The soon-to-be-graduates of the University of the Arts, Rachel Dispenza and Lauren DeLucca, always knew female representation was lacking in the Philadelphia music scene.
During their senior project, a compilation tape and show benefitting Girls Rock Philly, the two were made aware of the scope of the problem.
“Girls to the Stage” is the compilation tape set for release at a show on April 29 at the First Unitarian Church. Proceeds from the tape and show will benefit Girls Rock Philly, a music education and self-empowerment program for women and girls in the Philadelphia area.
“It means more to us than just being a senior project,” Dispenza, a senior music business, entrepreneurship and technology major, said. “It’s something we wanted to do.”
The tape is a celebration of female musicians, bands and artists in the Philadelphia music scene. As residents of the DIY space Milhouse in South Philadelphia, Dispenza and DeLucca experience firsthand the lack of female representation within the scene.
“The scene is very heavily male-dominated,” DeLucca, also a senior music business, entrepreneurship and technology major, said. “Being a woman involved in the scene, [I am] seeing bills for all these shows and there are no women on any of them. It’s reflected in the people who play and the people who show up to the shows. It’s sort of discouraging.”
For Dispenza and DeLucca, donating the proceeds of the project to Girls Rock Philly was an easy decision. The money will fund scholarships for the organization’s summer camps. The organization hosts two weeks of summer camp. A sliding scale is used to determine tuition for campers on a case-by-case basis.
“Most of the money that we raise through these kinds of benefits goes toward making our summer camp accessible to as many girls as possible,” said Diane Foglizzo, program director for Girls Rock Philly. “Every family decides for themselves how much they can afford to pay.”
Foglizzo said that many of the organization’s volunteers and campers learned about Girls Rock Philly through projects like “Girls to the Stage.”
Dispenza and DeLucca utilized the connections they made through their involvement in the scene while putting together the tape and benefit show. The tracks were recorded at Milkboy the Studio, where DeLucca is an intern, and Headroom Studio, where Dispenza is an intern. The tape will be released through Girls Cartel Records, a label run by Dispenza’s and DeLucca’s friend, Stephanie DiBona.
Michelle Krysztofiak, a senior printmaking major at Temple, created the artwork for the tape. Krysztofiak knew Dispenza through the shows she books at Millhouse.
“Rachel picked the name, ‘Girls to the Stage,’ in reference to the riot grrrl theme ‘Girls to the Front,’” Krysztofiak said. “Usually I do illustrations, but I found these cool images of a flapper and this little country girl in some old advertisement. It just fit the theme.”
Krysztofiak noted the importance of increasing the visibility of women in the scene.
“It’s not necessarily a problem that needs to be fixed,” Krysztofiak said about the actual creation of art by women. “Females, or anyone that doesn’t go by heteronormative representation, are always creating. They are always there. It’s just constantly bringing [them] to the forefront.”
Roya Weidman, a sophomore ceramics major, is one of six artists to contribute a track to the tape. Recording at Milkboy the Studio was a new experience for Weidman, who said she typically records her own music.
“I’m used to doing everything myself and [so] I had to get used to [not] being afraid to tell someone else to do something if I wasn’t happy with it,” Weidman said. “That’s what they were there for.”
Dispenza and DeLucca hope projects like “Girls to the Stage” initiate change within the scene.
“We can do something to get people aware of [the problem],” DeLucca said. “You sort of inspire women to pick up an instrument and start a band.”
Tim Mulhern can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.