And finally, from one of the earliest ruminations online about the role
of music, specifically the role of women DJs, here's the rest of that post
from the DJ Dazy website from the late 1990's:
Lisa Louise and I had a wicked girl bonding night as we sat
with Little T, a.k.a. Tanya Brunes (Leaf Recordings), Michelle McKay (Diva
Productions / Full Moon Records), Leanne Bitner (Leaf Recordings / Nettwerk
Records), and Amtrack a.k.a. Annmarie McCullough (Girls Kick Ass Productions /
Bucko-5 Records) gabbing about all aspects of the scene. Everyone seemed to come
to a consensus on what drew them to the tables. THE MUSIC. That is what it's all
about! But to start at the beginning, it is about as hard to find even an intro,
as it is to enter into the world of DJing. In a lot of ways, the two just go
hand in hand. A Woman DJ, what a concept! At least that's what some guy thought
at the last party I went to. There was DJ Heather (of Chicago) rippin' up
the tables, when this guy walks over, mystified, points to the tables and
shouts, "Do you hear that mix? And it's a girrl!" Of course it's a
GIRL, pal. I mean, are you really that surprised that the feminine energy could
display a mix as tight as that?!
Now don't worry, this article is not going to be the
proverbial 'I am Woman hear me roar!'', but it certainly is going to educate you
on what it's like to be a woman in the world of DJing." It's not an
easy task to, well, as Little T put it "crap your pants the first time you
play, in front of..."
"Guys, all guys!" Leanne adds for emphasis. Of the
handful of women DJs in a city teeming with some pretty good ones, here are some
of the few women who have managed to pave the way and show the guys just what
it's like when a chick gets behind the tables. Little T takes the lead.
Little T: "More for women than it is for guys, cause
women feel things so differently than men do. And we have so much more
feeling for the music - I'm not saying... but in the beginning, we have more
feeling for the music, and guys that I know that have started DJing, have more
feeling for all the girls. And they'll openly admit that."
(Laughter all around.)
Michelle: "I think there's also an element, like when it
comes down to playing out, specifically, of performance. There's a circle of
completion there, and of communication as well. And I don't mean strictly
ego-gratifying, but I mean like an exchange, of emotion, and energy, and
completion, although that sounds a little cliche, it's definitely there for me,
and it completes it when I play against that, and people get out and dance. It
makes it feel completed."
Amtrack: "I think the music is the basis for everybody's
draw to it, but then you find somebody who inspires you, then you see someone
spin, and it's just such an experience. For me - for all of us I guess, but for
me, it was Doc for sure. But I mean, I think we all have that one person that
made that last push."
I (Melanie) got DJ Renee Brunette's views one night as we
yelled over the throbbing bass, and soulful tracks one Wednesday night at Bar
None. As women we all have different points of views on things, but it still
seems to come down to the feeling you get from the music.
Renee: "Just the love of the music basically, and just
deciding that out of all the industries out there the music industry was more
appealing, cause I liked to listen to it so much... I like the feeling it gives
me. I don't feel the same way when I hear other styles of music. It makes me
TAXI: Let's talk about the relationship of how you as women
communicate music. Do you find that you communicate something a little bit
differently? I mean, as individuals each communicating a different style, a
different message, or a different feeling, but as comparison to the way guy DJs
are out there?
Amtrack: "Somebody actually commented this to me
yesterday, somebody who has a very similar taste in music, said, 'You go out
there on a different tangent than I do, because you bring the romantic, maybe
love-stuff into your music, which I would never do.' The guy would go towards
the harder, like you know what I mean? I think that's just it. You can like the
same kind of music but I think women bring something different to it, I think
it's a little bit more funky, a little bit more groovy..."
Michelle: "Not necessarily. I think even down to details,
like how you touch the mixer, how you touch the record, watch the difference in
Renee: "Of the girls that I have heard, there seems to be
more feeling to it, but that could just be me to. I do think that girls care
more about what is going on. Girls are more receptive of other people and more
Melanie spoke separately with DJ Dazy (from San Francisco /
House Vibes) about her take on it all. As she says, "I think women who play
records or make music, have a bit more passion in what they do. I'm not saying
that men don't but now that I have heard a lot of women playing records, I can
tell the difference."
When it comes to record shopping, the experience can be both
gratifying and distasteful. Getting more records, well that's the gratification,
dealing with the kid next to you, well that's a different story...
