Interview: The Eclectica Project
TYCI speaks to Olivia Mayumi Moss of Shatterjapan and Babs Crane of Eclectica, two women involved in a new Manchester venture aimed at promoting women in industry.
What is the Eclectica Project? What are its aims and who is involved in it?
Babs (Eclectica): The Eclectica Project grew out of a bursting collective passion for wanting to have a real say in how industries evolve in terms of increasing inclusion of women in senior and leadership roles. It also takes into account increasing inclusion of people of colour and LGBT persons in such roles. The Eclectica team itself was born from volunteers who had worked on Pussy Riot support events in London, Manchester and Tokyo, which were run or co-run by Shatterjapan magazine in 2012-13. The events inspired the staff involved to keep the ethics of those events running, and to take up the challenge of a more longterm revolutionary approach to their own industries and societies.
Women are still marginalised and widely discriminated against in many of the world’s industries. We believe that this is not only detrimental to those women, but also of course to the industries at large and the wider community. The same can be said about the results of widespread discrimination against people of colour and LGBT persons. Eclectica Project aims to examine different industries as it evolves, bringing together like-minded people and creating a movement in those industries to empower women and minorities to work together to ‘beat the system.’ Ideally, we’d like to tour it to different cities – that depends on a lot of factors coming together, but let’s see where the August launch event leads us. The project is currently self-funded, and in this economic climate, that is not an easy thing to pull off at all when you have a dream to fulfil. It’s nerve-wracking and thrilling at the same time.
What is the thinking behind your event tomorrow?
Olivia (Shatterjapan): The 9 April event at The Castle Hotel in Manchester is a special preview event to showcase some of the acts who will be performing on the August Eclectica launch lineup.
In terms of the reasoning behind doing a preview event, in practical terms, because Eclectica Project is a new project, then it needs a lot of lift. Since the project is starting in Manchester, then it makes sense to base the preview (and eventually the launch event) in the Northern Quarter, because that community has proved to be very supportive and open towards new and exciting ventures like this. We had a great experience with that community last year when we held the 3-day Pussy Riot support festival, receiving support from over 43 local businesses, most of which came from that area, but also from the Gay Village. It was a great coming together of minds.
It’s certainly a form of revolutionary tactic to book a cool venue and to take over it with a female-led lineup. I see this small but high-calibre lineup on Wednesday as an act of protest against the industry norms. These particular women are super-talented and deserve a higher positioning on lineups and a bigger say in their industries. If anyone doesn’t believe this, come down and see for yourself on the day. To push the point home, all the Eclectica staff working the April event are female and we have a female MC, the brilliantly funny Zoe Iqbal. So, the idea is to maximise female talent. We were offered a female sound engineer, but that depends on the venue. And of course Eclectica recruited me as a female co-promoter. It’s not that we’re having fun pushing the boys out, it’s just that if a woman can do the job just as well as if not better than a man, then why not recruit a woman?
Tell us a bit about the acts involved in the event.
Olivia (Shatterjapan): The co-headlining bands are DELOOZE from London, and THE WITCH HUNT from Leeds. Both equally cool and brilliant live bands, both passionate and amazing visionaries. They ooze exactly the energy we were looking to project with the preview event. And to our delight, they’ve agreed to join the August bigger lineup too. FACTORY ACTS is our local support band, who are fantastic live, another band who should be already much more elevated in the Manchester scene, and who I have big hopes for – they did an amazing set at last year’s Pussy Riot festival and are one of the most intelligent bands on the scene. CHERIE BEBE is a hugely talented and classy burlesque performer, someone you can’t take your eyes off, and who will lend a bit of pizzazz to the night. ZOE IQBAL is our MC for the night – Zoe’s an amazing presenter, standup comedian and actress, she had us in absolute fits of laughter at the Pussy Riot festival. I’m really looking forward to it all.
We’re not from Manchester, so tell us: why is the Castle Hotel a cool venue?
Olivia (Shatterjapan): The Castle Hotel is a fantastic venue. It’s one of those places that is very easy to fall in love with. It’s a great olde-worlde bar and the staff are lovely, always charming. The venue itself is small and intimate, it’s a bit like a universe unto itself, I’ve been to many a good gig there and had some memorable chats there. With it being such a legendary establishment, you often see musicians and actors hanging out there – you never know who you’ll meet. We’ve been in there with several members of the Corrie cast, Theo from Hurts, Heather Peace from Waterloo Road and Lip Service. It’s just a great place to hang out if you’re at a loose end in the city and fancy checking out a gig and milling with interesting people. Manchester has some amazing venues, but not all of them have friendly atmospheres or good tech, but The Castle is one of the better ones.
