A Conversation With LACUNA

Tamara Violet Partridge may only be 22 years of age, but she’s already making her stance in Melbourne’s electronic music scene. Apart from working on her debut album, she’s currently focusing on her headlining show ‘Ladies to the Front,’ a showcase of women in electronic music. RSOM sat down and spoke to Tamara about all things feminism and all things music. 

Welcome back to RSOM, do you just want to start by giving us a rundown of what you’ve been up to since we spoke to you last October?

“I’ve been teaching for the last year or so, and I’ve helped written the curriculum for the course I teach. Other than that, I’ve been working on the album which is set to release later this year or early next year. I’ve got a single with my first professional music video accompanying it in the next few months as well coming out, which has been fun to make and collaborate with people on. I’ve basically just been writing a heap of songs and working out which ones to pick and choose from, because I’d rather write 20 tracks and pick the 10 best ones, the great ones. Just a lot of writing at this stage is where I’m at.”

You’ve got an amazing project coming up called ‘Ladies to the Front,’ where you’re headlining. Are you able to tell us what that’s about?

“The whole process of it really was that I wanted to put on a show that showcased women in the electronic music scene in Melbourne, because there are a lot of really prevalent artists that just aren’t making it to radio play or are getting the recognition they deserve when they get to that touring or even international level that male artists are getting. I just think to myself ‘well why is that?’. It’s not in a negative way or to put down any male artists at all, we’re just trying to create equality in a safe space for female artists because it can be very confronting. Especially in electronic music where there’s still that association with technology being a ‘masculine’ thing. It’s a very boys club kind of thing, which is totally fine, but it’s making sure that everyone feels equal regardless of what industry they’re in. It’s the same thing with DJ’ing, it’s not something that should be surprising or more engaging, I want you to come see me because I’m a good DJ, not because I’m a woman. The more shows we put on with women involved, where women are in the front, the better. It’s just one evening where we’re saying, ‘these chicks have worked really hard, let’s celebrate that.’

What are you looking forward to most about it?

“People have said that it’s becoming a theme in society, which is actually kind of offensive in its own right. I feel like it’s been a major theme in society since the suffragettes, but now we have the technology, the statistics and the power to talk about it. It’s like when people say, ‘feminism doesn’t have a place in modern society’ and I’m like ‘well let me tell you why it does and I know you’re allowed to have your opinion but here’s why your opinion is wrong’- statistically speaking. It’s just about that education, because sometimes people just don’t know and that’s fine too. But you need to be open minded and be willing to learn new things that you didn’t learn whilst growing up. I’m looking forward to people seeing a great show and not single out the fact that it is women performing.”

It seems like a lot of female electronic artists adopt these badass stage names. Do you feel as if ‘Lacuna’ gives you a sense of identity and confidence when out in the industry?

“It does, because I feel like as a composer when I perform it’s a totally different approach to music and a totally different industry. Being able to put a ‘Lacuna’ hat on, I talk about feminine power and feminine sexuality and mental health and sexual harassment. These are all themes throughout my album and themes throughout my music, because I like to sing about taboos. So that they’re not taboos anymore and people don’t feel isolated in these situations. I don’t get the chance to do that in composition because I’m working with someone else’s story and I’ve worked so hard to control my attitude, like I never can really express how I feel. When I’m singing; however, I can just belt out or even scream how I feel and I can swear and it’s not to my name, it’s to the name of something inside of me. I feel like Lacuna is the part of me that just wants to aggressively yell about it.”

You’re obviously a deep songwriter, but you play electronic music. Do you find it difficult to reflect the lyrics you’ve written into the electronic sounds and songs you create?

“See, that’s the easy part, which is actually really weird. I find that the hardest part is finding the flow of the story, and bringing it back into a mainstream, popular approach. It comes down to personality which is the beautiful thing about music- every artist will have a different challenge. The lyrics have always been the easy part for me and it’s something that in the Lacuna project I start with and make the beat around it. The darker or the more societally unacceptable a topic is, the more upbeat and happier key I’ll put it in to mask that. So, when people listen to it, they’re like ‘oh it’s a really good song,’ but then they find out what it’s really about and they’re shocked but realise that the song actually has a really great message.”

What’s the electronic scene like in Melbourne and do you feel like you’re empowered by the other women around you?

“Yes! And that’s exactly why I’m doing this gig. There are so many people that were on the list that couldn’t make it for various reasons and it’s like ‘why aren’t as famous as Banks’ or even male artists, it’s just like why not!? I think there’s still that unconscious bias, even though it’s getting better. You look at some of the artists and you’re like ‘you have everything perfected and there’s nothing else you need to do with your music so why is it different?’ Even the bands we play with are amazing and have done heaps of things already but people are still unaware of who they are. There are so many B-grade male DJs that people know about, yet the A-grade female DJs are almost unheard of. I don’t understand why it’s still like ‘oh so you’re a female DJ.’ Like no, I’m just a DJ, I wouldn’t call you a “male DJ.” There are so many female electronic artists and mixed bands that have trouble over male acts. There’s a big support system though. I’d love to turn it into an ongoing series too, and I might not even need to play at the next one because there’s so many female electronic artists out there. Electronic music is popping up everywhere, especially female musicians and it’s just great.”

Who are your favourite women in music and in electronic music currently?

“I think the biggest person is Bjork, like from when I was a kid. There are a lot of European artists, as well as Banks, FKA Twigs. I also love the RnB side, the girls I grew up with like TLC, Destiny’s Child, Missy Elliot, those who are big in the electronic/RnB scene. They changed the world. It’s really great when artists are the turning point for you, like FKA Twigs inspired me to want to perform again because what she’s doing is so amazing.”

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Written by Jordyn Hoekstra
Photos courtesy of Vinyl Planet 
Productions live at Ladies To The Front at
Gasometer Hotel, Collingwood June 1 2017