Electronic dance music now rests at the forefront of dance music worldwide. With millions of dollars invested in the genre, EDM has quickly altered the status quo of the music industry, but it seems to have hit a glass ceiling: The artists who dominate local and national bookings are primarily male.
The percentage of female disc jockeys present at music festivals never exceed 10 percent, according to a study by Thump, the EDM section of entertainment publication Vice. Out of the seven festivals analyzed, Electric Zoo in New York ranked the lowest with a paltry 2.6 percent, and Mutek in Montreal ranked the highest with 9.6 percent.
Why are female DJs so underrepresented?
Gainesville promoter and DJ Vijay Seixas said he believes women simply do not find DJing as interesting as males do.
"I personally don’t think it has anything to do with being a man’s game,’" Seixas said. "People come up to me all the time at my gigs telling me about how they are starting to DJ or are becoming interested in DJing. If I kept track, the ratio would probably be 20 (males) to one (female)."
Seixas regularly hosts events at The Motor Room club, notably The Deep End on Fridays and Le Neon Liger on Saturdays, and said he has not noticed any discrimination against female DJs within the Gainesville club scene.
"There will always be a full spectrum of promoters like in anything else," he said. "I’ve never noticed any particular promoters not book someone because of gender, but I’m sure there are female DJs across the globe that probably get paid less because of it."
Shimal Patel, owner of hookah bar Sharab Lounge, said he does not have a problem with a female DJ playing in his club.
“I have a lot of friends from here that have made it into the big leagues and they all started here in Gainesville, so I’m all about giving people chances,” said Patel, whose venue has hosted the female DJs Lady Cherelle and DJ Kris V.
Lady Cherelle, who had her big break in Gainesville, has played in places such as Ultra Music Festival and is living in New York City, according to Patel and Lady Cherelle’s website.
Kelly Kochis, a local DJ who regularly plays The Deep End, said she believes she has actually been booked more because of her gender.
"It doesn't bother me," she said. "I take those instances like any other and treat them like any other. I play what I love, I've got experience and I've spent time practicing.”
Kochis has 14 years of DJing experience and fell in love with electronic music after discovering techno during her freshman year of college.
"I was introduced to music that I had always loved but never knew what to call it or where to find it," she said. "All of a sudden I was hanging out with people who had stacks of vinyl and turntables. (DJing) wasn't easy for me, but as soon as I got that first successful beat match, I was completely hooked."
Despite her success, Kochis admittedly struggles with self-promotion and believes the oversaturation of interested DJs has worked against aspiring female DJs.
"I actually think people might underestimate female DJs. It’s sometimes like they don't see us coming and are that much more surprised or impressed when we know what we are doing."
For Danielle Driscoll, a 23-year-old Gainesville DJ who just started playing in clubs February mentioned she enjoys listening to Kochis, there isn’t much of a difference between male and female DJs
“Its not about who you are but what you play,” she said.