This year’s 2016 Lollapalooza Music Festival once again supported the numbers: EDM is still a boys’ club.
While women are lucrative in the scene, they aren’t booked to play sets, and according to Thump, women only fill 2.6 to 9.6% of dance festivals.
Even though the numbers are low, female DJs do have more outlets now than ever before. DJ Psycho Bitch, based in Chicago, describes the difficulty of being able to DJ in a club in the 80s and 90s. She explains to 5Chicago that, “…trying to get a gig was darn near impossible, especially as a woman! There were two other women DJs: Teri and a video jock named Casey…” The numbers are growing but it is important to realize that the female DJs who do perform sets in today’s festivals are typically the same across the board; a large number of active women DJs is absent, the side stages are filled with the same familiar names.
None of this should be surprising for a reader. The lack of women acts at festivals is a highly discussed topic and has been approached by a variety of outlets. Instead of discussing the why and the how, here are four female DJs who produce R&B fusion, 80s hip hop, and avant-garde mixes through blends of effortless sound and presentation.
Brooklyn based DJ Kitty Cash began her career with Kilo Kish while working as a fashion publicist. The DJ’s sound focuses on a wide array of sounds: electronica, disco, Hip-Hop, and smooth R&B bump from the speakers to create a moody atmosphere on the floor. Her installments, “Love the Free” have collaborated with reputable artists across all genres.
Tess Kisner, originally from Baton Rouge, began DJing in 2009 and has since started Slo’Mo, a community oriented celebration of slow jams for the Chicago nightlife scene. DJ Tess mixes old school with contemporary tracks, producing a nostalgia while reveling in the presence — connecting the two effortlessly.
The Liverpool based duo, Faux Queens, focus on tracks that explore queerness and female empowerment. Their sets are fun, to put it simple. Samples from Destiny’s Child and Fetty Wap make appearances, while their appreciation for the DIY underground scene integrates the community on a small, but all encompassing, scale.
The young Californian DJ, Micah Mahinay, also known as Noodles, has worked with Kehlani, whose rapid stardom is expanding, for the past few years and has created a popular sound of mixing modern sounds with her passion of electronica and R&B. Noodles’ father, also a DJ since the 80s, paved the way for her interest in spinning and scratching in high school. In addition to touring with Kehlani, Noodles spins at a party in LA called “Recess.”
While systematic sexism is prevalent and far from being dominated, the scene is growing at a rapid pace, with fans and listeners voicing their love and desire to see these ladies spin their beats. Although these female DJs find themselves surrounded by men, their connection and dedication to music is unwavering. The Girl Power is strong with these DJs and their sets shouldn’t be side-lined, but should be noticed, appreciated, and printed in the line ups.