Female to Empower 2023

silent green presents

The festival series tells small and big stories of music from a feminist perspective, questioning power relations in the still male-dominated music industry. The festival combines historical-documentary retrospectives and filmic content with the entire musical spectrum of female-read creation in the contemporary music business.

"People were totally shocked. Because they suddenly felt the power that emanated from the women. (...) We improvised our own lives, our biographies. We ironised our situation, perverted the dependencies, threw everything up in the air." (Maggie Nichols, Feminist Improvising Group)

The third edition of the festival is dedicated to musical improvisation. What influence has improvisation had on the artistic and social emancipation of musicians over the last five decades - from free jazz and experimental improvisation music to DIY punk culture and electronic music?

"Improvisation does not fall from the sky, and if women have less access to the cultural traditions on which improvisation can grow, then it is difficult to develop that tradition, to stand against it or to criticise it in improvisation. 'Female passivity' and real powerlessness prevent the kind of confidence that would be so necessary for improvisation." (Lindsay Cooper, Feminist Improvising Group)

What kind of freedom could musicians create for themselves through improvised music in order to develop their own sound and their own forms of collaboration? And what structural deficits and exclusions persist to this day? What solutions can be found for them?

In order to paint as comprehensive a picture as possible, Female to Empower brings together musicians, all-female bands and network activists from different generations and diverse musical milieus. Panels and talks, live concerts and a documentary film programme delve deep into the biographies and working worlds of the musicians involved and open up an exciting dialogue with the audience.



4.30 pm Doors
5 pm  Film screening: Stories from the She-Punks (Gina Birch & Helen Reddington, UK 2018, 45')
6 pm  Concert: Farida Amadou
7 pm  Talk: The HERstory of Female Improvisation Music
            With Farida Amadou, Gina Birch & Lesley Woods, Moderation: Luise Vörkel
8 pm  Concert: Gina Birch (The Raincoats)
9 pm  Concert: Lesley Woods (Au Pairs)


5.30 pm Doors
6 pm  Concert: Violeta García
7 pm  Concert: Elsa M’bala aka AMET + Ale Hop
8 pm  Talk Improvising Female Future Sounds 
            With Elsa M'bala, Ale Hop, Contagious & Violeta García, Moderation: Aida Baghernejad
9 pm  Concert: Contagious (Andrea Neumann, Sabine Ercklentz, Mieko Suzuki)

10 pm  Film screening: Ever Deadly (Chelsea McMullan & Tanya Tagaq, Kanada 2022, 89’)


Ale Hop
Alejandra Cárdenas Pacheco (also known as Ale Hop) is a Peruvian-born artist, researcher, and experimental musician based in Berlin. Her body of work includes live shows, record releases, sound and video artworks, research on sound and technology, and original music for film, dance and theater projects. Ale Hop began her career in the 2000s in Lima’s experimental and underground scene. In 2012, following several years of taking part in different pop and electronic bands, she finally started her solo project after performing alone for the first time in Boiler Room. Her studious approach to the subjects covered in her albums and pieces is constantly informed by her background as an academic researcher.

The trio Contagious was founded by two innovative voices from the Berlin improvisation scene (Andrea Neumann and Sabine Ercklentz) and sound artist and composer Mieko Suzuki.
Contagious is one of the most mind-melting projects to hit the electronic music scene. Andrea Neumann on her self-developed, transportable Inside Piano, applies feedback processes to simple piano strings and sometimes sends them to Mieko Suzuki’s processing rig, where she uses her own pre-recorded sounds and her skills on the turntables, while Sabine Ercklentz’s trumpet sounds shoot through this same processing system. Together, the three musicians communicate in compositional logics and futuristic structures in which fragile sonic textures and impulses become monumental. Neumann, Ercklentz and Suzuki interact like a living creature, transcending binary opposites and ambivalent in the best sense of the word: very enigmatic and very alive.

Elsa M’bala
Elsa M’bala aka A.M.E.T. is a sound artist who makes live podcasts as a mixture between DJ’ing and live radio shows, in which field recordings and interviews are shared live with an audience. A.M.E.T.’s musical journey, and her reflections on race, cultural background, gender and spirituality, challenge preconceptions of how someone’s music should sound based on where they’re from. Her practice breaks with western classical music by creating graphic scores that enable her to include semi tones as it is regular in non western music. By using technology, she amplifies her unique voice and addresses narratives of inclusion and visibility.

Farida Amadou
Farida Amadou is a self-taught bassist based in Belgium. The electric bass has been her main instrument since 2011. In 2013, she started playing a lot of different musical genres, including blues, jazz and hip-hop. Soon Farida began to delve into improvised and experimental music and was soon identified by local collectives and musicians. After a year (2017) as bassist in the Belgian punk band Cocaine Piss, she decided to focus on her practice and her collaborations with musicians such as Thurston Moore, Peter Brötzmann, Julien Desprez, Jerusalem in My Heart and Moor Mother.

Gina Birch
As one-half of the Raincoats’ core duo since 1977, Gina Birch is a punk icon with a pop sensibility, an art-schooled adventurer who has painted, filmed, and performed by her own rules for over 45 years—using her visual art to tell stories, charging raw recordings with concepts. Her history converges onto her first solo album, I Play My Bass Loud. She won’t hang back or play a supporting role. She is now taking centre stage. It’s a potent concept of refusal and agency: staking out space as a woman in her 60s in the music culture she helped shape, defining for herself what it means now to move forward as an artist.

