Jasmine Higgins Interview - We Share The Language of Rhythm

Meet Jasmine Higgins, a film maker, advocate, and all round music enthusiast. Jasmine has combined her history in music publicity, journalism, and her deep love for the Sydney music community into a captivating short film. We Share The Language Of Rhythm explores the importance of female DJs in the Sydney scene, and their lasting contribution. We had a chat to Jasmine about her debut documentary, the film making process plus more.

Futuremag Music: Hey Jasmine, what’s good in your stretch of the world?

Jasmine Higgins: Hello hello, just trying to catch up on the hours of sleep I’ve lost in the past few weeks from editing and releasing my doco! It’s been a wild ride. Totally worth it though.

Futuremag Music: What’s your relationship with music been like over the years? How does music influence your life?

Jasmine Higgins: Music has always been an integral part of my life! Huge shout out to my dad for introducing me to a bunch of legendary bands and artists at a young age; he always used to pump INXS, Nirvana, Foo fighters and more through his old speakers, while working in the backyard. Then in my early teen years, I was exposed to the live music scene. My first gig was Bleeding Knees Club at Metro Theatre, when I was around 15 years old. From that point on, I knew I had to include music in my life, in one way or another… Here I am!

I’ve always been interested in the way music holds such incredible value to humans. It acts as a bonding experience for tribes and communities and allows forms of self-expression and gives a voice to those who want to share their thoughts on society, politics, love etc. It can contribute towards healing emotional scars, and gives people a chance to escape from whatever hardships they’re facing for a little while. It’s such a great art form. It plays a major part in my video and story making process.

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Futuremag Music: Can you talk us through your new documentary, We Share The Language of Rhythm? How did you develop the concept? What would you like the audience to derive from the piece?

Jasmine Higgins: My debut doco focuses on the evolution of the inclusive and supportive community of Female DJ’s in Sydney. I interviewed a group of DJ’s from different genres and backgrounds to get an insight into how this community continues to flourish, despite facing obstacles relating to sexism and festival/gig bill inequality in the music industry, and the changing dynamics of Sydney’s late night music scene as a result of the lock out laws.

The idea of creating this short film actually sparked from being invited to a Facebook group created by local DJ and legend Madi Carr aka. SPORTS. The group acts as an online network for those femme-identifying who are working in the electronic music scene, to support and help each other’s careers. I felt driven to capture the spirit and camaraderie of this group and wanted to delve into the experiences they’ve had as female DJ’s working amongst the changing social and political climate in Sydney.

Essentially, I’d like viewers to understand the lengths these women and many others in the industry go to, to create positive social change. They don’t simply rock up to a club, play a couple of sick tracks, sink a few gin and tonics and go home, as some people may assume. Their contribution to the electronic music scene in Sydney is massive. They have enabled safe spaces and events in Sydney for all types of minorities and social groups. They promote the value of women helping other women, and  act as role models to younger girls who want to get into the scene when they’re older. The list could go on, but I really want the public to realise that there is a lot more work that goes on behind the scenes in this industry, than on stage.

Futuremag Music: On the technical side of things, can you outline the film making process, from conception to release?

Jasmine Higgins: The filmmaking process involved a lot of email pitches, long uber rides home from night clubs and bars and all-nighters spent in my study, tediously going through hours of footage. It was very low budget, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. In terms of hiring equipment, the guys at UNSW were so lovely and helpful, and allowed me to borrow a camcorder for the 5 months of filming. I didn’t have enough money to hire equipment on a consistent basis or buy a camera myself, so I’m not sure what I would have done without their help.

I’m also extremely grateful to have had venues that were supportive of my project and willing to let me interview the DJs in their spaces. It took a little while to hit up the right places, but venues such as Oxford Art Factory were extremely encouraging and welcoming. In terms of finding my interview subjects, I posted in the Facebook group created by Madi, calling out for DJs to be a part of the short film.

Editing was probably the hardest part of the whole experience. It involved cutting, pasting, colour adjusting and swapping 3 second-one minute pieces of footage around. And then repeatedly watching them individually and then with the other clips to ensure the story line flowed and the clips were appropriate. It’s also harder with documentaries because the storyline can’t be completely solidified until the very end of the filmmaking process. I don’t think people realise how much work goes into editing, it involves endless amounts of patience and concentration.

I’ve learnt throughout these past months that developing a strong support network is so important. As an emerging creative, you need to begin to establish relationships with people who believe in you and back your projects and concepts. You also need to push past the fact that contacting people to pitch yourself and your projects is intimidating. Making this documentary has forced me to put myself out there and trust myself. I think to start anywhere you need to grab every opportunity that you can to get backing from people, whether that be hiring equipment or getting advice on ideas or forming connections. I’d advise any emerging filmmakers to just get out there, develop an idea, do a bit of research and suss out how you could turn your idea into a reality. Hit up other videographers on Instagram, get on You tube and teach yourself how to edit, ring up your University’s film department. Opportunities are available, you just need to be smart about how to grab them. On that note however, I think it’s also important to make sure you’re not asking for too much from others. So learning about boundaries in terms of advice/favours is key too.

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Futuremag Music: How important is diversity in the electronic music scene? How would you like the scene to develop? How did you implement these touch points into, We Share The Language of Rhythm?

Jasmine Higgins: Extremely important, the more diversity the better. Not just in the music scene, but in every industry. Having a variety of different styles, sounds and genres allows for a richer experience for the individuals who are sharing their music and also for those who are listening to it. It allows minorities to share a piece of their culture and lives with other people, and be appreciated and celebrated for it. It also allows for more opportunities to showcase various electronic music styles. Diversity is a vital aspect of music in general, imagine if only one genre existed. How dull!

What I’d really like to see is more people from minority groups running labels, producing and filling higher roles in the industry and behind the scenes. It’s so important to proudly represent and acknowledge the amount of diversity that is present in Australia.

In my short film I made sure a range of varying voices and stories were presented. I aimed to expose the different personalities and views of each DJ whilst interviewing them as candidly as I could. It was amazing to have a chat with them and hear so many different opinions from each DJ about the topics we discussed. Everyone had something unique and interesting to say. There’s so much value in sharing a number of stories and challenging peoples own views and prejudices.

Futuremag Music: A weird one to wrap it up. If you were a cocktail, what would be in it to best describe yourself and your work as a filmmaker?

Jasmine Higgins: Probably a shit ton of coffee to start with! I’m a very energetic person and I want that energy to be reflected in my work! I’d then add in a bit of classic $7 rose from your local celebrations store as it’s cheap, but tasteful. I like the fact that documentary making doesn’t always have to look like a blockbuster film. It can hold extreme substance and have strength even if it isn’t the best (video) quality. Kind of like cheap Rose, right? I can imagine this cocktail would be a bit of a hard one to down with the above combo. But ya, get the idea!