As some of you may have heard (and hopefully even been there) – the debut run of the We Make Waves Festival 2017 in Berlin, has come and gone.

It’s been an eventful three days, with plenty of views, opinions and lot’s to learn. All held in and around the Elizabeth Kirche, as well as the Acud Studio up the road, it made for all round nice scenic atmosphere.

The festival started with an intensive day of conferences and panels such as the Is This Enough? Music and Media + Gender Justice talk whose panel included representatives from MISSY Magazine, Siegessäule, SPEX, Intro Magazine and even our very own Kai Hermann from NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION.

But that wasn’t the only highlight of the first day. Frances Morgan (deputy editor of The Wire, with whom we’ve also had an interesting interview with) had plenty to show attendees at her More Than Music presentation. Those there, left with plenty of new book and webpage recommendations by female writers, journalists and artists.

The debut conference day ended with an insightful speech by JD Samson (you most of you know from the bands Le Tigre and MEN). A little awkwardly but with a lot of charm, she told a captivated audience about her experiences with being queer and non binary in the music industry while being in bands and touring over the years. The speech made the perfect inspiring endnote to a long first day.

Photo Iva Kirova

Day two had a little change in direction, with conferences focussed on mental health (such as the panel with representatives of Music Minds Matter) and open discussion rounds, like the one Jane Arnison held about DIYing it as a female artist and the future of females in the industry, where everyone was welcome to voice opinions and views to be discussed.

One of the last talks of the day was by Ruth Daniel introducing GRRRL. Represented by the initiative, In Place Of War, GRRRL is to be precise:

‘an electronic and vocal collaboration between women of colour, revolutionary female vocalists that have come together to tell their collective stories of life, conflict, inequality and change through music.’

It was a both heart wrenching and heart warming to hear about these women’s lives and backgrounds and at the end of the talk, the audience was rewarded with an exeptional performance by Lei Di Dai, who literally, had everyone up from their chairs – dancing.

Saturday meant the third and final day of We Make Waves. And just as everyone was warming up and bonding. But what a last day is was. The day included a few workshops such as a theremin class with Dorit Chrysler. Even though it’s oldest electronic instrument out there, the chances of you having heard about it are slim – and the chances to play, even slimmer. So this really was a fun thing to have a part of. The other workshops included a DJing masterclass held by Linnea from No Shades as well as modular synthesiser workshop with Schneidersladen in the afternoon. So, ultimately something for anyone to try out.

As for talks and conferences, there was a variety to choose from. From how to get financial aid/funding for those in the music business to a presentation with a shockingly insight into the depiction of women in music videos. Moving on to the evening program, the festival really went out with a bang. Just before the performances could start there was a great interview with Meredith Graves, an artist (lead singer of Pussy Perfect), writer and currently also an anchor at MTV with her very own record label, Honor Press. She too, gave an insightful view into being a woman in the music industry and the battle females face when ‘competing’ with men. But also how she was dealing with these gaps made between people are making in the industry and how she’s trying to bridge them with her work. And when asked about how if felt being labelled a ‘queer, femme token’, she exclaimed she’s okay with that – if labelling her this way, helps others be this way too.

The night was followed by a little soirée, where for the last time, one had the chance to connect and discuss the last few days with other guests and organisers. What ensued after, was a smashing end program that had everyone buzzing. There was a mesmerising concert by Dorit Chrysler on the theremin – definitely something everyone should see at least once in their lives – as well as a one-night only re-created Blick und Begehren (Gaze and Desire, and which originally performed at the New Museum) performance by the legendary, Vaginal Davis. To top off the evening program, Dai Burger, all the way from New York City, came out and literally tore the church down!

Photo by Henrike Hannemann

Every morning also started with a sweet little breakfast set up with tea, coffee and the chance to chat and connect before the actual conference. But if that was a little early, there was plenty of opportunity to meet the other guests, speakers and performers at the drink receptions after the end of the conference day. And if you had an amazing time visiting the conferences but maybe felt a little stressed out after so much talk – the night was your friend. Beyond the evening program, the early hours of the morning allowed you to let loose and dance with performances by Saba Lou, New World Dysorder, A.W.A (African Woman Arise), Isabel Lewis  and The Chicks (Chicks on Speed) and so many more.

In total, the festival had a successful debut and the want for it to come back next year was voiced on several times. Any reason to empower and represent women and non binary people is always a good occasion to come together and celebrate. The festival truly invoked much to think of and plenty to learn. So we’re hoping to see it come about again and if it does: See you next year then!

More information about the work of We Make Waves can be found right here.