Women in EDM: An Interview with Ambrosia Bartośekulva
Part of the “Women in EDM” feature series.
Noise artist Ambrosia Bartośekulva has a past that comprises everything from working in the pop music industry to traveling the world. She finally found herself in the deeply experimental world of noise, where she discovered unexpected joy and inspiration as well as a sense of community. Now, as a sound and installation artist in the underground noise music scene of Seattle, Ambrosia brings new meaning to the definition of art with her soundscapes and performances.
Ambrosia’s projects include wrtch, Stalebirth, and Boreas, but her work includes not just making music, but curating shows and events which, in her own words, “highlight the feminine aspect permeating all things and beings, which often is shadowed by masculine energy, and try to showcase artists who exude the divine chaos that is the dark feminine, or Yin.” In her music, she pushes the boundaries of expectation with performances that are entrancing, unexpected, and thought-provoking. Learn more about her at ambrosiabartosekulva.com, and if you’re in Seattle on November 11, be sure to check out Ambrosia along with many other talented, expressive noise and visual artists at Bloody Wednesday.
Sensible Reason: What has your experience as a woman in the EDM industry been? Have you faced any unique struggles or triumphs in what is sometimes described as a “man’s world,” or do you see that description as incorrect?
Ambrosia Bartośekulva: I ended up in the electronic/experimental scene three or four years ago. It feels like in the underground — what I dwell in — it’s not as much of a man’s world. There are a lot of really amazing bookers and people out there trying to include female artists and people of color.
However, when it comes to breaking into getting signed to a record label or played on the radio — it feels impossible. It feels like I’m hitting some kind of a stone barrier. But there are a lot of really amazing women who do make it and work their asses off out there.
There’s also this sort of connotation that women don’t know what they’re doing. I’ll walk into a music store and just get hit on, and when I reject that person I get terrible service. Or you’ll be playing a show and people assume you don’t know how your equipment works.
SR: What or who inspired you to get into this industry?
Ambrosia: My homies. [Laughs.] The people who I see play. I mean, there are definitely a lot of larger influences that I have. I also have a lot of operatic influence — opera and old classical. But I’d say the majority of my influence comes from seeing my friends play and being inspired by what they’re doing.
SR: Noise music is a particularly unique niche. Can you tell me about what drew you to noise and how it differs from other electronic music?
Ambrosia: Before I got divorced five or six years ago, I was the lead engineer at this studio that produced more pop music — very produced and formulaic. My divorce was really rough and I lost a lot of things I owned and people I loved. I was living in a car and had given up on doing anything musically.
Then I fell into this artists’ collective called IN, in [Seattle neighborhood] Capitol Hill. I started being exposed to more noise and experimental music. I’d heard of things like industrial, but I had no idea there was an entire genre of just like, feedback and your amp. It definitely was really healing to me as a musician in a lot of ways. And I feel like just in the last few years that scene has really grown and expanded and changed a lot.
SR: Who are some of your favorite female EDM artists/DJs?
Ambrosia: My friend Micaela has a project called White Boy Scream down in L.A. Pink Void is out of Seattle — she just makes love to her guitar; it’s amazing. Pulling Out the Light is a solo female performer and she does amazing synthesizer and electronic. #Tits — I have to give a shoutout to #Tits. It’s a duo, two women. Another one that has been impressing me for years is Geological Creep. There’s so many others—but I think that’s a pretty good list to start, if anyone wants to dive into the weird Seattle underground noise scene.
SR: What can fans do to support women in the industry?
Ambrosia: One of the greatest things we can do is create safe spaces for women to feel comfortable coming to shows. I think that is the root of all evil when it comes to discouraging young women from coming to shows. It’s a very small group of women who actually attend shows. I don’t know how to really go about that, but it’s definitely a conversation we need.
Also — going through your library and seeing how much of it is dominated by white males. It’s not that there aren’t women making music, it’s just that we don’t see them.
SR: What do you see the future holding for you, and for women in EDM as a whole?
Ambrosia: For me, I definitely see myself moving more in the direction of creating music as an artist rather than just as a musician. A lot of the things I feel drawn to are hours-long performances with a lot of intention behind them. I’m also working toward going on tour in September and then releasing an album.
I think because women are a bit oppressed in the electronic world, we have to fight a little harder, and I think that’s going to pay off. I think some of the experimental noise stuff is becoming more accepted as a genre. I totally see the influence kind of trickling up. Part of what my intention has been in the last year or so is to support and book events that are more feminine in nature — not just female-centric, but where spirit and intuition and experience are really celebrated.