Common Confusement @ We Make Waves

This photo series of testimonies from conference attendees was produced by our partners and Berlin newcomers Common Confusement, and we love it!

“In order to further give a voice – and a face – to members across the gender spectrum who have been confronted with inequality and structural limitations of the music industry, Common Confusement teamed up with We Make Waves to create Narratives of the Nonbinary. These narratives are constituted by a series of striking informal portraits and accompanying statements of women, trans and non‐binary attendees who came together to celebrate diversity within the Berliner music community. The project aims to further promote discussion about gender equality in an artistic context and sustains hope of a society beyond the gender binary.”

The portraits were shot by Berlin-based artist and designer Adèle Logan, and photographer Miguel Guzman.

“I play the drums in a small garage-ˇpunk band. We go to a lot of shows and most of them are very male-ˇdominated. It is exciting to finally see things from a different perspective at this festival.” – Laura, musician
(photo Miguel Guzman)

“We are fighting. Little by little. Baby steps.” – Geraldo, DJ / producer
(photo Miguel Guzman)


“As a female musician, artist and writer I have been wrestling with major writer’s block because I felt like I always had to write about the same topics: racism and sexism. Mainly because these are topics that have always been right in front of my eyes.” – Achan, artist
(photo Adèle Logan)


“Empowering women should not be a separate question; it should be a given. The fact that festivals have to come together under these parameters is a sign that those structures are not in place yet.” — Nina
(photo Miguel Guzman)


“I am not a big fan of labels but it seems to me that they are necessary to start a discussion.”– Elena, musician
(photo Miguel Guzman)


“The role of arts in social movements has always been crucial. People not getting why feminism is still necessary is exactly what makes it necessary.” – Mario, musician
(photo Adèle Logan)

“As a Turkish queer person I have been discriminated against. I would like for people to better grasp the difficulties that queer people encounter in developing countries.” – Selim, activist trans* evi
(photo Adèle Logan)

“Even if I talk to women who have been in the music industry for 35 years, I notice they are still afraid to sit on a panel with other men.” – Matthias, Music Tech Fest
(photo Adèle Logan)


“This festival has been quite eye-opening as there is no such thing in Bremen. I feel as I have been living in a bubble as I have not really struggled with a lot of feminist issues myself, yet I now try to remind myself to expand my horizon and to look outside of my little bubble.”

— Maria

(photo Adèle Logan)

We Did It!

To all our friends, collaborators, volunteers, panelists, artists, and audience: thank you so much for a truly spectacular weekend. We felt so lucky to be surrounded by such a warm and engaged group of people, and we’ll be processing the insights from our participants for a long time to come. We’re exhausted but happy, and can’t wait to get started on next year’s edition.

It’s been emotional, and to paraphrase the incredible JD Samson, we did it for us.

Much love from the We Make Waves team

(Photo of Lyra by Iva Kirova.)

Vaginal Davis: Blick und Begehren

A must see! The legendary Vaginal Davis will re-create her performance Blick und Begehren (Gaze and Desire), originally shown at the New Museum in New York as part of the exhibition Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, at We Make Waves Festival + Conference on Saturday, November 11th!

Read more about the performance here.
Enjoy the playlist Vaginal Davis has made for We Make Waves here.

Get your tickets: HERE

Alert: Sponsored Tickets

If you want to come to the WMW2017, we want you to join us, regardless of your finances.

We have a number of sponsored tickets available, and if you’re a woman, trans or non-binary person, you’ll be first in line. Our main goal is to gather a group of passionate and engaged people who want to join the conversation! Get in touch and we’ll work it out!


Keynote Speaker: JD Samson

It’s official! The one and only JD Samson (Le Tigre/JD Samson & MEN) will deliver the Keynote address at WMW on Thursday, November 9th at St. Elisabeth Kirche! This event, in collaboration with NATIVE INSTRUMENTS, will kick off a night of awesome live performances by Derya Yildirim, Stella Chiweshe, Marisa Anderson, Isabel Lewis, Lyra, Julianna Barwick, Olimpia Splendid, DJ Larry (Creamcake), and rRoxymore!
RED ALERT! Our earlybird ticket bundles are on the brink of selling out (these are by far, the best bang for your buck!) Snatch them up before it’s too late! They are 25€ conference-only OR festival-only, 40€ for a festival + conference bundle and 80€ for a festival + conference bundle for businesses.
Lastly, our limited number of earlybird DAY tickets are now online at 22 Euros per day (conference and festival included) Get ’em while they’re hot!


New Additions to the Lineup and Conference Programme

Only a few weeks to go until the first edition of We Make Waves, and we’re excited to announce a new round of additions to our programme. We’ve added legendary artist, founder of Queercore and punk icon Vaginal Davis, ethereal soundscaper Julianna Barwick, a solo set from psych saz queen Derya Yildirim, some synth-heavy Franco-pop from Cléa Vincent, and more!

