Interview: GIRL Director Kandeyce Jorden on EDM and Female Empowerment
We spoke with director and EDM fanatic Kandeyce Jorden ahead of the release of her feature-length documentary GIRL.
When we think of DJs, of electronic dance music, what do we think of? Aviici dropping huge basslines on the beaches in Ibiza; David Guetta bopping softly to his latest summer hop; Joel Zimmerman spinning fat beats in his bedazzled mouse head. Men as the face of a genre – an entire subculture even – with little space for women. Directors like Kandeyce Jorden are here to change that.
After 15 years in the making, Jorden's debut feature-length documentary entitled Girl explores the intoxicating, fantastical and fervent adventures of some of the world’s most fearsome female DJs. Carving their own path through the male-dominated industry with electrifying charisma and fierce mixes, Sandra Collins, DJ Rap, Colette, and DJ Irene are just a handful of the incredible talents interviewed by director Kandeyce Jorden over the last decade.
While it was never intended to be a personal story, the documentary has become a homage to Jorden’s personal EDM enlightenment. It starts from scratch; being introduced to the etiquette of house parties and underground raves, to buying turntables and becoming completely immersed in the culture of electronic dance music.
Jorden’s personal relationship with DJ Sandra Collins ties the documentary together with a knot of beautiful female friendship. We follow Kandeyce Jorden as she trots across the globe, accompanying Collins to live shows in Mexico, attending backstage parties in Russia and losing themselves at Burning Man. Her small interview-based project gained supersonic momentum after Jorden met Collins, and the result is an intimate and inspiring female-fronted documentary.
We spoke to Kandeyce Jorden ahead of the release of Girl on 1st June.
GL: Tell us a little about life before GIRL.
KJ: Before Girl, I directed a short film “Undone” and was traveling around to film festivals with it. Simultaneously, I had fallen madly in love, got married, and had a baby. So, by the time my son was nine months old, I was ready to get back to work.
GL: How much did you know about EDM before you started making the documentary?
KJ: I remember DJ Irene saying she just started throwing house parties and in the interview, I asked her “what is a house party?”
I was pretty naïve.
GL: What attracted you to the EDM scene, amongst the many other male-centric genres and subcultures in music?
KJ: I was very attracted to the Art of DJing… I bought turntables and record shopped. I beat matched. I wanted to learn and understand what they were actually doing.
GL: Now, tell us about Sandra Collins. What was it about her that hooked you in?
KJ: We had an instant connection the minute we met.
I always say that she has this certain quality about her that makes you feel and believe that you are having the single best moment in time on the planet...[she] is very captivating as a person and very much so as a performer. She's extremely talented and she sort of plays it down like no big deal.
GL: You two have been through a lot together. Why do you think the documentary became so personal and centred heavily on your relationship with Sandra?
KJ: I had never intended for it to become a personal story at all.
I feel that in some ways Sandra was telling my story and I was telling hers. There was a mirror effect happening.
GL: The documentary spans over about 15 years, and there must have been some bumps in the road along the way. Can you tell me about some of the challenges you faced?
KJ: Wow, now that the film has been released I don’t remember any bumps or challenges… it really is like giving birth!
I would say the biggest challenge was getting the music licensed. The amount of music in the film was very ambitious. With this type of music there can be so many people involved with just one track. So, it took us a couple of years.
Thank God for Earworm Music. It was a huge task and they really took it on and made it happen.
GL: Sandra speaks a lot in the documentary about music as a healing power and a “therapy”. What does EDM mean to you now, after being totally encompassed it its culture?
KJ: I love it. I always listen to music for inspiration. I can’t work without it.
GL: In what ways do you think women like Sandra are important for the next generation of artists?
KJ: I think artists learn so much from each other. It’s great to have role models and mentors. The women in this film really have helped pave the way for future artists.
GL: As a young woman interested in DJ-ing, I feel a little dejected when I look at the unequal split of male/female artists at festivals and club nights. What can we do (together) to ensure female DJs are seen and heard?
KJ: We keep it moving forward. We bring awareness to the reality of the situation. It’s a great time for change.
GL: Do you think there's a particular reason for male dominance in EDM?
KJ: The male dominance is just the reality of our patriarchal society that still exists. DJing is a very unconventional lifestyle. It might lend itself more easily to men that have certain freedoms (not having children…safety issues) but we see that changing more and more every day.
GL: The #MeToo movement has shone a light on the entertainment industry as a whole. Do you think similar stories will emerge in this space?
KJ: I’d bet on it.
GL: What can we expect from you in the next 15 years?
KJ: Art. Lots of art. Another film. Not a documentary this time but a narrative (that I’m currently writing). Maybe a one woman show.
The skies the limit!
Watch the trailer for GIRL by Kandeyce Jorden below