Reeperbahn Festival | Sept 16 – 22 2018

Report by: Lynden Campbell

REEPERBAHN FESTIVAL is a four day music festival and industry conference located in the notorious red-light district of Hamburg. This year Keychange took over a part of the festival, playing host to their own day at the Spiegelzelt. Yessim Duman touched upon wider issues of industry diversity before a spellbinding and frank debate with Tony Visconti, Linda Perry and Kinnie Star. Performances included Bala (Spain), Milkywhale(Iceland), Hoax and Pale Honey (Sweden) whilst other Keychange participants took part in panels and other forums. I myself welcomed Jessica Aan de Wiel, founder of the Women in Advertising Production network to join me in Crossfade – a focus group supported by Keychange to create simple actions intended to future-proof business in online branded content.


During the Spiegelzelt takeover, Linda Perry spoke unapologetically about how much hard work the music business is, and that for people to have any chance of succeeding on their own terms, musicians need to get involved and improvise – there are no quick fixes – people need to take responsibility for their own business. On the topic of the women’s movement, it was clearly emphasised by the panel that they did not believe that equality was achievable in their lifetime, if at all. After the impassioned discussion, I politely acquired a hug from Linda and thanked her for her role in challenging perceptions of women.

The event closed with a tremendous demonstration of technology meets art by Keychange musician Chagall (UK) the packed out tent cheered and applauded, mouths agog, in awe of the space elf and MUTEK pioneer. Her new single ‘Surely‘ was released this month in advance of her double Raindance nomination this month.


After discussing the Keychange manifesto and ideals for re-shaping the industry in favour of diversity, we were whisked off to a reception with Kübra Gümüsay (author), Onejiru Arfmann (musician) and Jessica Louis (strategist & designer) who have, assisted by their husbands, established a space in Hamburg’s Schanze district where “visionary women from the fields of music, art, politics, science, business, media and civil society are shaping Eeden for the world of tomorrow”.

Keychange participants were moved to tears by a performance of personal recollections by Onejiru Arfmann. Singer Sophie Sy gave a warm performance of songs about travelling in your mind and running to your loved ones. Most notably, the articulate author Kübra Gümüsay described how she began to realise she was being engaged as an ‘intellectual cleaner’ – mopping up panels loaded with right wing chauvinists, and her keenness for Eeden to enable her to achieve a more involved role in society than mere panel-show tokenism.


A final treat for participants was the screening of Kinnie Starr’s movie ‘Play Your Gender‘ followed by a Q&A. Created in 2015, the film features some staggering statistics about the inequality of women in music notably the revelation that in some parts of the World including North America, women are prohibited legally from playing the drums. A thoughtful and wide-ranging documentary, Kinnie took the time to sit and discuss some of the issues involved in the film. A heart-stopping moment occurred when a well-meaning gentlemen put his hand up to argue that he is in a tech company with a number of men and the women don’t feel isolated. Kinnie passionately argued the subtle oppression experienced through being a woman alone in a set of men. Citing examples of not having access to the same facilities as men for basic human purposes whilst on music tours and in sessions, she argued that she didn’t see there being any possibility of equality in her lifetime. Audience members argued passionately of the importance of feminism to all genders. Personally, I would thoroughly recommend everyone watch this movie, especially those doubting the relevance of the women’s movement – and I hope that Kinnie might have the opportunity to create more films in future.