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How Femme House Is Bringing An Equal Opportunity Vision To The Club

April 6, 2022
Written by
Photos by
True Danner (@mattietrue)

Nestled between the skyscrapers of downtown Atlanta, GA, it felt other-worldly to enter into a wave of warm energy as we opened the doors of the W hotel—reminiscent of a familiarity found only in the comfort of your own home. Excitement and openness filled the room as those attending Femme House’s Takeover Tour prepared themselves to dive deep into a two-hour course on the “Basics of Ableton Live.” Hosted by Christina Horn, an experienced producer and Ableton Certified Trainer, it was a breath of fresh air to approach a topic as technical as navigating your DAW with the awareness of how magical the beginner’s mind can really be, all while being reminded that at the end of the day it’s all about having fun.

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Femme House co-founder LP Giobbi

Femme House celebrates curiosity from the controller, allowing a level of magic to shine through in an industry that has historically upheld perfection and patriarchal violence. The Takeover Tour is a new initiative created by Femme House to provide access to music industry education while inviting the spirit and undefined energy of dancing the night away at the club. Since 2019, the non-profit has built roots connecting regional and  international communities with a seemingly simple goal in mind: to foster more equitable opportunities for women and gender-expansive individuals in music. As a musician and movement organizer myself, it’s not often to come into contact with an organization that invites the freedom to just play around and push knobs. Through this sense of safety and community, experienced within the skill-shares, gear swaps, and panels hosted by a spectrum of talented producers and DJs, it becomes apparent that access, opportunities, and space are the pillars of Femme House’s mission. 

“I realized that we had something really powerful on our hands when people were coming to us to find that community and building communities within this, you know, in a really uncertain time of upheaval” — Lauren Spalding, co-founder of Femme House

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Led by their vision for creating a more equitable industry as a whole, workshops such as Intro to Ableton Live and Building Your Beats are offered at a sliding scale tier system with free access for womxn of color—a step towards access and inclusivity that is unfortunately few and far between. In 2021, they teamed up with Alicia Keys’ non-profit She is the Music and We Are Moving The Needle to co-create She is the Producer, a six-week intensive that gives participants hands-on industry experience, as well as the gear to support them on their creative journey.  As their last cohort saw incredible success serving over 3,000 creators from over 1,400 cities and 77 countries, She is the Producer II is making a comeback in April of 2022.

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Femme House co-founders Lauren Spalding and LP Giobbi

During a time when connecting in physical spaces is being re-imagined, Femme House’s mission to host hands-on educational experiences has been a long time dream for co-founders LP Giobbi & Lauren Spalding. With support from Ableton, we had the chance to catch up with them and talk about their manifestations, dreams, and promises to keep open spaces available for femmes and gender expansive people.

She Shreds: Can you tell us about the foundations of Femme House?

Lauren: Me and LP have been friends for well over a decade, done a lot of drinking together and a lot of dreaming together. We just have been having conversations over the past, you know, 12 years about how to make an impact and how to create an industry. All of our conversations always came back to creating an industry that we were proud to be a part of. 

LP: Yeah, as Lauren said there, we used to do my favorite thing, something that we call ‘roof topping.’ We would go there before we went out in the night and have real deep heart to heart conversations. It was the most beautiful, best friend shit ever. The idea of Femme House was sort of born throughout those rooftops.

How has the Femme House community impacted your orginization?

Lauren: I realized that we had something really powerful on our hands when people were coming to us to find that community, and building communities within this, you know, in a really uncertain time of upheaval where all of a sudden, we were feeling scared and ungrounded. The fact that we could be quite literally a safe space for people to come and connect with other people. This shit is different. A lot of our community comes to us and says, ‘Ay yo Femme House has changed my life. I just started throwing a party while DJing, with my friends, because I learned how to DJ.’

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How do y’all see Femme House interested in challenging those things that y’all talking about, the boys club and continuing to create those spaces? Also what does a long term collective abundance look like, whether that’s through funding, creating space, or opportunities?

Lauren: You know, this started out as education and visual representation. Now we’ve got some wind under ourselves and have brand partners looking at us and interested in what we’re doing. But basically, it’s almost a replication of what the boys do, right? You have to ID to go get ID’d. Why the fuck do you have to do that? How the fuck do you have 500 people on the lineup and 13 fucking women. That doesn’t make any sense. Like, why the fuck is LP playing a festival and walking around the entire week-and-a-half of the festival and not seeing another woman backstage? 

Such a fan of all this knowledge and skill-share that y’all do. I mean definitely the roots of feminism is skill-share so can you give me just an overview of your current programs?

Lauren: Yeah, I’ll let LP talk about the nerdy shit.

LP: [laughs] We do free monthly workshops, and those are all in Zoom. They cover everything from mini concepts to drum programming to sound design to,  loading a MIDI track and an audio track in Ableton. Everything is done in Ableton. We also just launched our DJ courses, which turns out there was a lot of demand for that, which was really, really cool. Mary Droppinz is our lead educator on the DJ courses, and Mini Bear is our lead educator on the Ableton production courses.

Lauren: Last year, we started tip-toeing into a mentorship and professional development base, which is something that’s close to my heart and so we have a bit of programming called Backstage Pass, where we basically have a fireside chat with executives, mostly women and women of color behind the scenes. We also created Pass The Mic to just basically be like, here’s the keys of the platform, showcase whatever you want and we will amplify it.

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Femme House lead educator Mini Bear

How did the BIPOC scholarships get started?

Lauren: Yeah, that was one of the levers that we decided to pull when we had a look at the community. How can we make this actually diverse, right? I always think of what I had in mind when we started this was Suzi Analogue, who’s one of the most brilliant creators of our time. It’s not enough to be dope. But, you have to have a stamp that says you’re dope from people that aren’t necessarily going to understand what it is that you do.

How has The Takeover Tour been going? 

LP: It’s been so exciting to be in person because you never know. Do other people care about what these things are? Is this empowering to them? You build and they will come and that’s been so fucking unbelievable. It’s more inspiring than the DJ set. We’ve always really originally dreamt this concept up to be an in-person thing. The one thing the pandemic allowed was for our community to grow way outside of L.A. and internationally through She Is the Producer. Seeing those groups form in real life [makes me] want to keep doing this. The Takeover Tour concept will roll up, hopefully, yearly.

What do you hope that your students will walk away with when they leave a Femme House workshop?

Lauren: Oh, LP this is you baby!

LP:  TO FEEL EMPOWERED [hands waving in the air]! The goal for these Intro to Ableton workshops is to walk out able to start your own musical journey.

What are y’all dreaming and manifesting for the future for Femme house? 

Lauren: We’re sort of manifesting being gatekeepers. And you know, gatekeepers have a dirty connotation—a well earned dirty connotation. If you’re standing at a gate and your job is to close it, that also means that your job is eventually to open it.

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