We love Annie Mac. Last time she wrote for us about life on the touring frontline, now she's back to tell journalists to stop asking her what it's like to DJ in heels.
Did you know that Pete Tong is a father of six? Have you ever wondered if Jackmaster is thinking about having kids one day or how Diplo manages his work/life balance now that he’s a father? Do you think Tiësto ever gets asked how he feels about being a man and a DJ. I'm guessing not.
Recently I did an interview for a reputable dance music magazine in which the journalist asked me what it was like to be a mum and a DJ. Then he asked me what it was like to be pregnant and a DJ. Then he asked me about an outfit I wore to the Brits and asked me how I DJ in a dress and heels? Finally he asked me for two music recommendations for 2015. I recommended a female artist and a female DJ, so he asked was this me doing the "supporting women" thing?
As far as I know "DJ" is a genderless word. Yet I’ve been asked questions like this in every interview I’ve ever done. Let’s think of the reasons being a female DJ would be different to being a male DJ. Do journalists think I spent years learning how to scratch records with my boobs? Or that I hide my USB keys in my bra?
The tools it takes to DJ - the technical knowhow, the crowd perception, the music knowledge - these are human tools. DJs are all just human beings playing records to people.
The only time I’m ever reminded of how "female" I am as a DJ is when I’m being interviewed. So I thought I’d set the record straight. After ten years of being asked the same questions in every interview, the questions that male DJs never seem to get asked, I’m going to answer them for the last time.
What’s it like to be a female DJ in this male dominated world? Do you ever experience sexism?
I hate to break it to you but I’ve never experienced sexism; from promoters or punters. If anything, at the start of my career when I was still an up-and-coming DJ, people seemed to be delighted that I was a woman out there doing my thing. There still always seems to be a row of curious and smiling girls at the front of my gigs and I love that. Not one male DJ has ever made me feel different or small because of my gender
Whats it like to be a Mother and a DJ?
Get this Mr. Music Journalist, it’s actually no different being a mum and a DJ than it is being a dad and a DJ. I learnt about parenthood from my fellow DJ friends, all of whom are male and brilliant inspiring fathers. People like DJ Zinc, DJ Yoda, Jas from Simian Mobile Disco, Erol Alkan and Tiga. They grind. They leave home for weeks on end and leave their kids behind. Sometimes the lucky ones have wives who will bring their kids on tour with them, but mostly they miss their kids and their kids miss them and that is a very normal working situation for any parent who works away from home, male or female.
What’s it like being pregnant and being a DJ?
The last place in life you want to be when you are heavily pregnant is in a nightclub at 3am. You’re exhausted, nauseous, people are shouting in your face, the music is so loud you can feel the bass vibrate in your belly and you’re worried that your baby will have hearing damage for life. Everywhere you go, people are reminded of your sobriety and their inebriation. It’s a nightmare. So I didn’t work for four months. It was terrifying having to step down from a career that I’d been building for 10 years. It was also a year and half ago. I’ve moved on.
Can you DJ in a dress and heels?
Are you just trying to "support women" by recommending two female artists?
Believe it or not, it is possible to talk about two female artists without being tokenistic. There are countless female artists and female DJs who are quietly achieving all their dreams without using their gender as a tool. I have often been asked to play novelty all girl DJ line-ups and I’ve always had problems with it because I don’t want to be asked about being a girl, I don’t want to be a “token" booking. In the same way, I don’t support those female artists because they’re female but because they’re brilliant and compelling and inspiring and talented. And I will continue to support them, like I love and support the male ones, without considering their gender in the process.
Why aren’t there more female DJs?
There are shit loads of female DJs. Open your eyes. And your ears. They are coming through like wildfire. When you meet them, please for the love of God don’t ask them about being female.