In 2018, Jeanette Kats had an idea to create a production workshop for female producers. As she spent more time thinking about the initiative, she became inspired to start a bigger group to connect music professionals from all facets of the industry.
In February 2019, Kats officially created GRL GANG, an initiative and platform that lives in Discord, with the goal to expand the presence of women within electronic music. Currently consisting of over 200 members, the GRL GANG community is comprised of music producers, DJs, managers, publicists, journalists, label coordinators, A&Rs, promoters, and virtually every other music-related role. Through its various projects such as sample packs and virtual events, GRL GANG has empowered female producers and music professionals to network and learn from one another.
Since its inception, GRL GANG has been making waves throughout the music community. This past March, on International Women’s Day, GRL GANG launched its debut compilation RIOT! The compilation spans 10 tracks and features 14 artists, including LEVEL UP, SIPPY, AUSTERIA, space.wolf, Risik, Z3RØ5um, and Kats’ own musical project JEANIE. 100% of the proceeds were donated to Girls Inc., a nonprofit organization with the goal of empowering and inspiring girls and young women. Outside of the imprint’s debut, GRL GANG organizes a radio mix series that has hosted artists such as Zingara, Jessica Audiffred, Lucille Croft, Reid Speed, and more over 18 volumes.
GRL GANG is for those who identify as female and are actively involved in the music industry. There is not a selective admission process, but women will need to fill out a brief form to join.
To learn more about the initiative, EDM.com spoke to Kats about how it has been adapting to the global pandemic, longterm goals of what it hopes to achieve within the industry, and how women can get more involved with GRL GANG projects.
EDM.com: There’s no doubt that GRL GANG has grown exponentially since its beginnings in 2019. I know you’re the sole admin right now—how have you been managing all of the different projects GRL GANG is involved in?
Kats: A lot of sleep deprivation, just trying my best to manage my time. I do a lot of GRL GANG stuff on the weekend and my stuff during the week so it changes every week. I think I’m going to have to bring on more people pretty soon because it’s getting a little too much, but it’s something I love.
EDM.com: Mind sharing everything that GRL GANG has done? I know you’ve done an official release, sample packs, GRL FEST, a radio mix series. What else has GRL GANG been involved in?
Kats: We did have some shows planned this year that got pushed back, which sucks but is totally understandable. We’ve helped put on more virtual shows. Not just our own but we’ve been sponsoring some other festivals, which I want to do more of this year now that it’s becoming so big. We were doing some virtual streams weekly before we did GRL FEST, but I think we’re just going to stick with the festivals for now because it’s easier to manage. I’m planning to do more of those.
EDM.com: How has GRL GANG been adapting to the global pandemic? Do you have any other projects that you’re hoping to dive into during this COVID-era?
Kats: Just a lot more virtual stuff. I really had to learn basically everything about streaming, which has been super stressful but super fun, so we’ve been doing a lot more on our Twitch. I’ve been trying to do a lot more mixes now, and I also want to start expanding the label a little bit more now that shows aren’t a thing. I’ve been slowly working towards that.
EDM.com: Speaking of the label, GRL GANG released RIOT! on International Women’s Day. I’d love to hear how this compilation came to be.
Kats: People just kept putting really good music into the Discord. One day, I was thinking that it would be so awesome to combine everyone’s demos together and do a compilation for a good cause so we donated everything to Girls Inc. It was really cool because we got to share a bunch of new music with people. I know that a lot of people discovered new artists from it, which was cool. I just wanted to do something for a women’s focused organization.
EDM.com: What has the response to RIOT! been like from producers within the electronic community?
Kats: It was really good, it was a lot more positive than I expected. It was great to see how many people were supporting it. Liquid Stranger even supported the compilation in his Spotify playlists. As I mentioned before, I think it helped listeners discover a lot of new artists. I think one of the main goals of mine is to help people discover really talented producers.
EDM.com: Is RIOT! a compilation you’re hoping to release annually?
Kats: Yeah, I want to do different names for each compilation and have a theme for each one. It’s definitely something I want to do at least once per year, if not more.
EDM.com: You mentioned that you’re hoping to expand the label a bit more. Would you mind speaking more to that?
Kats: I’m hoping to do more regular standalone releases, whether that’s singles, EPs, or what have you. There’s just so much good music coming through the Discord all the time that I want to help people release. I’m hoping to start doing that early next year, but we’ll see how things go.
EDM.com: What are some longterm goals of GRL GANG in terms of what it hopes to achieve within the community and industry?
Kats: It’s hard now because of shows not happening, but I do want to get more involved in shows and festivals. It would be really cool to have GRL GANG sponsored stages at festivals. Overall, I really just want to create a sense of community, create more equality and opportunities for women, and show girls that it’s better to support each other than see each other as competition.
EDM.com: Once someone joins the Discord, what advice would you give them if they want to get involved in an official release, a digital event, or a sample pack? What’s the process of getting involved in more capacity?
Kats: I would just say be active. I know it can seem daunting, but everyone has been so supportive. There’s been no negativity in the group, and everyone is so uplifting and positive. I would just say be involved, don’t be afraid to send your music, don’t be afraid to message me personally. Always happy to support hard working artists.
EDM.com: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Before we go, is there anything you’d like to add?
Kats: I want people to know that everyone is really accepting and inviting, and don’t be afraid to join. Please DM me if you have any questions.