Why the 'up yours'?
Let's do something that's not starting this text by being a hypocrite. When the indiepop night Cosy Den started, the people playing during the first years were surely to 80% male. Cosy Den simply didn't know better, or rather, not much thought was given this. It has since tried to improve, without making much of a fuzz of it - after all, it's quite annoying with blokes walking around shouting in megaphones during 8 of March rallies, isn't it? We've kept rather quiet. But sometimes Cosy Den has openly criticized others, who've carelessly just gone on and on, apparently without taking this matter into question the slightest.
The festival started as a five-year anniversary celebration in five days, when the night turned five years, in 2009. This year, it's time for the festival - called Cosy Den 2012 - for the fourth year and time. This takes place the last week of July in and around Stockholm - mostly in Haninge, but also in central town and in the remote location of Stigtomta. Artists such as Cats on fire and Le Muhr will take the stage. But why precisely the last week of July? By that, it'll clash with the Emmaboda festival - traditionally Sweden's largest indie shindig.
Well, the culture pages of Dagens Nyheter, Swedens largest morning paper, phoned around (2011-12-19) after Ladyfest's review of who's booking the artists for the music festivals in the summer. They also implied that the vast majority of men among the artists might have something to do with the fact that it's nearly solely men that put together these line ups. The Emmaboda festival's promoter Håkan Karlsson's quotes in this article were just too much for us.
We book good artists only. No, we do not think about handicapped, the cripples or something else. We just book what we like, and what fits. We're setting up a party for ourselves. This doesn't interest us the slightest. Honestly, I wonder who cares, really. It's not our mandate to look at things like that.
- So, you wouldn't agree that you as coordinators have a responsibility?
No, I don't think so. I can not influence, can I? I can't book a load of junk and sell 300 tickets. It's a weird approach to have towards music. I really do respect ideals of equality, but it's nothing that I can apply to my work, and I am proud not to do so.
You've created all sorts of problems for yourself if you were going to start by looking at gender rather than music. Women aren't less good in any way, but there's a much more narrow range. Among female DJ's, there are hardly any options at all. Without any thought of substance, you can book equally. But if you'd like it to be good, there's no 50% available.
We can only hope that Håkan is proud of the write-up in anti-feminist blog GenusNytt, too. One can obviously have different opinions in this matter, but a minimum is that one can acknowledge a basic feminist analysis (the notion that women are structurally suboriented to men, and the will to change this). All the artists performing (and all the visitors too, hopefully) at Cosy Den festival do that.
Indiepop is at first look vastly a very politically correct subculture, where DIY, socialism, riot grrrl and many other nearby, sympathetic ideals and orientations are normative. But - one who scratches on its surface, will soon see that the politically correct subculture only stretches to a certain point. Indie pop is not a safe zone when it comes to structural stigmatization - far from it. Everyone who is not blind to structures and patterns will soon see them ("aw, it's lovely that you'd like to play in a band, more girls should really be encouraged to take their place... oh, and would the triangle do, by the way?") frequently appearing in our safe wee haven. The promoter for the Emmaboda festival and his quotes is just an over-explicit example. This is an attempt to stand up against these things.
This is a highly intentional and angry clash with the Emmaboda festival. Cosy Den - having set up over 300 concerts and perhaps regarded as a rather small but still established player at the Swedish indie pitch - is as keen to scare away anti-feminists from our arrangements as if we would have been if this was about racism.
Cosy Den 2012