GRLPWR: Eugene Showcase Highlights Women In EDM

Indie/Alt talks to showrunner Sarah Northrop about her upcoming all-female EDM showcase GRLPWR at The Big Dirty in Eugene, Oregon on May 14th. Cover photo of Kellalit courtesy Sarah Northrop.
Modern Lover, a DJ from Eugene formerly known as Dear Evergreen. Photo courtesy Sarah Northrop.

In the EDM music scene—or just live music in general—the representation of women in the field is often abysmal. It was something Sarah Northrop noticed firsthand, working as the house photographer and marketing director for The Big Dirty in Eugene, Oregon.

“Working for [The Big Dirty], I noticed we didn’t have enough women on the lineups,” Northrop said. “And that’s not just an issue in Eugene, but literally everywhere you look. Some of the biggest festivals in the world, maybe like 2% of the acts are women. And that’s something that, to me, that’s not right.”

So, when Northrop was presented with the opportunity to throw her own show at the Eugene dance venue, she knew exactly what she wanted to do: throw a powerful, all-female EDM showcase. Dubbed GRLPWR, Northrop is hoping the showcase will give a platform to voices that are too often overlooked and underrepresented in the EDM music scene.

Though this is her first official show as a showrunner with The Big Dirty, Northrop has some experience in putting on events like this in the past, albeit a bit more underground. When she was a junior at the University of Oregon, she gathered five of Eugene’s biggest acts at the time into her basement for a small house show.

“Logistically it’s very similar to running a show at a venue,” Northrop said, “but it’s different in the sense that it’s all underground. So there are some things that maybe you should or shouldn’t be doing, but it’s all for a good time.”

Now, for the GRLPWR showcase, Northrop has the backing of The Big Dirty behind her, upgrading from a party basement to a 270 person dance floor. 

“I’m really lucky to be able to be working for [The Big Dirty] and to be able to have their resources in order to do this,” Northrop said. “This would be a lot harder of a goal to achieve if I was just some random individual who approached them like, I want to throw a show.”

Not only did Northrop want to throw a show with an all-female lineup, but she wanted to give back to an organization that is aware of the issue and is using their resources to solve it. $1 from every ticket sold—or 10% of ticket sales—will be donated to Femme House, a nonprofit founded by Eugene-born DJ LP Giobbi aimed at fostering more equitable opportunity for women and gender-expansive individuals in music. 

“I just love everything they stand for,” Northrop said. “LP herself as an artist is just this super powerful woman using her platform to boost up other women. She’s just really passionate about what she does and making sure that people like her have a platform to do that.”

Eugene’s own Sara Z. Photo courtesy Sarah Northrop.

The lineup is made up of artists that Northrop has met through her years of shooting shows and working for The Big Dirty. Headliner Kellalit is one of Northrop’s best friends, and she is supported by Modern Lover, a DJ from Eugene formerly known as Dear Evergreen.

“Between her and Kellalit, we’ve got a really great local pull,” Northrop said. Getting their starts at the University of Oregon and now having gone through the LA music industry, both artists have grown a lot since their college days. Now making their homecoming, GRLPWR will allow them to showcase their journeys and show what they can now bring to the table.

Rounding out the lineup is deep disco DJ Xkylar, who Northrop met through Instagram and became social media friends with, and Eugene’s own Sara Z.

“All four of these women on the lineup are so incredibly dynamic on their own,” Northrop said. “They all have carved really unique beautiful identities into who they are as an artist, both aesthetically and musically.”

Each set will be a completely different experience, with different lighting, production, and sound.

“It’s not going to be just four women playing CDJs,” Northrop said. “It’s going to be four women playing their own sets. They’re not playing for the crowd. They are playing their music, and we’re here to listen.

GRLPWR will take place at The Big Dirty in Eugene on May 14th at 8:00. The event is 21+. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased now at thebigdirty.live.

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