Where does the money from the events go?
Babs (Eclectica): Right now, because the preview and launch event are totally self-funded, all money coming in from the events simply goes directly to cover expenses for the events, so yes towards the Project itself. We don’t anticipate a profit especially with all the costs involved in launching such a big project, but we’d be happy even if we could just break even because the outcome of the events will be beneficial to the people and communities involved. So, every penny contributed is really welcome and appreciated, just so that we can hopefully sleep at night without worrying too much about overdrafts! We are actually looking right now for tie-ups with like-minded charity organisations and ventures who support women’s rights and human rights, so we’ll see where this takes us.
How is the event connected to Shatterjapan and Red Balloon Music? Could you tell us more about those organisations?
Babs (Eclectica): The Eclectica Project staff came from the Pussy Riot events run or co-run by Shatterjapan magazine, so they were the obvious choice for us to collaborate with on the Project in the initial start-up stages. Shatterjapan is an online culture magazine based in Manchester and Tokyo, they also hire out professional staff for photography and editorial work and are very pro-feminist and pro-ethical in their approach. They did an amazing job of the Pussy Riot support events and their network was ideal for what we wanted to do.
As for Red Balloon, they are a promotional company run by Manchester’s Chris Thomas, who approached Olivia to run an event together – he was inspired after visiting the Manchester Pussy Riot festival. So, Olivia offered a great lineup and worked with us to produce the event, and that’s how this April preview event at The Castle came about.
What advice would you give to people wanting to get involved in activism in their area?
Olivia (Shatterjapan): Initiative and willingness to give up time is the key to everything. Also cooperation, and good leadership. You don’t necessarily need money to make things happen. It certainly helps, but there is an enormous amount that a single person can do with their own initiative and with support. A lot of projects suffer from either too many cooks or a total absence thereof. Money can’t fix everything. And I meet a lot of younger people these days who lack initiative and empathy in their work – it’s a recipe for teamwork disaster and reflects the state of the world we’re living in at the moment and what we’re teaching the younger generations. What’s important is to locate the initiative inside yourself and stop looking for it always in other people – this is the biggest mistake that people make when launching a project. Be active and not passive, focus on solutions. Develop empathy while balancing that with protecting the ethics of your project as well as your ambitions. Empowerment and humility of the soul is what will help to put an end to widespread discrimination in industries and society and will lead to success. It’s not an easy battle to fight, but it’s one that all women are to an extent faced with whether we like it or not.
Also making sure you share the same ethics as your teammates is an important thing to stay conscious of – in fact it’s the golden rule. And in any case, as long as you stick to your better ethics, you don’t necessarily need another person to back you up. Don’t be afraid of starting a project alone. It could lead to something. And don’t be afraid of sharing your passions and dreams when the opportunity arises. Every step and action is a step and action away from what was once standing there before, and every conversation and idea is power. Some movement however slight is better than no movement at all. Some movements can be huge, while sometimes you may have to take a few steps back to gain perspective before moving forwards again, but movement is what matters.
Practically speaking, if there’s nothing in your area that you like the sound of or want to get involved in, there’s nothing to stop you launching something from scratch. Whenever I think of something that I like the idea of but it doesn’t exist, I try to make it happen. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but a lot of the time it does with perseverance and cooperation with others. Why does it work? Because the truth is that other people often want the same thing that you do…
What are your other plans for 2014?
Babs (Eclectica): 2014 is pretty much full with this preview event, and then the 2-day August launch event. We have on board already a standout lineup of live bands from across the UK: DELOOZE, BATTLE LINES, THE WITCH HUNT, ACRE TARN, HYSTERICAL INJURY, ESPER SCOUT, SKINNY GIRL DIET and more to be confirmed. After that we’ll need a giant rest! We’ll see what the feedback is from the launch, and we’ll see where the team and acts want to take things next. At the end of the day, it’s up to the team who will have to rotate, and it’s up to the people who work inside the industries we cover to make the call and see the potential in this project, since it’s their industries. The Eclectica team currently comes from all different professional career backgrounds: musicians, editors, office staff, business owners, technicians, so anything could happen next. We’re all very busy people, so I don’t know about 2014, but it would be a dream to capture the imagination of the public and receive more support behind the initiative. It is just a matter of time. The concept is amazing, so I can’t see why people wouldn’t invest… and if they don’t, well I guess things won’t change as much as we’d like them to, but at least we’re playing our part.