- Words by Phie McKenzie
- Photography Jenna Foxton / Fanatic / Lost Village
In a year where conversations about the gender-balance have dominated festival season, Lost Village's female acts stole the show.
The conversation around gender splits on festival lineups has been loud and inescapable this summer. Thanks to initiatives like the Keychange agenda, in which forty-five music festivals have pledged an equal split in their scheduling by 2022, every unbalanced line-up has been met with the scrutiny it deserves. Dance music has historically been one of the worst offenders, it long being a white man’s world, but thankfully the landscape is beginning to diversify and make room for exceptional female and non-binary talents.
Lost Village, the boutique electronic music festival in Lincolnshire regrettably isn’t one of the festivals to sign up to the Keychange initiative. This year, however, it felt like there was a definite effort to ensure better diversity across the four-day schedule. The result wasn’t a perfect split but was far more encouraging than say, Wireless’ attempt which was criticised earlier this year for having just three female artists across a three-day lineup.
Jayda G, Sassy J, SAOIRSE, OR:LA, Holly Lester, The Black Madonna, Helena Hauff, Honey Dijon and Peggy Gou joined the likes of Friendly Fires, Four Tet, Daniel Avery, Ben UFO and Goldie over six stages. Few women took the headline slot on the main stage though which was disappointing as they were often some of the most hyped artists on the bill. Peggy Gou’s set at Junkyard, for example, was gridlocked with the number of people wanting to catch her play and left many unable to see her.
Still, a female presence was felt across the festival in different areas from the Institute of Curious Minds tent through to the comedy stages and down to the healing energy garden. Without this, the vibe of the festival would have easily felt at odds with the festival’s aesthetic and would have risked being similar to so many monotonous dance events already out there. Thankfully, it wasn’t, and this was subsequently reflected in the type of people that attended Lost Village who, on the most part, were friendly and respectful with less laddish behaviour than in many British festivals.
So in honour of their presence, here’s some of the women that made our weekend.
New York-based DJ Honey Dijon has been doing the rounds this summer playing everywhere from Bestival to Glitterbox Ibiza. If she’s spent more time on planes than on beaches this summer, her set lacked neither energy nor effort, and she brought her complete coolness to Witham St Hughes’ enthusiastic crowd. For an opening weekday night with few artists, the energy risked being flat, but the audience definitely came out in numbers for Dijon.
The Black Madonna
The UK’s surrogate daughter of dance wasn’t taking any prisoners on her first set of the weekend, shutting down Thursday evening with an animated, perhaps somewhat frenzied mix. While fellow Chicago native Dijon transitioned into different genres with silk-like grace, sometimes it felt hard to keep up with the Black Madonna’s direction during some of this first set. Regardless, she brought the first night to a lively close, enabling festival-goers to shake free of memories of their 9-5 and get into the mindset of the mystical, faraway lands Lost Village tries to create.
It wasn’t the last we’d see of her during Lost Village, however, as the next day she was back on the stage again, this time as a speaker at the festival’s ‘Institute of Curious Minds’ tent. During ‘The Black Madonna is your Mentor’ Marea Stamp talked about her career in music, battling sexism in the industry and the Smirnoff ‘Equalizing Music’ initiative which she has been involved with for some while, proving once again how worthy she is of the title of both a music maverick and a role model.
Peggy Gou, oh, Peggy Gou! Everyone loves Peggy Gou. Everyone except those judgemental musos who think women can’t be both a DJ/producer AND a style icon. Well here’s some news for you, boys – you can be both.
Assumptions such as this were one of the many topics the Korean DJ talked about in front of a live audience where she also shared how she grew from displaced, troubled teen to become one of 2018’s most cherished music idols. She also spoke with fans, shared her advice and even revealed more on an upcoming EP on the horizon. The major takeaway we had from Gou’s talk is that she is just at the beginning of her journey and she won’t stop ‘till the haters are silenced.
Deborah Coughlin and Kate Hutchinson, curators of and presenters at the Institute of Curious Minds
Drinking and dancing (and anything else that might blend with the two) over four days at an electronic music festival are going to leave people feeling a little tender but lucky enough at Lost Village there are plenty of places to recharge. From the Energy Garden (think yoga, massage), the Lake of Tranquillity (hot tubs, steam room) through to the comedy tent and the daily food banquets, there’s a good chance you’d be able to bring your body back from the brink of destruction. The festival’s most powerful magic, however, came from the Institute of Curious Minds tent, which was curated by writer-producer-director Deborah Coughlin and journalist/DJ Kate Hutchinson.
Held over three days, the tent not only offered festival goers solace from the frequent unforgiving weather but a place where ideas could be shared, advice could be absorbed and minds may possibly be changed. From talks on the history of grime to discussions on how Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror is trickling into our reality and how to achieve better orgasms, the scheduling covered everything from music, food, media, technology, spirituality and even financial sectors and drew in a huge audience throughout. The curation was diverse, thoughtful and dynamic. The seats in the tent were full of mixed, interested and respectful attendees keen to get involved in the discussion. The perfect remedy to defog the brain.
The best part about being at a weekend festival is that you’re free to roam and discover whatever appeals to the senses at that time. And at times you found yourself truly lost at the festival as you roamed the fairy-lit woodlands or followed imaginatively dressed actors into a new and undiscovered area of the land. I hadn’t listened to OR:LA, before I stumbled upon her music during an hour, spent lost between stages, but she’s firmly on my radar now.
Okay, so Ariana Grande didn’t step a foot anywhere near Lincolnshire this weekend but when Four Tet dropped Grande’s ‘No Tears Left to Cry’ into his two-hour headline set, it was a euphoric moment. In fact, everything put out by Kieran Hebden that night was unexpected, atmospheric and totally surreal, gliding from tangled electronic to UK garage, R&B and Ariana fucking Grande easier than slurping down that fourth cocktail on payday Friday. Ariana’s moment though, was the sweetest surprise of Hebden’s two-hours, a moment of awakening from the hypnotic and into a pure party set.
The Dishoom Angels
Some people might complain that having a real functioning restaurant on site is a little bougie and to set matters straight, yes, it is. Yet on day four of the festival, while we struggled with our tired bodies amidst the pouring rain, the restaurant staff at Dishoom cared for us as they might wounded soldiers. As we sipped hot chai, they topped up our bloody mary’s, brought us delicious Indian food until we had the strength to do it all again. Ladies, we salute you!