Female DJs ‘For me it’s like saying music is for boys. It just didn’t make sense to me…’

As heard on arena

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Move the Needle is the name of both a short film and a movement encouraging women to don the headphones and take to the decks, and Seán Rocks wanted to hear more.  An estimated 5% of DJs today are female and the women of this campaign aren’t standing for those statistics.

In the film, DJ Sally Cinnamon speaks about feeling the pressure to perform.

“I really love seeing girls behind the decks…  I remember starting off and lads saying things to you like you only get the gigs because you’re a girl, and I remember thinking, I had to make sure that wasn’t the case in my head, so I had to make sure that I was as good as the boys. ” 

DJ and producer Joni Kelly shared her experience.

“It was always like video games to me.  I remember as a teenager we’d sit around and all the lads would be playing video games and I’d sit there burning, wanting a go, but not being able to say, can I just have a go…  There’s something about it, that when there’s a group of guys standing around it you automatically feel like it’s not for you.”

Seán was joined in studio by DJ Aoife nic Canna, who has earned herself Hotpress’ title of First Lady of Irish House Music.  Her experience tallies with that of the other women featured in the film.

“Particularly in the early days, I did find it very isolating…  I knew one woman DJ… but I was enjoying what I was doing so it didn’t stop me doing it.”

Aoife is part of the Gash Collective, set up, she says “to make a comfortable area for women to learn how to do sound production and to DJ”.  The initiative provides workshops and support for women to come together to demystify the DJ and production process and to hopefully address that gross gender imbalance in the industry.

Whether you’re male or female though, you  must, first and foremost, be good.  Aoife has this to say when asked what she thinks makes a Superstar DJ.

“Definitely your own identity.  You own particular style of music. I mean music changes, and it goes out of date and some records don’t stand the test of time.  I’m a house DJ and a hip hop DJ but I’ve got a very funk and soul influence… I definitely think your own identity is very important…  I also think you have to practise.  One of the most important things when you’re mixing records it to bring the audience on a journey. ”

 Click here for the full interview.


© The Listener 2017

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