A German magazine profile of Giegling has recounted a sexist exchange between the DJ Konstantin and the writer Laura Aha.
The Groove story describes a conversation between Konstantin and Aha in which the artist asserts that female DJs are over-promoted and are often worse than male DJs. He then suggests that women must become more masculine to succeed in the industry.
In the same piece, two other Giegling members, Dustin and Frauke, one of the group's visual artists, acknowledge that Konstantin's views are known within the collective, though they say that no other member of the group shares them. "Of course, in a collective everyone also does their own thing and goes their own way," Frauke told Groove. "But sexism is fundamentally not an issue in the group." An English translation of this part of the story, which was first sent to subscribers of the magazine, began circulating online yesterday. The story has now appeared on Groove's website.
In a statement issued to RA earlier this morning, Konstantin said: "I feel deeply sorry about the words that have been printed. These words are not a direct quote and are in my opinion misleading. I actually learned to DJ from my friend Sarah and of course I don't think women are worse DJs than men. I completely regret what was said in that private conversation with the journalist, where she did not appreciate my bad sense of humour and my habit of taking opposite positions to challenge people, even if it sometimes goes way beyond my own opinion. What was written does not reflect my opinion nor is it at all anything other people from the label would ever say or feel. I accept the journalist's point on the boy's club. But we want women to be involved and we were always trying to involve women in our action."
Aha, addressing Konstantin's statement in Der Spiegel, said: "I have never had a private conversation with Konstantin, but have to date met him exclusively in my professional capacity as a journalist." She added that the account of the conversation in the Groove story "correspond[s] to the viewpoints that he expressed to me."
The Giegling afterparty at London's Sunfall festival was cancelled in the wake of the article, with the festival tweeting that they "disagree completely" with Konstantin's remarks.
Here's an English translation of the key passage of the Groove article, with surrounding paragraphs included for context.
Konstantin seems to be the visionary head of the group, even if he rejects the description. For him the idea of a collective, in which all members contribute equally, is paramount. For this reason he also finds it particularly important that Giegling speaks to the press with a single united voice, without emphasising particular individuals. Just the next morning it becomes clear that this becomes problematic when individual voices collide with the predominant views of the collective.
I meet Konstantin again the following morning, on the train on the way to the concert in Leipzig. Out of an inconsequential anecdote a quite unexpected discussion about feminism in general, and about women in the electronic music scene specifically, develops. As with many top labels, the proportion of women involved in Giegling is vanishingly small; most operate, if at all, in the background. From the outside the label represents what in feminist circles is described as a boy's club—a homogenous, male-dominated group that seems impermeable to women. However, instead of—as one would expect from the typically left-leaning techno scene—arguing for more gender equality behind the decks and support for female and non-binary DJs, Konstantin comments surprisingly vehemently on the issue. He considers it unfair that female DJs are supported so much at the moment, although they, in his opinion, are mostly worse DJs than men. Following this logic, he says, it's therefore much easier for women to be successful as DJs, as the few women who are interested in DJing are disproportionately promoted.
The fact that exactly such initiatives are urgently necessary for social change, due to institutionalised, structural and above all concealed discrimination, seems to him to be a weak argument. Instead, he justifies his view with pseudoscientific references to a "natural" aspiration to power and need for recognition which is inherent in men. Women who strive for a career in the male-dominated DJ business therefore lose their "feminine qualities" and become more "masculine."
Following this I speak to Dustin and the visual artist Frauke, one of the few women on tour as part of the collective. Both assure me that Konstantin's opinion is very much isolated—if not unknown—within the collective. They say that it has nothing to do with the views of the other label members, who distance themselves from it unanimously. "Of course, in a collective everyone also does their own thing and goes their own way. But sexism is fundamentally not an issue in the group. Since the tour started we all have a familiar relationship. I don’t have any siblings but I think this it what that must feel like," says Frauke of relationships among the group. "You love each other and you also fight over certain things."