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Interview: E-Volv Tech Festival’s Dee Diggs and Tameka E-C on breaking new ground in the dance community

 

Native to Boston but with a reach that’s fast expanding throughout the country, Evlv Tech is a community for self-identifying female, trans, genderqueer, and non-binary producers, DJs, live performers, and event curators in electronic music. This week, starting tonight and running through Sunday (July 21 to 24), they will collectively host the inaugural E-Volv Tech Music Festival at multiple venues and spaces across the Boston and Cambridge area.

And there is a lot going on.

Highlights include former Boston mainstay and Make It New resident Volvox — who has rippled through the New York techno scene over the past five years with her own monthly events JACK DEPT & UNTER, as well as appearances at prominent clubs such as Output, Le Bain, Verboten, and a much-coveted Boiler Room hour — DJing the opening dance-party tonight at Middlesex Lounge. Friday, the E-Volv Tech fest presents an experimental live set room at ZuZu featuring local artists Mei Ohara, Joss, and Anda Volley. Next door at the Middle East Upstairs is a more club oriented lineup with the midwest’s JLIN, Philly native DJ HARAM, Boston’s own MSG, R&B duo Palace, and DJ Earthclit. The four-day display ends with events in Jamaica Plain on Saturday and Sunday.

 
 

Overall, the extended showcase aims to exhibit musicians and artists who are pushing the limits of their genres, to liberate dance spaces from the stronghold of the patriarchy, and discuss methods of creating, enforcing and educating about safer spaces. As gender constructions continue to breakdown within mainstream media it is of considerable significance that those involved in the subculture originally allowing for freedom of expression be promoted, discovered, and heard.

In advance of tonight’s kickoff, Vanyaland connected with E-Volv Tech Music Festival organizers Dee Diggs and Tameka E-C over email, discussing how their support network began, the vision for the festival and the ultimate goals for the upcoming week and weekend ahead.

Georgette Moiselle: How did the vision for Evlv Tech as a collective materialize?

 
 

Dee Diggs and Tameka E-C: Evlv Tech started as a support network and Facebook group created to be a safe space for open communication and skill-sharing for female self-identified musicians and DJs. Then it bloomed into being inclusive of gender variant identities because we realized the current gender construct is dead, dying, or at least shifting. We started out of necessity, but evolved into a passion project that has fed so many different kinds of people and parts of our community.

EVOLV JULY 21

What is the most positive or surprising instance to arise from the community since it began?

We aren’t surprised, but it’s been so positive to have received a lot of support from previously more insular music cliques. Maybe the most surprising part is how hard and taxing it is to hold people, events, etc., accountable for being an active part of perpetuating rape culture, or creating spaces that are stale in regards to only ever booking the same five cis-males every time and just calling it by a new name.

 
 

EVOLV July 21 II

Did hosting a festival seem like a natural progression? Have you hosted singular events in the past?

Evlv Tech has hosted several events in Vermont. We’ve teamed up with Pop-up Queer Dance Party to throw a T dance/benefit for queer youth. Evlv Tech threw a “liberated dance floor” party at this year’s Dismantling Rape Cultural Conference as well as having Tameka, our co-founder, featured as a speaker at the conference. In Boston, we have also had collaboration parties with Pink Noise and Convergence.

The festival was a natural progression. It’s the ultimate manifestation of bringing music and people together.

 
 

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How do you hope to foster dialogue and education of gender studies within the electronic dance scene?

There is no evolution without realizing our own power to create & influence culture or without engaging opportunities to learn from each other. We are committed to evolving the power structures and patriarchy centering status quo. This way we can all be free to be ourselves on the dance floor and beyond so that no talents are suppressed because of the arbitrary societal constraint of ‘gender’.

By showcasing and uniting self-identified female, genderqueer, transgender, and gender non-binary producers, DJs and live performers, we are creating a new narrative for the current male-dominated circuit in club culture and music technology.

 
 

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Which artists should we look out for in particular?

It’s a great line up that features local talents and acts as an introduction to talents from surrounding cities who have never been booked here or don’t play here often. Our personal highlights vary because our core group has a vast pallet for music.

We are excited to debut some artists such as JLIN, DJ Haram, Katie Rex, TRNSGNDR/VHS and many more!

 
 

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Ultimate goals for the four-day event?

We are serious about making sure that the events represent what we’d like to see more of in club culture internationally: more well curated experimental line-ups, safe(r) spaces with designated point people, and more marginalized groups being showcased and centered more often.

For more information on E-Volv Tech and updates lineups and news, click here. For advance tickets, click here. Below is a sampling of events going on.

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EVOLV JULY 23 III

 
 

EVOLV July 24

EVOLV MAIN