Female DJs: Sphinxes Without Secrets?

You have hundreds or thousands of people standing right in front of you, screaming and dancing, some in a frenzy to try and get just a little bit closer to you. Lights are in your eyes, and you are carrying an entire party on your shoulders. You are standing behind the DJ booth. What is it like to be there, and is it any different for you and for the party if you’re female?

Female DJ’s, although still rare in the club scene, are slowly starting to work their way up. Some big female DJs to check out are Ellen Allien, Annie Mac, Lisa Lashes, and Maya Jane Coles; all ladies with plenty of talent. Musically, there isn’t any more difference between female and male DJs than there is between two guy DJs - good music is good music, the only question is whether it gets the speakers over the dance floor popping. Check out this video featuring German DJ Ellen Allien, blowing up FUSE in Brussels.

The recently released 2011 DJ Mag Top 100 DJs list entirely lacks a female presence, a justifiably frustrated Guardian article decried at the end of October. After skimming through it, its true, what’s probably one of the most important lists ranking DJs has only had a bare handful of women. According to that Guardian article, the only woman to make the ranking between 2007 and 2010 was Claudia Cazacu, who held the 93 spot in 2010. Pretty clearly, women DJs have to fight through the haters to get behind the booth and get the music out to their fans. 

To end on a more positive note, though, we’re seeing female DJ’s steadily gaining in popularity and making it perfectly clear that women know just as much about music and just as much about lighting up dance floors as guys do. Ellen Allien is one of the pillars of the vibrant techno scene in Berlin, blasting dance floors all over the world and founding BPitch Records. Annie Mac is an Irish DJ and hosts Annie Mac’s Mash Up, with the popular Minimix feature, and started releasing a compilation album in 2010, Annie Mac Presents. Lisa Lashes cracked DJ Magazine, placing #9 in 2000, the only women to break into the top 10. She headlines music festivals across the world and is considered one of the very top female DJs. Maya Jane Coles is an 23 year old up-and-coming DJ and producer with a talented, versatile repertoire ranging from house to dubstep to her dub/electronica live group, called She is Danger. The stuff on Maya Jane Coles' sound cloud is pretty chill, but there are some excellent youtube videos of her rocking the sets live.

Some truly great music comes from female DJs, and they are slowly gaining in both acceptance and popularity in the electronic music scene. Big labels like the German giant Kompakt (who signed French DJ Jennifer Cardini) or clubs like Berghain (considered an electronic music mecca) are seeing that women have just as much skill between the turntables, and increasingly they are stepping up to take down the house.

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Comment by Miki Taka on December 8, 2011 at 12:53pm

I appreciate you doing a write-up on this!  Here's something I found earlier today: http://www.letsmix.com/nextgirldj

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