Gina, G-Force, and her production company GforceBass, is the founder of Gaia Rising, a woman-run festival in Portland, Maine going into its second year (after the Covid pandemic forced last year’s event to be cancelled). Wearing many hats, Gina also DJs, books talent for Flask Lounge in Portland, ME, and teaches dance choreography classes. Last week I got a chance to talk with Gina about her background, the dance music community, and her upcoming festival and got some great insights into how she has coped with life during the pandemic and what drives her to be so involved in the dance music community.
Gina started out in dance classes when she was five and has been dancing ever since. Her mother instilled in her a love of disco and pop music, which then evolved into a love of house music. Listening to Bad Boy Bill was what finally drew her into the dance music scene in New York. Shortly thereafter, her sister met a DJ who gave her a set of turntables and some vinyl. Seeing them starting to collect dust, Gina set up the decks downstairs and taught herself how to DJ.
After moving to Maine in 2007, she was living in Saco, working at a dive bar with bikers for friends, and searching for an electronic music scene. “Then I met Brandon York, and he brought me to an Of the Trees show. Tyler was maybe 17 or 18 at that point. And that was my first electronic music show in Maine.” Knowing there was dubstep in Maine led Gina to bring her turntables up and practice in her bedroom. While back in New York, she played hip-hop and drum & bass, but never out at a club. So when Elissa EastCoast was running open decks at Flask Lounge in 2011-12, she took the opportunity to play out and from there, started getting booked for events.
But “I wanted to play house music, and nobody was booking me for house. I had an opportunity to start my own night at Flask, and I started it as a strictly house night so I could play house music.” Since then, Gina has had a strong relationship with Flask Lounge, playing and booking nights like Friction Fridays, SunDaze, and other events over the past nine years. She did a few fundraising streams for Flask during the pandemic to support the venue and staff during the lockdowns, as well as to recover from a break-in which occurred while Flask was closed.
Also affected by the pandemic was Gaia Rising, the festival Gina first threw in 2019 and which had to be cancelled in 2020. This year’s event is on August 14 at Urban Farm Fermentory, with its move there from the Beltek grounds part of the fallout of the pandemic. This “made it a little more stressful” compared to a camping festival grounds, but she still managed to set up and book three stages of talent, including an outdoor stage, even through the changes necessitated by the venue change. The woman-led festival is being headlined this year by Lenore, Mizeyesis, Glowworm, and Miss Haze, with a full slate of local and regional support.
The pandemic has been a social struggle for us all, with some lost along the way, Gina sees in-person events as being a hopeful place where “seeing people and being able to connect again will hopefully prevent (self-harm) and make people happier.” and that even though we may “do unhealthy things when we do see people at the things we like to do”, “being near people is going to be healthier for people’s brains.” Since reopening she has seen a bit of an age changeover, with a lot of fresh, younger faces coming through Flask, which is encouraging to see as “fresh blood, and means it (the dance music scene) won’t die out.”
You can see G-Force and keep the scene alive at Gaia Rising on Saturday, August 14 at Urban Farm Fermentory, Portland, ME, or on many nights at Flask Lounge, now open seven days a week with nights from SunDaze to Friction Fridays, with Open Decks, Karaoke w DJ Cougar (which somehow ran all the way through the pandemic!), No Gimmicks, and other nights throughout the week.
Listen to her mixes on MixCloud