Watch the Beatport Documentary ‘Off The Record with HE.SHE.THEY.’
Watch the Beatport Documentary ‘Off The Record with HE.SHE.THEY.’February 7, 2024
Beatport has announced the global release of its Off The Record documentary with the award-winning HE.SHE.THEY. — the record label, clothing brand, and international inclusivity party for people of all genders, sexualities and races taking place in 50 cities around the world, from LA to Berlin to Ibiza to Mumbai.
The second installment of Off The Record invites viewers to explore the extraordinary world of HE.SHE.THEY., led by co-founders Sophia Kearney and Steven Braines, along with their trusted number three, Ashraf Ejjbair. Founded in 2018, HE.SHE.THEY. emerged at a time when discussions around gender, body positivity, sexuality, and inclusivity in mainstream electronic spaces were scarce.
The documentary examines HE.SHE.THEY. via its house rules such as no homophobia, no transphobia, no misogyny, no racism, no body-shaming and beyond. It follows its founders and events across continents, from family homes with parents and best friends, to the establishment of a new digital art project, to club kids and drag queens on the dance floors in New York and San Francisco, and their fifth birthday in London headlined by subculture goddess Peaches. Viewers will witness the founders’ tireless efforts to create an inclusive space for all while championing diversity and breaking down barriers within the music industry through each event. Watch the documentary in full below.
HE.SHE.THEY.’s influence extends far beyond its acclaimed event series. The brand has expanded to encompass a fashion label and a record label now, showcasing releases and remixes by esteemed artists such as DJ Minx, Cakes Da Killa, Chloé Robinson, SYREETA, Maya Jane Coles, and more. Dig into their catalouge on Beatport.
We caught up with HE.SHE.THEY. founders co-founders Sophia Kearney and Steven Braines to get further insight into the making of the documentary, the inclusive ethos behind their brand, and to learn what new projects they have on the way. Check out the interview below.
Thanks for joining us, Sophia and Steven! Now that your Off The Record documentary is out there for the whole world to see, how are you feeling? Is there anything you’d like to share about the documentary and its mission?
Sophia Kearney: Thank you for having us, Beatport, and for approaching us to commission this documentary and understanding the importance of creative control for us as people and a brand message. If I’m honest, I’m feeling quite vulnerable and scared on a personal level of the volume of people seeing this. I remember watching one of the first cuts last year and seeing the interviews with all our amazing HST family in the documentary for the first time and it was so emotional hearing their voices and perspective. Nothing is ever perfect, but what we’ve created has connected with and helped a large group of people who all identify in different ways and with totally different lives around the world, and that’s something really special and to be proud of forever, whatever happens next. I really hope everyone enjoys this piece, a story by the underdogs, for the underdogs. I’m very grateful also to Clockwise Films for challenging us, but also treating us with a lot of kindness and love. We wanted people to understand what it takes to deliver something like this in nightlife when you’re working class, that it’s not all swanning around, not all glamorous, but it’s tiring, gritty, all-consuming, and a vast amount of the job is staying on top of the admin, which I’m sure a lot of people can relate to in life.
Steven Braines: Exactly what Sophia said. I hope it makes people feel that they can make change happen too and maybe just consider some things they might not have before. I’d just like to add that I was really ill for a large part of the filming of this documentary, and that’s why I look like a ghost, even for a goth!
We see in the documentary that it was and is sometimes hard to put yourself out there personally and that making the film could be a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Why did you think it was important to do the documentary that made it worth the challenges you faced whilst recording it?
