Student group highlights female DJs


Photo credit: Maytham Alzayer

Communication senior Faalon Andrews was one of four female acts at “Girls That Mix.”

James Pollard, Reporter

If you ever played the video game DJ Hero 2, you would have scrolled through the possible characters and ended up choosing a male: the seven cartoon DJs featured are all men. But Saturday evening, the only players were women.

The .WAV Company highlighted the women that make up Northwestern’s disk jockeying scene and hosted “Girls That Mix,” featuring student DJs Faalon, Erica Bank, Giz and Melia & Amanda. Despite the slushy weather, the Red Bull-sponsored event highlighting an all-women lineup drew about 90 people, according to Communication junior Nico Fernandez, president of The .WAV Company.

“The whole reason we exist is, for a lot of artists that are out there, there’s not really a platform for them to perform,” Fernandez said.

As of August 2018, the top 10 highest earning DJs in the world were male. The first women featured on DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs are 27th-ranked Australian sisters Liv and Mim, famously known as “Nervo.” And of the 109 artists set to perform the first weekend of this summer’s Tomorrowland, the world’s biggest dance music festival, only 10 of the acts include women.

Fernandez agreed there is a lack of representation of women in the electronic dance music genre and among DJs, but the disparity highlights a deeper issue that women in the industry are not given the same opportunities, and have told him they just want to be seen as artists.

“Girls That Mix” was the first time Bienen junior Erica Bank was featured in a publicized lineup. As a music tech minor, she said she is interested in production and the convergence of music and technology. After a friend taught her how to DJ in the fall of her first year, she got a turntable for Hanukkah.

She said she wouldn’t consider DJing a “boys’ club,” and that there’s no reason why women can’t DJ. Even so, in a Northwestern class about women in rock music she learned that women are less likely to be instrumentalists.

“In some sense, if you consider the DJ board to be an instrument, I guess the same thing applies,” Bank said. “So this is something that’s been happening historically all across the music industry for so long.”

For Weinberg senior Giz Belkaya, this was also her first big performance outside of playing with friends in a basement. She listens to a lot of EDM, house and techno music, and thought she would try to make her own. Despite her initial interest in the field, she didn’t begin making her own music until this past fall because she said she knew once she started she wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about it.

She said while underground sub-genres like house and techno have more diversity, men definitely dominate EDM.

“It shows a lot because most of the big DJs that we listen to are guys and there are a couple of women DJs, but you don’t necessarily hear them on the charts,” Belkaya said.

Communication freshman Emnet Abera said while she does not listen to much dance music, she attended the event because her peer advisor, Communication senior Faalon Andrews, was performing.

Abera agreed that female DJs are not supported by the music industry, and said it was “quite beautiful” of .WAV to highlight them. She said although the event was publicized as an all-female lineup, it felt natural.

“Everyone was dancing as they normally would be,” Abera said. “Everyone was mingling and bonding over this one shared experience.”

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