The spin queens

The spin queens

l House of tunes

The music industry is no different when it comes to women shattering glass ceilings. Even in the world of DJs, women have been instrumental in spinning a web of tunes, for the last few years, at every party.

 There are female DJs who have sprung up in the city, capable of putting together solid tracks, be it in Bollywood, EDM or house, and are slowly shaking up the party culture in town. The increase in venues, a thriving pub culture, ease of access to high-end computers and mixers and exposure to world class DJs have helped the industry grow here.

Although it tends to be male-dominated and female DJs are only a few in number and quite scattered at that, they have proved to be an inspiration to youngsters who want to take up an unconventional career path.

DJ Siana Catherine started her career in music at the age of 16 by spinning tunes at a friend’s club. She was inspired by DJ Tiesto and his work. DJ Siana is trained in special effects as a producer and has a wide skillset, ranging from hip hop to freestyle. Her genre-bending sound transcends the trap and EDM world, intertwined with her distinct vocals. She has gone on to complete 15 tours in India and 3 international tours. She recalls, “I started ‘DJing’ because I had no money. I used to work at a different job by day and was a DJ by night. It was very hard initially. I couldn’t manage both jobs so I quit my day job and became a full-time DJ. It was difficult as I wasn’t getting too many shows at first.” DJ Rislyn faced the same problem when she first entered the industry during college. She also faced a lot of problems with her payment when she was asked to put together shows. She adds that though women get paid more because they are considered “crowd pullers” at a party, they can face payment issues in the industry initially.

The duo agree that when they first started DJing, there were only about two female DJs in the city but today, the number has gone up to eight. For DJ Rislyn, the challenge begins at home. “Availing permissions to stay out late for a party is a problem. This is an entertainment industry and such events can happen only at clubs. Women are still not allowed to stay out late or work late. They also have to travel a lot and people are scared about their safety.” DJ Siana adds that there are eight female DJs doing extremely well in the industry but she can’t even begin to count the number of male DJs. “They are too many,” she says laughing.

“Being a female DJ in India is very difficult. Most female DJs are looked at as glamourous crowd-pullers in the industry when they should actually be evaluated on the basis of their music skills. Women also can’t trust everyone here. The scene is such that an organiser or a manager can book someone for an event on social media. However, they may turn out to be fake and these female DJs will only be trolled. It’s also not easy to get shows. Some people think ‘DJing’ is quite an easy job while others are not ready to pay.” DJ Esha, who stepped in the scene, says that though female DJs have been growing in number, there is a certain conservative mindset that prevents more women from entering the scene.

“In North India, there are many female DJs ruling the industry but I didn’t find that in the South when I first came 3 years back. I think it’s a general cultural difference here. There is no push for female DJs. Women are told so many things about respect and values when they start a career like this.” Inspite of these challenges, female DJs in the city have to be lauded for treading the unconventional path and striking the right chord.