Eline Van Audenaerde is a self-made music industry entrepreneur, certified holistic coach, and full time unicorn, born and raised in Belgium. “I believe in the undeniable compatibility of music and living holistically. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you take yourself with you,” she says. “I captain The Unicorn Mothership, my one-woman business that houses holistic coaching services for DJs and producers, a coaching community project and a radio project.”
But Eline stays busy helping musicians in more way than one. She’s also the Community Director of shesaid.so Belgium, the Belgian chapter of shesaid.so, a global, carefully curated network of women who work in music and advocate for equality and diversity. If you’re not familiar with shesaid.so, get hip: http://www.shesaid.so/
Read Girl Gang Music’s Q&A with her below, in full:
GGM: Who do you help and how do you do it?
“I help DJs and producers raise their level of (self-)awareness in every aspect of their lives so that they can gain insight in why they do what they do, think and feel and make conscious choices so that it’s actually useful in their everyday lives, including their music.
I offer personal and trans-personal coaching – within the “PAVA”-framework, a worldview model that was developed by Joost Vanhove (who trained me) over the course of 25 years. It’s the synthesis of universal art of living, as embodied in most philosophical traditions: Taoism, Buddhism, shamanism, Gnosticism and various forms of non-duality. It helps people to bring out the best best in themselves in a way that a minimal change can have a maximum effect.
I focus on the balance in music and in life. Meaning, I believe you take yourself with you wherever you go and whatever you do. Every artist is more than just the sum of their parts. They have lives and life’s issues that impact their music, and vice versa. They can experience creative blocks and can’t manage to finish their work or be happy with their performance, they have limiting beliefs about themselves and confidence issues about their technical skills because they compare themselves to others, they struggle to juggle a day job with their passion/career in music and so on.
Through focused, specific questions, meditation and visualization techniques, and even active exercises and homework, I help you get to the essence of you and your life so that you can make more conscious choices. I help you understand what impact you want to have on your scene so that getting noticed does not depend on just dumb luck, gain more confidence in your craft so that you can be happy with the result and understand your purpose so that you can create opportunities for yourself, and so much more!”
GGM: What is your founding story? What got you so passionate about this that you felt the entrepreneurial desire to start your own business?
“Growing up was not easy for me. My home situation was unstable and unsafe, to say the least. Music helped me express myself and mostly helped me explore things as a teenager. It began at 15 as a singer in a rock band and then a hip-hop band.
I went to uni and studied Eastern Languages and Cultures. I always found so much solace in Eastern philosophies and perspectives, so this was an obvious choice. And I thought getting a university diploma would be my ticket out of my difficult life. I would land a corporate job and create a better life for myself. And so I did. So in a way, uni did save me, but not in the way I anticipated. It opened up my mind to a way of thinking that changed my life.
I started working corporate jobs and doing PR and comms for a label I helped start up on the side. Throughout the years, I worked on a few humble projects in artist management and got into radio as a host and producer. I learned a lot about booking and promoting artists by seeing how troubleshooting went down (or didn’t go down) at gigs. I briefly worked for a streaming service in London and got really curious about tech.
Many people in my environment called me impulsive or naive, because it seemed to them that I didn’t know what I wanted. At some point, a close friend said I should definitely consider becoming an Artist Manager full time. But that didn’t resonate with me. Something seemed to be missing in the music industry. I didn’t see a focus on artist well-being. I decided I wanted to provide that.
I quit my corporate job after 3 years and decided to go it alone. I started The Unicorn Mothership (https://www.theunicornmothership.com/about) with a 3-year business plan. I freelanced for different music companies at first. I was seriously struggling to make ends meet and debt piled up. I lived an irregular lifestyle, didn’t get enough sleep or proper meals, I had easy access to drugs and alcohol and overall had a difficult time balancing my life and building my mission in music. But, I didn’t give up. After 2 years, I finally gathered enough funds to enroll in a yearlong intensive coaching training to become a certified holistic coach. And during that training, it all came together. I knew what I wanted to do.
