Not Bad For A Girl Is the Queer Collective Reclaiming the DJ Scene
“We truly believe in the work that collectives like us are doing and the impact it’s having on the scene.”
Not Bad For A Girl is on a mission to change the way that the music industry operates. From its tokenistic diversity initiatives to the treatment of LGBTQIA+ creatives, there’s a lot that still needs to change and through its Open Decks events and mentorship schemes, the Manchester-based collective is ready to lead the charge.
After multiple years in the music industry, the need for Not Bad For A Girl as a support network for women, non-binary and transgender creatives was evident from the start. Hoping to encourage its community and support women, NB and trans talent through their professional careers, the collective hinges on the belief that we’re stronger together, no matter what.
As a result, they’ve joined forces with Converse for the brand’s “Proud to Be” campaign, which aims to offer tangible support and representation. “Our work with Converse amplifies our voices, which helps us to spread our message of fair representation. Ultimately, the partnership makes sense because we share the same goal — spreading the message of acceptance and equal opportunity,” the founders tell Hypebae.
We caught up with the creatives behind the collective, founder Martha Bolton and DJ Alice Kanako Reid, to find out more about what spurred them on to start Not Bad For A Girl and how their partnership with Converse is helping to make a change.
Scroll down to read the full interview.
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Tell us a bit about why you started Not Bad For A Girl. What was the moment that spurred you on?
Whenever people ask us this we always say we unionised. I had been working in the music industry for some years, and I noticed that while within my friendships and socially I was surrounded by all of these incredibly talented women and non-binary people, my colleagues were predominantly men. I began to notice a real problem. Despite public-facing media campaigns and diversity drives, women still weren’t being given the support and opportunities they needed to make it professionally in music.
It’s a tough industry, and it’s difficult to navigate alone. We created Not Bad For A Girl as a support network — a place to vent and a place to sustain and inspire each other. That’s how Not Bad For A Girl started and that’s how we intend to go on. Stronger together!
What kind of space do you hope to cultivate for the Queer community, and why is it important?
We have first-hand experience of being queer in the music industry and are no strangers to how hostile it can be. There are huge pressures to prescribe to conventional standards, from how you present yourself to the music that you make. We hope that the space we’ve created champions true diversity. We want to platform everyone — differently-abled people, people with bigger bodies, all genders and sexualities, and as wide a range of musical genres as possible. This ethos is a reflection of our core members, and is something we strongly believe in.
NBFG primarily exists within the music space, supporting female, transgender & NB DJs. What more do you think can be done to make the music scene truly inclusive for LGBTQIA+ creatives, what’s still lacking?
A few years ago there was a huge push for diversity in the music scene. It was amazing and some real progress was made, but one thing we’ve noticed is that certain promoters and labels have fallen into box ticking with their lineups — e.g. booking the same 3 women as warmup DJs for every event. We encourage everyone working in music to reflect on their motive for diversifying their output, and when working with women and gender diverse people to consider how they can help their careers on a tangible and long-term basis.
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How do you hope to support the next generations of DJs with the work that you do?
A year ago, we sat down as a group and underlined our priorities, and every single one of us prioritised creating a mentorship scheme. As soon as we can secure funding we’ll be launching this annually — it’ll be amazing to run some sustained support alongside our usual bits of community outreach.
The feedback we get on our Open Decks events (where we invite DJs with little to no live experience to play in a club setting) says it all — so many DJs write to us afterwards saying they were about to give up completely until they were given the opportunity to flex their skills in such a supportive atmosphere. So much of that is down to the crowd as well, big up everyone who comes to cheer on the next generation.
Not Bad for a Girl just starred in Converse’s Proud to Be campaign. What can you tell us about it?
The Proud to Be campaign is all about celebrating those who are proud to be living life and expressing themselves in their own terms. Converse’s community of LGBTQIA+ employees and allies are at the centre of the campaign and collection, and we’ve been working with the brand during Pride month on in-store gigs and campaign shoots. We want to change the music industry to make it a more equal place for non-binary, transgender and female musicians and having Converse on board to support us has been really special.
More often than not, Pride month can become saturated with rainbow-colored product releases and special editions that seem to dilute its original message of love and acceptance. How does your work with Converse aim to be different?
It’s great to see people showing their pride and their support for the community through their clothing, but this cannot come without real, tangible support for the community itself. We’ve been working with Converse on an ongoing basis and are a part of Converse’s All Star community, which is made up of emerging creatives around the world and are supported by the brand. Our work with Converse amplifies our voices, which helps us to spread our message of fair representation. Ultimately, the partnership makes sense because we share the same goal — spreading the message of acceptance and equal opportunity.
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Finally, what’s next for the collective? What are some of your future goals and hopes?
We just did the most amazing set at El Dorado festival – I’ve never seen all of us have so much fun! It’s really shown us that we need to prioritize live performances more. It’s our happy place and the energy we can bring is unreal, so promoters hit us up! We’ve got a few of our own events coming up in London and Manchester, and we’re playing at The Warehouse Project in September. We’ve curated some really special lineups full of up and coming female, non-binary & transgender talent which we can’t wait to share.
In terms of future goals, we just want to continue to spread our message of equal opportunity to as many people as possible. We truly believe in the work that collectives like us are doing and the impact it’s having on the scene. At the end of the day it’s all about representation, and showing young people that they have a place waiting here for them if they want it. We barely had those types of role models growing up so it’s super important to us that we assume that responsibility for the next generation.
It feels like every other week now we get another pinch me moment — these amazing opportunities keep coming through and it’s so exciting. All we can say for now is keep your eyes on our socials.