Despite the undisputed fact that women fuel all party scenes, both literally and spiritually, DJ and artist lineups for WMC/M3 remain largely an annual sausage fest. Women are in the minority, but the balance appears to have improved over the years as trends evolved.
"It seems the scene, for the most part, is shifting emphasis away from this idea of superstar DJs and mega-clubs," reckons Vivian Host, the editor of electronic-culture bible XLR8R magazine by day who quick-changes into drum and bass and electro party DJ Star Eyes at night.
Host name-checks a diverse list of international female artists who have broken through and are able to coexist in this new climate, from Berlin techno goddesses Ellen Allien and Barbara Morgenstern and the UK's incendiary hip-hop hybrid M.I.A. to Chicago house chanteuse/DJ Colette. She thinks such sonic trends have had a big influence on women who don't fit into what she calls a "mainstream sexy niche," both in terms of their looks and their actual music.
Star Eyes performs at Ice Palace Studios on Wednesday, March 23; at Diesel on Thursday, March 24; at the Whitelaw Hotel on Friday, March 25; and at Adidas and Hotel Chelsea on Saturday, March 26. Jeannie Hopper performs at Empire on Tuesday, March 22; at Bash on Thursday, March 24; and at Segafredo's and the Delano Hotel on Saturday, March 26. See listings for more info.
"I think the lasting positive repercussions of electro-punk or electroclash, which mainly relies on simple gear and often prizes a lo-fi feel, is that it has made women feel less intimidated by technology," she says. "I think you will see a lot more women making electronic music in the next few years because of this."
Now new and prominent female artists abound, but at the same time, it hasn't gotten much easier for them to get respect. "I think it's especially tough for women DJs now to build a name," says Jeannie Hopper, a New York-based radio and club DJ who owns house imprint Liquid Sound Lounge and has attended WMC for many years. "When I see the billing for the big DJ lineups for WMC and M3 [events] there's sadly one or two women representing, if that." Hopper thinks this might be partially due to the product-oriented nature of the conference, which can make it tough for any artist without a new record to promote to stand out.
Hopper, like Host, notices a positive trend of women uniting to create their own parties, citing the influence of Chicago's Superjane DJ/producer collective (Heather, Dayhota, Colette, and Lady D). But even if you do manage to land the big Miami gigs, Hopper has a cautionary tale for those ladies who think their subsequent career journey will be a piece of cake, especially in an industry that tends to view talented women as sexy novelties.
"I had one Winter Music Conference where I was dubbed one of the öMiami Hot Shots of the Conference' by DJ magazine and got loads of press and was invited on the spot to do the party again the next year," she recalls. "Yet although I had a strong year in the press and lived up to the hype with my skills, when it came time for WMC a year later I was not booked again. I found myself still struggling to be billed properly that year and ended up doing my own party in the end that was loads of fun, no doubt.
"But it never ceases to amaze me," says Hopper. "There's definitely no road map. It's more like ten paces forward, nine paces back."
Chicks with Gigs
Here's where you can see some females on the decks
>> New York´s sultry and soulful Lisa Shaw sings live during Party Over Here! at Amika on Wednesday, March 23.
>> DJ Heather and Colette, half of the Chicago DJ quartet Superjane, appear during the Smart Bar Chicago at Marlin Bar on Wednesday, March 23.
>> Legendary house vocalist and perennial party host Barbara Tucker performs live with Francesco Farfa during Made in Italy Ibiza at crobar on Wednesday, March 23.
>> Local electro heavyweight the Matrix Girl plays during Bass on the Beach BBQ at South Pointe Park on Thursday, March 24.
>> Veteran San Francisco house DJ Sharon Buck spins during No Fucking Requests Ever! at Marlin Bar on Thursday, March 24.
>> Florida breakbeat dominatrix Baby Anne rocks a DJ set during Break Fest II at Nocturnal on Thursday, March 24.
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>> Sandra Collins, one of America´s leading progressive house/trance DJs, plays during Perfecto at crobar on Friday, March 25.
>> New York genre masher and spitfire Justine D and acclaimed Berlin techno diva Ellen Allien play during Revolver at Pawn Shop Lounge on Friday, March 25.
>> DJ Keri, Jackie Christie, and Suzy Solar play hard house and trance delights during the all-women showcase Venus Beach Beats at Nikki Beach Club on Saturday, March 26.
>> Drum and bass siren DJ Rap takes to the decks during Ultra Music Festival at Bayfront Park on Saturday, March 26. -- Tamara Palmer