I strongly believe that every DJ and producer would benefit greatly from partnering up with a coach – as well as labels and artist managers or bookers . I can help them do their jobs better. Artist managers or bookers aren’t equipped to deal with their clients’ life issues. From what I have seen, many managers and bookers aren’t truly looking at the well-being of their artists. They are mostly focused on the career aspects and that is what they’ve chosen to do.”
GGM: How do you feel being a woman affects (or has affected…) your career?
“Have I been discriminated against? Absolutely. I have a lot of horror stories to tell, which include constant groping, intimidation, bad experience with drugs, being seen as ‘The DJs girlfriend/mistress’ rather than the manager or business partner, the list goes on and on. The worst kind is the casual sexism. I mean, just a week ago, I reached out to someone I thought had potential to be a great partner and the reply I got was “You look nice”. I don’t see how that had anything to do with my business or my proposal…?
It makes me feel mad and powerless. However, I alone am responsible for the way I react or respond to that. I prefer not to dwell on those things and move forward. Even though that is sometimes easier said than done, I like to look at what I do have and be grateful for that. I like to see it as an easy and natural selection being made for me: those that discriminate are not the people I want to surround myself with, let alone work with. I choose to join forces with people who have a growth mindset and who work from a place of equality, inclusion, openness, respect and positivity. In those joint efforts, I’m hoping we can change the minds of those who aren’t in that headspace, one person at a time. I don’t consider myself an activist though. The most important thing for me is to be of service.”
GGM: What’s your golden nugget of advice for anyone in the music industry?
“Put your well-being first. Follow your good feelings. They will guide you no matter what…
Be part of a supportive network. It will give you a sense of belonging and security. It will also help you get ahead through collaborating with and getting help from others. Girl Gang is a great example, so is shesaid.so. And there are many more amazing networks out there.”
Anything else you want to add?
“I’m offering a FREE, guided meditation to help you deal with anxiety in the DJ booth, stay focused in the studio or just find your calm whenever, wherever, in only 10 minutes. It’s quick and easy. You can even do it in a toilet stall! It’s amazing how successful you can be when you get your mind right and eliminate all the worries/fears clouding your mind.
You will stay grounded so that you can focus on what you’re doing, without getting carried away by your public (too much). You will cope with performance anxiety by calming your nerves in the DJ booth so that you can avoid making mistakes due to stress and fear of failure. You will gain confidence in your craft so that you don’t miss out on great opportunities and so that you can be happy with your tracks / your track selection. You will stay in the moment so that you can enjoy your set to the fullest.
You can get this grounding meditation called ‘Ready, Steady, Roots!’ for free in your inbox as soon as you subscribe!
The music was specifically produced for this mediation by Harted.”
Eline Van Audenaerde’s Girl Gang Music Picks
“I’m not sure if she qualifies as lesser known but I recommend checking out Helena Hauff (Germany), a techno DJ and producer. I find her very interesting. She studied physics and systematic music science. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, which is clear just by looking at her website. I like her “stripped-down techno”, as it is often described, and the fact that she’s influenced by acid house and industrial, Belgian cold wave, The Cure, etc. .”
DJ Kampire and DJ Rachael
“DJ Kampire and DJ Rachael (East Africa’s first female DJ) and their night called Pussy Party (Uganda). This initiative aims at structural inequalities faced by women and the LGBTQ+ at large and is meant to feature an all-female and non-binary DJ lineup. They also have a security team they work with and employ a strict door policy to ensure that their night can be a safe space.”
Asmara of Nguzunguzu (LA)
“I just like her unpredictable style of Afrobeats, bashment, hard dancehall etc. and what she does with Nguzuzu, which is more esoteric. When she speaks about women in the music industry, I like her non-biased stance on it. She’s looking at things from different perspectives and I appreciate that. She has a group of women she works with regularly and is rooting for the importance of having a supportive network.”