Today is International Women’s Day, a symbol of female empowerment across the world. This tribute day is also a focus for change to be made in gender equality and the campaign’s slogan this year is #beboldforchange. Here at Zone Focus, I believe that there are adjustments to be made in the attitudes of various industries towards equality. This is also true for the music industry, especially that of the electronic nature. Look at any festival line-up and you’ll see that the artists are mostly male. Somehow female DJs and producers don’t seem to break through as often as the male ones. Over the years there has been some progression to change this, but I feel that the music industry still has some way to go before it’s a level playing field.
Until then however, I wanted to play tribute to the female DJs and Producers who are doing good in the electronic music scene as it currently stands. For this Top Ten, I have picked Female DJs/Producers who I admire for their skill, personality or music. One or two (probably more…) I have picked because I definitely have a crush on these wonderful women. So lets take a look at the girls who got groove.
1. Eli & Fur
Starting off with some old favourites of mine and my opinion one of the best electronic duo’s around is Eli & Fur. The award winning twosome’s sound has progressively stayed with me over the years, going from deep tunes like ‘You’re so High‘ and ‘Your Eyes’ to Techy bangers like the one featured above (got to plug the ZF youtube sometimes you know). The pair of ladies from UK tour the world endlessly keeping audiences hypnotised with their music. They also allow people an insight into their lives by producing self made video’s such as California Love, a documentary/musical production made whilst they toured America, which you can help but fall in love with.
2. Annie Mac
She is my Idol. Thats what lovely Annie Mac means to me. For many years I have followed her work, listening to her shows on Radio 1 almost religiously. I’m maybe slightly biased in my opinions of her because I’m a huge fan, but here’s why I think she deserve’s a place on this list. She hosts possibly the biggest radio show in the country, which she has worked hard to get to that position (being a radio producer for many years under Zane Lowe). She is a definite taste maker; she has an ear for music that competes with any DJ or Producer on the scene today, presenting these in her personal curated compilation albums and show’s, Annie Mac Presents. Finally, she now organises an international festival in Malta called Lost and Found festival, which hosts the best DJ acts from around the world. All of these talents make her a woman to be admired.
3. Maya Jane Coles
This woman is part of my personal house heritage. Amongst other artists, Maya Jane Coles was one of the first House producers I played out as a DJ, after falling in love with the classic ‘What They Say’ featured above (that Chicago house sound is unreal). Whilst doing my research on her, I love the introductory quote that Resident Advisor gives for her; “Maya is somewhat of an enigma in today’s music world; on a typical Maya Jane Coles record, Maya will have written, produced, engineered, arranged, mixed and performed every element of the track; sometimes top-lining and, on most occasions, even designing the sleeve artwork too.” This perfectly describes her as an artist I think, but what I love about her as an artist the most is her complex personal sound, sensually deep in its essence.
Another duo who I’m fascinated with is Blond:ish. I first saw them play a set at Woomoon at Cova Santa and upon being asked what did I think of their set, I answered like this; “It was a captivating mix of deep tech with psychedelic guitar samples and wavey sounds…basically it was awesome.” Since that point I’ve been following their sounds and reading into their lives, learning that they started out life by winning the World Air Guitar Championship title in Montreal in 2008 (possibly one of more unique group formations). In short however you can see that the pair are completely focused in their music providing sets that musically speaking send you “down the rabbit hole“.
5. Peggy Gou
Peggy Gou is a fairly recent find for me, but she is worthy of mention within this list for a couple of reasons. Firstly her back story is somewhat interesting; Born in South Korea, lived in London from the age of 14 and now lives and works in Berlin, she is the definition of an internationally made producer. Secondly I adore her productions, her house and techno tracks just ooze groove with touches of nostalgia in her sampling. Her ‘Seek For Maktoop’ EP release under Ninja Tune‘s house and techno imprint Technicolour is a perfect example of this sound, almost disco infused in some ways. Check out ‘Gou Talk’, another ZF favourite for sure!
6. Lauren Lo Sung
Named “A true rising star of her generation” by Ibiza Spotlight, Lauren Lo Sung has achieved a lot in a small space of time. From her early beginning’s starting in Liverpool, she has gone from strength to strength, playing at major events such as Warehouse Project in Manchester and more recently the opening events at Printworks in London. All this whilst managing her own event in Liverpool, LOLiFE (started in 2009) which hosts in her hometown regularly. Lauren has gathered support from DJs far and wide, but most importantly she was selected by Carl Cox to play in the final season of ‘The Revolution’. Her musical selections are pure mix of dub techno which is perfection, and her own releases showcases her natural producing talent.
I will gladly hold my hand up and say that this was one of the artists that I have a crush on. ANNA is absolutely gorgeous, but more importantly her releases are absolutely fire. She has been featured on Zone Focus in last months Top Ten: Techno article. I said in that article I couldn’t decide between two tracks, because both are definitely necessary in a DJs arsenal, so I decide to post ‘Face your Fears’ here. If I was to put money on an artist that will make it big in the next couple of years, It would be ANNA. A resident of Berlin, she is fast becoming a well known name in the Techno scene with releases on Terminal M, Dynamic and Circus Recordings to name a few. Her most recent release, an acid remix of Reboot’s ‘Pollo al Sillao’ is fast becoming a ZF favourite.
Another fairly new face on the scene is Ukrainian DJ, Nastia. I first became familiar with her as an artist after watching the above video, surprised by the choice of vibe, A smooth and soft mix of drum and bass, I explored her soundcloud to find that she was particularly talented at spinning Techno also. Taking a quote from her biography description; “I am not a producer. I am a real DJ. Although producing doesn’t really interest me – I know that my best skill is at mixing records.” I really respect this stance, that as an artist the most important thing to her is to play records, immersing herself in the music, so that she can give her audience what they want and need. Mixmag have since taken notice of this incredible DJ and have featured her as cover star on their February issue, a huge step forward for the newcomer.
9. Nicole Moudaber
Seeing as I featured her Giv Me Luv remix in the last Top 10 article, I decided to pick this brilliant boiler room as the featured video. This is because Nicole Moudaber‘s talents as a DJ are equal to her talents as a producer, they are both sublime. The Drumcode label, who Nicole has released with in the past, describes her well; “with her trademark shock of untamed dark hair, the Nigeria-born artist can be spotted in a DJ booth by profile alone, rocking crowds before she even drops a record.” This all taken in account, she is a great selector of sounds, but more importantly an independent women doing well in the music business. Amongst her own achievements she runs the imprint Mood Records and she also supports NYC’s Lower Eastside Girls Club, which helps disadvantaged young women access the tools they need to pursue their passion for music.
10. Nina Kraviz
Saving the best until last is the Queen of Techno herself, the beautiful and amazing Nina Kraviz. I think its safe to say that most of the electronic industry would say they have a crush on lovely Nina. Probably because she is a fantastic dancer when she mixes a blend of dark electronic and techno; It’s almost mesmerising to watch. But apart from her features, she is DJ like no other, dominating parties and festivals all over the globe. Her label трип (pronounced as ‘trip’ and started in 2014) is a bizarre but cool project featuring stompers such as Bark’s “I Wanna Go Bang“. трип builds on some of the principles of her beloved 90s techno labels in terms of attitude and aesthetics, whilst looking for forward-thinking modern productions that reflect her core tastes for idiosyncratic electronic music. It is her label where I feel Kravis is really coming into her own as a producer, releasing minimal trippy tracks like ‘Let’s Do It‘.