On The Decks: SLUT DROP

“Being a girl DJ in a very male dominated industry” Where to start!

The word “very” is very important because if the question was just about being a girl in a male-dominated industry, that would apply to a large proportion of industries. The very fact that “very” is in that sentence is what makes it so much more difficult to be a women and a DJ in the industry.

The imbalance is so vast and that has always been an issue. It’s not like over history that has changed. Jobs in technology were, at one point in history, dominated by women. Then it changed to being dominated by men and that is still the case. Female DJs have never dominated the industry and so sorting out the imbalance is naturally going to take time. A lot of it also comes down to a much bigger gender issue ingrained in our society.

Either way, the first challenge for women in DJing is believing or perceiving it as something you can even do. I’ve met so many women that love music but when I’ve asked them if they DJ, they have either not even considered it or, have but simply thought, “no no, I can’t do that”. They wrote it off before even trying because they don’t see it as something they can do. I think one of the biggest reasons for that happening is role models. If you never see women doing it, how are you supposed to believe you can do it or even imagine doing it?

Image by Viktorija Kapustina

Laurie is a beginner DJ who I met at the first Slut Drop’s Open Deck sessions. When she arrived at that first session, she had never DJ-ed before but had clearly been interested for a long time. Side note: she came round for a mix recently and even though she has not been learning long, she has come so far so fast and is absolutely nailing it. I can hear her improve every time she has a mix with me or at the open decks.

A comfortable learning environment has a big influence on how quickly you learn: if you feel supported, you’re more likely to believe in yourself and therefore have more confidence. Confidence is half the battle of success, because having self doubts holds you back. Yes, practise is key to improving but without the right environment for practising, it becomes more difficult to improve. I asked Laurie what she thought about the question posed and this is what she had to say: “Until you actually try for yourself, you don’t realise how much you assume you can’t do something because it’s not the ‘done thing’. Once you try it and realise you can do it, you feel like there’s this whole other side that you’ve been missing out on, which leaves you feeling like you have SO much to catch up on.”

Getting access to equipment is also a barrier facing DJs. It’s expensive and therefore usually an investment. So people don’t just splash out five hundred quid to see if they like DJing. You either need a mate who lets you use their equipment or you need to be rich to buy the whole kit yourself. Basically, if you don’t have either of those as options, getting access to equipment and practising is almost impossible. Even if you have all the drive, ambition and motivation to do it, if you can’t practice, you can’t continue learning. Although there are cheap and DIY setups for those with a budget, if you’re starting from scratch and don’t have speakers, headphones, a mixer or controller, let alone turntables, how are you going to learn? What are you going to practise on?

Perhaps girls would be more willing to save money or risk spending it and their time to become a DJ if they themselves believed or felt like they could be one in the first place. Until it becomes normal to see girls DJing and for no one to bat an eye lid. For lineups to be gender balanced. Ironically it wouldn’t actually matter about having a balance if it there wasn’t such an imbalance in the first place! Until people see a DJ and not even consider what gender that person is, and therefore not show a biased or unconscious biased view of the performance, girls are not going to have as many role models to look up to or inspire them. The ones that are the role models are having to face a very different pressure and scrutiny that men in the industry just don’t have to face in the same way.

SLUT DROP

Check out SLUT DROP’s recommended tracks below, all by awesome lady DJs:

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