Factory girls is the collective of female DJ's behind the decks at our upcoming Chromat AW16 NYFW after party x GALENTINES DAY Celebration at Le Bain next Friday.
The Factory Girls- original based out of Philly- have been tearing up the NYC nightlife scene since founding memeber Katie Rex relocated to Brooklyn a little over a year ago. Since then, Factory Girls have teamed up with The Culture Whore to throw Oasis during Pride Weekend, have DJed and hosted at the legendary NYC party Westgay, and collaborated with fellow female DJ collective Discwoman. Parties thrown "by girls, for everyone" is their mission. These women prove that powerful things can happen when you work together.
Chromat's Coco Layne sat down with Katie K Rex, Shaina Robinson (Suga Shay) and Regina Garcia (Gun$ Garcia) and talked about creating safe spaces in nightlife for femmes and queers, making friends into mentors, and what's in store for the female DJ collective in 2016.
Photos by Lanee Bird.
How has Factory Girls evolved since you first began?
Katie: Factory Girls started as a party for a few friends to celebrate power in their femininity while taking back the typical prowess of 'the muse' and claim a space for ourselves. While that's definitely still the case in many ways, Factory Girls has become more of a lifestyle code and a brand of to which we've all come to live by. We now focus on creating sonic experiences with underground dance music while featuring the best in emerging femme & queer talent.
Shaina: Factory Girls was created as a safe space for our friends to express themselves away from the "male gaze", and as the number of lady DJs in our city grew, it became a place to escape the "boy's club" that was the local music scene and support each other. In the years since it's inception, Factory Girls has become a beacon for female & queer DJs in our chunk of the East Coast. We've always had fun, but now we're using our influence to promote equality and solidify a space for womyn in the conversation about talent and integrity in the music industry.
Katie in the Lunette Satin Bra and Lucite Crop
What has been your biggest accomplishment as a collective?
Katie: We've experienced a lot of accomplishments as a group: playing large scale festivals, volunteering at Girls Rock Philly, traveling, playing alongside some of our favorite musicians, and working with other women in industries across the board. I would have to say the biggest accomplishment we have to celebrate together is the education and tolerance we've gotten from each other. We all come from completely different walks of life and have a different story to tell. The experience of bonding with two other powerful women and keeping ourselves afloat individually has kept our boat sailing, even though we live in 3 different cities across the country.
Shaina: After years of working together, sharing playlists, stages, personal successes and failures, I'm most impressed by our ability to not only come together seamlessly to embody our brand, but also to flourish separately as artists.
Shaina in the Lunette Satin Bra
What does Galentines Day mean to you?
Regina: Galentine's Day originally just started as a party idea based off Parks & Rec character, Leslie Knope. We looked at it as an opportunity to bring girls together and have fun, while reclaiming Valentine's Day and dancing away their love hate relationship with the holiday. It's our holiday, a way to celebrate each other and how much love you've got for your bff. Will you be my Galentine?
Shaina: Galentine's Day is an explosion of friendship and femininity. It's a day meant to really celebrate the women in your life and appreciate the bond that you share. It's also our Friend-iversary!
Who currently inspires you?
Katie: I'm so blown away and in admiration of the people in my community on a daily basis. Obviously the team at Chromat, WITCHES, & Discwoman, have served as huge inspirations and embody the ideal hustle as creative, socially conscious, entrepreneurs. Other female artists like Maya Jane Coles, Seirra & Bianca Casady, Juliana Huxtable, Kembra Pfahler, Lydia Lunch, JUBILEE... I mean the list could go on forever, but these women are seemingly fearless in sharing important personal content with the world.
Regina: On a regular basis Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus inspire me, I love an unapologetically strong women. Serena Williams for alway striving to be the best. The entire cast of Project Runway Junior, or really anyone having a dream a going after it. I'm a sucker for stuff like that. I also look to The Rock's instagram for inspiration on a daily basis. Seeing his gym pics are sometimes the only thing that can me out of bed and headed to the gym. I think, "If Dwayne can do it, Gun$ can do it." As far as Djs go, my list could go on for days, but at the top are Brazzabelle, Skrillex, Speakerfoxxx, Dani Deahl, Uniiqu3, Mija, Anna Lunoe, and Nina Las Vegas.
Shaina: I'm at a point in my life where I'm starting to look inward for inspiration, though that's not to say that i'm not blown away by the accomplishments of my peers and other women in music, art and culture. There's definitely a movement in full swing, a sense that womyn are really finding their voices and expressing themselves completely and truly. I'm working to apply that sense of empowerment and fearlessness to my own art.
