Meet The Electronic Music Alliance

No doubt, electronic dance music has a profound effect on it’s fan-base. It inspires more than celebration; it inspires creativity, self-transformation, and positive change. Most of us scene veterans like to give back to the culture, our way of paying forward all those powerful moments on the dance floor that made us better, happier, awesome people.
Usually, we give right back intro the scene, helping it continue to grow and deliver the same magic it offered us for newcomers just discovering it. Some of us start making the music.  Some of us DJ. Some of us throw parties, start clothing lines, or write for music blogs.  But why keep it all for ourselves? What if we took all that inspiration we got through the music and used it to help improve the world outside our weekend utopia? Guess what? Somebody’s already doing it. Not just one person, but a whole alliance of veteran partiers allegiant not only to our music, but to improving the world around us.
Meet the Electronic Music Alliance, or the EMA. The Electronic Music Alliance (EMA) is a nonprofit action network, think tank, and global community of electronic music fans, artists, and industry professionals dedicated to “protecting our people, our planet, and our parties and providing opportunities for the industry to philanthropically Play it FWD,” as described on their website. The group has been around for over half a decade and is steadily growing.
As strong supporters of EMA’s mission, we thought it would be a good idea to introduce our readership to their organization, what they are all about, and how you could even get involved yourself if your so inspired.
Check out our interview with EMA founder Janine Jordan:
OneEDM: For those of us unfamiliar with the Electronic Music Alliance, can you give us an introduction? What’s the EMA’s overall mission?
Janine Jordan:  I think our new slogan “EMA, protecting people, planet, parties ” sums it up well but I’ll elaborate.  Electronic Music Alliance (EMA) act in part as a nonprofit think tank and action network of electronic music fans, artists, and industry professionals.  To me, the work we do is all about collaborating creatively to build a more resilient world.
OneEDM:  Tell us more about community resilience and how you are defining it.
Janine Jordan:  Resilience is a concept about the strength and vibrance of a person, organization, or community.  It is how it is able to bounce back from acute or chronic stresses and disaster.  We can relate this to a comic book hero.  We’ll use Wolverine. He can get beat up pretty bad but he heals fast and so his physical body rebounds quickly.  Wolverine has psychological issues but he has social support through the mutant school community he is part of.  Bringing it back to us, we are addressing social structures as well as ecological mindfulness and respect through creative response.  If there is one thing we really excel at as a community at large, it’s creativity.  And that is a vital asset when a paradigm shift is needed because pretty much everything we can imagine in terms of structure should be re-imagined.
OneEDM:  Can you give us the scoop on your own background in the culture? I’m sure building an organization like the EMA must have had influence from numerous dance floors.  How have your own experiences in the scene inspired the foundation of EMA and its vision?
Janine Jordan:   I had a strong spiritual experience on a dancefloor that changed my life forever.  I think you might call it, an electronic awakening.  Michael Tullberg’s new book “The Raver Stories Project” published my retelling of that story.  Our hearts open on the dancefloor.  It feels good.  It had always felt like a beautiful blossoming into empathy.  But that one night was like getting sucked into the supernatural dimension of Love itself.  Anyway from that night forward, a character was born inside my imagination, my inner-muse, perhaps the representation of my heart.  I have been writing about and cosplaying her, since about 2004.  I have to really give credit to her for creating EMA. If my story had a slogan it would be “follow your heart, save the world”.  That is because I started following my heart.  I braved the path.  Left an old life to attempt a new one.  As painful and scary as it was to trek into unknown waters, it was exhilarating and felt true.  I believe when you are on your path you become a more magnetic being and opportunities arise, your hearts desires magically start to come to you, even if at first your world gets really dark.  I have often found that hearts desires manifest in ways that I would not have imagined on my own. It’s as if the Universe creates the most perfect opportunity for you.  As long as you are humble enough not to be attached to a specific expectation, you will see the beautiful way it gets worked out for you.  You ask, then you let go.  Letting go is the preparation to receive without expectation. When it starts to happen, you express gratitude.  So Raver J, is the creative response the Universe gave to me for my inner-superheroine desire to do my part in helping to save the world.  Or we could say being part of the paradigm shift.
OneEDM: Raver J is her name?
Janine Jordan:  Yes.  In her original conception.  In the novel I am writing her real name is Jivana Thoreau.  Jivana, meaning liberated soul.  I’d like to go a little deeper with that actually.
OneEDM:  By all means, please go ahead.
