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ONE OFF TRAKS: The Push To Female & Non-Binary Prominence

Across three days in Sydney’s inner-west, the ONE OFF TRAKS writing camp was welcomed and warmed by the energy, talent and enthusiasm of a community of 21 female or non-binary artists, all set with one shared goal - to create and inspire. We chatted to the minds behind the camp, as well as a selection of its participants, to discuss the journey of it all and the hopeful future for female and non-binary artists in music.

In a male-controlled and dominated space, Australia’s homegrown music scene can be widely criticised for its lack of involvement and representation of artists that exist outside of the fixed norm of who and what is successful. In addition to this, there has been a consistent and ongoing conversation surrounding the lack of female, non-binary and BIPOC artists being booked on some of Australia’s most acclaimed festival lineups and stages. Therefore, the opportunities that have risen and the doors that have been opened for female and non-binary artists in the industry are still incredibly limited. However, the team behind Sydney-based writing camp ONE OFF TRAKS are on a dedicated and persistent path to change that.

ONE OFF TRAKS is the first-ever female, non-binary writing camp collaboration between One Day Entertainment, Offbeat Collective & Elefant Traks. The project is founded and led by power group Nazlican Eren (One Day Entertainment), Minori Ueda (One Day Entertainment), Carolina De La Piedra (Elefant Traks), Jannah Beth (Elefant Traks/Offbeat Collective).

Speaking to One Day Entertainment’s Nazlican Eren and Minori Ueda, together they expressed important sentiments around the significance of safe spaces for marginalised communities, as well as how they want to utilise this program to encourage a wider acceptance and inclusion of female and non-binary creatives in the industry.

What kind of space are you hoping to open up to artists and creatives in the music industry?

MINORI: We want to create safe spaces for female and non-binary artists. We are aware of the lack of non-male presence in studios, sessions and in general creative spaces. This is for artists, producers and creatives to have a place where they feel they can open up freely and with no judgement. 

NAZLICAN: We wanted to show the industry that there isn’t an excuse anymore not to have female or non-binary people in studio sessions, writing rooms, and as Minori said, overall creative spaces. By creating these safe spaces, the artists had an opportunity they’ve never had before or had very little of, and that was getting to create art without any limitations.

What kind of holes in the industry are you hoping to fill or rectify through OOT?

NAZLICAN: It really does baffle me that in 2023, a grassroots organisation was the first to put on an initiative like ONE OFF TRAKS, but it’s also something I am beyond proud of. We hope that we see more initiatives that are tailored to more female and non-binary people because there is such a necessity for a program like ours, and I can only imagine what the bigger labels, agencies and publishing companies could achieve with their resources if they wanted to; it would change peoples lives!

How did the first writing camp pan out, and what things are you taking into account going forward with future writing camps?

MINORI: The first writing camp panned out amazingly! Everyone was incredibly happy, including the applicants and it was a very wholesome moment. We sent a survey to see what people liked and if there was anything we could change. Going forward, I think it’ll be alot easier if anything; we have procedures in place, and we know what to do and where to go for support. We have a community now, so that will allow us to have even more outreach to different artists/producers. 

NAZLICAN: It was better than what I could’ve ever imagined. We work in an industry where what we work on is intangible, so after months of emailing and organising, to see the fruition of our work come to life, it really makes this chaos worthwhile. We saw the impact first-hand of what non-male writing rooms could look like, and I’ll never forget that. Now that we’ve executed the first one, we feel really confident that each year we will just get better, and better. 

How are you hoping to see One Off Traks and writing camps alike evolving in the industry in the foreseeable future?

Minori: All we really want is for people to recognise the amazing non-males we have in the music industry and amplify their voices. 

Nazlican: I just hope that there is more unification within the industry to support all the incredible female and non-binary artists all year round. We need the industry to take creating safe spaces within writing rooms more seriously, and champion our female and non-binary creatives as much as we do the men.

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to offer to budding female/gender-non-conforming creatives who are eager to step into these spaces but aren’t sure how to navigate it?

MINORI: Go to events, go to concerts, hit up that manager/artist/producer that you’ve been meaning to. Just do, is the advice I would give. I remember starting out and I was so scared of sending out an email because what if they didn’t respond. The truth is, people will reject it but you just have to remember it doesn’t matter and for that one person that will reply, can change your life. 

NAZLICAN: There are no rules in this industry which can seem daunting, but if you move with authenticity, love and respect, the right people will be in your orbit. If you see an artist you want to work with, message them, if you see an agent at a show, introduce yourself to them. Collaboration is key to building your confidence, your community and your skillset. 

Apart from the writing camps, what can we expect next from ONE OFF TRAKS? 

MINORI: To be completely honest, we are still trying to figure this out ourselves, where we see ONE OFF TRAKS in the industry and how we can continue to make space for non-males in this industry. We have a few things planned but that’s a secret for now.

