Artwork by Jaclyn Castaldo
EDM gets a bad rap; known for its stereotypical portrayals in the media as overly bombastic, drug-laced, hyper-masculine music, the electronic dance umbrella and its many subgenres often raise problematic questions involving the direction of the industry. Recent surveys and think pieces have been quick (and justified) in pointing out how utterly male-dominated EDM is, along with its consistent issues of appropriating the female body in numerous, negative ways. Yet for everything that’s wrong with the emergent dance scene, it also goes beyond its portrayal of scantily-clad women in artwork, mindless drops, and brain-melting dubstep.
There’s a growing fear that because of EDM’s tendency of being overly indulgent towards the male gaze, women are in turn being isolated: ultimately turned off to both listening to dance music and potentially becoming a vital part of it all themselves. While this may be true, there are also plenty of female artists that are working against this notion, simultaneously bringing balance to music’s most polarizing genres while also proving that girls are just as talented behind the boards and on the turntables as the boys are (if not more so). This list highlights 10 female electronic producers and DJ’s you should know in 2015 and, while it’s in no way definitive, it should still cause you to rethink the stereotype that EDM is a never-ending cycle of alcohol, molly, and testosterone.
There’s a lot more going on in Clair Stirling’s world than just music, as the Glaswegian DJ also recently graduated with a degree in illustration at the Edinburgh College of Art. Yet when the LuckyMe artist does step behind the booth, her infectious sets are hard to not enjoy. As Eclair Fifi, Stirling infuses her mixes with the variety and openness to club culture that Glasgow has become known for: mixing childhood influences of Italo-disco, Chicago house, and Detroit techno, with her current love for electro, rap and R&B for a smooth cocktail of irresistible sounds.
Sapporo, Japan may have a budding star in the form of 20-year-old producer Qrion (pronounced “crayon”). While she’s steadily been gaining a following over the last three years in her native country, she’s recently caught the attention of dance aficionados stateside, with perhaps her biggest fan being Ryan Hemsworth. As one of the standouts of the Secret Songs compilations, Qrion has become known for wrapping listeners up with a blend of ambient sounds and bubbling production, with a style that subtly creeps up on you in the best possible sense.
Lauren Abedini, the self-proclaimed “Cat Queen”, is a producer and DJ from Los Angeles who is currently signed to HW&W (the same label as Kaytranada). As KITTENS, Abedini effortlessly weaves influences of contemporary hip-hop with elements of trap and jersey club into her sets, which has quickly garnered her a reputation as one of the premiere DJ’s on the west coast. When she’s not DJing, or cooking up fire in the studio as part of ATHLETIXX (a crew also consisting of Hoodboi, Falcons, and Promnite), KITTENS goes solo, reworking thumping tracks like Snootie Wild’s “Made Me” into wavy tunes that are just as potent as the originals.
One of London’s most captivating collectives, PC Music, has managed to cause quite the stir around the Internet (and “irl”) in just a year’s time. This is primarily due to each individual on the roster offering up a distinctive sound, the most piercing of them being 20-year-old producer Spinee‘s. While still keeping the hyperactive rhythm and bounce PC has become known for, Spinee all but abandons the cutesy, glossed-up vibes for house and techno-inspired jams that are as abrasive as they are vibrant. Whether she’s accelerating early 2000’s hits into pulsating fits of energy like with the transformation of Evanescence’s “Wake Me Up” into “Save Me”, or creating blistering, unrelenting tracks like “Hell Hound”, Spinee has demonstrated a knack for creating music that seriously gets the blood pumping.
The best way to describe Uniiqu3’s sound is to picture a talented, energetic young point guard who’s running a high-octane offense at all times; the crowd absolutely loves it, and the defense just can’t keep up. If that metaphor went right over your head, all of that is to say that the Newark-area producer (and rapper and singer) is definitely living up to her home state’s growing reputation for quality, unbridled dance music. With a blending of sped-up hip-hop and R&B, injected with bass-driven house vibes, Uniiqu3 has already been proclaimed queen of the Jersey Club movement. After just one listen to her mixes, or viewing of her shows, it’s pretty apparent why.
[Fatima Al Qadiri]
Originally from Kuwait, Fatima Al Qadiri is an NYC-based beat builder whose genre-bending sound is too expansive to accurately depict in a few short sentences. Take the older material under her Ayshay guise for example, where she reworks the sound of religious Muslim acappella into shimmering patchworks of bass-driven melodies and synths. If you dive deeper into her more recent work, it still maintains traces of her distinctive Middle-Eastern heritage, melding with grime-based instrumentation and slithering electro undercurrents for a wondrous result. And while Al Qadiri has been gaining notice recently as one-fourth of production supergroup Future Brown, the impact of her solo work on EDM’s current landscape should never be overlooked.
[Nina Las Vegas]
Most people will recognize Sydney’s Nina Las Vegas as the fun-loving voice of Triple J’s Mix Up Exclusives, but she’s so much more than just the host of a popular radio show. As one of the finest connoisseurs of contemporary EDM, and a talented creator of house and electronica herself, Las Vegas has become one of the definitive curators for music in the digital age. More importantly, she uses her platform to promote music coming from all points of the globe: from artists both female and male, who are massively popular, just starting out, or somewhere in between. If you’re looking for a positive voice in EDM, look no further.
Although she’s been producing and DJing for years now, Alison Wonderland truly blew up in 2014, partially due to the success of her monstrous single “I Want U”. Yet it’s the Australian twenty-something’s ability to meld devastating, trap-influenced soundscapes with a contemporary pop touch that deserves most of the credit for her now rabid fanbase. Contrasting with boisterous, full-on assaults of the senses with her production, Wonderland’s strong vocal is what keeps her music anchored. All of this results in a finely balanced sound that seems fully realized on her debut album Run, which was just recently released. (Oh, and she puts on one hell of a Coachella performance too.)
In only a year’s time, London producer and singer TĀLĀ has become one of the most promising electronic-based artists on the scene. She hasn’t shied away from her mixed heritage, which she credits as an influence to her brilliant sound, shining through beautifully in her music. To call her material vivid or evocative still wouldn’t fully do her songs justice, as TĀLĀ bends sounds to her will like a mad scientist, with future pop backdrops and epically-scaled soundscapes conjured up with the skill of an alchemist. Already two EP’s deep into the game, TĀLĀ has nowhere to go but up.
Anna Lunoe frequently tiptoes the line between genuine tenderness and devil-may-care aggression like a master tightrope walker when it comes to her brand of progressive house. Unmistakable in sound and execution, Lunoe’s prowess constructing beats is matched only by the level of enthusiasm she has for her live shows. In 2014, the Aussie producer and songstress released her raucously cool EP All Out, and linked up earlier this year with Vancouver’s Sleepy Tom for one of 2015’s biggest dance tracks in “Pusher”. Now, with so much momentum on her side, Lunoe is poised to become one of the biggest DJ’s and house producers around. Period.
P.S. This article was written in celebration of the blog’s 2-year anniversary, and while I really wanted to recap Coachella 2015, I just felt that this piece was more fitting. I appreciate everyone who has checked in on SNTW over that period of time, the support is what keeps the site going. Here’s to another great two years, and just know I always appreciate you guys, readers and artists alike. Peace. ~ Jared