Regina in the Patent Harness Bustier
Who were your mentors/role models when you were coming up in music?
Shaina: My obsession with music began with Indie Rock, and my first role models were Bjork, Karen O and Gwen Stefani. I loved the idea of being true to yourself, as weird as the results might be. I gathered a lot of musical inspiration later in life from Karin Dreijer of The Knife. In my career as a DJ, I was mentored in the beginning by my fellow Factory Girl Regina (Gun$), and I'm lucky to be able to continue to learn from her and Katie on our journey together.
Katie: My role models were people I was looking at from a-far, I didn't know any women in the music industry when I started, but one day I heard a Reid Speed mixtape from 2008 that lead me to thinking... Wow, I can do this. Kelly Cutrone and Patti Smith guided me through their writing, and I am the empowered woman I am today through their advice and experiences. Reading their books almost felt like reading my own diary. I self-started with wanting to pursue DJing and event production, so along the way there were some really incredible people who served as mentors to me locally in Philadelphia. John Redden, a DJ & nightclub owner, was the first person to teach me how to use turntables, on top of giving me countless opportunities to hone my creativity in his space, and he actually gave Factory Girls the home we needed to build our brand to what it is today. Another really important mentor was DJ & event clairvoyant Dave P, who took me under his wing and taught me the ins and outs of nightlife experiences, booking processes, and production management.
Regina: My main mentor has always been Dirty South Joe. He taught me how to Dj and mostly everything else I could ever need to know about making mixtapes, throwing parties, and still mentors me on a regular basis with career advise. A big role model for me when I was first getting into Djing was New York's own, Roxy Cottontail. She was the first female dj that I had experienced as being so feminine and girly. She really paved the way for female Djs and set the blueprint for girl power. She had great style and was really creative and innovative with her marketing ideas and worked with some of the biggest Djs at the time.
Regina in the Harness Bra
How do you think female collectives like Factory Girls and Discwoman are changing the musical landscape in NYC?
Katie: I'm still fairly new to NYC, only a little over a year in. But, the community of DJs & nightlife aficionados in Bushwick are so supportive of each other and receptive to the movements of female producers and DJs emerging, that you can see the rest of the world following. Discwoman's nature of touring the world and setting up pop-up festivals with each individual city's local talent, as well as bringing their own roster of DJs is making enormous noise around the world. Big festivals & nightclubs are notorious for being hetero-normative boys clubs internally, but groups like Factory Girls, Discwoman, & LA based Nap Girls are here to chip that stigma away. Already you can start to see the difference with clubs hiring female talent buyers, marketing directors, and management.
Regina: I think Discwoman's impact has reached much further than just NYC, they've been in so many cities in real efforts to change the way people see women in the electronic music scene and empower other women.
Shaina: A platform is emerging that gives the work of female/queer DJs and musicians momentum. We talk a lot about the "boy's club" that exists in music. Men tend to band together and support each other, book each other, and pay each other competitively. Our job is not only to do the same for ourselves, but through this, break the cycle of female exclusion in music by amplifying our voices in hopes that there will come a time where it is unnecessary. Already I'm seeing female DJs booked to headline, seeing their imprints and brands flourish, watching their record labels take off. The qualifying "Female" in front of the word "DJ/Musician/Etc" is starting to fade away.
Shaina in the Patent Garter Cage Bustier
A couple months ago, Discwoman held a great panel at Redbull studios addressing sexism in the DJ/night life community. What are your thoughts on the subject?
Katie: Fortunately being in the network I'm a part of makes my feel like I'm largely on the same playing field as all of my peers. I've dated quite a few aspiring DJs, and they were ironically the most misogynistic when it came to gigs. One especially quotable fellow once said, 'I guess you really don't have to be good to be successful...' then a few weeks later left a gig we had together in a funk because I 'played a better set' than him and he was embarrassed. The Internet is a whole different ballpark. I've been 'cyber bullied' exclusively by people I've either never met or met only once... and somehow they're all white men. People feel really confident in their misogynistic insecurities behind a screen. I used to get defensive and quip back, but at this point I'm too busy to really give a ____. The best thing you can do to counter-act sexism is to educate the offender, The Black Madonna is incredible at this.
