Last year, DJ Jenny Lafemme was gearing up for the annual "Girls Gone Vinyl" after-party at Detroit's Movement electronic music festival when she had an even better idea.
"I was looking around my studio and it went off like a lightbulb," she said. "We have equipment. We have a studio. Let's make a movie."
Show promoter Maggie Derthick has organized a women-only lineup of performers as part of a DJ night she dubbed "Girls Gone Vinyl" that has accompanied the festival every year since 2006. Now she and Lafemme (whose off-stage name is Jenny Feterovich) are spinning the concept into a documentary to chronicle the lives of female DJs and other women who are involved in the electronic music scene around the world.
Last year's Movement festival featured just six female DJs, out of a total 107 acts. Derthick doesn't want to blame Paxahau Productions, the organizers of the annual event, but said the poor representation of female artists in Detroit is indicative of larger trends across the industry.
She and Feterovich said they aren't out to make a movie that pits women against men, but they do want illuminate the gender disparity that exists in the male-dominated electronic music scene. The two producers see "Girls Gone Vinyl" as a positive step towards challenging and changing it.
The film touches on the lives of more than 40 women -- not just DJs, but also artists who create music, show promoters, producers and label owners. It will highlight an international roster of electronic music insiders, from Berlin, Amsterdam and Israel to London and the Spanish isle of Ibiza. Stateside, featured DJs hail from Chicago, Miami and, of course, Detroit, the birthplace of techno music.
Even as the documentary took the producers all over the world, Derthick was surprised by how much the film's subjects had in common.
"We all came at [electronic music] in the same way, whether it's a girl in Israel, whether it's a girl in Germany or in Detroit," she said. "We all sort of heard the music the first time and there was no looking back. And then it was a question of: 'How am I going to do this?' Because it's a world and an artform that I had to be be part of!"
Feterovich and Derthick, both 36, have been part of Detroit's electronic music scene since they were in high school.
Feterovich immigrated to Detroit from Moscow, Russia, in 1989 and began going to shows shortly thereafter, just as techno music was emerging.
"I ended up at Heaven, which was a black gay club in the early '90s and heard Detroit legend Ken Collier play," she said. "I instantly fell in love with the music and never looked back."
She started going to raves at the abandoned Packard Plant and other warehouses, and even drove all the way to Chicago just to dance for one night.
Eventually, Feterovich, who didn't speak much English at the time, decided to throw a party for some of her Russian-speaking peers. Already familiar with the basics of disc jockeying, she rented some equipment and volunteered to DJ herself. That party launched a lucrative career that has put DJ Jenny Lafemme, as she's now known, in front of turntables around the world.
Derthick, who's attended techno shows since she was 17, went a different route, organizing parties instead of playing them. In 2006, she set up her own promotion company under the name Auxetic and threw the first "Girls Gone Vinyl" party.
She said working on the "Girls Gone Vinyl" movie has given her a chance to organize parties internationally, and has helped to foster a global network of female artists and industry people that she hopes will inspire and benefit young women who are getting into the scene.
"We want to highlight and show the lives of these women and show their paths, so that young women can have this reference of all these women that had this passion and desire and what they had to do to follow their dreams," said Derthick.
Creating the film also gave Derthick and Feterovich the opportunity to work alongside the "Godmother of House Music," Stacey "Hottwaxx" Hale, a local legend who accompanied the two women to shoots in London, Berlin and Amsterdam.
Feterovich said watching Hale get her respects in Berlin was the most moving part of the entire documentary process. Derthick shared her sense of admiration.
"For me it's kind of awesome," she said. "[Hale]'s someone I watched and went and danced to since I was a young girl."
This weekend's sixth annual Girls Gone Vinyl show will bring Hale and other female DJs back to downtown Detroit. Berlin-sensation Camea is headlining the show, with Psycho Bitch (Chicago), Nyrma & Sofisticated (Montreal), Gabi (Detroit), Modesty (L.A.) and Swack (Montreal) rounding out the lineup.
It's one that Derthick said fans of the artform are sure to appreciate.
"I don't want people to think it's just women for women's sake, because that's never just a sticking point or a selling point," she said. "They're all amazing musicians. It's very, very good music."
Girls Gone Vinyl 2012 takes place on Sunday, May 27, from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. at Flat 151, 151 W. Congress in Detroit. The event is free and open to the public. For more information visit the event's Facebook page.
To find out more about the movie visit the "Girls Gone Vinyl" website.
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