Sophia Kearney: It’s never easy putting yourself out there like this. However, I saw one of my favourite artists, Cinthie, share something today — “Better to create something and be criticised than to create nothing and criticise others” and I feel that really sums up a lot of how I feel about the whole HE.SHE.THEY. project. We felt unfair disparity in a world we loved, and we wanted to create something fun and positive to make people think and want to join us in a call for progression without feeling shame for needing to learn, to look forward with hope and we have done and are still doing that, growing and learning with everyone as we go. You can’t control what others who don’t know you well personally are going to say and think about you. Lots of information gets lost in translation as it gets passed through people and the filters of their own perceived experience, personality, and trauma. I feel as long as you know for sure in your heart that you’ve personally done all you possibly could to operate from a point of integrity and kindness then you have to let that be enough. Some people won’t agree, and some people will always want more from you, but you have to do and give what you can and retreat to fill your own cup of well-being when it’s necessary — we are all just human. So we needed to put it out there no matter how challenging it was for us and hope that it brings joy to the people it’s supposed to find.
Steven Braines: Yeah, I think why HE.SHE.THEY. worked is because decisions have been made by the heart and soul and spreading the message of change and not what’s best financially for us. I think people realise that from the film. So you do have to let your guard down, and give glimpses into your real life that aren’t airbrushed. There are bound to be done right-wing pricks who think diversity is the devil’s work or being LGBTQIA+ is wrong etc. I give zero of the fucks. What I hope it does is show people they can embrace the things that make them different and turn them into their unique selling points rather than worry about them. As I often remind trolls. Them posting hate just makes the algorithm show our work to more people, so we still laugh last.
With HE.SHE.THEY., you’ve created a braver, expressive space that so many minority groups are searching for in their everyday lives. What are some ways in which clubs, promoters, labels, etc. can really help in making trans and gender minority inclusion — both on and off the dance floor — more of a reality?
Sophia: Labels-wise, there is so much talent out there; if you show your label is a place where anyone can get signed, the demos will come. You have to open the door and shout loud! Clubs and promoters; there is so much to be done with security and welfare, it’s something we are working closely on discussing with all our partners, and there are some amazing clubs, collectives, and people out there fighting the good fight for people to party in safer environments. I feel like the bookings have come a long way since we started HST just in general industry-wise, but more can be done on the infrastructure side and also more diverse people working up the ranks and chains of power behind the scenes. It’s happening, but it’s a little slow. The drastic increase in costs of production, staffing, and travel all means promoters and clubs are having their budgets squeezed so tightly it’s slow for them to implement additional services and hire enough people for there to be true space for growth and creativity above the never-ending essential task list.
Braines: Sophia is very robust, so there’s not a great deal to add, but one thing we’ve done is trying to show business that diversity isn’t a tick box or something that should be feared or merely endured. The more different perspectives at the table, the more well-rounded the decision-making process. Also, being cynical, when you include different types of people you can market to a wider pool of people successfully, so diversity is economically beneficial too. I’ve always loved being around people who were different to me, who I could learn from, and who challenged me, so it’s very natural to me. I feel a bit sorry for people who are scared of different types of people. They’ll never really know how incredibly rich and wide the world can be.
What comes next for HE.SHE.THEY. in 2024? Anything in particular you all are looking forward to?
Sophia: We have a big USA tour in progress at the moment, which is super exciting (see flyer), and we are currently in the process of working on our Ibiza 2024 shows (big announcements coming soon!) Plus HE.SHE.THEY. RECORDS is really busy with so many exciting releases to come over the next few months. Lost Village UK festival is always such a fun one too, so we will be back there in August and are very excited about that.
Braines: We have a lot going on with UK dates as well, and European shows like Mad Cool in Madrid and Watergate (Berlin), Thuishaven (Amsterdam), and a whole bunch more. I think at the end of the year we might be visiting some new countries too. We’ve also been working on clothing designs, which will come to fruition at the end of the year. There’s a lot more coming in terms of panels, talks, and consultancy on things like welfare and booking. We also manage SYREETA and Wax Wings, who are our residents. As well as Emily Nash now, who has been releasing on the label so many plates. It’s daunting but so much fun!
Beatport’s first Off The Record documentary followed Ukrainian DJ Nastia in the wake of learning her country had been invaded. For more information and to watch Off The Record, please click here.