Shaina: There was a "Best Female DJ" award that nearly all of the Factory Girls were nominated for a while back that really ruffled some feathers, mostly because though it was one of many categories celebrating people who worked in all facets of nightlife, it was the only one that was gendered. There was another category for "Best DJ", and there were no women nominated. It was annoying to have to compete with my partners for this title, and more annoying still that winning this "award" meant basically nothing because of how ridiculously sexist it was. The best defense we have is a good offense, which is as easy as continuing to crush it and support other women who are crushing it.
Katie in the Lucite Latex Coat and Harness Bra
What's in store for Factory Girls in 2016?
Katie: 2016 has already been such a whirlwind for all of us individually! Together, we're embarking on a 4 city tour down the Northeast and over to LA, bringing along our best gal-pal Uniiqu3 and installation artist Julia Sinelnikova (The Oracle). We'll releasing our annual Galentine's Day mixtape.
Regina: It's only February and we're already starting off with a tour, a mixtape and a photo shoot. 2016 has been a blast so far. We're not holding back this year and we'll be coming to a city near you!
Shaina: We're starting this year off with a bang with our first ever Galentine's Day Tour! As we're all located in different cities spanning the US, I believe this year we're going to really dive into our personal brands and build a solid foundation for Factory Girls across the US and beyond!
How was your experience working with Chromat, Lanee Bird, and Holyrad Studios?
Katie: Working with such an empowering and confident team was invigorating. Everything flowed like a well oiled machine.
Regina: I left Holyrad Studios floating. I've been a huge fan of Chromat well before I ever met Becca. I remember the night I met her she recognized the dress I had on and told me she loved the designer and I was beaming. So for me to have the opportunity to work with Chromat was a dream come true. Lanee was amazing, very professional and creative. We all worked so well as a team and had a ton of laughs and maybe a few dance parties throughout the day. I'm still smiling from ear to ear.
Shaina: Working with Chromat has been a dream of ours since we first heard about the brand years ago! The imagery and aesthetic perfectly mirrors what we've been embodying over the years and we're so happy to be connected with Becca and the Chromat team! Holyrad was a perfect setting for the shoot (there was even an adorable little office bunny!), and Lanee is an amazingly talented photographer.
What should we expect from the after party?
Katie: The after-party is one of the best line-ups of female DJs you'll find at one of the best club spaces in Manhattan, Le Bain. From our eclectic mix of Ballroom, Jersey Club, & tech-house, to Speakerfoxx & Uniiqu3's club bangers, to UMFANG's signature techno... you can get ready for a night full of bangers. Also, it's my birthday... so you can expect me doing a back stroke around 2 am in the hot tub.
Regina: The afterparty is gong to be BANANAS! I'm so excited to play with two of my favorite Djs, Uniiqu3 and Speakerfoxxx. It's such an awesome bad bitch lineup.
Shaina: The Factory Girls sound is a blend of club music, tech house, vogue/ballroom-influenced beats, and techno; sometimes dark and moody, at other times upbeat and fun. We strive to push the envelope with our dance music and leave crowds happy, sweaty and inspired. Jersey Club queen Uniique (our tour BFF!) will also be in the house slaying as per usual, along with Speakerfoxxx and Umfang who are going to bring the house down. It's definitely going to be a magical night!
What makes you feel powerful and strong?
Katie: Black coffee, tall shoes, acrylic nails, leather, Industrial music, 5HTP, & being alone in the middle of the desert.
Regina: A full set of stiletto nails, the longer they are, the more powerful I feel.
Shaina: I'm a little like Samson in that a lot of my power lies in my hair. I feel my best when my hair looks amazing. I've worn it a million different ways, but recently I rocked long purple braids that made me feel like a goddess. My signature look is a curly fro, as big and fluffy as I can get it. Self expression is another source of strength for me. Speaking my mind, performing sets in front of crowds large or small, dressing to suit my mood: these are all ways I take a bit of power for myself from my surroundings. It's important to allow yourself to be authentic.
What's your favorite Chromat piece and why?
Katie: The Lucite Latex Coat... IT'S A LATEX TRENCH COAT GUYS.
Regina: Omg, it HAS to be the Chromat Garter Bomber. I love the shape of the jacket and how innovative and creative the design is.
Shaina: I think what Chromat has done with the Mindfile dress is awe-inducing. The idea of being able to print out something so dramatic and powerful looking in your own home is so wonderful to me; it makes high fashion ridiculously accessible without losing any of the drama. Visually, I love the way the piece accents and exaggerates the natural curves of the body instead of minimizing them. A new friend of mine said something recently that I believe will stick with me for a while: "You should never make yourself small." :)
Interview by Coco Layne