Leanne: "Even with record shopping you have to go through
some bullshit too. You're in there and like... even when I go in there now,
there's guys who look at me like, 'why even bother?'"
Little T: "I was at Trax last week, in Toronto, 'kay. Tim
had put this stack of records - he always puts a stack of records aside for me
when he knows I'm coming - so I had to go through 70 records. So this is like,
this long, grueling, entire day procedure. So I get up there, and all the single
booths are taken, and at Trax you have to go up there, and they play the records
for you. You can't physically touch them and it's sooo frustrating cause all you
wanna do is go? (flip flip flip) and you know what's up. So I go through this
entire thing, put the stack on the counter, and the guy looks at me, like 'Oh,
my god, I can't believe this girl wants to listen to 70 records. I gave him the
first record, he looks at me and he goes...? Puts it on, and I go - no. 'Next'.
And he goes "Can I ask you what you're looking for?
Do you know what style of music you'd like to hear?" No, I don't. I go,
"Yeah, what's here!" He goes, "Oh? fine." Totally treating
me like I have no idea what's going on. Playing the entire side of a record, I'm
like? "Next, go, great! I wanna know what happens right there. Okay, thank
TAXI: "Do you think that women are being accepted more as
DJs than they were before?"
Dazy: "Yes! It's totally awesome!"
Renee: "Basically if you love music it doesn't matter
what sex you are, how you handle yourself in the industry is another thing. If
you are just mellow and relate to guys on a level then it's cool. A lot of
younger guys don't take you seriously, but on the other hands a lot of older
guys are accepting of it. It really depends. It's the same for guys starting
out, except girls have an advantage because they are a minority and they have
tits. I think when Little T started, she had a tough time cause she was like one
of the only girls, and she paved the way, but now more girls are popping up so
it's more common."
Leanne: "There are advantages of being girls spinning.
People want girls to spin, it's an attraction. It's completely an attraction to
have a girl who wants to spin. Oh, and maybe she's good! Wow, what a
Michelle: "There was something I was reading last night,
actually it was an interview with Krista, she made such a good point. It was
just like, the problem with being a girl and being a DJ is that whole sexual
angle. it completely overshadows everything. It's like, completely irrelevant.
But the point that she made, was that if a girl happens to meet somebody at a
party, or whatever, then it's like, oh yeah, she's using her sexual angle, blah
blah blah. But if a guy happens to sleep with twenty girls from the party, then
it's like, 'Wow, way to go!' Like the amount of DJ groupies you can pick up at a
party is like, pasted to the top of your CV, you know, like, if you're a girl,
it's like this horrible thing to have done."
Leanne: "You know what I've heard guys say a million
times? Do you know how sexy it is - like if there's a good-looking girl up there
playing records, it's like gotta be one of the most sexiest things in the world.
I'm like, Yeah. Hell, yeah."
Little T: "I like, hide behind the turntables. I wear the
biggest, baggiest, grossest clothing I can find. I like, slap it all on, I slink
through the club and hide behind people, and I get behind the turntables and I
like, hide there. I don't want anyone to look at me, I just want everyone to
listen to what I'm doing and that's it."
That's exactly it. That is the reason the DJ is up there.
Whether male or female, the DJ is the driving force communicating the music to
you. It shouldn't matter who is up there, all that matters is that they
establish a connection and communicate that connection to you. Becoming a DJ is
not always what it's cracked up to be. Like anything it takes time, dedication,
money, and the will to just do it. It takes years to achieve the status of
making it a full-blown career, and it's not always a stable one at that. But
those that put their heart and soul into it, love it like no other.
TAXI: "When it comes to actually getting out there and
playing in front of people, how do you determine when you are ready? Is the
first time generally the right time?"
Little T: "Can you imagine if that stuck in their mind?
The first time you ever played. But the first couple years that you are playing
you do improve every single time you play."
Michelle: "It's like parenting, you'll never feel ready.
Someone will kick your ass and make you do it... The first time I played out was
the most horrible experience of my whole entire life. I was just so
humiliated... Then someone booked me for a big party, and about a week later I
called them back and said, 'you know that I am new.' He said, 'oh ya it's cool.
I asked around and it's cool.' From that day, I practiced and played everyday
for 6 hours. Everyday until that party, and it went off!"
