Challenges of Being a Female DJ; Report Focus talks to DJ Mel

As 2021 speeds on into its last quarter one can only hope that we are headed for a very colourful festive season as we approach 2022, so says DJ Mel.  There have been so many life-changing things happening for everyone, and I think I don’t exaggerate saying that. Everyone is looking towards 2022 with hope that it will bring more joy than sadness. Gender inequality and discrimination is nothing new, but it is something very relevant still to this day. Because this is such a relevant topic, it has been brought up more than a few times. There are some developments in the topic, but we also, wanted to see what the hottest and busiest female DJ had to say about it. We asked her 6 questions so here goes our in-depth interview with DJ Mel

Is it more difficult to be a successful female DJ and earn your place in the industry?

DJ Mel answers: “I think it’s harder to be successful in the DJ world as a female. In spite of all the challenges, I still like to think of being a female DJ as an asset, because ultimately it sets me apart and makes me unique, but it also makes it harder overall if your goal is reaching the top.”
“Let me start off by saying, I wish it wasn’t the case. I wish it wasn’t necessary to be having this conversation. It simply shouldn’t matter when a DJ is female. We all know by now that women are equally as talented and intelligent as men (different, and opposite in many ways, yet absolutely equal). Therefore, I would like to commence this interview by saying I wish we lived in a more advanced time when gender wouldn’t be an issue. Being a female DJ has its pros and cons. Sometimes as a girl, you receive early opportunities and an unfair advantage that perhaps men don’t get when you are first starting out. As a woman, you are a rarity of course, in an industry that is dominated 99% by men, and so you are given gigs.”

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Do you feel like the industry is treating female DJs differently?

DJ Mel answer : “Indeed, I do feel the industry is treating women differently. Now, I want to mention I’ve met some great men in the DJ(ing) paradigm who have treated me with respect. I really appreciate the honest people who work in the industry and there are some amazing gentlemen of integrity out there. I just wish I could say it was the norm.”

What are the biggest challenges you have come across?

DJ Mel answer: I find it challenging to receive any kind of acknowledgement for having become a popular award winning DJ. This doesn’t surprise me. If you look at history, women who achieved feats in traditionally male fields were often shamed or discredited. This goes on today. That being said, I don’t think most people are actively trying to discriminate against female DJs. The problem is, they are pre-programmed to do so.”
“Programming is a subconscious thought pattern that causes many of us to automatically think of a  male when the word “DJ” is mentioned because that’s what we’ve known in the past. That is precisely what needs to change now that we are in a new decade. I want to help shine a bright light on the unlimited potential that us females have as DJs. You see, even women are programmed. We are so programmed, that we don’t realize we sometimes hold ourselves back. Perhaps we don’t think it’s possible to be a true DJ megastar. In our subconscious, we think only a man can do that.

Are the audiences different for ‘minor’ (gender, race, sexuality) DJs?

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DJ Mel answer: Yes, because often the people are surprised, that a girl is the DJ and even more surprised, that she can also make some good music.
We have more power than we think. We should be supporting the talented and hard-working females of this industry, and vehemently requesting that they headline.
The #womensupportingwomen movement is of utmost importance. We have a new decade here, and it’s time for a change. That big change, in my opinion, will be women supporting women- in general, and not just in the DJ world. However, the DJ world happens to be one of the most unequal workplaces out there, in terms of who gets hired at clubs and festivals.

Sadly I sometimes get negative comments, some body shaming, name calling etc from women. Nonetheless I just ignore and focus more on my passion. When it comes to men, in regards the difficulties we face as female DJs sometimes they see us as sex objects and they try making advances which is disgusting. But again on a positive note I got so much support when I got nominated for the Zim-Brits-Awards, I won the award twice in a row for best female DJ of 2020 and 2021.

Is there more support or hate from specific people?

DJ Mel answer: I personally have encountered both sides. A lot of love. So much love. It’s been a wild ride for me, but the greatest part has been the fans. My online fans are the most wonderful people on the planet. I do a some shows on Zimbolive a live stream. My Online family has really been there for me and I have been blown away with the kindness and support I have received, from people believing in me. Even people I’ve never met in person, but who give me a ton of fan support online. I love you guys.

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What would you say or wish to other aspiring female DJ artists?

DJ Mel Answer: Never, ever give up or let anyone treat you as less in this industry. Focus on your production skills above all else. Keep people you can trust around you and be careful. Work like hell. Put in the hours.

DJ(ing) and entertaining is a gift, but it’s also a muscle. Flex that muscle. You might not be good at first. Keep going. Don’t listen to people who tell you to give up. Be relentless. All genders and races are a part of this world are equal; one reality, one loving spirit. Let’s raise our consciousness out of this time of divisiveness, and stand together in solidarity. Strong men support women. Strong women support their fellow women. Female DJs, it’s time to join in and support female DJs. It’s time for us to rise and we have the power to make it happen right now.