In addition, we’re proud to confirm a range of new talks, workshops and roundtables featuring, among others, talks from Ruth Daniel (GRRRL/In Place of War), Frances Morgan (deputy editor, The Wire), Jessica Sligter, and Hengameh Yaghoobifarah leading a discussion on politics in the German music industry, a Theremin workshop by Dorit Chrysler, The Year In Sexism according to Salt+Sass, Britta Helm interviewing Meredith Graves on “The Cost of DIY”, a panel featuring key media players on the role of the media in changing the status quo of the music industry, and a special event featuring a selection of diversity-focused collectives such as Yo Sissy!, New World Dysorder, Heroines of Sound, female:pressure, and others that we’re calling “Build Your Own Tribe”.

Check out our conference programme and festival line up for more detail on time and venues.

First Lineup + Conference Topics

Introducing We Make Waves, a new Berlin-based festival and conference made for women, trans and non-binary people poised to disrupt the music industry. This November, we will bring together a group of renegade performers, artists, and activists from Berlin and beyond in order to share transformational ideas, experiences, and motivation for future projects and collaborations. For our inaugural year, we are proud to present live performances by NYC’s underground rap diva Dai Burger, Oakland’s trans poptronic princess Ah Mer Ah Su, Zimbabwean emcee A.W.A. (African Women Arise), and feminist punk icon Meredith Graves (Perfect Pussy) + more to be announced. An evening programme with DJs and live electronic performances will lead us into the night.

Confirmed acts so far: Ah Mer Ah Su (Oakland, US)  // A.W.A. (African Women Arise – Zimbabwe) // Dai Burger (NYC) // Dorit Chrysler (Graz) // Jessica Ekomane (Bln) // Leila Akinyi (Cologne) // Meredith Graves (Perfect Pussy – US) // Marisa Anderson (US) // Olimpia Splendid (FIN) // Saba Lou (Bln) // Stella Chiweshe (Bln/Zimbabwe)

Conference topics: Feminist perspectives on music criticism // Gendered music spaces: strategies for changing realities and representation // Women in journalism panel // Women in music and tech: Launch panel + usability workshop // Mental health and music // Parenthood and music // Women, music, activism + conflict // Public speaking workshop // Negotiation skills workshop // Theramin workshop // Sonic Pi workshop // Ableton workshop // In Place of War/GRRRL: creativity for change // Room4Resistance x Siren London: creating safer spaces // Migration matters (WMW x Give Something Back To Berlin) // The Economy Of Praise:  language + invisibility // Accessibility through Tech // Music Therapy: alternative self-care practices // DJing Workshop // and more…

We Make Waves (WMW) is a new festival and conference for women, trans and non-binary individuals in the music industry, with its first edition taking place in Berlin from 9-11 November 2017. We aim to connect existing networks and communities in Berlin and beyond — our doors are open to people of all race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, income, educational background or physical ability, and we focus on providing a forum for discussion, skill-sharing, and developing long-lasting projects.

Community & visibility: With a delegate programme comprised of experienced professionals from around the world, We Make Waves encourages the development of cross-cultural and cross-genre partnerships. Through workshops, talks, panel discussions and an ongoing mentoring programme, we endeavor to build new infrastructure and support systems for participants and their communities. A sign-up programme will be available for those want to share their expertise on certain industry subjects and to workshop ideas. Socially focused events will provide a space for attendees to make connections, plan future projects, and reflect on the festival content.

Cross-genre programme: We Make Waves will be partnering with established local and international groups whose work we admire including Room4Resistance, New World Dysorder, Siren Collective, female:pressure, Meetup Berlin, No Shade and more. There will be a film programme showcasing a variety of female-focused and female-produced music-related shorts and features. In coordination with the conference, We Make Waves will be hosting a youth empowerment camp for girls and gender-nonconforming kids from the ages of 9 to 16. Inspired by the “If you can see it, you can be it” philosophy of representation, the camp will offer music production and songwriting workshops, as well as instruction on DIY event planning, self promotion, public speaking, and home studio creation. In order to continue the conversation, We Make Waves encourages year-long research via an online portal and network available to participants and other interested parties. Additionally, there will be showcase performances from a wide variety of genre-spanning artists at the regal Elisabethkirche and the historic art collective and club space ACUD MACHT NEU.

Tickets & Accreditation: Tickets to November’s festival + conference are available via eventbrite. We Make Waves would like to make sure that everyone is served and connected via their events, and aims to provide a support structure from which all can benefit. For lower income participants, there are options to apply for accreditation or to volunteer.

Ticket price: 25€ conference-only or festival-only for artists and freelancers, 40€ for a festival+conference bundle for artists and freelancers,  80€ business price festival+conference bundle.


This August we were invited to  Pop Kultur 2017 where we met an amazing crowd of people who helped us start work on writing a new rulebook for the music industry. What you are reading here is only the first step: We would encourage all of you to give us some feedback and ideas to help us with this – it is still very much a work in progress and we need your help to improve it! The workshops were led byMelissa Perales, Caoimhe McAlister and Mirca Lotz from We Make Waves and songwriter and artist profiler Jovanka von Wilsdorf, the press manager and curator Sandra Passaro and the singer-songwriter Kristin Amparo – a big thanks to them for their great input!

We continued our work by invitation of VUT Music Industry Women at Reeperbahn Festival – so today you can read an updated version – thanks again for everyone who came and discussed with us!

