There’s been a steady rise in female DJ’s over the past decade but cutting through the noise of a male-dominated industry is still very much a challenge faced. Musicvein caught up with four women in the DJ world, who talked about the bias, sexism and down-right lack of respect they experienced while trying to hone their craft.
Listening online Musicvein caught a rumble of dissatisfaction among female DJ’s and intrigued to know more contacted a few to get their story. The general consensus was women just wanted to be acknowledged for the work they do in the industry and not have to fight for the right to be noticed. Speaking to DJ’s Lady Style, Lykx, Myma, and Miss DVS, we hear their back story.
Meet The Artists:
French DJ, Lady Style has been performing in Clubs and at Festivals for the past 11 years. Inspired by DJ Q-bert and Mix Master Mike, her main style to perform is Hip-Hop/Urban music.
“…the words ‘you have skills for a woman’ should be abolished!”DJ Lady Style
Musicvein: You post a lot of mixes online, have you ever experienced any negativity due to being a female?
DJ Lady Style: “I’m quite lucky that my work is respected, but I do know how hard it is for some women in the industry. On the occasions where I am criticized by male DJ’s on social media – it makes me laugh! Myself and team notice that it’s always from the ones who have no skills or no club exposure, so it all comes down to jealousy.
Sometimes when I’m practicing with friends who are guys they make comments but I try not to look at it in a negative way – still the words ‘you have skills for a woman’ should be abolished!”
Lykx a Canadian open format DJ with over a decade in the industry, found her inspiration for the decks following a creative block in producing.
“…I’d like to see females stop objectifying themselves…”DJ Lykx
Musicvein: What changes would you like to see in the industry?
DJ Lykx: “For me I’d like to see females stop objectifying themselves in the industry. Stop feeding the male perception of female DJ’s having triple D’s in a bikini top! Know your craft, know the ins and outs and kill it.
I’d also like to see us female DJ’s recognised. Everytime I go to a venue where the staff don’t know me, I get the stank face and rolled eyes etc as they ask me if I’m the DJ? As a black woman I’m not sure if it’s sexism or racism anymore. One time I overheard a dude sarcastically say ‘…it’s gonna be a long night!’ that was before I had even started playing! It makes me so mad! I have spent a lot of time perfecting my craft over the years. I have top companies like Redbull comment on my work but instead of male DJ’s saying ‘Well Done/Congratulations/Good Job’ I get ‘Did you really do that???’ The funny thing is I then get male DJ’s sliding into my DMs asking me to teach them certain techniques – but these are the guys who never come to my gigs, support me and even push the like button on social media.”
House Music DJ Myma started her journey 4 years ago. Initially inspired by her Uncle (who is also a House DJ), Myma also lists a whole host of other musicians who she appreciates “…female DJ’s as Hannah Wants, Monki, Annie Mac and Sam Divine, then there’s Claude Von Stroke with Will Clarke, Justin Martin and Shiba San.” to name but a few.
“…a guy working behind a bar tried to give me tips on how to DJ!”DJ Myma
Musicvein: Have you ever had a male colleague/DJ tell you how or what you should play?
DJ Myma: “Yes, I find that men mainly want to give me tips and apply small pressures on me with their own ideas. It’s quite hard to choose just one situation as there have been so many, but the one I wasn’t a big fan of was when a guy working behind a bar tried to give me tips on how to DJ!
But for all the negative experiences I’ve had, I try not to take it very personally, I’m still trying to see the industry in a positive way. It’s obvious that some male DJ’s feel insecure and do their best to not make us feel welcome – they seem to feel more comfortable with their own gender and their comments do make you feel like you need to stand up for yourself as an artist.
I really would love all female DJ’s and Producers to be taken seriously and respected. There are a big number of us, fighting daily for what we represent and want to be known for our talent rather than how we look.”
Miss DVS from Canada began DJing in 2007, generally known for her Electro and Bass House sets, DVS was influenced by 90’s dance music such as The Prodigy, Daft Punk, Salt n Pepper, C+C Music Factory and Black Box.
“ Men simply don’t know what to do with an independent and strong-willed woman.”Miss DVS
Musicvein: What bad experiences have you had and what change would you like to see?
Miss DVS: “I’ve had so many bad experiences – too many times to explain! I’ve had one very successful DJ literally yell at me for using Turntables and not CDJS, another tell me to play more underground music and not so much of the mainstream stuff – yet it was the mainstream music that got the attention of the crowd. I’ve been told to wear more ‘Club Kitty’ clothing and if I wasn’t a ‘rave tard’ I would secure a booking!
There have been many many negative interactions from being sexually assaulted and harassed several times, to fighting to get paid. I’ve had promoters undercut me, sabotage my events by taking down posters. I’ve been stalked, black-mailed, and publicly attacked due to jealousy – the list goes on. The stress was so much it drove me to the brink of insanity! I really don’t take shit from anyone but somehow when I stand up for myself – I’m the monster! Men simply don’t know what to do with an independent and strong-willed woman.”
There’s so much change I would like to see like Equal and Fair opportunity and pay. I’ve seen my male counterparts make hundreds more than myself and when I ask why, the promoter says they are better negotiators yet when I try to negotiate I’m called a ‘Greedy Bitch’!
Most major festivals all over the world have a 6% female presence – this is totally unacceptable! Promoters say that it’s because females aren’t popular enough but that’s just a catch 22 – for how can you become popular if you’re not given the promotion and opportunity! I just want everyone to work together instead of the divide and competition! Progress guys, we need progress even at a snail pace, something is better than nothing.”
It’s worth noting that none of the women featured aired their views as a way of ‘bashing men’ rather vocalizing their experiences and asking for industry change.