It’s a shame we need a special day to remind the world of something that should be boringly obvious, but we do. Until women are paid equally, feel as safe as men walking down the street, aren’t reduced to objects of desire, belittled, written off or undermined, International Women’s Day is a vital reminder that we need to continue to support, raise up and stand with female-identifying people all over the world.
As the global awakening continues, we celebrate ten outstanding DJs past and present who have made vital contributions to dance music and continue to set fine examples to their peers.
It’s fair to say Nina Kraviz is now a DJ superstar. From the intimate whispers of her earliest deep house, she has transformed into a global techno and acid authority with her own unique sound and trendsetting label to boot. Not afraid to play the set she wants rather than the set people expect, she has a peerless knowledge of everything from sleazy Dance Mania to mind blowing Aphex Twin that all inform her unrelenting and powerful sets around the world.
Veteran DJ Heather doesn’t seem to get the headlines she deserves. The Brooklyn born Chicagoan has wickedly sharp skills behind the decks and was a vital part of the Windy City scene, not least when she was serving customers like Derrick Carter at Grammaphone Records. Her bumping style is infectiously energetic and has no doubt paved the way for many women to follow in her footsteps.
Proud of her own roots and those of the house music scene she is such a vital part of, Honey Dijon is outspoken on issues of authenticity and diversity. Musically informed by the early scenes and parties of both New York and Chicago, she spins sets of straight up house, disco and techno that don’t care for fads, rare records or hot tips. Few DJs could play gigs for fashion giants like Louis Vuitton as well as underground hotbeds like Panorama Bar, but Honey can, and does it with real style.
Berghain resident Tama Sumo has been an inspirational female figure for years. Her fierce sets have roots in the LGBTQ+ scene and mix dark functionality with open hearted vocals, colourful disco with stripped back electro. From resident days at Tresor in the 90s to now, she has broadened her sound to take in afro and soul and remains as compelling as she is unpredictable.
Few DJs make beats as thoughtful and laden with social and political meaning as DJ Sprinkles. Her deep house is the deepest around, while her DJ sets lean on classic house and plenty of rapturous vocals. This famous outsider and provocative thinker is constantly reminding us of the queer roots of house, and for that alone we should be thankful.
Mafalda is a cult crate digger who co-runs the Melodies International label with Floating Points, DJ Love On The Run and Elliot Bernard. She is also resident at the famous You’re A Melody night where her selections take in forgotten soul classics, rich jazz, Brazilian beats and generally special sounds that always resonate. Always eye (or ear) opening to listen to, she is a real educator in the booth.
Rising up from the Bristol scene and from behind the counter at Idle Hands, Shanti is a sure fire party starter. Her own tunes range from futuristic electro to classically inclined deep house with gorgeous vocals, while her Peach Discs label has become an essential outlet for new talents. As a DJ, she lights up the club with dynamic drums and plenty of emotion.
Her blistering sets of acid, electro and techno have made Helena one of the most fawned over DJs of the day. The DJ turned producer cut her teeth at the legendary Golden Pudle in Hamburg and has since released her esoteric sounds on labels like Werk Discs and Handmade Bird. They are never less than thrilling and adventurous affairs.
The newly signed-up Rinse FM resident seems to have become an overnight success story recently, but the truth is she’s been DJing for decades. A well kept secret for years, Jane can do head fucking IDM sets as well as slick tech house, absorbing ambient and plenty in between. She runs her own Night Moves party and is currently semi-regular resident at Oval Space.
Mary Anne Hobbs
Dubstep would sound very different without the early and tireless efforts of Mary Ann Hobbs. The airing of a Dubstep Warz special on her Radio 1 show in 2006 was a pivotal moment in the genre that helped take the sound from the streets of Croydon to the wider world. A consistent champion of new msuic, Mary Ann remains a driving force in the underground scene.