Female DJs on campus talk struggles and triumphs

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Daniella Tello-Garzon. Thanks for tuning in. On Saturday, April 27th, Medill junior and DJ Amanda Gordon got ready to perform at .WAV’s Girls that Mix Event. According to Gordon, DJing isn’t just about mixing tracks. You also have to do your research.

AMANDA GORDON: I feel it does have this veneer of coolness if that makes sense. But behind it, I think, is a lot of nerdiness. I think, to be a good DJ, you have to spend — put those hours in, you know, digging through the crevices of YouTube playlists and SoundCloud and really trying to expand your music library and your knowledge. And I think that’s why clubs (like) Streetbeat are so important because it’s not just about the technical skills of how to DJ but the history of different genres, where the music comes from, and just the cultural significance of what we’re doing as DJs, not just the technical aspects. I think, to be a good DJ is to be curious and somewhat of a historian as well.

TELLO-GARZON: But the amount of time, and oftentimes money, it takes to be a DJ can make the craft seem inaccessible, according to Communication junior Melia Agudelo. For Agudelo, joining WNUR’s radio show Streetbeat allowed her to overcome the intimidation factor.

MELIA AGUDELO: You have to have equipment, and like you can DJ on your computer with (some) kind of software and that sort of thing, but it’s not very accessible and easy to learn. And just trying to find music and trying to understand the process, I think it is really intimidating. It feels like there’s a gap of knowledge that unless you’re participating in one of these groups, it’s really hard to learn, which is why I really appreciate Streetbeat because I definitely wouldn’t have learned how to DJ otherwise, just because WNUR has the equipment there and you don’t have to buy equipment. And you can kind of learn on campus.

TELLO-GARZON: Along with WNUR giving her a space to cultivate her DJing skills, Agudelo’s also been able to learn from women in a historically male-dominated industry.

AGUDELO: My experience with Streetbeat has been a really positive one, because every year I’ve been on it, there’s been sort of a woman who’s been part of the leadership, which I think is really important and encouraging because since I’ve been at Northwestern most of the DJs I know are men. So it’s cool to, even though if there’s a majority of men, the people that I value in my experience are women or non-binary people who DJ as well at Northwestern.

TELLO-GARZON: Gordon said that in her personal experience, she’s seen mostly male DJs within Streetbeat. But in recent years, she’s started to see DJ’s with a wider range of gender identities.

AMANDA GORDON: I do this idea of prioritizing, female non-binary artists and giving them their sort of do. Even within Streetbeat, of course, of course there are a few female DJs, but it tends to be mostly male, I think. And even within Streetbeat, I think over the years, more and more women have joined, which I think is really cool. I love the idea of being a part of that

TELLO-GARZON: So with DJing commonly being a male-dominated industry, how did you see that trend in your personal experience and how did it affect you?

AMANDA GORDON: I think, honestly, because my DJing experience is really Northwestern-centric, has been really Northwestern-centric, I’ve sort of seen it through the prism of Streetbeat. And while Streetbeat my freshman year was primarily male, Rachel Williams was one of the producers at the time for Streetbeat, one of three. And it was really cool to see her take charge of the club in a lot of ways and was sort of a role model for me I think, in just having, you know, she had her own show, and I would come by sometimes and she was really, really warm and was so happy to see more females joining. And I think that that sort of has motivated me to keep going and recruit more women into the fold. So, I think, I haven’t experienced any sort of discrimination or anything. But I think, a sense of empowerment from seeing other women come before me in Streetbeat.

TELLO-GARZON: Communications senior Faalon Andrews started out in Streetbeat and over the years has found success in the DJ scene.

FAALON ANDREWS: So a couple months ago I DJed at A&O Ball – Blowout? – I forget which one. I think it was Blowout. A&O Blowout. o I was before Smino and I was before Carly Rae Jepsen. So that was the biggest stage that I’ve ever DJed before. That definitely stands out, because it was capacity-wise the most people that I’ve ever DJed for.

TELLO-GARZON: Andrews hopes that the Girls that Mix event inspires more women on campus to start DJing. She also said when DJing, she views being a female as an advantage.

ANDREWS: Generally, In events that I’ve DJed in the past, it’s I’m the only woman that DJs at a party and all the other lineup are all guys. I don’t know if it necessarily deters us. If anything, I think at least for me it makes me stand out a little bit more. I think because you see just dude after dude go up and then you see a woman go up and DJ, I think people…I think that people are interested and want to see it because that’s just not as common. So I think if anything, it’s helped me.

TELLO-GARZON: Thanks for listening. This is Daniella Tello-Garzon, and I’ll see you next time.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @daniellatgarzon

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