Janine Jordan:  Not to be such an evangelist but I believe we are liberated when we reconnect with Nature.  It would be following my artistic-self through Raver J that I would make a choice to go to Costa Rica.  And no, not for Envision (laughs).  It was before Envision started, love them though – they do a great job and had the privilege of performing onstage with my husband a few years ago.  Anyway on my first trip to Costa Rica I didn’t even do any dancing but perhaps it was all the work on the dancefloor that would prepare me for what I would call a second awakening, an eco one.  There are many spiritual people that want to focus on what I consider mental aspects only.  They believe their Love and Positivity will change the world alone.  We need people recharging their batteries and maybe some of them do need to hold that vibration.  But it’s my opinion once you are recharged, in this particular time especially when ice caps are melting and 100 year storm systems are lining up behind each other, we have a responsibility to get back “in” the game and be a change agent.  Those of us that have had eco-awakenings feel compelled to act – Now – in this dimension, on behalf of the Earth.  It’s not a choice, we figure out how to get involved.  So after this awakening, generating Love on the dancefloor was not enough.  I felt it necessary to do my part to help infuse the crowd (artists and industry behind them included) with philanthropic opportunities and eco-consciousness so we could have more acting warriors or change agents channeling their love and the rest of the PLUR values out into their communities on behalf of this sacred Planet.  It’s been a beautiful experience really.  So many amazing souls have come my way from following this path.  Too many to name here now but, as you know, one of them was you.  (Beaming smile).
OneEDM:  So you think that we should be doing more than just partying?
Janine Jordan:  Yes. And some people are, for sure.  I just see a lot of our energy get recycled into the events when I think people should know they at least have an option to do something else with their creativity.  I’ll take an example out of my own life. Burning Man.  I LOVE Burning Man. LOVE LOVE LOVE.  BUT, it takes a lot of time and energy.  I would watch my mind and honestly since the first time we went in 2010, six months of my year was spent thinking about Burning Man.  That might be an exaggeration but that is how it felt in preparing for the Burn and then going on the adventure, enjoying the F$%& out of it, and then decompressing.  Repeat!  We need the people that go every year to keep the event going right?  Yes, there is value in that.  But my husband and I just thought one day.  Hey there are other places we want to go in the world.  I mean shoot, there’s Afrika Burn, which is supposed to be amazing.  There are other regionals we could be going to… it’s not about departing from the experience altogether but realizing that maybe your energy could be spent doing something else.  Now taking it away from an event, we decided we would use the lessons learned from the Burn in our real lives on the adventure we embarked on a year and half ago.  We moved to Costa Rica which in our part is a bit rugged like Burning Man.  There is some structure but it’s definitely more survivalist than living in a city.  (Laughs).  And we have joined in as eco-village pioneers with another couple who started a permaculture farm.  We built what I call a tiny house mansion.  It’s a cool looking eco-home that is under 1000 square feet and we have our own mini-permaculture farm going as well.  Our home will be opening soon for community events and tours to show people another way of life.
OneEDM: In what ways did you envision people recycling, as you say, their energy into their communities?
Janine Jordan:  We have a program called Massive Action.  They are community action weekends organized by our local ambassadors.  We have had beach, park, and other waterway clean-ups, tree and garden plantings, and other socially conscious events.  I think what we need to realize is that everytime we get together we have an opportunity to do something good for our community or message about something important.  It’s my opinion that should not be wasted.  
The transformational festivals have done a great job with this but even companies like Disco Donnie Presents and Insomniac have done their part too.  Insomniac has charity events during EDC week.  Disco Donnie Presents worked with us a few years ago to have a Massive Action after the event where participants would earn their ticket to the event for the next year.  They also stepped up and had a food collection drive to benefit the Salvation Army at a recent event in response Hurricane Harvey.  Beyond that though, we can do something as individuals.  We can make our art more relevant to what is happening in the world.  I have planetary warrior or change agent friend, Joseph Carringer who goes by the producer name Table Syndicate.  Within the last year he put out a track called “Jivana” in homage to my novella because he was inspired by the words in my introduction.  His latest track that features Liz Berlin is called “Bombs Fly”, which addresses a lot of the issues adversely affecting the planet and society today.  Bombs Fly, great lyrical track. It should be a classic electronic folk song by 2025.  Anyway, some people create organizations, some people take part in organizations, some people use their platforms, such as Lady Casa and her PLURWarriors feed, to message.  More people need to know how powerful they are and not to take for granted the immensely powerful platforms they all wield and use on a daily basis which is social media.  If you want to talk about nail color or your new LED shuffling sneakers, give us more substance.  At very least tell us you chose a cruelty-free, formaldehyde free formula or that your shoes are rechargeable.  Make us think.  Educate us.  Inspire better decisions, don’t be a
peddler for a society that is riding us off of a cliff-edge.