Writing A New Rulebook For The Music Industry

Gender equality is only possible if men and women work together to bring this about – inclusion is important. Things can only change if those in power (ie men) help to change the status quo. Unfortunately, reaching equality quotas still seems to be necessary, as society in general has not made enough progress in the past on its own. Every publicly-funded project should adhere to a 50:50 quota. Remember to also check your own quotas when it comes to recommending or hiring people.

Talk to other women about your experiences in the workplace – the “good” stuff as well as the “bad”: Your achievements will help to encourage others. Speaking about the challenges can also help transform feelings of being “helpless” or even “ashamed” into something more positive and empowering, should a similar “bad” situation arise in the future.

Get feedback – dare to ask for help and make good use of available networks. You don’t need to know everything yourselfmoften it is more the question of who do I know that I can ask for advise! Take your own work seriously and be proud of it. Make yourself aware of your self worth – don’t give up before you have even tried! Confidence is a key component to being a good work partner, ally or mentor. 

Make sure you get credit for your work (also remember to give credit to other women’s work when it is due). Women still tend to end up on the “thank you” list, even when important work has been done. History is what gets written down! We need more female role models. We also need to be visible as role models in order to inspire the next generation.

Learn to take criticism (and use it to improve yourself) but don’t take any sexist bullshit. As Sexism is still a big problem in the workplace, solidarity is very important. In any stressful situation, look for an ally or be someone’s ally! Stand up for one another and speak out especially if you’re in a position of influence. Bad habits will only change if people are called out on their bad behavior but always do it in a constructive and respectful way. At the same time, never stop looking at your own work and behavior, keeping in mind that no one is perfect and we ourselves also need to be aware of things that we can improve.

Language matters! We should be aware that the everyday use of certain labels can have an enormous impact on society. Try to avoid labels such as fe/male or beautiful (instead of talented for example) when referring to artists, as these have no real relevance to the artist’s work, but are rather outside constructions that take the focus away from the important things. Open up a discourse on these matters. Don’t try to beat people down with arguments, rather try and make them understand by pointing out different meanings and viewpoints, or by asking them about  their own views.

Education is important – educate yourself about the topic and help others to do so too. Try not to be condescending, but rather be supportive of people who are trying to learn more about these issues. Be supportive of young(er) people just starting out. Make aware and be aware – try to be fun about it! Listen to other people’s experiences.

Look at the history of Feminism, why is it seen the way it is today? Think about how can we change how it is often perceived as a negative position, to a positive one. And always keep in mind: complaints do not create change, focus on the strategies for change instead!

Last but not least: Let’s all help in creating a safe(r) space(s) for everyone!


Thanks Pop Kultur!

Thanks again to Pop Kultur for facilitating our workshop and presentation on diversity in music last weekend! All conclusions and observations from the discussion groups to be published very soon via our blog — if you were there, thanks for coming and sharing, and we hope to see you in November!



Venues: St. Elisabeth Kirche + Villa Elisabeth + ACUD

We’re very excited to announce that our event will be taking place between the exquisite St. Elisabeth Kirche, the Villa Elisabeth and its studios next door, and the club, studio, theatre and cinema of ACUD.

We’re excited to fill these spaces with awesomeness — watch this space for the first lineup and conference programme announcement coming in the next few weeks.

Introducing: the WMW Online Network

As part of our goal of connecting people across genres, industries and continents, we’re broadening our conference network to include anyone who would like to join us, and share ideas, skills, goals or whatever else. You can join up, search for other members, create groups, send messages as of now over at our WMW network homepage,

It’s still in development, so do send us any feedback via our contact form.

WMW to present at C/O Pop 2017

The WMW team will be hitting the road on the regular this summer, and the newest addition to our calendar is a meet & greet at C/O Pop in Cologne, where we’ll be from 16-18 August.

Date and time of WMW C/O Pop appearances to follow, so watch this space, but in the meantime get in touch if you’ll be there, or drop by our drinks reception on 17th August.

We Make Waves Festival & Conference Coming November 2017

Coming your way this November: We Make Waves, a new meetup event, conference and showcase festival for women and nonbinary folks in music, taking place 9-11 Berlin in November 2017.

Like many others, we’ve been excited by the recent uptick in feminist discourse in mainstream circuits, and were looking for a way to move the conversation on topics like diversity, inclusion and intersectionality forward. With WMW, we aim to bring together the amazing collectives, networks and individuals already active in the field, and together draw up some blueprints for progress. Community and visibility are WMW’s twin goals, which we feel are two of the most powerful forces for change.

WMW aims to:

  • Showcase female and non-binary talent from different nationalities, backgrounds, formats and genres in our festival programme
  • Provide a level platform for a diverse range of voices in our programme of talks, discussion groups, interviews and panels
  • Share practical skills and tools to survive and thrive (in the industry and beyond) via our workshops and mentoring sessions
  • Facilitate networking and collaboration, with focus on cross-cultural and cross-genre partnerships
  • Promote year-round research in the field of women in music
  • Pool resources to provide an advisory body on the topic of gender inclusivity

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