Where Are The Women in EDM?
Henry Strange Alluxe
By Katie Bain
In the past three years, one woman has ranked in DJ Magazine's yearly Top 100 DJs poll. (Lisa Lashes, #75, 2009). The international EDM circuit is dominated by men like Justice, Diplo, Skrillex, Swedish House Mafia, Tiësto, David Guetta and Avicii, and the underground scene is as much of a boys club. Check the lineup for most any electronic festival and you'll generally find just a handful of female names, usually near the bottom of the list. So, where are all the women in electronic music?
"It's a hard question to answer; I don't fully understand it myself," says Colette Marino, who has performed as Colette since 1997 and was a member of the all-female DJ collective Super Jane. "The only thing we can all agree on is that it's 100 percent correct to ask the question."
"There's no doubt that the scene is dominated by men," says producer, musician and Ableton certified trainer Laura Escudé, who has worked with artists including Jay-Z and Kanye West and does live electronic shows at clubs including L.A.'s Low End Theory under the name Alluxe.
Still, there's plenty of female DJ-producers on the come-up, and the numbers seem to be increasing. Maya Jane Coles will be performing at HARD's upcoming Day of the Dead. Tokimonsta is a Brainfeeder all-star, and Grimes blew up on the power of her electro-tinged Visions. Alpha Pup's Dot is emerging out of the Low End scene, and Magda, Mistress Barbara, DJ Rap and J-Phlip are all similarly well-respected.
Rae Threat Fei-Fei
One theory is that the rise of the female presence in EDM seems to have been spurred by the proliferation of technology. As access to digital composition platforms like Ableton and Cubase has increased, the barrier to entry for any aspiring DJ has waned.
"Growing up, I wasn't interested in technology until I had to learn it in order to keep doing what I wanted to do," says composer and producer Tara Busch, who also runs the website Analog Suicide. "Technology now is so in your face. It's much easier for women to learn and not be intimated. "
"My first audio engineering class was me and 50 guys. I dropped out the first time," says DJ-producer and recording engineer Michele Darling, who serves as the Director of Education at New York-based DJ school Dubspot. "Technology can be intimidating if you haven't had exposure to it."
Musician Steve Nalepa, a former professor of music at Chapman University and current Dubspot instructor, says that despite an increased access to technology, male-female ratios in his classes remain skewed. "We've got 15 to 20 students per class and within that there are usually one or two girls. The imbalance definitely exists."