Despite Being Underrepresented, Female DJs Say There's No Crying in EDM

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The Nervo Twins

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Sure, this is the 21st century and women's rights are firmly in place for the most part, but we can't help noticing the large gap in equality between men and women in the workplace every time we go to some huge club and look up at the DJ booth. In electronic dance music,the lack of celebrated female selectors is astounding. The media coverage of the ones are successful in the scene can be equally dismal. The only female DJ to ever crack the the infamous DJ Mag top 100 has been Claudia Cazacu in 2010 (she squeaked by at #93).

But what about the loads of unmentioned ladies who continue make waves in EDM? We talked to some of the top female DJs right now about obstacles they may have faced in their ascension as super stars in the industry. If you're expecting a big pout fest from these women, guess again. Turns out that most of them are more concerned with kicking ass on their own terms.

Liv Nervo, one half of the Australian DJ duo The Nervo Twins, started DJing with her twin sister Mim seven years ago when they moved to the UK and fell into a group of DJ friends. Starting their careers mixing at house parties, they soon began producing and writing songs. These days, they're best known for their songwriting collaboration with David Guetta on his Grammy-winning hit "When Love Takes Over," performed by Kelly Rowland. Playing the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas and headlining various shows throughout the globe NERVO have proven themselves as true artists in this ever growing EDM community, regardless of their gender. "Don't let your gender get in the way," says Nervo. "Try to be true to yourself and if you are having a great time then your audience will too."

This is a rather humble statement coming from artists who recently landed a record deal with Virgin America/Astralwerks and are currently carving out a debut album. Breaking the stereotype that EDM is dominated by male DJs, The Nervo Twins (a.k.a NERVO) use their songwriting skills and upbeat energy to shine through in their DJ sets. When pressed for advice for young female DJs, Nervo sounds the same as any other artist who made their name with passion and perspiration.  "Practice makes perfect," she says. "A lot of us have been working in the studio for several years so I suggest to just keep going." With a recent collaboration with Nicky Romero coming out soon and a full album in the works NERVO are the perfect example that showcasing great talent, regardless of gender, is the trick to making it big in this male dominated industry.

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Audrey Napoleon

"I definitely think I have had to prove myself a little bit more as a female," says electro queen Audrey Napoleon. Audrey began her passion for DJing when she moved to LA and worked at Hollywood hot-spot Geisha House. She remembers catching the performance bug after her friends took her to a DJ night at Avalon Hollywood. Despite feeling more pressure to outshine her male counterparts early in her career, Napoleon says her lack of female colleagues in EDM is not a huge concern to her. "If you're talented then you get there, if your not then you don't. As of now it just so happens to be male dominated, but I think its more based on talent not gender," she states.

In some ways, the fact that there are so few famous female DJs makes them a prized asset in addition to all the hard work they put in. Heineken recently made Napoleon the face of its "Sunrise Belongs to Moderate Drinkers" international campaign with her own original track "#mysunrise." Now playing all over the world, with a 15-stop tour on Identity Festival and an upcoming EP titled Ornamental Egos out July 24 via SQE Music Napoleon's hard work and dedication has come full circle.

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Shae B

Like any industry, sexism is still an element that plenty of female DJs deal with nightly. "There have been times where people assumed I didn't know how to setup properly or use the equipment, when I do so very well," says Shae B. The Long Beach local (born Shaelen Burroughs) started her DJ career just a mere two years ago and has already opened for Michael Woods at Avalon in Hollywood and played the Wide Awake Cart at EDC this year. "At first it was hard to get my foot in the door," she explains. "But now a lot of people are really accepting of girls that DJ." Burroughs notes playing at Avalon, the Playboy Mansion and even some Victoria Secret events as being the most memorable for her.

"You have to own yourself in every way possible if you want to be taken seriously," she says. "I think if you have that professionalism and respect for the work that you do then it will be reciprocated." That professionalism which Shae B has displayed has lead to her continued success as a DJ, model and actress in this incredibly competitive industry. She is opening for Treasure Fingers this Sunday at the Drais Pool Party in Hollywood amongst mostly male DJs. "I've been beaten with the mentality to not take crap from anyone, which is usually the case in any industry," she says. "As a female we have to work a little extra harder, show our dedication and sometimes bust balls just like the men who precede us if we want to make it."

Though there is definitely a lack of female DJs playing major festivals and clubs all over the world it doesn't go un-noted that there are plenty of hardworking females who have paved the way for these ladies and many more to be able to garner the success they have achieved. From Annie Mac, DJ Rap and Kristina Sky the amount of true female DJs with talent is definitely there and will hopefully continue to grow as EDM continues to gain notoriety and mainstream popularity. Currently DJs are being coined the rock stars of the 21st century, but we can't wait for the day when female DJs make it as big as the likes of Katy Perry and Beyonce.

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4 comments
Chingy
Chingy

Oh boo hoo.  Life isn't fair.  Women feel excluded.  Waaaah waaah waahh! Grow up, grow a pair, stop viewing every little thing as a "war on womyn"

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medical supplies online

Burroughs notes playing at Avalon, the Playboy Mansion and even some Victoria Secret events as being the most memorable for her.

DJ Ange
DJ Ange

@rudeboybass:disqus  - that was a rather obvious statement to make 'there are more boys in the game' haha .... really?! No shit hahaha.  That being said unfortunately this article reads mostly as a Nervo advert than it does attack the real questions/issues that female DJs face.  The first one being that Nervo is a commercial act with en-mass public appeal. Many female DJs are playing underground sounds that would not gain commercial success that of which Nervo has achieved (not taking that away from them, just believe that needs to be pointed out). Also the question begs (again not taking away from their real and valid talent) that if they weren't totally hot and sexy looking girls would they have the success that they are seeing now? What I'm saying is, unfortunately if you aren't hot and sexy or at least don't have that photographic appeal then it is also another factor at play (I'm not saying always but no one can deny that a lot of promoters prefer to book female DJs who look hot over being a quality artist).  The problem also for those artists putting in the hard yards is you get the girls who use the fact that they were/are a playboy bunny or are prepared to DJ topless to get gigs too ... that just brings down the validity and talent of all female DJs.  I definitely agree with the comments on people just assuming that if you're female that you don't know what you're doing .... I've had other DJs tell me how I should play, its annoying as hell but well if that's what they need to do to stroke their own ego then whatever, that's their issue not mine. Then there are comments like 'you're pretty good for a girl' .... why the need to even mention what my sex is? How about just saying 'you're pretty good'??! I just think perhaps more research and speaking to more of the female DJs/artists out there would have served you better before writing this article. But, that being said it's good to see people questioning why though !!

RudeBoyBass
RudeBoyBass

Well, I think it simply comes down to the fact that men are far more driven to acquire some sort of skill or get into a position of power as a way to showcase their value to others; namely girls. That's not to say that there aren't plenty of amazing female DJ's (Reid Speed, DJ Shortee, Skulltrane, etc.), but there's just a much bigger pool of men in the game. I think this gives women a bit of an advantage though because one that kills it ends up getting noticed by everyone!

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