Stranger Souma is a electronic music producer and DJ based in Casablanca, Morocco.
In response to Underplayed, a new documentary on gender and ethnic equality issues in EDM premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, iMusician gets Stranger Souma's opinion of current existing issues in the electronic music circuit. She tells us her personal journey and the challenges she has faced as a woman in the industry and how we could imagine a more diverse future generation of electronic music artists.
Could you introduce us to yourself and your music?
I am a native of Casablanca, Morocco. My musical journey started off with me learning to play multiple instruments (teenager) Enthralled by the advent and possibility of technology in music, I soon evolved into the DJ ( since 2012) and producer (since 2017) that I am today, crafting a signature sound that is deep, minimal but decidedly soulful and spiritual, a tribute to the old soul of North Africa. My influences are vast and varied, including Paul Kalkebrenner, Jeff Mills, Nicolas Jaar, Miss Kittin and more. Aside from being a DJ and producer, I am also co-founder of Moroccan-based underground record label, Volubilian Records.
What is you favorite events you played?
I was invited by Future Female Sounds to play in Rabat during the last day of The youth innovation summit. The four days event was organized by The Moroccan Ministry of Youth and Sports, the United Nations Development Program, and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary was attending the event that day. The reason why it was my favorite, even though I prefer playing in clubs, is because it was a free festival and the first free festival that held workshops and dialogues for youth by youth. It was very well organized and I had the opportunity to play for people I would have never reached because I simply never thought that my music would attract random walking people to stop by the event and dance for a while. I was also positively surprised to see so many young girls attending the event and participating. Many of them were so shocked to see me mixing live. As they were all used to see Djs using the CDjs but I was using something different, intriguing. And I was just so happy to be able to talk to them after the show and answer all their questions, but especially to be able to encourage them to learn music and start achieving their goals.
What is your creative process like? Where do you draw inspiration?
My inspiration is more drawn by the rhythm and the beat than the melody. Yet sometimes I just wake up with a melody in my head that won't stop until I start making it real on Ableton. I love African percussions, the organic sounds of the Ethnic Moroccan music is definitely one of my first inspirations in music, they are sounds that you hear and dance to when you are a kid and playing in the streets of Morocco with your friends.
In light of the documentary Underplayed, do you experience gender or ethnic inequality in the music industry? How?
It is very hard to get booked in famous venues. The reason is very simple : I am not a brother. As if I am not a dude, and all famous venues have two or three residents and they would rather bring in any new male Dj. They just presume that no female can really do music, since no one would ever teach her. I personally had to learn how to mix and produce myself. Many male Djs are just looking for other favours, and sadly they are over occupying the industry and dealing with music as if it was a product sold in a men club. This of course only made me do more things, learn more and motivated me to counter their strike if I may say. I try to share my knowledge and experience with all uprising females trying to make electronic music, or even start their career in the music industry. I know that the industry is corrupt but I also know that females can create wonders, there is no point in surrendering to stereotypes when we can live to do what we can. It will surely take time, but supporting one another and creating more opportunities for women to learn AND perform their music can surely make the road shorter.
What do you think is the source of gender and ethnic inequality in the electronic music circuit? How do we tackle changing it?
The main source of gender and ethnic inequality in the electronic music circuit is gender and ethnic inequality in the world. Gender inequality exists and Ethnic inequality exists too. There are things that no one can deny anymore, the electronic music circuit is not an exception. To make a change we should at least start by creating equal opportunities, safer environments for women to learn and to participate actively in the industry.
In your opinion, what women in electronic music are underplayed and you would like to hear more of? What do you love about their music?
I think Sevdaliza in one badass woman. I love the way she produces and all of her music. It is very authentic and the originality of her sounds are what attracted me the most. Her work is not only tied to producing but to all the art that goes with it, such a talented woman should definitely be played more often. She is still considered as an indie underground artist but she will hit billboards soon I hope. What I really admire is her hard work and her commitment to Art.
In the industry, who has guided you and your music? How have they supported you?My manager guided me from the very start. She was the one that supported me and believed in my music. We started organizing together, she dealt with the venues and I played, for many years. She is still my manager and thanks to her I am still making music, I have a bigger vision, and I can see the future steps that I should take to achieve my goals in a very masculine industry. I also received support from many other female artists, but also from a fellow producer and friend Dj Guedra Guedra. I knew him from before my focus on a serious career and He also supported me and encouraged me to learn and to start making music, and also recommended me to residencies.
Music distribution promotion - 20% off
In support of gender and ethnic equality in all genres of the music industry, iMusician is offering a 20% discount on music distribution for the month of September. Create an account, upload your release, and use the promo code PLAYEDM at checkout.
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