On The Decks: Ranyue Zhang

6 years ago, when I walked into an underground club in Beijing for the first time, I was instantly attracted by the gear in the booth. At that point, I had no idea what those knobs and buttons could do to music. Out of curiosity and limited by my height, I stood at the front and watched artists twisting the knobs. “Wow, I want to give it a twist”, I was thinking. A seed was very casually planted in my young heart since then. 3 years later, I came to England and met my friends Andrew and Oliver who love DJing. During a mini post-exam party, I asked Andrew to teach me how to mix while they were mixing as usual and he did. I sort of managed to mix two songs the first time I ever touched the mixer (Andrew was a great teacher, I have to say) and had a shot of pure gin to celebrate after that. The pure gin wasn’t good but the satisfaction I got from mixing was enormous, which is enough to keep me practicing and DJing until now and maybe forever.

We started a charity party at Wire called Brudenell Groove last summer. Through Brudenell Groove, I met many friends who are great DJs and got more chances to play out on both Brudenell Groove and my friends’ parties such as Love Muscle and On Rotation. When I just started DJing and playing out, I wasn’t really aware of the gender difference between me and rest of my pals. To my thinking, our differences are in music tastes, mixing techniques, whether having milk and sugar in tea that kind of things. I realised that I’m the only girl in our DJ group on one of the many seshes we had back to last year. Luckily, this didn’t last long. As our group expanded, I met more female DJs and had them play for us on Brudenell Groove. They’re all super creative DJs with different mixing styles. They showed me more possibilities of DJing. I had a girls’ mixing night in my basement this summer with four other girls and had so so so much fun. I’d say I’m pretty lucky as a female DJ so far. The challenges I faced are mainly how to get better rather than the challenges of being a female DJ.   

Inspired by the New York-based collective group Discwoman and a workshop in Berlin my friend Thao went to, I’m going to start a DJ workshop and all female DJ party called Equaliser at Wharf Chambers on 30th September. It’ll be a platform for girls who are into DJing to learn, practice and play out. Although the party will be all female DJs, I hope this is a party for everyone and I will invite some male DJs to share their experience of DJing during workshops. From my own experience, constantly sharing passion and knowledge of music with everyone is what make me grow and improve faster. So I want to share it with everyone and get better and better with everyone.

Ranyue Zhang

Image by Hannah Bates

Find Equaliser on Facebook here

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