I have always been a music obsessive, but first started mixing and DJing when I lived in Leeds during my time at university. One of the first things I did was join Leeds Student Radio and soon had my own show and started putting on nights, which progressed into DJing around the city. One of my first ever gigs was playing for Slut Drop at Chunk, which is a badass female-fronted event, and is one of my favourite nights in Leeds.
Over the past two or three years I have managed to turn this hobby into a career. Now I am completely immersed in music with my day job at BBC Music Introducing, where I discover new artists, and I host my show on London station Reprezent Radio, as well as presenting Mixmag’s weekly party, The Lab LDN.
I will always continue DJing because of my sheer addiction I have to hearing fresh music, and the pure energy I get from a live crowd is incredible. I love seeing people being connected by the tracks I’ve chosen, or by a specific mix. You can really feel the electricity in the air. It’s beautiful. Many often forget that dance music originated out of NYC’s 70s parties where revellers, namely queer people of colour, would come to dance, escape and connect. To me, dance music is about unity and love, so to bring it back to its true roots and away from the stereotypically male-dominated end of the spectrum is important to me. At my sets, you can expect a wide range of people who are there to dance and there to lose themselves in the music.
I’ve always been aware of the over-saturation of men in the media and music industries, but it’s never intimidated me. Regardless of my gender, I’m still going to be the best DJ I can be, and play shit hot music that people love. Sadly, we do live in a world where line-ups don’t reflect the diversity of the music scene, but it’s 100% untrue when people say that there are no female DJs out there. Trust me, we are out there! The Black Madonna, Heidi, Annie Mac, Honey Dijon, Nina Kraviz, Lauren Lo Sung, Ellen Allien, Anja Schneider, Nastia, Maya-Jane Coles, Eli & Fur, Haai… They are all some of my favourite DJ’s who also just so happen to have vaginas. Gender is irrelevant. Get over it.
I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some forward-thinking campaigns that promote women this year, including DJing for Smirnoff at festivals, who have promised to double the female headliners across line-ups, and as a member of Red Bull’s #NormalNotNovelty group. At Mixmag I’m grateful to be surrounded by an amazing crew who acknowledge dance music’s gender imbalance and really are paving the way by shining a spotlight and giving a voice to the incredible women in the scene.
To be perfectly honest, I haven’t had it half as bad some of the horror stories you hear about in this industry, however I’m very aware of the full-blown sexism that goes on. Even just stuff like guys rolling their eyes in disbelief when I tell them I’m a DJ. But you know what? Then they come to a gig or see my socials and then they’re suddenly are like “Oh shit, you’re really good!” I think whatever circumstances us girls find ourselves in, we need to rise above and prove those idiots wrong!
I’ve also noticed that sometimes I will get booked to play events and be the only girl line-up, which is sad. However, events like Slut Drop, Babes, Pxssy Palace, and Peachy all promote female-only line-ups, which is sick! Another positive is that, as a result, these wonderful female-fronted networks just like Girls That Gig are created. Through this I have made so many incredible and supportive friends who all have to go through the same shit and it’s only a matter of time before we take over the world!
First and foremost, I want to be recognised as a tastemaker and broadcaster. I want to bring through all the talented musicians and producers who I’ve met so far. I also want to promote diversity and equality in everything I do, whether it’s speaking on Women In Music panels or playing at glittery, gay, disco nights – I hope that people can follow my journey and feel empowered themselves.
My advice to any fellow creatives wanting to do the same is: take a leap of faith and just do it! Follow your dreams and you never know, you might be able to make something amazing happen.
Images courtesy of Jaguar Bingham. Find Jaguar on Facebook and listen to her latest radio show below: