All Girls On Deck: Lisa Lashes Wants More Female DJs
Last week, Reprobait had the pleasure of chatting with the legendary Lisa Lashes – the first and only female DJ to be voted one of the top ten DJs in the world by DJMag. She has performed her unique hard house remixes to crowds of 40,000+ all over the world, including festivals like Global Gathering and Creamfields.
As well as being a full-time DJ, Lisa recently has become the ambassador of a competition called All Girls on Deck – the search for the UK’s biggest female DJ.
Here, we talk about Paris Hilton winning the DJ of the year award (wtf), Annie Mac, sexism in the music industry and why there are barely any girls DJing at festivals…
Reprobait Magazine: So, why did you decide to start this competition?
Lisa Lashes: “I decided to start it back in December when I was approached by Urban Beauty United, a new kinda edgy accessories brand who were looking for an ambassador to get into the music side of promotions approached me. I’ve wanted to do a competition like this for two or three years, but without help [like from Urban Beauty United], I wouldn’t have been able to take it on. What’s great is that literally any girl can enter the competition. We’re looking at all genres. As long as you’ve not already made a career out of DJing and aren’t already a resident DJ, because we want the competition to be for someone who hasn’t been given a chance yet”.
RM: Annie Mac has said she has never experienced sexism from ‘promoters or punters and, if anything, people seemed to be delighted’ that she is a woman. What are your views on this? You have been just as successful, if not more, than many male DJs. Do you feel it has been harder for you as a female DJ, or like Annie Mac, do you feel you have been treated equally?
LL: “I wouldn’t say I’ve experienced it [sexism] personally. Umm… Okay, apart from one time at the very beginning of my career! I was pushed out of the DJ booth by a world famous male DJ who said there were no dancers allowed. I was like, ‘WELL, good job I’m not a dancer then!’”
She explains: “For me, it’s not the little personal experiences like that which are offensive – it’s the line-ups at festivals. They are so male dominated! Annie Mac’s scene isn’t quite so male dominated, you know? You’ve got a lot more gender diversity with Radio One DJs, but in my kind of industry – dance and progressive trance – there are barely any females featured on festival line-ups, which is sad. It’s just really sad”.
RM: Lisa then goes on to tell us what she thinks the real problem is:
LL: “Thing is there are loads of female DJs producing really good mixes and tunes but they’re just not being chosen to play at events. A lot of my female friends who were DJs have now given up and been forced to get a different job. It wasn’t until I was asked to give a speech at a music conference that I started looking into it properly. Of all the major music events like Creamfields and Global Gathering, female performers represent under 1% of the line-up. Why should it be that way when we are almost 50/50 in this world?”
RM: Lisa goes on to explain that the number of girls signing up to study music in British universities is said to be at an all-time low, with a ratio of approximately 1 girl to every 10 boys signing up. This must be pretty discouraging to girls aspiring to get into the music industry. Why do you think so few girls are signing up?
LL: “Yeah it’s really discouraging. A friend told me that all the unis have been discussing why there’s been this sudden drop in the amount of girls going into music, then the ones that start the course are dropping out halfway through because… you know, the whole room is full of guys.
“I’m gonna be doing talks at different unis to try to encourage girls into music. I’ve had so many questions about why females should get into music, saying there’s no point being a female DJ because it is so male dominated etc. Society, in a way, is stopping girls from a very young age from following their dreams or doing exactly what they want to do”.
She jokes (we think/hope): “We should chop the fingers off of people who like ‘sexy’ female DJ pictures. The pictures most men want to see – a big pair of boobs. So many girls have said to me that they don’t want to be looked at like that, and social media just makes it worse”.
LL: “I’m not sure what was going on with that competition, I mean, who were the other entries!?
“She shouldn’t be a DJ. She can’t mix. The art of DJing is disappearing because people can just press a button and play a recorded mix. Everybody wants to be a DJ, and I guess now they can. I bet Paris doesn’t even know what vinyl is, but that’s where I started. It also gives the impression that you don’t need talent anymore, just money, which is so crap. “
RM: Going back to the competition, in addition to the many prizes on offer for the winning DJ (including a 13” Mac Book Air), will they also gain recognition for their work?
LL: “Of course. We won’t just give them the prizes and leave them, you know, my amazing PA will set them up with all that they need and spend six months with them, helping to build their profile and give them experience – and it’s all about the experience. We’ll also hopefully have a female agency in Manchester that will take them on for a six month trial basis as well!”
RM: Blimey. That’s pretty damn good.
LL: So come on girls, if you think you’ve got what it takes and fancy winning a million prizes and repping women everywhere, you still have time to enter. Make us proud! The deadline is December 28, 2014. We want to see more girls on the decks at festivals around the world, so go get mixing.