A supporter of the female voice in the music industry, Andreea divides her time between the USA and Europe. Here, she celebrates Lisbon.
We have breakfast in a café run by young French would-be Lisboners. Andreea tells us how she left Romania to study media and communications at London’s University of Westminster, aged 19, and ended up staying for seven years. She got involved with start-ups, one of them being Mixcloud, a streaming service popular among music fans that saw her move to Los Angeles in 2014, “when the music scene was hot stuff”. She was supposed to stay for five months but stayed five years, fell in love and got married, California had “space and fresh air”. Mixcloud combines music and technology, and the “struggle for female representation and general diversity, [a shortage that] was recognised as a problem in 2010”. At technological events, she was one of the few women in the room, “the nerds were happy to see us, they’re really progressive. Later she joined the Women in Tech group; but the music industry “is more competitive, political, messy and unfair, and when I was the only woman, and that was almost always, I felt small or invisible. I even thought it was because I was young or Romanian, with my accent they always think I’m a stripper or nanny”, she laughs. “Success is always difficult for women, the patriarchal system is there, under the surface, you don’t have to feel the violence directly.”
One day, she got home and decided: “OK, this is it, I’m done with this bullshit”. She invited 20 women to create Shesaid.so, a female community in the music industry. She was 25 at the time and faced some scepticism: “First, it’s natural that artists don’t want to booked to play a festival just because they’re women; also, at the time, feminism was viewed as something radical, which was never the case.” She defines it as egalitarian: “We have male ambassadors, for many of them this system isn’t theirs either. I dream of living in a world where we can all work together, treated equally, based on talent.” Shesaid.so “is for everyone, it moves the world”. It started with meetings to share experiences, ideas, contacts, work opportunities. “We feel we’re not alone; women have never been used to teaming up. If there’s only one place in the room, you have to compete. Look how so-called female sports are individual, we’ve never been taught a sense of team, we’ve always had to do everything for ourselves, alone. By myself” And they sprouted “like mushrooms.” In one week, there were 120 members and five years later there are 15 branches worldwide and Andreea is guest speaker.
Last October, she chose Portimão, in the Algarve, for the first international Shesaid.so meeting, with around 200 women who “had been waiting 30 years for this”, she says. “Yeah, I need a few days to process it, there was magic in the air. As wonderful as technology is, nothing substitutes direct, genuine contact.” She chose Portugal because she was curious: “I’d heard about it, I’m thinking of returning to Europe and it was on my mind”, she smiles. She liked Portimão: “It was good because it’s small and people stick together because there’s not much to do. It has a laid-back feel, the centre is super-cute with old shops and traditional restaurants, it’s safe, nothing weird happens if you walk the streets in the early hours. Time seems to have stood still, but progressive ideas like female empowerment still need to be accepted. Then there’s the sound of the sea, which relaxes and changes us.”
She travelled up to Lisbon with her mother and brother, and then her husband joined the “Lisbon adventure”. “So far, I’m loving Portugal.” She stayed in the Santos/Madragoa neighbourhood, “my little Lisbon world”: “I was expecting it to be Mediterranean. I never thought it was compact, the streets so narrow. It has an urban vintage vibe with a little fairy tale feel. And [Lisbon] is very genuine and modern, cheerful and full of potential, thanks to the young people who work in technology and creative areas. Generally speaking, there’s a good sense of design, people in the street have fashion sense. Lisbon’s modern side is more Copenhagen than Madrid. Perhaps it only applies to the younger generation; or I only got the chance to experience it that way, another reason to return!” Away from the centre, Sintra reminds her a little of Romania, “the houses, the greenery, the mystical atmosphere, the castles. But Romania isn’t as beautiful architecturally as Portugal, I have to say, but we have similar words, the same sense of family and food and pleasure. And the older people also have a simplicity and kindness that you can see in their faces”.
by Patrícia Barnabé
web design & development 262media.com