The Main Attraction

DJ and producer Sophie Lloyd is aware that she gets bookings, particularly for corporate events, on the basis of her looks, alongside her abilities: “In all honesty being attractive helps,” she says. “A lot of the time I’ve been booked for being female which I guess has worked in my favour, but like anything, you have to back it up. It may at times push you to the front of things but you have to prove yourself more, to show that you’re not just attractive and female but that you are actually good at what you do.”

Sophie Lloyd 2

Sophie Lloyd

DJ and events promoter Suze Rosser disagrees: “The importance of looks is in the more tits-and-headphones glamour/celebrity scene, not in the credible dance music scene which we’re in” she says. “In more underground clubs such as Fabric it would be rare to see girls like that playing. The DJs would be more natural and fitting to the vibe of the club. We’re all on the same page – the style of night carries a certain style. Music is the most important aspect.”

Despite this, the sexualisation and image control of female artists has to be considered in this debate. It isn’t a new observation that women (and some men) across all popular media platforms are sexually objectified in the pursuit of commercial success, but there are many women, in the electronic dance music scene as well as the more ‘popular’ scene, who have used this awareness to get noticed. From Madonna to Britney and Lady Gaga to Peaches (who in a recent show in Berlin shone light out of her anus) through to current electronic starlet Nina Kraviz, who, like her predecessors takes on – or, one could argue, confronts – the male gaze head-on through her hyper-sexualised image. All considered acceptable under the somewhat shaky umbrella of post-feminism.

It must be noted that there are plenty of other successful female acts who have not felt such overt self-objectification necessary on their career path. But the issues are in what we – as society – deem acceptable in how images of women are communicated. We have become so brainwashed with images of women fitting the prescribed formula that anything else is found shocking.

While researching this story I rediscovered one female producer who I interviewed 15 years ago and who has slipped into relative obscurity. The image of her now obese body shocked me, purely based on how we – both men and women – have been programmed via the media to respond and assign value to certain images, to judge what is acceptable in the feminisation and representation of the female body. One only has to refer to the recent gossip frenzy surrounding Lady Gaga’s weight gain to affirm what society deems palatable.

Support the next wave of talent

Suze Rosser

Suze Rosser

Over and above all else, is it the visibility of women acting as role models which is of primary importance? When Lottie started out as a part-time DJ in the early 90s she was the only girl she knew who spent all her money on records and fell asleep with her headphones on – until she went to infamous hard techno night Trade at Turnmills in London where she saw Smokin’ Jo. “There were no other girls DJing at the time,” Lottie recalls. “Even though I knew I could mix, I never thought I could make a career out of it until I saw Smokin’ Jo. It took me seeing her to give me the confidence I needed.”

Both Sophie Lloyd and Suze Rosser got a similar boost a few years later when they saw Lottie play in their home towns of Brighton and Jersey. Now they all play together at various events, including Lottie and Suze’s night We Are Geisha, which boasts an all-female DJ line up – a mixture of established and up-and-coming talent – hoping to influence the next wave of young women trying to break into the industry.

“Ten years ago it used to annoy me when people asked me about being a female DJ. Now I’ve done a complete u-turn on it,” admits Lottie. “Now it fascinates me and I think playing with just girls in one event is healthy. I think gender and dance music should be talked about. Dance music magazines, broadcast media and labels need to make women in the industry more visible. We need to support the next wave of talent coming through.”

And you know what? We do, too.

 

We Are Geisha is at Cargo, London, Friday December 21st.

Author Lulu Le Vay
20th December, 2012

Comments

  • Good article.

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  • Wicked article. We like how it looks at a few different views. We are seeing more and more girls getting in to the scene recently which is great. Although it’s funny to see how some are in it for the right reasons and some unfortunately aren’t, same case with guys though too. If you’re in it for the right reasons and have the right attitude then you will do well.

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  • only difference is girls got the option of sucking dick to book the gig

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  • @truth. Um, Is that option not open to guys too?

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  • Great read.

    The fact that we still have morons like ‘truth’ around shows why this kind of article needs to be written and this issue needs discussing.

    There’s way too much sexism in the world of dance music, too many blokes groping girls in clubs and too many dickheads who think female artists ‘suck dick’ to further their careers.

    And, in case you’re wondering, I’m a man……

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  • Female or male, unfortunately more often or not, it’s still who you know. Not what you know.

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  • @ Truth I’m sure there are women and men that have “sucked dick” to get a gig but those kinda people really wouldn’t last long in an industry of this nature.

    I think the reason why women don’t find it as easy to access is because men hold them back, possibly scared because generally speaking its easier to market a woman than a man.

    Simply put sex does sell and a nice looking young lady would sell much easier than some hairy french dude. once we get a girl in the same place as deadmau5, tiesto, guetta or any of those well marketed guys then you’ll see a real shift in the number of female producers, DJ’s and Live acts coming through.