OneEDM:  Completely agree with you.  So besides yourself, who else is involved?
Janine Jordan:  Amazing people and organizations.  You can check out our incredible board, advisory, ambassador, artist, other industry, and nonprofit members there.  I do want to give a shoutout to SF sweetheart John Beaver who is an incredible example of what we stand for.  John has suffered from cancer for years.  He has to have pretty invasive surgeries it seems from time to time.  The last one was less than a year ago I think and every time he bounces back with a smile.  He is fueled by positive energy that he readily shares with his community. He plays for charity when asked, visits children suffering from cancer, and loves to educate the community about his journey.  He is a model for individual resilience.   We are honored to have him as one of our founding members and he is just one of the many amazing individuals that is part of EMA.  Organizationally I want to thank Keyframe-Entertainment as they have created many opportunities for EMA in placement and introductions.  They are a real bridge-maker and also a fantastic example of EMA principles in action.
OneEDM:  I’ve always known EMA has worked with other non-profits.  What are some issues or charity groups the EMA has worked to benefit?
Janine Jordan: We are quite the holistic organization.  Community resilience, after all, is a holistic strategy.  We have supported environmental awareness and action, human rights and social justice campaigns, health and safety initiatives, including disaster response, and just last year psychedelic research and a get out the vote campaign. The organizations we have worked with over the years have included Music for Relief, Green Wave, NextAid, Global Green, DanceSafe, Give A Beat, Human Rights Campaign,  Music from a Bottle, Safer Raving by Amy Raves, Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Sea Shepherds Conservation Society, A Drop in the Bucket, Multi-disciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).
OneEDM:  How exactly does EMA help non-profit partners?
Janine Jordan:  We have had DJ’s on our roster play for fundraisers. The Crystal Method and DJ Rap have played several benefit events on behalf of EMA.  Liquid Todd from SiriusXM, Larcey, and the Disco Killerz made a track two years ago to promote a hearing campaign, and we have had other artist members donate experiences to online auctions with our partners such as DanceSafe.  We often promotionally support campaigns online through our network.  Recently we participated in the Give A Beat campaign organized around International Youth Day campaign.  We also offer consultation advice to promoters who want to throw smarter benefits helping them pick the most appropriate charity and possibly helping them accept donations.  We just worked on an amazing event called Hous’n for the Homeless that happened in Alaska with AK House Movement.  Right now we are pushing the EMAForRelief campaign that directly benefits Music for Relief’s hurricane response efforts.
OneEDM:  I understand that part of EMA’s mission is to help promote harm reduction at events.  
Janine Jordan:   Harm reduction falls under health and safety which both are part of individual and thus collective resilience. To have resilient communities we need resilient people, meaning we need them to stay safe and give them options to be as healthy as possible.  Abstinence and prohibition don’t work.  Those strategies are judgmental, and cannot address the reality of a situation.   Harm reduction is compassionate, it’s loving, and as we know, Love is culture.  We have worked with DanceSafe several times in the past because they are the largest harm reduction group in the U.S. by bringing them into events we are part of or by introducing them to our members or partners.  We also work with Safer Raving by Amy Raves.  Amy is like a rave mom.  We support her because she attends underground events that often don’t have a budget for in-house or outsourced harm reduction services ors roaming angels like some of the bigger events have.
OneEDM:  Beyond being a liaison for harm reduction services, what else is the alliance doing to help make events safer? Why is this important? 
Janine Jordan:  One major thing is that a few of us board members are currently working with Entertainment Services Technical Association (ESTA) and Events Safety Alliance (ESA) on a project to turn the current Event Safety Alliance book into safety standards for live events.  Overall, if you don’t keep the attendees of your event safe, you usually can’t have events.  Our culture is formed around community gatherings.  It is an integral aspect of who we are and so it is vitally important that we keep everyone safe.  So we educate our community with information we have on our website or that we share through communication channels such as our newsletter or social media.  We also have meetings to discuss what can be done to improve safety.  We created a quick tip guide for event producers as well as a guide that covers how either fans, influencers, artists, or event festival working staff can become a spontaneous ambassadors for safety using social media.  We can do all that we can make events as safe as possible but our culture needs to realize part of safety is taking personal responsibility for it which includes sharing health considerations or safety messages. I’d say that we have been good about this in the past but sometimes when things grow to fast, the messages gets lost or diluted.  Anyway, there’s some other interesting ideas that have come out of our meetings.
