As someone who’s been to a fair share of EDM festivals, it’s easy to recognize the overwhelming amount of males that dominate the industry. However, at a festival in Miami last year called Life in Color, I saw a female DJ perform for the first time. Ever since then I’ve wondered what it must be like to be a female in a predominantly male industry such as EDM.
The artist I saw was Amber Giles, who goes by the name of Mija. She comes from a poor family in Arizona and started her career as a rave promoter at only 17. The most noteworthy act she booked was Skrillex, before they became famous. After living with fellow DJs, she decided to take it up full time. By 2015, she was on Billboard’s list of female DJs to know. Since, her biggest festivals have been Bonaroo, Burning Man, and Coachella. As a successful female EDM artist, she is often asked how she feels about the industry. She has said that she feels absolutely equal to her male peers and that she doesn’t think about being compared to only males often. However, other female DJs have recognized the lack of female artists and have spoke up about it.
Grimes, a Canadian self-taught DJ, producer, singer, editor, and artist, has more to say about inequality in her line of work. She has said, “I don’t think there are few female producers because women aren’t interested. It’s difficult for women to get in. It’s a pretty hostile environment.” This is directly related to her own difficult experiences with male producers. She has stated that multiple men have tried to blackmail her into going home with them by threatening not to finish her tracks. For this reason, it’s extremely important for females to start producing for themselves and other female artists. No one should have to feel that kind of pressure and suffocation at their job.
Amanda Re, founder of Women of EDM has stated, “I personally feel women will always have to have their guard up, because even the men in ‘committed’ relationships will put you in check. Shit gets real when sex is leverage for items of desire. Artists on the top ten lists have propositioned me, as have highly respected men in the industry. It’s one of the cons I’ve experienced as a women in EDM. If I feel pressured, I have no problem voicing my piece of mind because it is important to make sure my presence as a woman is respected at all times.” Clearly, male artists and producers coming onto women during what should be professional situations is a pattern. However, despite this well known symptom of the industry, so many women have been brave enough to go up against their male counterparts and prove that EDM is an industry that any woman can tackle. So many female DJs are on the rise and doing amazing things in electronic music.
One of the more popular female artists, The Black Madonna, is not only conquering sexism in the industry. She is one of the oldest current DJs, probably the oldest well known female DJ, and thinks that not only more women, but more older adults need to get involved. Being a female in your late 30s in an industry dominated by male DJs in their early 20s has been difficult, but she has a vision for the future of EDM. An important quote by her states, “Dance music needs women over the age of 40. Dance music needs breastfeeding DJs trying to get their kids to sleep before they have to play. Dance music needs poor people and people who don’t have the right shoes to get into the club… Dance music needs people who struggled all week. Dance music needs people that had to come before midnight because they couldn’t afford full admission. Dance music does not need more of the status quo.”
EDM in and of itself is an extremely new form of music that is only improving with new, innovative technology and creative artists. However, the industry has a long way to go before women and other marginalized groups are equal to young white men. Overall, there are so many amazingly brave and talented female artists on the rise and the ratio of men to women is only going to continue to get better. So, finally, I encourage everyone to check out the artists I talked about and other new female artists taking EDM by storm.