only album because of the massive environmental impact of CD and vinyl production. This needs to be highlighted because global warming disproportionately affects people of colour’.
I ask Lara what gave her the idea to start the label.
‘My husband Mike [Paradinas] runs his label, Planet Mu, and so I’ve always been a part of the scene from being with him, but I noticed that you had to specifically look, and look harder, for women and non-binary artists.
‘There are a lot of female performers but I wanted to focus on female producers. Digital Muse (a global volunteer movement promoting Entrepreneurship and Arts powered by STEM) actually gave me the idea’ She tells me. Digital muse support girls in creative and digital endeavours powered by STEM knowledge like music & DJ-ing, design & visual arts, video games & software programming, and TV, film & audio production.
‘Women are underrepresented in STEM fields and you can get into it in an artistic way – an audio engineer will need STEM knowledge for example. The crossover is massive especially with electronic music’.
The crossover with digital technology and feminism is rigorously theorised in the Xenofeminist Manifesto, written by Laboria Cubonics Collective of which Yoneda Lemma (an alias of Katrina Burch) is featured on the 2017 Objects: Resistance compilation album.
Some key points of this Xenofeminist manifesto include:
- Gender inequality still characterizes the fields in which our technologies are conceived, built, and legislated for.
- The real emancipatory potential of technology remains unrealized.
- Given that there are a range of gendered challenges specifically relating to life in a digital age—from sexual harassment via social media, to doxxing, privacy, and the protection of online images—the situation requires a feminism at ease with computation.
- Rather than arguing for the primacy of the virtual over the material, or the material over the virtual, Xenofeminism grasps points of power and powerlessness in both.
The points drawn by Laboria Cubonics Collective are interesting pertinent, but Lara admits that the language that the manifesto is written in is elitist and exclusivist.
The potential for connectivity in the digital landscape has facilitated reaching out to artists. ‘It’s a lot easier now with the internet,’ Lara says, ‘I can just see what artists my friends are following, and then who their following and go into little wormholes. I find all of the artists online, and this way it’s easier to look for artists of colour that aren’t exclusively British and American.
I ask her what the biggest obstacle has been:
‘A lot of barriers we face with this sort of thing are around money’ she tells me, ‘I’m trying to open up the door for people as I can by pulling all of my resources into this platform’.
I ask her for a go-to platform for discovering women producers:
‘Female pressure does a lot of reposts of women, they have a large database of women artists, but admittedly it does need updating’.
I ask her if she’s faced sexism as a musician:
‘I started making music in 2012 [Mike Paradinas, under the alias Heterotic] and, yeah, was confronted with sexism. We did one interview for a Russian website, and they had a picture of me and Mike and they put the text over my face. All they used to say was ‘and Mike’s wife’ sort of thing, but this spurred me on in a way.
‘When I released music in 2012 I didn’t have the confidence to call out sexism. I suppose that’s what I’m trying to, with my label; give women the confidence to say ‘I can do this’. Creating a platform specifically dedicated to drawing marginalised identities into the mainstream has been integral to this.
Illustration by Maria Paradinas.