Historically, women have faced sexism and gender bias for decades. Unfortunately it’s been no different within dance music, often finding women discredited and underrepresented. It’s our turn, and our responsibility, to change the narrative. Dance music would not be what it is without women making it possible, and the women of WAKAAN exemplify the importance of representation in the scene.
Since March is Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating some of the most powerful women in dance music. Kicking things off, we talked with the three incredible women behind WAKAAN and SSKWAN record labels: Chloe, Emily, and Ashley.
The three have vastly different roles, but work together in tandem to create and deliver everything from music to merchandise.
Kelsea: What do you do at WAKAAN and how long have you been doing it?
Chloe: Marketing Director and assist with Label Management for WAKAAN, SSKWAN, the Festival, and Liquid Stranger. I handle all things marketing and help with music; from advertisements, to social media and content creation, to scheduling of releases and more! Handling submissions and working with our distributor and DSPs for releases. I have been with the team for almost 3 years now!
Emily: Merchandise Director for WAKAAN, SSKWAN, the Festival, and Liquid Stranger. I help create designs while collaborating with graphic designers and other artists, researching and sourcing manufacturers for quality garments, handling customer service, and fulfilling orders and I also handle all tour and festival merchandise! I have been with WAKAAN for 1.5 years.
Ashley: Product Manager. I help assist with collecting data for upcoming releases and contracts. I just started with WAKAAN 3 months ago and am extremely grateful and excited for this new opportunity.
Women holding such powerful and diverse positions at such an influential and prestigious label is deeply important to the industry and women as a whole. Being able to see what incredible and important work these women do day in and day out, and what an integral part they play at such a highly renowned record label is nothing short of inspiring.
Are there any nicknames your coworkers call you?
HA. Chole for Chloe – everyone spells it wrong in email 😅 – Emily / Ashley
Where do you envision yourself and the WAKAAN team in five years?
We see the WAKAAN team growing and expanding, opening up more opportunities for artists, teams, job positions and more events, music and merchandise for our fans! WAKAAN is something so special, it’s growing everyday – we have the greatest fans, they are the absolute best part of the labels and we appreciate the role they play in our community; giving back to the community is what WAKAAN is about. It is about creating a safe space for everyone – fans, artists, managers, to be their most authentic self, creating and enjoying what they love; MUSIC!
What job did you dream of doing when you were younger?
Chloe: Elementary School Teacher
Emily: A Veterinarian
Ashley: Social Worker / Counselor
What do you feel your biggest accomplishment with WAKAAN has been and why?
We have a few major accomplishments. I think the biggest success is simply how many records we have released and the artists we have been fortunate to work with.
Chloe and Emily added,
In addition, WAKAAN Music Festival was a major success. It was truly magical and something unique and special.
In 2019, WAKAAN hosted their flagship festival at Mulberry Mountain. WAKAAN Music Festival was one of the most well loved and successful inaugural iterations of a festival; even more exciting is the fact that these women played such an important role in its original conception. Featuring a bass heavy lineup and the feeling of hanging out with 10,000 of your closest friends, we are eagerly waiting the return of this incredible women powered event.
Out of all your accomplishments, work and personal, what are you most proud of?
Chloe: The work I do is really rewarding, being able to help art come to life from beginning to end as well as all the details that go into making a release special.
Emily: Helping to create a vision for brands and artists and watching the ideas come to real life garments.
Ashley: Graduating college with two degrees.
We hate to do this and make you pick but, but who is your favorite artist right now? What about your favorite song?
Chloe: Some of my favorite artists include Freddy Todd, G-Space, Medasin, and super tough to pick honestly, but a classic for me is “Gypsy” by Fleetwood Mac.
Emily: Yheti, Wargasm (UK), and Ashnikko. Favorite songs right now are “Squeeze” by Ghostmane and always “Anticipating” by Britney Spears.
Ashley: ColdBrew and Tash Sultana. Currently, I can’t stop listening to “Built This Way” [Slow REMIX] by Samantha Ronson, I can’t deny, I love Mean Girls.
So, what do you consider good music? What do you look for in an artist?
Where do we start? Good music is music that comes from an artist’s heart, something with a vision behind it – true art, completely different from other artists. Having the ability to create something, with a signature of their own. With our labels, we look to sign good people as the music is a reflection of who they are. We look for artists who possess quality that align with ours – generous, kind, patient, creative, passionate, unique individuals whose own characteristics stand out in their music.
Do you have a favorite piece of artist merch you own?
Chloe: I would have to say my Gold Hoodie, it’s the team hoodie, so it’s super special to me, it was the way they welcomed me officially to the team when I started!
Emily: Vinyl, we do super cool and different stuff and it always turns out unique.
Ashley: The WAKAAN beanies. They were a collaboration with a woman, SoundWave Clothing, and love the designs.
What is one word that most perfectly explains who you are?
Inclusive, it’s important to us that everyone feels a part of something, and it’s pretty cool we get to be a part of providing that.
On your hardest days, what motivates you the most?
Our fans, without them what would WAKAAN be?
As a woman leader, what is the most difficult situation you’ve ever had to deal with? Since this industry is made up of mostly men, have you ever noticed any gender biases?
Gender bias happens every day in our world, our industry is no different but we can really see a change and movement here lately and see positive growth for women in the industry.
What powerful woman do you admire the most and why?
Chloe: Madonna, she’s an icon and pushed all the boundaries in her music career. She was so ahead of her time – absolute classic. I also appreciate that Madonna is active in charities that help children who suffer in poverty and helps donate for building schools, which is important to me as I volunteer as much as possible each year around the holidays!
Emily: Lady Gaga – she is self-made, hardworking, intelligent and kind. Her activism in cultural events such as her Born This Way Foundation, LGBT advocacy, and donating funds for various organizations. Obviously her iconic voice, amazing music and legendary stage production to name a few things as well.
Ashley: Demi Lovato, she’s transparent about her life, and what she is going through which I find inspiring because that is not easy, especially being in the spotlight.
In your personal opinion, what is the most important trait that a powerful woman can possess?
Intelligence and Confidence.
Do you believe in pretty privilege and use it to its full extent?
Unfortunately, it does exist but we believe in good, smart, hard working people and doing a good job because you have passion and love what you do.
If you could donate a large sum of money to any charity, which would you pick?
If you were a plant, what kind of plant would you be?
If a book was written about you, what would the title be?
Women of WAKAAN.
It’s women like these – Chloe, Emily, and Ashley – that help create an uplifting, inclusive environment for women to feel safe and thrive.
Women such as these are prime examples of why women are such a crucial part of the scene we all know and love. They are the ones who inspire the next generation to fill their shoes, dream bigger, and achieve more than ever thought possible. To the women producers, label managers, merchandise directors, product managers, and on, we applaud you, cherish you, and will continue to support you.
Looking for new music? Keep up with our weekly Spotify Playlist, Fresh Hunts. Updated every Friday with all the latest releases. Whether it’s the newest drops, all your favorite artists, some old-school, or underground…we just want you to hear it.
March is Women’s History Month. This is an opportunity to celebrate successes and acknowledge struggles women face across the world. If you’re looking to support organizations that educate on women’s health, gender/workplace equity, and more, then look here.