The other day it was revealed that a certain male techno producer and label owner had said a few disparaging things about female DJs. We won’t namedrop, but it shouldn’t require much research at all if you really want to know. Like many, we found the very notion that the number of X chromosomes one had could have any bearing on their ability to play records to a crowd completely absurd and counterproductive at a time when patriarchy is still alive and well in electronic music. Even if his comments were only made in jest, or taken slightly out of context, he still felt the urge to say them, further emphasising the gulf we still need to overcome if our much beloved music ever does intend to rise above such nonsense and dated attitudes towards gender.

There certainly are more household names of the female and non-binary persuasion emerging over time – Helena Hauff, Tama Sumo and Octo Octa instantly spring to mind – but even the most respected summer festivals still feel disproportionately male-focused in their programming. That said, we are witnessing more dialogue about gender in music than ever before. Hopefully these conversations and the colossal efforts made by those actively seeking to address the imbalance will pay dividends, but it feels like a war of attrition at times. It’s not for the lack of talent, however, so without further adieu, here are a bunch of female DJs and femme collectives who are (probably) better than you.


Apeiron Crew

One of the most exciting, all-female DJ groups going at the moment is undoubtedly the Danish trio known as Apeiron Crew. Consisting of members Smokey, Mama Snake and Solid Blake, Apeiron Crew have proven themselves to be prominent figures in the recent wave of artists who get caught under the catch-all term of “techno feminism”. Their recent mix for Crack Magazine is a real doozy – throughout it duration the collective traverse a whole manner of alluring club tunes, and the unexpected finale of Massive Attack’s classic ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ comes as a real treat.

 

DJ Storm

The proclaimed ‘First Lady of Drum & Bass’, Storm has lead a more than remarkable career for three decades, being a co-founder of Metalheadz with Goldie and Kemistry, her DJing partner who tragically died in 1999. Together Kemistry and Storm held down the Metalheadz residency at Blue Note and their career peaked with a now-legendary DJ-Kicks release, but Storm has kept at it, and her immense talent continues to take her outside of the drum & bass subculture, with a recent Boiler Room performance alongside Mumdance, Logos, and Roly Porter, and an RA Live set at OHM Berlin.

 

Josey Rebelle

Josey Rebelle‘s dance music roots are firmly based in the UK-centric sounds of jungle and hardcore but her mixes touch on house, techno and virtually everything in between. Lucky enough to have enjoyed a residency at Plastic People, the legendary London venue’s closing left her “forever craving a dark basement with a red light,” while other notable moments include gracing the decks during the very first Boiler Room broadcast and a lengthy residency on Rinse FM. Apron Records to Fingers Inc., Rebelle has emerged as one of the UK’s most reliable DJs, regularly defying genre boundaries and transitioning between BPMs effortlessly.

 

Lena Willikens

Salon Des Amateurs resident Lena Willikens is easily one of the most respected selectors on the underground circuit. Regularly playing B2B with the likes of Ben UFO and Call Super, her shows for Radio Cómeme and guest appearances on other esteemed broadcasters like NTS deliver tripped-out excursions that span decades and continents – she’s just as likely found reaching for 1970s African music as avant-garde electronics or leftfield techno. With an almost methodical approach to how she packs her record bag, Willikens even will go as far as considering what drugs a crowd take when preparing for a gig. Talk about attention to detail.

 

Anu 

One of the most eclectic on the list, and that’s saying something, Anu reaches for all manner of oddities, whether it’s on NTS, Berlin Community Radio or in venues dotted all over the UK (and occasionally further afield). Part of Bradley Zero’s Rhythm Section family, the Anything Butts radio shows on Balamii have become essential listening and recent Brilliant Corner appearance on behalf of Resident Advisor saw the London selector administer a horizontal and adventurous blend of experimental electronics.

 

LNS

Following in the footsteps of her compatriot Jayda G, Vancouver’s Laura Sparrow AKA LNS has found favour with DJs Fett Burger and Sotofett, the fraternal duo who previously could have been criticised for running their various labels like a boys club. But contrary to what another European label owner apparently believes, she’s there entirely on merit. We’ll have to wait another couple of weeks to get hold of a highly-anticipated and kaleidoscopic collaboration with Sotofett, but contributions to Fett Burger’s Trushmix series have seen the 1080p and Freakout Cult artist deliver two killer blends with a distinctly retro-futuristic sheen.

 

SIREN

Whilst each member of SIREN is a sick DJ in their own right, as a collective they aspire to be much more than that. This femme and non-binary focused crew are keen to shine a spotlight on underrepresented talent, and use their NTS access to regularly put on femme and NB only workshops for aspiring DJs. Having been regulars at Peckham record shop Rye Wax for a while, their last party in a derelict unit in Bermondsey began with a live music coding workshop from Joanne {Algobabes} alongside sets from Lil Mofo and Bristol’s Ifeoluwa.

 

Stephanie Sykes

London-based producer/DJ Stephanie Sykes is the very definition of a concrete floor DJ and is as at home at Berghain as she is at her residency at Corsica Studios infamous Jaded party (Sat 4am – Sun 3pm). Week-in week-out she lays down skull crushing techno in room one with technical brilliance, and a narrative complete with peaks and troughs that takes the room through a journey. Alongside her Jaded residency she also residents Khidi & Atomic Jam, plays internationally with sets in Berlin’s best clubs every other weekend and somehow manages to find time to produce with tunes released on Fullpanda, Vent and Prodigal Son. A true London staple.

About The Author

Leave a Reply