photo: Ryan Nolan

Documentary about embedded misogyny in music industry screened at BreakOut West

Kinnie Starr’s documentary screening closed the last day of the festival and conference

A weekend celebrating music ended with a viewing of a documentary on the gender gap in music production and authorship.

Kinnie Starr, Canadian singer, song-writer joined an audience to screen her documentary, Play Your Gender released in 2016 and that will be made available to the public on Oct. 23.

The one hour and 20 minute documentary follows the JUNO Award winner as she interviews producers, musicians and players in the music industry.

Opening up to a rendition of a song that sings the lyrics We are in a mans world to set the tone of the information the audience was about to have presented to them.

The documentary states that the music industry is worth $475 billion, women represent 5 per cent of producers and engineers, 15 per cent of record labels are owned by women, and less than 20 per cent of songs are written by women. When a woman, or anyone walks into a room where they are a minority by a 3:1 ratio the woman’s heart rate will spike immediately.

In the 1990’s to become more inclusive orchestras began holding blind interviews where musicians would audition behind a curtain. Due to a lack of diversity, the orchestra defended themselves by saying they were selecting musicians based on talent and not gender. After the blind auditions were implemented, the percentage of women selected rose by 50 per cent.

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“I was a bit surprised actually when we did the whole research phase. But when we started to talk to people I was pretty surprised because across the board there is (usually) the occasional person that has never experienced sexism, racism or oppression… But I was surprised how across the board how many had the same experience of being less than from being out numbered,” said Starr. “I wish that it wasn’t like that where almost every woman or woman who identifies as trans doesn’t feel that they belong. It’s really upsetting that everyone gets this.”

Starr, who has had experiences with emotional, physical and sexual violence herself shared during the Q&A portion of the viewing that she was coming onto the scene alongside Tegan and Sara, a Canadian indie-pop band composed of twin sisters. That she would purposely would turn down opportunities that would have, “Boosted my career in an enormous capacity in terms of fame and visibility.” Because she was alone and that made her more vulnerable to predators.

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“I was taught when I was very young that in the face of violence to talk, and that’s how I have dealt with violence both emotional, physical and sexual,” the musician said. “Once I have gotten away (from people that have been) violent with me I will tell people. I have never reported a rape or one that has happened to me, and never reported aggressors in the industry.”

The as the documentary draws to a close Starr shares in the film that she had several men lined up to speak about the “deeply embedded misogyny” in the music industry however, several backed out of their interviews.

“It (change) has to come from men as much as it does us,” said Starr.

Along with other artists Starr shared that behind an artist there is a large team behind them, mostly made up of men; including writers, sound technicians, producers and musicians.

RELATED: JUNO president returns to B.C. hometown to collect award

“They (fans) don’t have access to see the male writers behind the females at the top.”

Starr and her interview subjects, including; Patty Schemel, former drummer for Hole, Mindy Abovitz, founder and editor-in chief of Tom Tom Magazine and Melissa Auf der Maur of the Smashing Pumpkins to name a few: concluded that in order to help more women be able to acquire jobs in the industry, women that are at the top will have to begin looking for female talent to hire as part of their teams.

Starr says that it will take five years to see the impact of the film and whether the conversations that are buzzing around the film will make a difference. Sharing that she believes the film has been better received in Europe and America, specifically London, England, Germany, and New York, U.S.A.

“People are really actively invested overseas,”said Starr. “Canada is just slow… We have a history here of not supporting our own artists, it’s really strange.”

For updates and more information visit Play Your Gender’s Facebook Page facebook.com/playyourgender

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@sydneyrmorton
sydney.morton@kelownacapnews.com

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