Little T: "The first time I played out I had to play for
two hours with T-Bone and Darius. It was Ray's party, he put on this Christmas
party, and in the bottom underneath, it said '...And Introducing Little T'.
Everybody had been hounding me to play out. I'd been playing for like 8 months.
I'd be, 'I'm not ready I'm not going to play out anywhere in public.' I played
for two hours and I was so upset. Anyone and everyone came by to hear me
play, and it was so horrid..."
TAXI: "Advice to newcomers?"
Little T: "Don't be intimidated. Buy some records. Learn
the labels that your style of music is on."
Michelle: "Just go out and do it!"
Leanne: "Have someone show you the beats, the 4/4 time.
People need to know that there is timing involved just like matching music. It's
not just matching beats... and you are going to have to pay your dues."
Michelle: "Very important when you are starting is to
prioritize your spending. It's expensive to get started."
Little T: "None of us have nice clothing."
Michelle: "It won't just be given to you on a silver
platter. It's going to take a hell of a lot of work. It won't come easy, you are
just going to have to earn the respect. Also you should expect that it is going
to take a long time to learn."
Renee: "Be yourself, don't compromise anything. Respect
yourself, and respect others. Follow your dreams and follow your passion. It
sounds really cliche, but it's true. I think girls sometimes underestimate
themselves, but anyone can do anything."
TAXI: "Would this be your most fulfilling out of all the
jobs that you are doing?"
Leanne: "Hell ya!"
Michelle: " It ranks up there, I'm also an artist."
Little T: "It's all I do except for the label."
TAXI: "What is the most exciting, most passionate thing
about what you do?
Dazy: "The music...it seems to get better and better
Little T: "The music that comes out everyday. And when
you get records you're like 'woohoo, I got more records!'"
Michelle: "That searing hot track that hits you!"
Leanne: "One of the things that happened for me was on
New Year's, I played every single one of my very favourite
records, and for the first time everyone that was out there, they loved it, they
were dancing. And I was, 'Oh my God you people are sharing my feeling!' It meant
Amtrack: " I think it's the feeling that you get when you
know there is connection between you, the turntables, the records that are on
them and the people. When you get that, you've made people dance. Cuz dancing is
something I've always done, and when I see people dancing to my music, there is
nothing that is better than that feeling."
"Feeling from the music", that phrase seemed to come
up quite a bit with all the girls. Emotionally as women, the feeling we get when
we hear a song, the way it hits us, the way it consumes our body is much the
same we get from anything we are passionate about. If a woman is passionate
about something it absorbs her whole being, and those around her can only be
struck by it's sense of sensitivity. When a woman gets up there, fuks the mix up
til it's so phat you don't you what hit you, she's just graced you with her
technique and is giving a part of herself to you, and that makes it all worth
A few stats:
Little T: 7 years, house
Amtrack: 1 year, house, progressive house, downtempo
Leanne: 2 - 3 years, phat house
Michelle: 1 year, house (deep dubby to hard)
Renee: 2 ? years, house
Dazy: 6 years, house (chicago, deep, and disco)
Arizona Republic Newspaper
The Tables are Turning: Lady deejays don't want a revolution,
all they want is a little respect
D. Parvaz adn David Proffitt
Pop quiz: Name some hot hip-hop deejays. Ok, who did you come
up with? Robs Swift (of the X-ecutioners)? Gearhead? Invisibl Skratch Piklz? DJ
Faust? You're more or less on track. Thes guys are some of the top
spinners in the business.
Now try and think of some female deejays. Go ahead, take your
Boy oh boy, where are all the girls? They're out there, you
just don't hear much about them. A few female deejays across the country
and in Arizona are starting to make noise, but they still run into the attitude
that they're "just girls" who are hired by promoters who want to prove
their political correctness. It's a distinction that many of them wish
"The kids don't really care (about the deejay's
gender)," says Mara, a Valley deejay who spins mostly electro, breakbeat
and house. "The only people it really matters to are the promoter and the
other deejays...and it disappoints me that they're not looking at who plays
well." She says everyone is too focused on bean counting.
After all, promoters benefit from a gender gap because they
can say they've got female deejays on their fliers. But the problem is that they
still don't expect much from female deejays. Women get the gigs, but they
don't get the respect. And the one thing they'd like to see change-- that
they're viewed as novelty acts-- is precisely what gets them a lot of their
The irony isn't lost on the deejays. Still, they'd rather
sacrifice a night's pay than play a gig they don't deserve.
