September saw the anticipated return of The Warehouse Project, an annual 12 week run of club events across Manchester featuring some of the best talent that electronic music has to offer. Yet, once again, only a rough 10% of the lineup are women, and in all honesty, this statistic comes at no surprise. As Forbes’ list of the world’s highest paid DJs for 2017 shows - a register that predictably failed to feature a single female artist - women are yet to be taken as seriously as men are when it comes to electronic music.
There are, in all fairness, an increasing amount of women who have successful careers in the industry; Annie Mac headlined two of the WHP nights, hosts her own show on BBC Radio 1, and even has a dish named after her at popular festival food truck, Anna Mae’s Mac and Cheese. Another obvious headliner is of course Nina Kraviz, the Russian DJ who has dazzled the industry for almost 10 years. But why then, in 2017, are these women not championed the same way that men are?
Perhaps, as Dutch DJ and Producer Fedde Le Gand suggested when asked by Thump why more women didn’t make DJ Mag’s Top 100 list in 2015, it’s because “they spent too much time in Sephora and too little time on producing". True? Definitely not. But Le Gand’s statement does raise a central problem: the issue with women and electronic music runs directly parallel to society’s negative perception of women in general. In other words, the fact that women are either sexualised or disregarded by the industry is no news at all; it's the same old story of workplace discrimination in a different setting.
Perhaps that sounds obvious, or perhaps it just sounds dramatic, but every time your mate posts a status asking for “hot girls who want to learn how to mix” for a night he’s putting on, or it’s suggested that women have no interest in learning how to produce or make music, the barrier of prejudice that female artists have to fight to clear in order to make a name for themselves is being perpetuated. And in an industry that is already dominated by men, women need no more discouragement when it comes to getting behind the decks.
Proving that women certainly don’t spend too much time in Sephora, below are our top picks of all the women championing this year’s Warehouse Project lineup.
The Black Madonna
“Dance music needs riot grrrls. Dance music needs Patti Smith. It needs DJ Sprinkles,” says Marea Stamper, aka The Black Madonna. With sets that spin from disco to techno, Stamper is not only a fiercely respected DJ, but most importantly, a woman who is slowly chipping away at the industry’s problem with inequality.
Since hitting the scene in 2012, Jayda G’s uplifting sets have quickly developed a dedicated following of partygoers, and deservedly so. Leaving the pretentiousness that is often associated with her genre at the door, Jayda G instead favours soulful tracks by the likes of Donna Summer and Toni Smith.
Hailing from South Korea, Peggy Gou is the first female DJ to play outside of her country, a feat that has captured the interest of some of the industry’s biggest names.
Combining a background of beats with electric soul inspired by her stint working as a backing singer for Nao, Bonzai has been working alongside fellow DJ and producer Mura Masa, and is quickly on her way to becoming one of the UK’s biggest breakthrough talents.
You might recognise her from the Boiler Room video that features the manic guy dancing in white cat eye sunglasses, but OR:LA certainly deserves more praise than that. She’s a resident at this year's Warehouse Project, but up until now the DJ has kept a pretty secretive profile that stems from her nomadic club night, Meine Nacht.