Communities in resistances need safe spaces to live, meet and organize in. They also need physical testaments of their ideas that can be shared, away from the scrutiny of unwelcoming web servers and platforms, transported safely under a mantle, and transmitted in closed circles. Fanzines are a fantastical tool able to do that just that, while at the same time creating a field for expression, experiments and liberating imaginaries. Girls* to the Front, the polish queer and feminist fanzines perfectly embodies that fonction. We were lucky to meet with Agata Wnuk for an in-depth interview around her zine project, which started as an event series in Warsaw.
David – Hi Agata, thanks a lot for sitting down with us. Looking back, where do you think that Girls* To The Front started?
Agata – It started in 2015. Before that, Ola (the other co-founder of G*TTF) and I were already doing stuff together, but we were only deejaying, doing small parties, basically for us and for our friends. And then we felt like we wanted to make something more. Basically to have more people come to our DJ sets (she laughs).
We thought that concerts were cool and wanted to organize some. We chose them to be featuring women artists only because, well, we enjoyed music created by women.
We didn’t have a precise intention at first, when the idea was created, to have a feminist message there. But then we realized that they’re almost no Polish bands – I mean at least alternative bands – in our scene that were women fronted or only consisted of women.
That’s when we thought, okay, there is a problem and we must do something about it. We knew that there are very active women-only bands abroad, but we couldn’t really book them. We didn’t have the money nor the knowledge on how to organize concerts.
So we started really small, inviting only two bands we knew from Warsaw. We thought it was going to be a one time thing because, well, there are not a lot of polish women fronted bands. But then after the first gig, friends & friends of friends started telling us things like: “Hey, I have this girlfriend and she’s doing music at home, but maybe it would be nice for you to organize her debut concert…”.
And we’re like, okay, so they ARE doing things… but at home. So we started basically begging them to come play at our party. We also started digging deeper on Bandcamp, SoundCloud or even just random snippets on YouTube… And we found more bands.
Sometimes our friends who booked bands from other countries – mostly from Germany – were saying things like: “Okay, so we have this bigger name playing and maybe you want to organize a concert as a support or opening act for that artist”.
It was also hard because we didn’t have much knowledge about event production or anything like that. It’s a bit different when you have a DJ or an artist that is known and people are going to come because they like the music, they have heard it before, they’re waiting for it.
Sometimes we booked artists that we didn’t even hear perform before. We were just like “Okay, we know you do something, just come and play”. But they didn’t even have anything recorded. We were trusting them to do whatever they wanted. Then it was our job to convince other people to come to our parties and to our concerts.