Bitches Go HARD :

Gary Richards reveals plans for all female lineup

Close your eyes and envision an electronic dance music festival: you’ll see a sea of scantily-clad neon vixens, pasties, LED silhouettes and sex-drenched vocals. But the one place wild women of EDM are scarcely represented in this scene is behind the DJ booth itself. While female DJs top the charts and become icons à la Nervo for Covergirl, their lack of presence as sonic conductors at live events remains problematic.  

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 Since the beginning of HARD events, female talent on the billing has included the likes of Peaches and Brazabelle, from Little Dragon to Annie Mac. Yet, according to the official HARD family roster, only 8% of performers from ‘08-’13 have consisted of female talent. Out of the nearly 300 acts that have graced a HARD stage, only a handful included at least one female performer. Yet as Founder and CEO of HARD, Gary Richards can attest, “... 80% of what HARD is is the music. The other whatever percent is the party. You don’t have a party unless you have girls ...” It’s ironic that girls (the driving force behind any party) are not given equal opportunity on the platform that the party itself depends upon.

 So, Gary, why are there so few chicks spinning on stage?

“...I try my hardest to mix it up...I dunno why it ends up being more male-driven. But I think hopefully it changes. I would love to have 60 female DJs that are all awesome. To me, I always think everything’s better with girls...there’s tons of cool female artists, I wish there were more.”

But Gary finally has a solution:

“I’ve been asked this question so many times that I feel like we need to develop it more. You know develop a brand or something...to give girls more of a chance… I have a concept for a show that’s all girl performers... It’s not a 70,000 person event. But I do see more females coming up and… I’m definitely gonna do it 2014.”

You heard right, an all female headlined event is in the works.

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Gary’s got a pivotal plan sure to reverberate across the face of mega events worldwide. In a predominantly male industry, in which women continue the struggle for equal respect behind the decks, Gary believes it’s time to give the ladies the spotlight. Scarcely has a track been heard at higher volume around the world than when it pulsates out of speakers at a HARD event. Given the opportunity, renowned female artists such as Queen of Roctronica, JES, would get the recognition they deserve as they continue to tour the world receiving awards, and prove their staying power without ever having a household name. After signing with Tiësto, JES has topped Billboard’s Decade End Chart and had massive hits alongside the likes of Armin, BT and Tiësto himself. The fact that there’s a chance you’re not familiar with her says it all... It’s about time these talented DJ/Producers get heard.

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As Gary can attest to, “There are some (female DJs) that are killing it -- doing way better than the boys.”

So what are the obstacles?

“I’m not worried about selling the tickets, it’s just getting them all at the same time…The problem is around here, these dudes they want me working on another festival with 70,000 people. This is just something really cool to do. I just do cool shit ‘cos i like to do it. Everybody wants me spending my time on something that’s gonna make money...To me it’s not even a money thing…The key to it is I’ve got to be able get them all in the same place at one time. The thing is I can’t pay them as much. See when it’s the festival you’re doing 60- 70,000 people, you can pay people more money. But this show will probably be at the Palladium, so if I want to get five or six girls from around the world, you know it’s gonna be tough to make it work.”

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An all female event of this scale is sure to raise a few eyebrows. From behind calculators and cash-flow analyses, it may not be easy for some to see the value in making it happen. In the words of entertainment publicist and former concert promoter Greg Cayea, “In my experience, there are a few ways to sell tickets: promote the living hell out of it, cast A-list talent, or flood the bill with as many acts as the venue can possibly schedule. In most cases, festival producers utilize all three methods, but since the top A-lister DJs are predominantly male, we are very limited on the A-lister talent to help with ticket sales for an all-female festival.”

In other words, A-listers are needed to sell out festival-sized venues. With a Palladium-sized venue, selected talent must be in enough demand to sell out an arena and comprise a list long enough to fill a proper billing. Creating a festival offseason adds the additional problem of gathering this international talent at one time and place. This complicates matters of efficient payment and increased travel expenses.

But let’s not underestimate the power of the pussy.

It may be a tough business plan for Gary Richards (Founder and CEO of HARD events) to pitch to Live Nation (now owner of HARD Events), but all-female billing is long overdue. And if ever there were a concert mastermind capable of making it happen… well, it’s Gary motherfucking Richards, of course. As a professional in breaking talent and pushing the boundaries of live event, it's damned good to hear that Gary’s...

“on it.”

 

Interview with Gary Richards by Alyssa Aparicio

Photography by Kelli Rad & the late, great CJ Saraceno