Samantha Togni, the renowned Techno producer and DJ, uses music to spread a message of solidarity and awareness. In her own words, “music can’t exist without a message or statement”; it is music’s power to distil positive change that Togni is striving to accomplish.
Growing up in Italy, Togni had a love of music from her childhood. Originally a member of a punk band in her home country, Togni transitioned to the world of dance music, falling head over heels for the genre on moving to London at a young age. As someone who has always found a sense of belonging within the LGBTQ+ community, it was only natural that Boudica was created – to give those who attended that same sense of belonging and representation within the world of music.
Boudica’s mantra is to give members of the LGBTQ+ community more representation and equality within the music scene and wider world. We chatted to Togni to learn more about Boudica, the Techno community, and her thoughts on the betterment of the music industry.
You have said that music has been a big part of your life since early childhood, when did you discover the world of music?
I was born in a very remote part of Italy, growing up was tough and never felt like I fit in. Music was my escapism and thanks to the internet, I got connected to people I could relate to. When I discovered punk music and The Prodigy, it was life changing for me, I knew that somehow my existence was going to be connected to music forever and I wanted to work towards spreading a positive message of change.
In the same way that musicians have many influences upon their musical style, do you have any influences that have informed your decision to pursue a deeper level of change within the music industry?
I am inspired by organisations such as ‘Women in CTRL’, ‘Girls I Rate’, ‘Keychange’, ‘2% rising’, always thriving for equality in the industry.
Some of my role models are women, queer and trans people from the past and present such as Marsha P Johnson, Peaches and Laura Jane Grace. They are the ones that push me to keep on doing what I do.
Whilst living in Italy, you were in a punk band and the community that came adjacent to this, what made you transition from this subculture to producing and DJing Techno music?
The energy and drive in Punk and Techno are very similar to me. Both genres carry a very strong statement and message, as well as being surrounded by supportive communities. The only transition that happened was the sound; the attitude and meaning behind what I do has not changed.
Punk as a movement is one that is all about politics and wanting to give light to the downtrodden within society – this is something that you have clearly translated into the mantra behind Boudica, would you say that Boudica has been heavily informed by the punk movement?
The sense of collectiveness, support and thrive for equality are essential components of what Boudica stands for. This is what connects Boudica to movements such as the Punk scene.
With strong ties to the LGBTQ+ community and you describing them as a second family, how has your relationship with this community affected your life – is it something that you have taken solace in?
The LGBTQ+ allowed me to flourish as a person as well as an artist. Being a queer person growing up in a small village with very few opportunities to fully expressing myself was definitely a struggle. By moving to London, I was finally able to fully be myself and I would always be grateful to the community for this. Boudica and my work are a way for me to give back to how much the LGBTQ+ scene has done for me.
You have previously stated that the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t have enough role models within the music industry, how important do you think it is that this community has those to look up to?
It’s essential for the younger generations to have role models to look up to. If equal opportunities are not distributed and one cannot see themselves represented, it takes much more to picture yourself breaking those boundaries. The change needs to come from everyone, especially from the big organizations and those at the top. We need more diverse people making decisions and leading the music world. One of the goals of Boudica is nurturing new and up-and-coming underrepresented talents to forge the role models of tomorrow.
Boudica was created as a platform for women and non-binary individuals to have more representation within the music scene – how far do you feel like equality within this scene has become?
Change has been made and promoters, clubs, agencies etc.. are really making an effort to do this. It’s great to see more diverse line-ups but there’s still a lot of work to do and it’s necessary that everyone puts in the extra effort to give more visibility to those who are under-represented.
Boudica by name started as a club night before coalescing into a platform with a music conference, a monthly radio show, and is even in the process of becoming a record label, what made you decide for it to be more and how far has it come since?
Operating under all the mediums you mentioned was a natural progression from the club night. Having the radio show allowed us to keep on supporting gender minorities in music during the pandemic and give them a platform.
The label will be launching at the end of the year with two compilations on vinyls, personally a dream come true.
Boudica has also recently launched as a blog, I have a great team that has already interviewed artists such as Tasha and Princess Century (TR/ST, Austra). Next year the plan is to create a printed zine to celebrate our 3rd birthday.
Boudica’s club night has held a residency in London since its inception – is there specific reasoning for this, or is Boudica something that you would showcase all over the world given the chance?
We are already planning Boudica in Rome, the plan is to bring both the club night and, similarly to Boudica Music Conference, a day event of panels and workshops to start opening the conversation on minorities in music in Italy and how important representation is. I’d like to bring a similar format around Europe and the rest of the world in the future.
Boudica attracts the most iconic of guests with charmingly outlandish outfits, has there been anyone that you have met within your time forming and hosing the night that you have personally related to or seen yourself in?
Boudica’s crowd is so phenomenal, I am always so impressed with the iconic looks people come up with. There has not been one time that I have not met interesting people with amazing life stories. Our beautiful crowd is a massive strength of our event, and I am so grateful for every one that turns up to our parties.
With the creation of Boudica, you have gained a level of infamy within the Electronic Music space for the social message that is spread through your work – how does it feel knowing that you probably inspire many of those who attend the events?
I just hope that people feel more encouraged to express themselves freely and pursue their dreams regardless of the obstacles.
The next Boudica club night is on the 17th of September at The Cause, besides from this, what is next for you?
I can’t wait for the 17th of September, we have an amazing line-up featuring Nur Jaber, Wallis and more. We are working really hard on the future of Boudica and all the projects coming up at the end of the year and in 2022. I have one EP coming out on vinyl at the end of the year on Pls.UK, as well as another one via my agency RAW. I feel very lucky to be really busy with gigs here in London and other dates in Paris, Copenhagen, New York and more.
Underground Soundwave presents an ongoing series of reports on emerging and established bands with close-up Q&As, new release reviews and gig reports with a special emphasis on supporting diversity in music, women in music, independent labels and venues and the local music scene.
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