Four local female DJs to represent Singapore overseas
These DJs are no strangers to overseas gigs. -TNP
SINGAPORE - A decade ago, the mere mention of a female DJ in Singapore might have invited scorn or surprise.
Back then, the scene was dominated by males.
Fast forward to today and much has changed.
The pool of women on the decks has expanded and they've proven they can match the men.
Opportunities are aplenty and four local female DJs will spin at the CausewayEXchange Festival in Penang this weekend.
Debbie Chia, Jean Tay, Pamm Hong and Natalie Tan will spin at afterparties dubbed CEX After Dark over two days at the cultural and arts event, held in conjunction with the George Town Festival, Penang's biggest arts event.
"We wanted to have something different. Female DJs are becoming more and more popular and I thought it was something more interesting to have," said festival director Shawn Lourdusamy, 40.
These DJs, three of whom form the force behind the women-only FFF Girl DJ Bootcamp, are no strangers to overseas gigs.
Chia, Asia's first participant in the prestigious annual international workshop Red Bull Music Academy in Seattle in 2005, recently spun at the World DJ Festival in South Korea to an 800-strong crowd.
Tay, Hong and Tan have fronted events in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur.
Locally, these DJs are common faces at spots such as Zouk, Blue Jaz Cafe and The Butter Factory. They have also spun at numerous private events.
Some of their favourite events are fashion-related ones, which usually prefer female DJs.
Said Chia, 31, who used to go by the monikers Miso Flamingo and Second Mouse but uses her real name now: "It's inevitable that people want us because we're girls - some people still think of it as a novelty.
"Some brands are better suited for us so there's a market for us there."
When it comes to image and outfits, the DJs said that there isn't any pressure to dress provocatively.
"We do get backlash because there are celebrity model DJs who flaunt their body, but that's the other side of the story. We focus more on the music and wear whatever we feel like," said 38-year-old Tay, or DJ Reiki.
"They're not upping the game but merely making it look bad for the rest of us," added Tan, 31. She is a marketing manager who is known as Natalie Pixiedub on the circuit.
But she admitted that female DJs are booked because they "look nice behind the decks".
"Thankfully, we have managed to make it such that people respect us for our music and not our bodies." They are also glad it's a level playing field now.
"They used to have these 'big boys' clubs' and it was hard for you to penetrate," said Tay, who is also a freelance tutor.
She said this led to favouritism, with the girls not having access to certain records as they were "reserved" for the men.
"It was so unfair. But I found alternative means, like sourcing for them overseas," she said.
Chia said male DJs still think their female counterparts enjoy special treatment.
Said the freelance copywriter: "I constantly get thrown the phrase 'because you are a girl' by male DJs.
It used to affect me but now I go, 'I am a girl, what do you want me to do?'"
Instead, these girls focus on being better at what they do.
"Finding your niche in important and then developing that and improving yourself," said 27-year-old Hong, a freelance graphic designer, also known as Suki Quasimodo.
CausewayEXchange Festival - CEX After Dark
WHEN: Friday and Saturday, 10pm
WHERE: SOHO GastroPub (Friday) and QE II (Saturday), Penang
TICKETS: Admission is free
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