The New Norm: Behind Primavera Sound’s Gender-Equal Lineup + Ticket Giveaway
The New Normal, or the new normality, is the idea on which the universe of the nineteenth edition of the Barcelona festival Primavera Sound is based. From May 30th to June 1st 2019, the Parc del Fòrum of Barcelona will be witness to an exceptional edition. A turning point. As explained from the “future” with the spectacular ad aired from the Radio Primavera Sound studios, this is the edition in which everything changes. Solange, Tame Impala, Cardi B, J Balvin, Erykah Badu, Future, Janelle Monáe, Nas and Rosalía are the headliners of a line up in which for the first time there are as many female as there are male artists. The festival consolidates its reinvention by committing to urban music without forgetting any essential references. We spoke to Primavera Sound’s head of PR Marta Pallarès Olivares about the 50/50 gender ratio and pushing for diversity behind festivals. We’re also offering a set of passes to this year’s festival! To enter send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why you have to be at Primavera Sound 2019.
KALTBLUT: Let’s talk about the extraordinary lineup for this year’s Primavera Sound. What pushed the decision to establish the 50/50 gender split?
Marta: If you’ve been a fan of Primavera Sound for the few last years, you will be able to see that this is a natural decision that came from the fact that we have been increasingly featuring women in our lineups during the last years. For example, in 2018, one of the two major stages on one day was completely female or female-fronted bands with artists such as Björk, CHVRCHES and HAIM. So we’ve already been featuring a lot of female talent in the last years. With this year’s edition, we decided that it was time to do something and make a statement, because yeah, maybe we should have done it before, but this year seemed like the perfect fit for us. If you take a look at the lists of the best music released in 2018, it’s pretty obvious that it’s being created by women.
You can go and check Pitchfork or NPR or the BBC, you name it, but records, for example, by Christine and the Queens or Cardi B or Robyn, all of them have been featured as some of the best and nicest music that have been made the last year. And this was an amazing year to be featuring the best music. It just so happens that a lot of it has been done by women.
KALTBLUT: How do you think this will impact other festivals and events in the near future?
Marta: We want to say that we are not trying to point fingers at anybody and we are not calling names. We did this by ourselves and we think that it’s up to everybody else to decide whether they want to do it or not. But I would like to think that at least this has been eye-opening for lots of people who maybe thought that this wasn’t possible, that it was too difficult. And it’s not because we are trying to establish some kind of quota, it’s because it’s the best music that has been made in the last months. So, I don’t know if this will impact, but for sure all major media internationally has been featuring this lineup and not only because of the musical quality but also because it makes a point. It says out loud that it’s time and that maybe we should have done it before. I hope that at least it will be eye-opening, not only for other festivals but also for the audience. Maybe now we will be more critical with some lineups which are predominantly white male and stale. Also, even in the media, we’ve been able to see Tweets from journalists that are stating the point that some other festivals are only portraying male artists. So, I’m not trying to blame anybody but I just would like to think that this is for the best for all of the music business.
KALTBLUT: What about beyond festivals? Do you see an improvement in terms of gender equality, or do we still have a long way to go?
Marta: I guess it’s both. I’m seeing improvement but we still have a long way to go. In the last years, I’ve seen more and more female colleagues achieving amazing things. There are more powerful women in music, the higher boards are not only being occupied by men. I would like to think that nowadays a little girl thinks that she can be a singer, but that she can also be a drummer or a bassist if she wants to be. But, we still have a long way to go because our society is still being misogynistic in many, many ways, especially the way that some women are treated in cases. For example, artists like Ariana Grande have been called out for the way she has been grieving for the death of her ex-boyfriend. Women are blamed if they are too emotional and they are blamed if they seem happy. So yeah, I guess that there’s a different way of judging men compared to women and I hope that we are still working towards a more equal society.
KALTBLUT: What has been the response to the announcement so far?
Marta: Pretty amazing, actually. All the major media have been thrilled by it. We’ve been praised by journalists, media outlets, other festivals, and of course, artists. Maybe some of the audience didn’t really understand this change and not only because of the 50/50 lineup but also for the inclusion of different genres such as reggaeton. We are trying to let people know that this is the same Primavera Sound but only improved. We still have indie music acts such as Tame Impala or Interpol or Stereolab or Guided by Voices. We have rock, we have indie-pop, we have electronic. And then we have an amazing 50/50 lineup. So, I hope that this will really stand out and that in the future we can look back and feel happy about what we did. It’s not that special, but we are proud of being the first ones.
KALTBLUT: Have you faced any issues along the way? And if so, how have you overcome them?
Marta: Not exactly issues, but, of course, we had to take a close look at our lineup to achieve this 50/50 split. It’s not that it has been difficult because there are no good acts, this is not true at all, but we had this path in mind and so we had to work with this main starting point. Some of the issues may be, as I was explaining before, was that some of the die-hard fans of Primavera Sound maybe didn’t understand why we were doing this and we got some criticism, especially in social media because, you know, people can be pretty mean from an anonymous point of view. But we are really proud of what we are doing. Just reading comments, for example, from the LGBTQ+ community or PoC stating that this is a really diverse line-up that represents who they are, reassures us that this was the right move.
KALTBLUT: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Primavera Sound?
Marta: As we always like to state, Primavera Sound is a festival of festivals where you can make your route independently. You can go and let yourself be surprised, but if you’re really into something, like a particular genre, you will find numerous acts each day. Whether you’re a die-hard electronic fan or you’re into classical music, you like something with experimentation. For example, someone I’m really looking forward to seeing is, Lizzo, she is simply amazing. Her combination of RnB and hip-hop and amazingly lyrics make me think that she will be a total hurricane onstage. Her message of positivity and self-love is such an inspiration for me. I’m also looking forward to Tame Impala’s new record and although she hasn’t released new music yet, I hope Solange will show some songs from now to the festival or at least I’m hoping that. I’m really curious about J Balvin because I’ve never seen him and his record has been praised by such traditional media outlets such as Pitchfork. So I guess that his combination of reggaeton and hip-hop can be super infectious. And of course Rosalía, who delivered one of the best records or most probably the best record in Spain last year and has been taking the world by storm since then. But the best advice for Primavera Sound is to go with an open mind. Try to decide two or three highlights per day and the rest of the journey you can just wander around because I’m truly confident that you’ll be able to discover lots of new and amazing music that you can take home with you at the end.