Oroko Radio & WATWomxn Present NNWOMEN, A DJ & Production Workshop For Women
In celeboration of International Women's Day 2022
In celeboration of International Women's Day 2022
Last year, Oroko Radio, an independent radio station founded by friends and creative professionals, Ruseye, Kikelomo, Nico Adomako and Naëmi Ada launched in Accra, Ghana. The community station was set up with the aim of providing a platform for Ghanaian, African and diasporic voices to be heard, by those who look, talk and sound like them.
Similarly, Where Are The Womxn, a female collective based in Ghana and the UK was created with the initiative to promote and celebrate creative femmes and their industry pathways in West Africa. United in a similar goal, the two brands teamed up together alongside Pioneer DJ to host an intensive DJ workshop in a bid to inspire more women in the Ghanaian DJ/Production space to see a bigger picture in these career paths.
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The workshop which kicked off earlier this year, on the 19th of March and ran through until the 10th of April was also created with the idea to encourage more women to take on more male dominated roles in the music industry. The month-long workshop included a series of introductory workshops focusing on DJ’ing and production. The collaborative programme also closed out with a ‘Movements into Music’ discussion on the 9th of April, providing a platform to discuss, network and better support women within the music industry.
Speaking about the value of the female-focused DJ workshop, Ceceilia Adjei shared:
Over a Zoom call a few weeks after NMWomen closed out in Ghana, The NATIVE got the opportunity to speak with one of the co-founders of WATWomxn Carina, who shared some ideas behind the DJ workshop, the success of the outcome and their plans for the future.
Our conversation which follows below has been lightly edited for clarity.
NATIVE: Who is Oroko radio, what do you do and how was Oroko Radio founded?
Carina: The initiative for female DJs is between two organisations, the first is Oroko Radio which is non for profit, its an internet based radio station that broadcasts from Accra and pulls together local sounds and then there’s the other organisation which is the one i’m from Where Are The Women — a collective of creative women based in Ghana and the UK and we came together to promote and further creative careers specifically women in creative careers, discussing visibility for women based in Accra.
NATIVE: What was the idea behind setting up this workshop? What was the initial plan and how did you hope to take this forward?
Carina: I met Kikelomo, one of the founders of Oroko Radio and a globally renowned DJ last year. We got talking about how there’s a lack of female DJs in the Accra music scene and we didn’t think that was due to the lack of talent but the lack of opportunities and access. We wanted to provide DJ’ing as a platform for anyone who took interest. Oroko radio has a partnership with Pioneer since last year and last November, we decided to do a little women’s focused DJ sessions so we did a set of three and they were a great success. So when International Women’s Day came around, Oroko Radio reached out to WATWomxn again to put together a short video that showcases what’s going on here and the lack of female DJs.
We also spoke about hosting two face to face workshops for DJ’ing and production. What is important for Oroko and WATWomxn is that we help DJs to be able to be paid well. So a problem we face in Accra is that female DJs are given the intro slots or gigs are for free. So while we’re trying to raise the number of women in the scene, we’re also making sure they’re getting paid well and it’s seen as a career. The takeaways from that were that it’s not easy and doors are going to be shut on your face, you’re sometimes going to be uncomfortable within environments you sit in but you have to believe that if you keep pushing, you’ll achieve it.
NATIVE: How did the partnership with WATWomxn and pioneer DJ come about?
Carina: So Pioneer DJ were initially partnering with Oroko Radio and Pioneer have a very intentional plan to raise their focus in West Africa. Accra is one of their cities and so we were lucky enough to combine our strategy with their ambition within this region because it’s quite new for them.
NATIVE: Who are WATWomxn and what role does each member play within the organisation?
Carina: We are a collective of different creative women with different creative skills. For example, I work in a more curatorial role. Emma Korantema Hanson is a DJ among many other things but our focus is on the music industry in Accra. Emma and I have been working on events in Accra for many years now and just trying to make a difference in our community. The whole focus of our organisation is to try and make a difference in the existing initiatives and where there are gaps and to try and fill them.
NATIVE: The African music industry is growing daily and more women are taking on more male dominated roles. What was it about DJs that caused you to take interest and set up this workshop?
Carina: Women are taking on more roles, I have to agree. Especially in management, I’m seeing more women taking the lead there but DJ’ing just seems to be kind of forgotten. Kikelomo and Nico are both DJs and they started up Oroko Radio which has led to a bit of a change as this the first time I feel like it’s just going to be just young creative energy on-air. Women artists can be seen globally making a change like Amaarae, Tems but we don’t have globally known DJ’s that come out of Accra. In 5 years time, we want to be able to have globally known DJ’s. We went to the streets and asked what they thought and people made comments like we don’t want to do that, women want to stay at home, they don’t like partying and these aren’t true, these are misconceptions.
NATIVE: What goals were set before this workshop and were you able to bring this to life?
Carina: Yes, so the goals were to provide about 10 DJ’s between the ages of 16 and 35 with the basic skills to be able to decide if they want to be between the DJ”ing space. The production workshop was similar but with slightly smaller numbers and it was to try and build momentum for a long term program to get more women into production. Now we’ve been able to do that and there are people that are ready for what’s next. Doing International Women’s Day and doing events around that is great but it’s not enough. DJ’ing is an expensive hobby and some people may fall off not because they don’t have the talent but because they don’t have the money so we want to bridge that gap.
NATIVE: Are there any plans to train more female producers, sound engineers and other female creatives in the music space?
Carina: Right now, we’re in talks with Pioneer, so it’s kind of watch this space thing right now. However, the whole point is to have something maybe not permanent but regular. For example, have a couple of sessions this year and then also support with online training where possible. So by this time next year, I would hope that with the result of these workshops and initiatives, we’ll have at least 10 DJ’s playing out and have at least 3 producers.
NATIVE: Is this a movement you’re looking to expand across the continent? If yes, how?
Carina: So Oroko Radio are global, anyone can tune into their stations as they’re currently running from Wednesday through Sunday but they have a global reach and I know they’re in talks with different organisations and festivals throughout Africa to see how they can have a wider reach in impact. So right now, it’s Ghana but for WATWomxn. The current plan is Ghana then West Africa then throughout the rest of Africa. It gets forgotten that Accra is not the only city in Ghana so it’s important we run these workshops through Ghana first before taking it forward.
NATIVE: How impactful would you say the training was in the lives of the participants?
Carina: I think it was amazing. Lots of people have wanted to do it but this was the first opportunity they had had to be able to do it, the first time they had actually had the confidence to step up and at the end of the training, everyone had the basic knowledge so I believe it was impactful and people went away with tangible things
NATIVE: So what’s next? any more collaborations from you all?
Carina: What’s next is the collaborative partnership and hopefully something long term. We’re speaking with Pioneer DJ and we have a suggestive module for how we can work over the next 12 months which we’re hopeful that they might be interested in. Oroko Radio are expanding rapidly and that means expanding the number of resident DJs they have, WATWomxn are hoping to do an event in London this summer, focused around diasporan creatives, so yeah that’s what’s next.
Kikelomo: Oroko Radio has a whole host of events, workshops, partnerships, and community initiatives in the works for the rest of the year. We’re working closely with the likes of Nyege Nyege, Asa Baako Festival, Resident Advisor and more to put together some unique programming, as well as very special showcases around the world, featuring Oroko’s very own residents. Last but not least, by the end of summer Oroko should be moving into a new studio in Accra which means we can host live broadcast shows, interviews and mixes from our community.
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Featured Image Credits/NATIVE