"If you're hiring me just because I'm a girl, I won't
play for you," Mara says. "If you're good enough to be up there (on
the deejay stand), it shouldn't matter if you're a girl, a boy, whatever. That's
the thing that upsets me about people hiring female deejays-- you wouldn't hire
a male if he sucks."
After playin a couple of parties where she felt like she only
got a spot because she's female, she avoids becoming the token woman on the
flier by asking promoters who else is spinning and why they asked her before
agreeing to play.
Mara's been playing out for about four years-- practically an
era in the high-turnover world of dance music-- but she says she doesn't always
get the same respect as her male counterparts.
DJ Symphony, the sole female member of the Beat Junkies, a Los
Angeles-based hip-hop crew, says women probably view deejaying as a guy thing,
while men don't take their female counterparts seriously.
"I think the male friends that have turntables might view
a girl as a groupie," she says, recalling how a woman she knew of lost
interest in deejaying. "I guess they just sent her little subliminal
Other female deejays are beating the odds, such as the
Valley's Miss Jag, who started spinning darkstep and techstep jungle about a
year ago on a friend's decks. "He said that I had natural
beatmatching skills," she says. "We ran out to Swell (Cothing and
Records in Tempe), and he bought me five or six records and told me to
So she did.
Hundreds of practice hours and a few dozen record purchases
later, she got a gig. Then another, and then another. Now she's getting
out-of-state bookings and is about to come out with her first mix tape.
She said that being female definitely helped her get attention, but that
focusing on an accident of genetics takes attention away from the most important
thing for deejays-- how well they play the music.
"I don't think it should matter-- what would happen if I
dressed up like guy? Would I get the attention? Probably not," she says.
"I think it's great to get attention, but I just want to be known as a
Tucson deejay Lady Jane also started spinning jungle about a
year ago, and she's had the same quick rise as Miss Jag. At one point male
deejays were asking her to help them get jobs, an uncomfortable experience since
they'd been spinning two or three times longer than she had. She
attributes this to female deejays' being something of a novelty.
"Promoters talk to so many guys, they must feel like it's
the same thing all the time," she said.
But in the long run, deejays will earn respect for their solid
skills, not the type of hormones they have.
"I think it's great that some people are like, 'Girl
deejays! We need more!' but that's not it for me," Miss Jag says.
"For me, it comes down to the music."
Such success could open the field to more women. San
Jose-based DJ Dazy is optimisic. She runs an online mailing list called "sisterdjs"
from her Web site (www.djdazy.com), with about 90 subscribers worldwide.
"There are a lot more female deejays everywhere,"
Dazy says. "When I first started deejaying six years ago, I could count all
the women deejays on my hands. I think in the next couple of years we are going
to see a lot more female deejays playing out."
Arizona Mix Mistresses
Profiles by David Proffitt
Miss Jag Also known as: Jennifer Tanguy Style: Darkstep and
techstep, "moveable" jungle. Dating advice: "Sometimes guys says
it turns them on (that a woman can spin records)-- I just blow them off."
Mix tape? Soon. Check Swell Clothing and Records, 1444 N. Scottsdale Road,
Genesis of a deejay: "After I saw Emile, Gary (Menichello)
and Bahamut at Bassics (in November '96), I knew that I wanted to be up there
and do that." Best trainspotter: "My mom came to my debut at Planet
Rampant (in November '97). She said it was 'interesting.'"
Lady Jane Also known as: Erin Gwinn Style: Techstep jungle,
"darker, musical stuff." Mix tape? Yes, but supply is spotty.
Check Swell, Plastik Records (101 S. Central Ave., Phoenix) or Burn Music (7607
E. McDowell Road, Scottsdale). Gut reaction to deejaying: "I play oboe in
an orchestra (at the University of Arizona), so the thought of all the freedom I
have deejaying was almost scary at first." Academic goal: To put on a party
for her senior thesis where a deejay and a chamber orchestra play together.
"I'd have to find some really good musicians, though. The beats on the
record don't change, and they'd have to keep together." Parting thoughts on
gender: "I've always been a tomboy, so maybe that makes me more open to
being in a male-dominated situation like deejaying." Current whereabouts:
Unknown. Gwinn feld Tucson for the wilds of Los Angeles this summer. Reports are
that she'll be back for the fall semester at the UA.
