We are very pleased to have five inspiring women on our Marché des Possibles team this year! We wanted to find out more about the crew making the magic happen behind the scenes, so we decided to ask these five entrepreneurs to interview each other about their implication in the market but also their day-to-day lives. Who else to better communicate their aspirations and struggles than with each other!
In our first profile, get to know Aïsha Vertus, this year's music programmer, interviewed by Alexe Lavigne-Descôteaux, our bar manager. Stay tuned for more interviews with Pamela Dwyer, sound technician, Maurin Arellano, food programming, Nora Chenier-Jones, family activities programming and Alexe Lavigne-Descôteaux.
1. Why go to Europe?
To make those schm€uros, Canadian money is worthless (laughs). I basically travel two months out of every year since I turned 18. I like learning new languages and I can’t stay still!
Actually, my #1 goal is to build a bridge between central Europe and Montreal artists. I have a monthly gig dedicated to just that. You know, Bruxelles is a bilingual city (French and Dutch) in a polyglot country (Arabic, Lingala, Turkish, German) and it’s the capital of Europe—it’s the seat of the European Parliament. So, yeah, it’s a city of government officials, but nightlife here is as hot as Berlin’s. They know how to drink and they like to drink (laughs).
The big European capitals are all 2 hours away max (Paris, Amsterdam, London). As a booker, I find it’s a perfect place to start touring from and to go everywhere in Europe—it’s easy and it’s really cheap! My place is really well located for that (30 minutes to the airport door to door) and I use it as a place to crash for touring artists. I started working with bands from Brooklyn and Paris to make this kind of connection. I’m also a freelance journalist for VICELAND France. To put it simply, I work in Paris and in Montreal and I live in Bruxelles. A little girl’s dream & all currency mami: MAKING MY MAMA PROUD!
2. Does being a woman make a difference to your DJ project?
Clearly—people remind me every day, and on top of that there aren’t many DJs who are Black women here (in Europe). So, I take advantage of the situation—I’m like a rare specimen, like a first press vinyl that’s never been opened. I use my femininity to create a safe space in front of my DJ booth. I’m never afraid to call anything out on the mic since I see everything. I want people to party, to French kiss, to go home early to make out.
Recently, an old, grumpy, has-been Montreal DJ told me that women got booked often because of their physical appearance. We’re in the digital age, social media is often used by the public and by industry professionals to discover and follow local and international talent. If there’s one thing that doesn’t change in my feminist outlook, it’s the right for women to wear what they damn please. The same women with brand appeal and a beauty that’s intimidating for male DJs still have to deal with a 54% pay gap between what men get offered and what women earn for the same type of gig—but not back home at POP Montreal.
3. When POP Montreal approached you to take care of the musical programming for the MDP, what were your guiding principles (if there were any) and why did you choose to work on this project?
POP Montreal is my safe space, my home base. Dan’s always had my back, no matter what kind of crazy idea I came up with. He’s a great man for Montreal’s cultural community, but also a top-notch human. I wanted people to discover the local artists I love, people who I listen to and whose music I play often, like Jerico, Kallitechnis, KNLO. I also believe in the strength and energy of playing an outdoors show. I wanted to give a little gift to my hometown while I’m away. The music will resonate everywhere and travel with the wind throughout the whole of the Mile-End and heal everyone’s soul (lost or otherwise). It’s real romantic and sentimental—very Aïsha!
See you on the opening weekend from June 22nd to 24th! More info here.