Talking About Babestock Music Festival with Golebahar and Hip Stir

Revamping the narrative of DJ culture in Austin, Texas, are Bad Ass Bitches Elevating ATX or the Babe ATX community, guided by founder Kelsea Pinkston aka DJ Hip Stir, and her all-women crew. The upcoming two-day extravaganza of Babestock (June 15-16, 2024) at Cheer Up Charlies in Austin belts out an artist card of over 50% BIPOC performers and is aimed at empowering and connecting femme and gender-expansive electronic music artists.

As the Babestock festival approaches, we had an insightful exchange with Hip Stir – the Creative Director of Babestock, and Babestock’s Director of Marketing, singer-songwriter, and DJ Golebahar Tabatabai to learn more about this showcase.

We dove right in and asked the two about hosting such a unique music festival and gathered their thoughts on how important Babestock is to the local music community and to gender-expansive electronic music artists.

Team Babestock

Creative Director Hip Stir alludes to data miners Book More Women, noting that in 2023, the percentage of women and non-binary artists booked for twelve major festivals in the United States was 39.7%, with 30% being in prime time, high-paying slots. She remarks, “Despite women and non-binary folks making up the majority of music festival’s audiences, one study says that 61% of summer festival attendees were women.”

Breaking down the numbers, Hip Stir concludes, “Women and non-binary folks are the lifeblood of music festivals and yet don’t get to see appropriate representation of people like them up on the stage.” She goes on to share, “There are a variety of factors that influence festival bookings, but I can tell you what factors are not at play here: there is no shortage of femme and non-binary artists to book and there is no shortage of talent amongst femme and non-binary artists. So, why are we seeing more men booked at these festivals in disproportionate amounts? This is a question that I’m still trying to figure out the answer to.”

Singer-songwriter and DJ Golebahar has been a regular at music festivals for over ten years and has honed her skills by operating in the music industry behind the scenes for two years in Los Angeles, mostly under the tutelage of men. She says, “When I think of all my favorite DJs and producers, they’re mostly straight, white men. To be anyone in the industry, I always felt like I had to fit in with the men. Now, being surrounded by all women on the leadership team, and womxn + gender-expansive artists on the lineup, it’s such a big exhale to just be myself in this scene that I’ve loved so much.”

Hip Stir suggests a couple of factors that make Babestock special – it is a space for artists who otherwise face invisible barriers, and they do things completely differently from other festivals. Speaking from the perspective of the organizers and promoters, she says, “We value diversity in all senses of the word: diverse identities, perspectives, and music genres. Thanks to a grant from the city of Austin, we are able to operate a donation-based festival with no required payment for entry. Also, unlike major festivals, profit is not our main focus.”

Hip Stir and Golebahar

“With Babestock, our mission is to raise awareness around gender disparities in the festival industry, create more opportunities for DJs in underrepresented communities, and experience joy throughout this process,” declares Hip Stir, who goes on to outline the markings of what would make this a triumphant festival. “If we can inspire other festival leaders to create more diverse lineups; other promoters to save space for femme and gender-expansive folks; attendees to support diverse music events; or more femme and gender-expansive folks to enter the DJ industry, then that will be a success.”

Golebahar chimed in, voicing, “Getting involved with BABE and Babestock has opened my ears to all the incredible womxn and gender-expansive artists who are often overlooked, who are just as good, but don’t get the chance to shine. This is why Babestock is so important – everyone who is involved or attends will be exposed to all this incredible talent that’s been right under our noses all this time.”

A music line-up can take months to curate and is arguably one of the deciding factors that can make or break an event. With Babestock, the emphasis is to showcase local acts and the prowess of women, trans, gender-expansive, and BIPOC artists on deck. Since posting open applications in March 2024, the Babestock office has received over sixty submissions for the festival.

Hip Stir tells us, “We had an open application. Over 60 artists applied from around the country! Most of our bookings came from that in addition to some respected local superstars we wanted to have on board. We have a wide range of electronic music genres including house, techno, hip hop, drum and bass, dubstep, synth pop, world, perreo, UK garage, and electro.”

Golebahar Tabatabai – Image via press kit

Meanwhile, Golebahar frames that musicians are picked based on their abilities, mastery behind the console, and skill as performers, and not their social media standing. “What’s also cool about our lineup curation is that we are giving artists a chance to take the stage based on their abilities, not just who’s most popular or got the most followers,” says the music producer. “Our lineup is also 57% BIPOC – we are passionate about racial equality in music along with gender equality!”

We concluded our exchange with Hip Stir by disclosing that locking in a venue for Babestock “was one of the biggest hurdles.” She admits, “Not many venues around here are willing to risk a whole weekend on a new event. But we got lucky with our spot at Cheer Up Charlies.”

Lauded as an “everybody space” nightclub and events space, Cheer Up Charlies, lodged at 900 Red River St, Austin, harbors a capacity of above 400 people and will offer up an outdoor stage, indoor stage, vendor area, and lounge area for the festival. “This legendary queer bar aligns with our mission of serving the femme and queer community,” declares Hip Stir.

All images are courtesy of the artists.

Tickets to Babestock Music Festival at Cheer Up Charlies – Austin, Texas, are available on The Ticket Fairy

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