OneEDM: Do tell.
Janine Jordan:  One idea came from Allan Gelbard who is a long time Burner and is the first amendment rights attorney that helped us “save the rave” for L.A. county.  Inspired from Burning Man, Allan had the idea that event producers could buy a triage unit co-op style so there were hospital grade medical services available at a festival except the burden of cost would be divided up. Along those same lines and coming out of the experience I had running the committee to represent our culture on that L.A. county electronic music task force, we could do the same perhaps with drug testing equipment.  There is a machine that costs about $40K that can analyze the chemical makeup of any drug, even the new, abundant, myriad of research chemicals.  Of course, drug testing.  The machine would probably better serve a co-op of smaller, more underground event producers as drug testing is quite controversial and problematic for local agencies the bigger parties have to work with.  Because some people enjoy drugs outside of alcohol at our events, I have personally advocated for more compassionate space, the kind that MAPS offers through its Zendo Project at Burning Man.  Sometimes people don’t need to go to medical, because they are having more of an emotional crisis.  All they need is a space that feels safe, away from people, to recalibrate.  We like the space we have seen at some Insomniac events that is a space for people trying to stay sober.  We are also starting to see spaces at festivals that are dedicated to women so they have a place where they can feel safe.  What I have been wanting to see for a long time that I am starting to kind of see is basically what Burning Man has as their “Center Camp”.  A place where water, coffee, and misters are available.  Where there is art and activations interspersed in a large chill space that is monitored by some safety staff and not for VIP only. The roaming safety teams festivals often have could have a home base in this space while ensuring sitting attendees are well.  These chill zones, again, in my world would lack alcohol (because we need people to hydrate here) and optimally be only sponsored by what we might think are healthy brands if sponsored at all.  My desire would be to offer space for interactive experiences that educate about some non-profit cause.  Come on Electric Family, Kleen Kanteen, Sambozan, and Dr. Bronners! (laughs).
OneEDM:  What is the alliance doing now?
Janine Jordan: Right this second we are responding to the recent barrage of natural disasters.  Trying to get that message out of how and why to be prepared as well as how to help those affected by these recent global disasters.  Like I mentioned before, we will be focusing all of our work around the theme of community resilience and creative response. We are also proud to be working with Event Safety Alliance and Entertainment Services Technical Association on safety standards for live events.  These standards will then be compiled and create the new Event Safety Guide.  On a local level our ambassadors have been creating some cool events.  T Justin Olsen the founder of EMXLA, an artist-producer network, has created an Art Walk in North Hollywood.  Jen Adams recently organized with Alaska House Movement to create the Housn’ for the Homeless event.  DJ Shar4 in White Rapids New Hampshire will be throwing an LGBTQ coming up this Fall.  DJ Kimberly St. John who previously lived in San Diego, will now be throwing collection drives and Massive Actions in her new home of Denver, Colorado.  Since I relocated, I am working on creating a network in Costa Rica. We have also just aligned with Permaculture Action Network and The Bloom Network to help expand participation and promotion of the EMA Massive Action program.
OneEDM:  What can others in the dance community, or the new generation of fans learn from EMA?  How can we get involved?
Janine Jordan: Follow us on social media to learn, stay in the loop, and get inspired.   Collaborate with us!  You can always contact us for ideas and opportunities.  If you want to really get involved, become an ambassador  Like our membership model, a more formal ambassador program will launch in the next few months. For now, I would say definitely check out our “disaster response” page.  I really want to urge our community to be prepared.  I think it is important to mention that there has always been a lot of charitable and community service work that has pervaded our community.  We wanted to create an organization that helped us collaborate with each other more. When we work together we leverage and amplify the collective power from our scene into bigger waves of positive change.  So reach out to us to see if we can work together or help you connect with others.
To learn more about the Electronic Music Alliance visit their website!

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AC Johner

AC Johner is the creator of the feature documentary Electronic Awakening released in 2012. He is a writer and researcher on topics of electronic music cultures, transformational festivals, and new religious movements. He holds a masters in Ethnographic Journalism from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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