Mara Also known as: Mara Arrieta Style: Electro, house and
breakbeat. "I like to mix it up a lot and play different styles. It's
important to show you can play everything, and it keeps them
guessing." Mix tape? No. "I find them really limiting. What if
somebody hears your tape from a couple of years ago and thinks you're bad
because the music's not fresh? If you want to hire me, I'll tell you where to
come see me, and I'll do a good job." Trainspotters beware: "I'd
rather play for three people dancing than 3,000 people standing there watching
me. What kind of vibe is that? I hate it when people watch me.
DJ Andy W. shared tips on DJing with a friend, who
shared them with the sisterdjs newsgroup. Andy's tips on learning to DJ
reflect the passion that committed people bring to the art of mixing
music. With Andy's kind permission, I share them with you:
Subject: Re: How did you learn to be a DJ
When first starting out, mix everyday... if only for a couple minutes. Never
leave the decks frustrated. Have a positive attitude where there is no such
thing as failure, just different modes of learning... some obviously more
successful than others.
Make tapes of yourself.
Learn your records. Start with ten that you know work together. Know them
well. Know when they break, know when they go. Practice them in a predetermined
set (aka striving for "perfection" in mixes that you know sound good),
and alternate with an on the spot mixed up order (aka learning to improvise)
often as well.
Mix friend's records, especially if they spin another genre (acid breaks and
jungle are particularly useful to learn to spin because the phrasing is so
obviously off if you fuck up).
Buy more records.
Name different styles of mixes. For example, I try when I sit down and mix
try to get a couple peak to drop mixes, a couple flat smooth runners, bass punch
runs, a couple tricks, etc. Learn to be flexible. I know a lot of DJs who can't
mix without seperate EQ per channel, and trust me...many massives still use
those fucking peice of shit MP-24's with no bass cut or any EQ whatsoever per
channel. Learn to mix without the crossfader, without monitors, without
headphones... each of these teach you important things about what to listen for
in a mix. Fuck with yourself and you'll better deal with adversity. Almost
anybody with some basic skills and good records can get lucky and spin a good
set when the fates are helping... the goal is playing solid and getting people
off even when it's not a perfect setup or a good night for you (or say, some
heartless mugwump nazi prick face steals your records and you end up playing a
friend's that you're not entirely familiar with).
Grab a stack of records in a a similar BPM range and beatmatch from one to
the next to the next as fast as you can (record this for some real fun).
Beatmatch whole records together and just let them play through...
Try not touching the record once you initially mix it in... use just the
pitch (I've gotten away from this lately... something I'm working on actually).
Keep it fun.
Hit the basics: Get your volume control (like when you slam in a track, that
it's at the volume you wanted it to be), phrasing (choosing points at which the
records line up in a complementary fashion) and beatmatching down. Once that
aspect of the technique is down, start playing house parties and giving your
tapes to your more honest DJ friends and asking for reviews in return.
And notice to all DJs: Preplanned sets SUCK COCK!!! Why is it that we go to
raves instead of just sitting home and listening to KOME or something? Cause we
got sick of corporate playlist repetition and lame stiff musical programming
that fails to take a crowd or mood into account and is just a list of tracks.
Every set should contain a substantial improv element, especially if you play in
the same town more than once (cause really, it might as well be a mixtape up
there instead of a person unless you vibe off the crowd, change it up and go
somewhere with it)!
Read Miyamoto Mushashi's Book of Five Rings and apply Japanese wordfighting
strategy hints to your mixing. Apply Feng Shui to your mixing. Apply your
emotions to your mixing. Get in there!!! Listen to various styles of music that
use drum machines, and if possible, learn to mix from 60 bpm to 190. Dance while
you mix. If you drink or smoke or use ketamine daily or whatever, practice in
the same states of mind you might find yourself in when playing out... various
chems change your perception is subtle ways that can really affect you unless
you know they're there.
And PLEASE sets your sights higher than some of the wankers I keep hearing at
parties around here that barely pull of 16 beat crossfades between two records
by the same producer. Try the frenetic energy of Jeff Mills, the offbeat
creativity of Stacey Pullen, the precision dicing and wreckless groove styles of
turntablists, the wobbly classic flow of Juan Atkins, the smooth ride of Jeno,
the assertive asskicking build to build phrasing of Carl Cox, the near perfect
beat splicing of Alexi Delano, the pounding amorphous sound folding of Richie
I'll shut up now.