Women in EDM: An Interview with Camille Cushman
Part of the “Women in EDM” feature series.
Talking about women in the electronic music industry doesn’t just mean the women on stage. Behind the scenes, there are lots of female talent consistently pushing to make the industry better and bring great tracks to EDM fans. Camille Cushman has been instrumental in aspects of the industry from blogging to music video creation, and now promotes amazing artists like Heavygrinder and Duelle as a member of Magnum PR.
In her time working in music, film, television, and writing, Cushman has gained a true insider’s knowledge of the industry and all the things that make the electronic music world unique. Here, she shares those insights and reminds us all why the behind-the-scenes movers in the EDM industry should never go unappreciated.
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?
Camille Cushman: My experience in the industry has been overwhelmingly positive. While yeah, it’s definitely a “boys’ club,” typically I’ve been met with nothing but respect, but I also kind of demand that. Sure, there’s been a few times I’ve felt like I’ve been talked down to because I’m a chick, but those certain individuals have been written off my radar and lost my respect. This isn’t a one-sided thing, you know? It’s just as harmful to them if they lose your respect because your opinion has value as well. To be honest, most of the time, I see women undermine themselves by blurring the lines between groupie and industry professional. That’s always a big no-no.
As far as struggles and triumphs go, sometimes I do feel like I have to prove myself, but I don’t find that due to that fact that I’m a girl; I would credit that more to the fact that I’m young. It really comes down to sticking to your guns and letting people know that you have vision. If your taste and creativity is on point, boy or girl, no one can argue with that. Do your best to look ahead of the curve and stand out from the crowd, and you’ll always remain relevant.
SR: What or who inspired you to get into this industry?
CC: Back in the day, I was a huge fan of Entourage. Debi Mazar played Vinny Chase’s publicist and she was such a boss. She ran everything, gave orders, was respected, but also adored by everyone. I also loved her connection between her client and the rest of the world, essentially interacting with everyone. I’m a people person and a total busy-body. I have to constantly be moving, planning, interacting and engaging in new things. Entering the music side of the industry was a natural fit because I’ve been an electronic music head ever since I was that super awkward 12-year-old blasting Benny Benassi through a walkman and yelling out “I love my sex” while attempting to shuffle (very poorly). Little has changed since then, except I’m now allowed to listen to music with a parental advisory without getting grounded and my shuffling skills are whack as ever.
SR: You’ve worked in film, television, and writing in the past. Are there any parallels between your experience in those fields and your experience in the PR world?
CC: So many parallels! The overlap between film, TV, and music is almost indistinguishable at times. Each field is filled with creatives, and an artist’s interests are never pigeonholed to one specific thing. Musicians who want to direct films, actors who want to be DJs, or publicists who want to start a record label are all commonplace and so essential to the nature of the media industry machine. Having a background in different fields has made my PR experience incredibly fulfilling because I’m able to bring together my friends from all different realms of media and unite them on projects. At the end of the day, I’m really just here to connect the dots and bring people together.
SR: Who are some of your favorite female EDM artists/DJs?
CC: Nicole Moudaber, Maya Jane Coles, Nina Kraviz, Helena Hauff, and Sofia Kourtesis. Each one of these ladies holds a special place in my heart because their success rides solely on their talent. They didn’t take the easy route of attempting to be sex symbols by DJing in booty shorts and bedazzled bras. They made it here based on undeniable skill and an incredible ear for good music. While each are stunning, their beauty isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of them, it’s their talent, and that’s a very rare thing.
SR: What can fans do to support women in the industry?
CC: Demanding attention on actual talent. I see so many female “DJs” and “producers” that have amazing visibility and brand endorsements because they look cute behind the decks. It’s so disheartening when you find out some of these girls don’t make their music and used premixed sets when they’re “DJing.” I recently saw a big female DJ, who will remain nameless, have something go wrong with her CD-Js and have to call a technician because she didn’t know where the reverse button was. That is probably the first lesson in DJ 101, so there is no way you’d EVER get booked for a show not knowing something that basic, yet they’re playing main stages across the world. All I’m saying is, there are so many genuinely talented girls out there that fans need to demand authenticity from female artists (from all artists really) and see past the blue hair and boob jobs. The world doesn’t need another Paris Hilton holding a foam gun while “DJing” in Ibiza for 200k a night, just saying.
SR: What do you see the future holding for you, and for women in EDM as a whole?
CC: For me, all I can ask for from the future is that it continues to shower me in good tunes and good people, everything else will fall into place. That being said, I do have my eye on transforming myself into the female Rick Rubin…beard and all.