NAZLICAN: If it were up to me I’d do these writing camps all year round. But in all seriousness, we’ve been working on a lot of curation which has been really exciting so keep an eye and ear out for that this year. You gotta stay tapped in with ONE OFF TRAKS, that’s all I have to say.

To gain an imitate perspective on the inner workings of the camp as an applicant, we also spoke to LILPIXIE, Emerald Brunt, Lydia Kivela and ANESU, to recount the three-day camp, and how it has impacted or changed the way they have been able to work, collaborate and create in safe spaces catered towards female and non-binary artists alike.

How did you first come across the ONE OFF TRAKS writing camp and what drew you to want to apply to be a part of it?

LILPIXIE: My musician sister suggested for me to apply and as a gender non-conforming individual, I was immediately drawn in.

EMERALD BRUNT: I came across it on Naz’s instagram story. What really drew me in was not only the female and gender non-binary aspect, but also just that it was open for anyone to apply. I have heard about writing camps before but from what I’ve heard you need to be emailed by APRA to even apply so I was really excited that this opportunity was open for anyone.

LYDIA KIVELA: I saw it advertised on insta but also heard about it through friends, GLO & Scruffs. Being a non-binary artist and very new to the music game I was really excited to find out about the opportunity.

ANESU: So often, I see how male-dominated the industry is and how that impacts trans people. I noticed that ONE OFF TRAKS was a great addition to the industry, and I was excited to be a part of that change.

What were some things you were able to discover about yourself as an artist when collaborating with like-minded individuals? And how did the environment impact your experiences?

LILPIXIE: When you’re creating and your physical body feels safe, it really is a different experience. You’d be surprised how many female/non-binary creatives have deep trauma responses towards men, and it is something real you feel in your body. When that perceived threat is taken away, self expression becomes more transparently nurtured.

EMERALD BRUNT: It allowed me to see that ideas I initially see as ‘bad’ shouldn’t be immediately scrapped but instead worked on and expanded into something better. I really felt everyone was able to listen to each other, build on our own ideas as well as make space for others.

LYDIA KIVELA: Being able to collaborate with people helped me realise my potential and pushed me to do things I didn’t realise I was capable of. I think it was really cool to share the weight in those sessions; that was really eye-opening for me. Naturally, being in spaces with non-men I felt safer and allowed to move at my own pace as well as actually feel comfortable getting into my feels and speaking my mind. The people in these sessions were all so nice and supportive and I’m grateful that if I was to get into my head, someone always knew what to say to get me out.

ANESU: Collaboration can sometimes be challenging. Everyone in the space came with an open mind and was there for the same reason, to create fire music. It made the space feel safe and allowed us to try something new.

What was one of the biggest takeaways from the writing camp?

LILPIXIE: It’s crazy how underestimated female/non-binary individuals are in the industry. I even find myself falling into this because misogynistic beliefs are so ingrained, not into men, but into society. When there’s a female/gender non-conforming person who is qualified for the job, there’ll always be a man who you think of first to trust in doing it better. Moving through these spaces as a non-male is difficult, but my biggest takeaway is now I have a whole community to reach out to, who understand what it’s like.

LYDIA KIVELA: To not stand in my own way and remember to BREATHE. Also that I’m really lucky to have found a producer I really connect with so early into my journey.

ANESU: That the possibilities are endless!

What are you hoping to see change within the industry to spotlight female/gender non-conforming artists and creatives?

LILPIXIE: I think we can take more accountability by putting on female/gender non-conforming artists. The core of the industry is the culture and I believe that begins with normalising spaces where ALL voices are highlighted. It’s really as simple as putting female/non-binary people on the lineup, and not just one. Put them on with the same energy and respect you give to male artists. And call out discrimination (have that uncomfortable conversation with your homie).

ANESU: I want to see more trans artists like myself recognised and celebrated for their craft. I want to see more trans artists, period. There are not enough artists breaking the mould, and I think that’s partly because of all the barriers we face along the way.

How have your experiences with OOT impacted you, and how are you hoping to utilise your experiences in the way you create and collaborate in the future?

LILPIXIE: ONE OFF TRAKS are incredible and I have so much respect for the entire team. They’re making leaps in the Australian music industry, doing what was needed but never done before. I truly feel like this is a big transformation moment in history and I’m honoured to be a small part in it. I’ve learnt so much and I feel like I’m moving forward with the fire of a thousand suns.

EMERALD BRUNT: My experience helped me gain a lot of confidence in myself and my writing skills as well as taught me how to work in a group. I’ll definitely be hitting up people I met in the camp to work together again.

LYDIA KIVELA: I feel like the camp changed my life to be honest. It was so intense (in the best way), and I can already feel the growth. I’m really keen to keep the concept of collaboration with me as I move forward and hope to work with the artists I met again!

ANESU: My experience at ONE OFF TRAKS will likely follow me for a long time. I’m inspired and honoured to have been a part of it, and I can’t wait to continue creating innovative music.

Stay up to date with the ONE OFF TRAKS program here.

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