The company's booking department will be bolstered by Beckman, a veteran of Sweden's live music industry
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Continuing a series of interviews with this year's queer pioneers, IQ speaks to the Sweden-based senior creative curator & promotor
By Lisa Henderson on 13 Jul 2023
The LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – IQ Magazine’s third annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.
The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s third Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.
To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.
Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Check out yesterday’s profile with Hila Aviran, director of entertainment & tours at PixMob in the US. The series continues with Johanna Beckman (she/her), senior creative curator & promotor at FKP Scorpio Sweden.
Johanna Beckman has worked for 20 years in the Swedish music and club scene, as a manager, a festival organiser, DJ, and promoter. “It has been a DIY process; the first 10-15 years taught me a lot and gave me grounding in what I know and who I am. Since September 2020, I have worked at FKP Scorpio, and I have never felt so at home anywhere. It is a company that is open and trusts us promoters when it comes to our skills and knowledge. My biggest strengths are developing new concepts and booking diverse lineups.”
Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2023 so far.
The full Saturday lineup for our Rosendal Garden Party is definitely the one. Aphex Twin came to play live for the first time ever in Sweden. The combination of him and Fever Ray when we first announced [the lineup] was just the perfect match and sold a lot of tickets. The day started with fantastic experimental folk singer Sara Parkman and avantgarde saxophone player Bendik Giske, then UK DJ and producer Sherelle got the party in full swing before Fever Ray and Aphex Twin. The afterparty was at Kind People Club, which I started last year with the promoters at Studio Sven. It’s a club concept with the aim of being just that: a kind people club. I want it to feel like a big hug and a totally free space to love, dance, and be yourself.
Name one queer act you’re itching to see live this year.
Saucy Santana. Wanted to see him for a year or so now. Time to come to Sweden. I missed Grove at Great Escape this year. Biggest mistake. When it comes to DJs, I tried booking Saoirse for our last Kind People Club. I will invite her soon, and I can’t wait to dance to one of her sets – not only in my living room. I am definitely going to her festival Body Movements this year.
What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
Make sure to link with other queer people in the industry in other countries; that global network is truly valuable for your growth. Don’t think you have to do everything all at once when young; do not get stressed by not achieving everything from the beginning. Trust the process, and if you are not feeling good about a job, working with certain people that don’t allow you to be who you are or where you don’t feel good, do not be afraid of letting something go or moving on. My experience is that saying no or letting something go will open up possibilities you never would have imagined.
“More people will go for the smaller boutique festivals and events that match their own tastes and where they feel at home”
What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
Not embracing my pansexuality earlier. I have been part of the queer scene since an early age, and my big mission as a promoter has always been improving diversity in my bookings. But I have often forgotten myself and my own wellbeing. This has now ended, and I feel happier and freer than ever.
In terms of challenges in the industry, what’s currently keeping you up at night?
That we, in 2023, still have festivals, promotors etc that book cis-white-male artists only and that use the same old “we book talent rather than gender” or “females don’t sell” excuses. There are no excuses like that anymore.
How do you see the live music business developing in the next few years?
The big stadium shows and festivals will still live their life. But I think more and more people will go for the smaller boutique festivals and events that match their own tastes and where they feel at home and build their own community more. Something that feels more close and also more sustainable. With the climate crisis, we will have to change the way we travel and be more local.
“We are supposed to entertain all parts of society, not just the broader masses”
Name one thing you’d like to see the live music business change.
There is still a lot of homophobia and racism in the live industry. We have to continue educating and learning as much as we can and should be the forerunners for change; that is a role music should have in society.
Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
Be better at supporting diversity. Make sure to book diverse but also make sure to have a diverse workplace. Thrive to make sure we elevate artists that comes from minorities. We are supposed to entertain all parts of society, not just the broader masses.
Shout out your biggest ally in the live music industry.
Rauha Kyyrö – who I have had the privilege of working closely with as she is the owner of our Finnish company, Fullsteam. I learned so much from her and admire her.
Do you support any LGBTIQ+ causes?
I recently donated to OutRight International’s work in Uganda. I am continuously learning about the struggles for trans people and supporting the movement for trans rights.
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