Following the emergence of an open letter asking for Konstantin to be removed from ADE’s line-up, the Dutch festival has responded via a statement.
The festival’s statement to Mixmag reads: “Of course we have seen the petition, we agree this is an important topic to address. Probably we will ask Konstantin to attend a panel and discuss this topic.”
It continues, “Amsterdam Dance Event is the perfect place and the awareness about this is becoming bigger and bigger in the music industry. We also work together with She Said So, the global network of women who work in the music industry.” Furthermore, according to Mixmag, the Dutch event has been speaking to clubs that’ve booked Konstantin.
The response comes after a Google form gained traction this week. Signed by industry insiders such as The Black Madonna, Eclair Fifi, Object Blue and Discwoman, the petition calls for ADE to remove Konstantin from the programme, after he expressed sexist views to the German publication Groove Magazine last year. In the magazine, Konstantin said he felt women were more heavily promoted over male DJs. He was also quoted as saying that for women to DJ, they must lose their “female qualities” as DJing makes them appear “manly”.
The petition, which you can read in full here, states: “We – women, dancers, DJs, writers, bookers, activists and music-lovers – are tired of sexism in the electronic music industry.
“Overt sexism by male DJs makes the scene inaccessible and dangerous for women. The industry, coming together at ADE, has an opportunity to directly address the issue of sexism through booking practice. One that is currently far from a 50/50 divide on line-ups and behind the scenes.”
ADE has booked Konstantin for a Giegling show at SkateCafe, a Circoloco x Loveland party at Mediahaven and a NGHTDVSN x NMH ADE showcase at Het Sieraad.
In June last year, Konstantin was dropped from Sunfall’s Night session in London following his comments.
Update: The team behind the Google form have answered a series of FAQs in response to the debate around the issue. Read their responses below.
Why target Konstantin in particular?
Konstantin is a good example of the sexism that’s prevalent in the music industry. It’s well documented in an interview with him alongside countless statements from promoters and DJs about their personal encounters with him. We know sexism isn’t exclusive to him, nor to Giegling, yet this is in the public eye. How we deal with this sets an example that people will remember. If we continue to let him perform, curate at festivals and hold showcases without his actions being adequately addressed, then we’re sending a very clear message about how seriously we take sexism, and subsequently how little we value women.
Why do we think sexism is a problem in the industry?
Overt sexism by male DJs makes the scene inaccessible and dangerous for women. Arguing that women are less talented, less capable, feeds into women getting fewer opportunities, less pay, less visibility and space. Those that claim only the quality of the music matters do not recognise, or care, that there are systemic barriers in place which many of us face. Leaving this instance of overt sexism unchecked has a broader impact on what is seen as an acceptable level of respect to give women and other marginalised people within the industry.
Why is this necessary if he has already apologised?
Konstantin has done nothing in the way of public remorse. When he shared his ‘regret’, it was not an apology, but merely a means to deflect responsibility. In this case, he blamed the journalist for not understanding his sense of humour.
Isn’t this just hearsay? Is there any proof of his views?
The problem with this question is that the scene is not inclined to believe women and many people would rather discredit individuals than deal with the larger issue of sexism. We shouldn’t need to debate whether or not Konstantin is a sexist. There is ample proof of his views. The article was supported by testimonies from many people in the industry including The Black Madonna, Discwoman, promoter Tahl Klainman and DJ Olin.
Why do you think ADE is the time to take a stand?
ADE is the world’s largest festival and business conference for electronic music. It’s also the city we live in. We’re tired, we deal with sexism in the music industry on a day-to-day basis, we’ve spoken out countless times but we are definitely not the first to be taking a stand on this; we are moving on from others’ momentum.
What do you hope to achieve?
We wanted to confront the tolerance and normalisation of sexism in the industry. Many responses to our letter proved that sexism isn’t even widely understood. We need people to be aware of the issue and its impact. We need promoters to acknowledge that booking sexist artists is welcoming sexism into their clubs.
Individuals, such as Konstantin, should address their behaviour without deflecting responsibility. Accountability should not lead to applause or immediate absolution from any consequence. There’s no one answer of how to deal with these situations, but the bare minimum should be: an effort to unlearn behaviour, listening to the needs of those who have been affected by your actions, and honest communication with fans and your following.
Did you try to speak with ADE, Giegling or Konstantin?
We approached Skatecafe but they were not willing to change their programming. We wanted to show that we are not alone in our belief that sexism should not be welcomed in our scene, so we drafted this letter to ADE and Skatecafe and gathered support locally. Two further announcements were made that Konstantin would play at Mediahaven (Circoloco x Loveland) and Het Sieraad (NGHTDVSN x Next Monday’s Hangover). When we saw the scale in which this artist was being supported during ADE we decided to release this as an open letter.
Asking us whether we reached out to Konstantin directly erases the fact that so many people have already talked to him. Our concern is not only with him. We wanted to address the promoters as booking practices have a big influence over what is deemed acceptable in the club space.
Why are you trying to ruin this man’s career?
That’s not our intention. We’ve asked for him to be removed because he has still failed to address this situation. We haven’t called for a boycott, we did not start a petition (it’s an open letter), this is not a witch hunt. We are certainly not the ones spreading hate or creating division.
Why don’t you want a panel discussion with Konstantin?
We’ve received a lot of “feedback” online telling us we aren’t doing this correctly, properly. Of course we are being told (by those who otherwise show no interest in these issues) how we should have done it, how we should proceed, and what we should expect. What we didn’t expect – and we definitely don’t want – is Amsterdam Dance Event considering a panel debate with Konstantin, and it feels necessary for us to explain exactly why we don’t want that.
First of all, what would be the topic of the panel? ‘Is Konstantin really a sexist?’ If that would be it, why organise a panel? In the year since his interview in Groove Magazine he’s not taken any steps to show he’s considered what he’s done wrong, that he’s improved. And no, feeling sorry that those words were printed is not the same as feeling sorry that you’ve said it. If we’re having a debate about sexism in the dance industry, why invite Konstantin? Is he an expert on sexism? No.
Secondly, who is this panel for? We will talk and talk, and the conversation might get heated at some point but what would it actually do? Nothing gets changed, set in motion or is different afterwards. Konstantin still gets to play and the message to the thousands who attend ADE will be that sexism is inconsequential.
This is not a private matter between us and Konstantin. It’s not just about him. This is about putting action to our words. Didn’t we all agree that sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of bigotry are unwelcome? That the electronic music scene originated as a space to protect those who don’t feel safe in the outside world? Is it so difficult to stand by those values and not invite those who clearly don’t understand what harm their words or actions can cause?
Remember when you went partying for the first time? Maybe you remember your very first ADE. You wanted to take it all in: the music, the people, the energy, the excitement. You vaguely heard that in the daytime there were panel discussions and workshops but you didn’t pay attention to that. There were so many exciting things going on. What would it mean to hear that the party you really wanted to go to cancelled a DJ on their line-up because of his sexist remarks? It would mean so much more than having a panel discussion that only sparks interest from people with fully formed opinions.
By taking action we reach a wider community. A panel discussion with Konstantin is a poorly veiled attempt from ADE to distract from our actual demands. Try again.