Lesley Woods
Described as one of the most striking women in British Rock Lesley Woods fronted the seminal British band the Au Pairs from 1978 until their implosion in 1983. Along wth their musical contempories such as the Gang of Four, the Slits, Bush Tetras, Raincoats and Joy Division they dared to speak the mindset of the post punk generation with songs that challenged the sexual and other politics of the day and ripped them into taut, transfixing danceable songs. Their first of 3 albums Playing with a Different Sex (1981) is considered a post-punk masterpiece. In 2023 and after 30 years as an immigration lawyer, Lesley Woods returns to the fray. Ever the singular stage presence, Lesley uses the years to her advantage mixing up the past, present and future to something completely modern and progressive which will warm your heart and make you wanna dance.  

Violeta García
Violeta García is a cellist, composer, improviser and curator from Argentina based in Switzerland. She is a performer in many art forms, including free improvisation, contemporary and trans-media experimental repertoire in violoncello and electronic music. Her digital label and music series called TVL-REC is devoted to publishing new music, experimental groups and collectives from Latin America and other countries and making music series and festivals of noise and extreme music in Latin America and Europe. She has more than 50 albums published in different editions. In recent years she has been touring around the world.



The HERStory of Female Improvisation Music
With Farida Amadou, Gina Birch & Lesley Woods
Moderation: Luise Vörkel

It was not until 1977 that an all-women's project in improvised music emerged in England with the "Feminist Improvising Group". At the same time, the punk movement made musical improvisation part of a political and social emancipation. Did the musicians of these different musical worlds emancipate themselves only by chance at the same time or was it the result of a long overdue development? Gina Birch (The Raincoats) and Lesley Woods (Au Pairs) will talk about the impulses that led to a self-determined awareness of their own expressive power. Farida Amadou, who walks confidently between the genres of improvised music and post-punk, will add from her perspective what relevance this had for her as a musician of a young generation.

Luise Vörkel
Luise Vörkel is a cultural journalist in Berlin. As a freelance writer, she has reported on pop, feminism and society for Deutschlandfunk, Missy Magazine, ByteFM and the band "These Girls", among others. She is currently part of the editorial team of ARTE Tracks East.


Improvising Female Future Sounds
With Ale Hop, Contagious (Andrea Neumann, Sabine Ercklentz, Mieko Suzuki), Elsa M’bala & Violeta García

Moderation: Aida Baghernejad

Improvisational music has taken on many forms of expression that can no longer be assigned to just one musical genre. Young musicians all over the world have discovered the potential of electronic-experimental music. What relevance does improvised music still have today for musicians in search of their own artistic expression? Does the diversity of improvised music offer them sufficient new freedom or is there still a need to expand networks to promote the transfer of resources, knowledge and experience at all levels? Ale Hop, Andrea Neumann, Elsa M'bala, Mieko Suzuki, Sabine Ercklentz and Violeta García, established musicians of experimental, electronic improvised music, will discuss this. 

Aida Baghernejad
Aida Baghernejad is a freelance journalist. She writes in German and English for all kinds of regional, national and international publications about music and food. Sometimes about both at the same time, but mostly about the political in sound, on stage or on the plate.


Film screenings

Stories from the She-Punks (Gina Birch & Helen Reddington, UK 2018, 45’)
Stories from the She Punks: Music with a Different Agenda is a documentary film focusing on women who bought and started playing electric instruments with an idea of forming bands in the punk era from 1976 until the early 1980s. The women recount stories of their inspirations, joys and the less salubrious moments with humour and energy. It consists purely of interviews but the women’s colourful stories transport you to other places and times. The film has been shown in independent cinemas throughout the UK. It has also been shown at festivals, cultural events, universities and conferences. Cast includes: Gina Birch & Ana Da Silva (The Raincoats), Hester Smith & Rachel Bor (the Dolly Mixtures), Shanne Bradley (The Nips), Gaye Black (The Adverts), Palmolive & Liv Albertine (The Slits), Jane Munro (The Au Pairs), Helen McCookerybook (The Chefs) and many more.

Ever Deadly (Chelsea McMullan & Tanya Tagaq, Kanada 2022, 89’)
Ever Deadly is an immersive, visceral music and cinema experience featuring Tanya Tagaq, avant-garde Inuk throat singer, and created in collaboration with award-winning filmmaker Chelsea McMullan. This documentary explores Tagaq’s transformation of sound with an eye to colonial fallout, natural freedom and Canadian history. We witness Tagaq’s intimate relationship with the Nuna—the Land—a living, breathing organism present in all forms of her improvised performances. Ever Deadly weaves concert footage with stunning sequences filmed on location in Nunavut, seamlessly bridging landscapes, stories and songs with pain, anger and triumph.

Ever Deadly is produced and distributed by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).


Saturday, 14 + Sunday, 15 October

A project by silent green Film Feld Forschung gGmbH.
Funded by the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Community

Presented by
Missy Magazine I taz I Rausgegangen Berlin I Exberliner I ByteFM