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  • I find it funny that in developed countries where dance music has a long tradition, there are still this kind of issues. In southamerican countries like Uruguay (mine) and Argentina, there are many women DJs and producers, almost 1/3 of the total. I have never seen a guy harassing a female DJ here, they are all pretty respected, and many very skilled technically. I guess our societies rely much more on the importance of women in every aspect, and especially dance music has always been a genre-welder here. I’ve seen much more chauvinist vibes at UK and German venues, for example.

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  • cooptro – Fascinating insight. Thanks for that. Sounds like Europe and North America have a lot to learn from South America.

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  • Female or male, unfortunately more often or not, it’s still who you know. Not what you know.

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  • as a female audio engineering student, i’m genuinely disgusted by the sheer quantity of dumbing down and outright badly researched “information” in this article. cool and all that you want to call out how women in electronic music are a minority/ novelty/ grossly underrepresented, but it makes it SO MUCH WORSE to see an article on the subject that relies heavily on a complete LACK of understanding about what actual musicianship/ production/ engineering entails (not to mention the sad fact that those three terms are used so interchangeably in this article it leaves me questioning whether the author has ANY knowledge of how music is made). it makes me sad to read that the entirety of what i’m working toward is simply swept aside as “the technical side” because it is that glossing over of hard details that perpetuates the myth that women aren’t technically oriented. next time, please hire a writer who knows something about what this “technical side” really is so that perhaps your interviewees might be inclined to directly discuss their relationships to the music-making process in ways that DO break barriers, rather than reinforcing them.

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  • yeah kinda silly to say women aren’t or can’t be nerds. and tbh, screwing around with drum machines, synths, samplers is just good fun for anyone that’s actually making tunes. i mean, the only thing i don’t see women do often is argue over trivial minutiae online and that has more to do with the fact that’s it’s difficult enough without wasting time.

    doesn’t really help to start off saying dance music is dominated by men either. a lot of men and women don’t really give a shit about “dominating music” and just wanna make kick ass tracks…besides there are plenty of women that were pioneers in electronic music.

    in terms of women that have made electronic music, the ratio of good stuff to crap is way higher than with men, which likely has more to do with the motivation required to overcome adversity than anything gendered. that is to say, anyone can do it if they aren’t half assed about it.

    also, with the number of great anonymous techno releases, who’s to say that it even is men and why assume that as the default?

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  • Listen Lottie, with all due respect , I mean, I’ve seen you on sample sites selling samples packs and what not, unless I’m thinking of someone else… but if you needed a course on ableton at 40 in this day and age then you’re not really one to be interviewed in this capacity. I pressed my first electronic record on my own on a seven inch and with analog gear in 92 after seven years as a bass player having recorded my band in the studio on reel to reel mixed down to adat. I was fully versed in subtractive synth in high school in the late eighties and had a nord lead before I left home… I got the Roland tb303, the original akai mpc, 2000 and could run a protools hd 3 farm card auto 32 track board after going to school for it.. Long before ableton was on the market, and configured a twin akai z-4 hardware live pa also before ableton dropped. I had myriad beatboxes and stuff like the Alesiis mt88 and the Yamaha rs7000… and knew what analog digital diversion chips do and who roger Lynn and rob papin were and what bob moog did etc and on and on.. Why do we hardly hear females like me interviewed on this subject but mainly from chicks who are djs? this kind of female is out there. Interview them, no offense Lottie I really don’t mean to put anyone down, all kind Plur and support for your accomplishments… it’s just that I agree with the comment that whoever wrote this article seems a little lacking in the depth of technology or product history or musicology to write it… Arg..

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  • There are some typo corrects to acknowledge in my postbut I think you get the idea.. I kind of gather that space girl isn’t doing interviews about now, but attack magazine I have been reading computer music since before the word blog was a word and I’m a tad disappointed you assumed mostly chicks would read this and not call you out to dig s little deeper for valid content on your take on this issue… because you dern well know that live pa’s and real dedicated production in the underground scene does not mean a person did it to be famous or for money… Rather the exact opposite is true… because we are just plain obsessed with it.

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  • Regardless of gender, either you have the music in you and will do anything to present it or you dont. Like the thousands of other women who didnt let some gender illusion discourage them, others will do the same. Musical passion is possession. It cant be stopped. Real artists are conduits for cosmic power and there is nothing that can stop them. So its really your problem if your letting anything get in the way of your artistic trajectory male or female. And really, in art, gender doesent matter. Its the work that matters. A masterpiece is a masterpiece whether your a girl a boy or anything else.

    That said, we dont need more producers we need more musicians!

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  • What percentage of all DJs (working & nonworking and not including karaoke or radio DJ definitions, rather club-style DJing only) are female? I’m also curious if this has changed over the years.

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