Just before their highly anticipated 6th birthday celebration at Warsaw’s hottest club, Jasna 1, I had the opportunity to meet with four out of six members of the Oramics collective. Together, we engaged in a heartfelt conversation about their beginnings, significant achievements, and challenges they faced along the way.
Oramics was created in 2017 with a clear mission: to embrace the rise of female and queer artists on the global stage. The platform’s name pays homage to the electronic music prodigy Daphne Oram, who overcame numerous obstacles in the then incredibly sexist environment, to leave an indelible mark on history. The platform is now led by co-founder Isnt, along with djs dogheadsurigeri and Monster, artist Mala Herba, and PR experts Paulina Żaczek and Idę na.
Over time, Oramics expanded their scope and started tackling the issue of inequality in the representation of artists from Eastern and Central Europe in lineups, podcasts and press on a global scale. Their insights on the nationalities of artists featured in electronic music podcasts shed light on this regional exclusion. While club culture from this part of Europe have often been fetishized by Western countries, there is a noticeable lack of reciprocation from the global community towards these appropriated scenes. “I remember planes full of ravers traveling to Kyiv from Berlin, but this hype didn’t really give Ukrainian djs themselves more visibility”, notes Monster. “We are not only breaking through a glass ceiling, but also an iron curtain”, emphasizes Paulina Żaczek, whose agency Granko, has been a shining light in the Polish alternative music industry. They explain, however, that the problem with limited visibility of Polish djs starts right here, at home. “People seem to think that only if you’ve had a success outside of your country, you gain value and recognition”, adds dogheadsurigeri. “Foreign cities always hype up and promote their local djs, it doesn’t seem to be a case here in Poland”, confirms Monster. Żaczek emphasizes that this is largely due to the decisions of Polish bookers. This isn’t, however, the only struggle that she must overcome, while representing her artists. “The sector I work in is still predominantly a boys’ club. It’s about subtle nuances, such as a man, even less experienced than me, trying to assert control over conversation. It’s crucial to address these issues, so women no longer feel isolated in such experiences. It’s a systemic problem”, she adds.
The entertainment industry has long exemplified men’s ability to assert power and influence in societal spaces, and this toxic dynamic has permeated the Polish club scene since the 1989 transformation, when electronic music gained traction in post-Soviet bloc countries. “Almost a decade ago, my friend and I started organizing parties under the name BADBITCHES. When we began cultivating a genuine fan base, I understood that it’s because people felt safe from the confines of the cis-heteronormative agency”, shares Idę na. While the culture of nightlife in Poland has evolved, certain issues remain only partially resolved. “Sadly, we are still at a stage where the extent of clubs’ efforts to create a safe space often amounts to a poster stating that sexism and homophobia are not tolerated. On a positive note, I’ve noticed more selective door policies aimed at fostering a better environment for partygoers”, describes Monster.
While implementing safe space policies is crucial for the club industry’s future, Oramics emphasizes that improving the structure of the party business also involves diversifying lineups. To challenge the male-dominated reality behind the decks in their homeland, the collective launched a project called Same Baby, meaning Just Gals, with the aim of increasing visibility of DJs and producers from Poland who identify as women, non-binary individuals, and femmes.
Oramics’ grassroot structure not only embodies authenticity but also yields tangible outcomes. dogheadsurigeri credits much of her skill development to the guidance of Oramics members Isnt and Mala Herba. “When I began producing music, my current partner was already an established producer, and I felt like I would never reach his level”, admits the artist, while reflecting on her journey and explains that it was hard to overcome this societal assumption that men are simply better at such abilities. Oramics has been tirelessly working to challenge this mindset, one workshop at a time. Their remarkable initiative’s Oramics Sound Lab aim is to empower girls and non-heteronormative people and give them opportunity to gain production and djing skills in a safe and non-exclusionary space.
Oramics has gained a lot of attention thanks to their conscious and spontaneous actions, such as their benefit compilations. After their first release Total Solidarity, which was organized after a homophobic attack in Białystok, charity compilations have become somewhat emblematic and much more popular in the club music community. Another notable mix, Sonic Resistance, was crafted in solidarity with Rojava, while their latest release, Cut The Wire, supported the Rescue Foundation, which advocates for individuals trapped at the Polish-Belarusian border.
While Oramics actively strives to address the existing inequalities within the industry, you can find ways to support them at oramics.pl.