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Standard Sounds

Words of Wisdom from London’s Inspiring DJs & Musicians

Some of The Standard, London's most beloved DJs and music makers talk about being a woman in a male-dominated industry, how they've stayed creative during the city's multiple lockdowns, and the tracks they're most excited to play in the warmer months ahead.

Being a woman in 2021 is still not as easy as the counterpart may think, and whilst progress has certainly been made over the past century, the music industry still harbours significant inequality. Reports like the “Inclusion in the recording studio?” & Keychange reveal that whilst just 23% of artists are women or minority genders, they are even less likely to be found behind the recording console, DJ mixer or boardroom desk.

In the wake of joyous news of a safe return of music events in the UK this Summer, The Standard, London asked some of its most-loved DJs and music creatives to share their blueprint for a brighter, more equal future, and of course, the records they will be playing to cure a year of heartache and lead us out of lockdown.

Stay tuned to see and hear more from these women as they play in and around The Standard, London this summer.

Los Bitchos

@losbitchos
Los+bitchos
It’s been a challenging year for the music industry, how do you stay positive?
Nic: Focusing on little projects like doing our monthly radio show has helped a lot, just getting together on zoom to record that has been really fun and we’ve discovered so much new music as well. We’ve worked on some other exciting things which have kept our focus.

Serra: I’ve been loving doing simple house stuff such as cooking, tending to the plants, playing some Lego. My boyfriend and I built a wardrobe over Christmas, which ended up being so much fun after you got over the endless sanding. It's been good to have more time to write music  and focus on our radio show. We’ve had so much fun digging around and hearing new songs and we have such a laugh while recording the shows.
 
The music industry is notoriously male-dominated, what advice would you give to aspiring DJs, musicians, creatives?
Nic: The loudest, most opinionated men don’t know what they’re talking about. Trust your own instincts and know your worth.

Josefine: Just go for it! ...and use your elbow if you have to.
 
Serra: Always think you can and be around people that support and elevate you.
 
Who inspires you and why?
Agustina: Joan Didion, I love the way she expresses herself
 
Serra: The Go-Gos. I love how they looked playing live, especially in the early days. They did these cool gigs in the UK supporting Madness and The Specials and their story is just cool as hell. Their songs are so infectious and such an amazing energy and you just wish you could have partied with them.
 
What businesses are doing work you’d like to shine a light on?
AgustinaGem D’souza

Josefine: Online and in print magazine gal-dem. Super super cool female run publication telling the stories of people of color from marginalised genders.

NicProject MAMA. It's a UK charity that supports women who are refugees, seeking asylum or have irregular immigration status throughout pregnancy, childbirth and in early parenting.
 
What’s the first track you’re going to play when lockdown has lifted?
Agustina: "It’s My Party" by Leslie Gore
 
Josefine: "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer

Serra: "I Should Be So Lucky" by Kylie Minogue

Tina Edwards

@tinaedwardsdj
Tina+edwards Photo Credit: Joe Magowan

It’s been a challenging year for the music industry, how do you remain positive?
We've all experienced loss - the closure of venues, the cancellation of festivals - and whilst it's created various struggles, I think we've learnt something about empathy. We’ve become better at looking out for each other, and I know it'll be reflected on the dance floor. 

The music industry is notoriously male-dominated, what advice would you give to aspiring DJs, musicians, creatives?
Don't let it deter you; the vast majority of people you meet are in the industry because they love music as much as you do - they're not there to make your life hard! That being said, ask more experienced people for their advice if something doesn't sit right with you. Speak up and fill the room. Confidence speaks volumes. 

Who inspires you and why?
Anyone who celebrates the talent of others and creates space for under-represented voices is an inspiration to me. With that in mind, I'm inspired by organisations like Keychange - who are working to achieve 50/50 gender splits on festival stages - and countless female managers and DJs who, unfortunately, really do need to work harder to get to where they want to go. I just wrote a piece for The Guardian on gender discrimination in Jazz, based on research from Emily Jones (previously programmer for Cheltenham Jazz Festival) and Dr Sarah Raine. The report makes for tough reading but offers a lot of optimism, too. I totally applaud them for what they've done. 

What businesses are doing work you’d like to shine a light on?
Women In Jazz for sure, who empower female jazz musicians through workshops and live events. There's also Foundation FM and She Said So - a great Google network for any women in the music industry. 

What’s the first track you’re going to play when lockdown has lifted?
I'll always pick a big stack of records and a handful of USBs, so I go with whatever I'm inspired by in the moment. It'll probably feature a cow bell somewhere - they star in my latest mix - and be something that feels like a huge tension release! I'll be dancing as soon as the needle's dropped. 

Nae So Wee Bonnie Lassies 

@naesoweebonnielassies

Unknown 1 Photo Credit: Nick Hadfield
It’s been a challenging year for the music industry, how do you remain positive?
Listening to music. I think most people have been using music to cope. It's a little bit of escapism. Artists have had time to experiment and expand. We can look forward to new exciting projects as a result. 

The music industry is notoriously male-dominated, what advice would you give to aspiring DJs, musicians, creatives?
Don't let any man stand at the front of the booth and fiddle with your levels. Agh. Really though, stand your ground and accentuate your authenticity. Make 'em hear you!

Who inspires you and why?
“Be your own sugar daddy!” - Grace Jones.

What businesses are doing work you’d like to shine a light on? 
I [Ella] am fashion editor at large of AZEEMA magazine, which is a female-run print magazine, platform and growing community exploring Womxn within the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, diasporas and beyond! AZEEMA challenges and confronts issues surrounding representation and diversity by creating a space that is inclusive and celebratory of our cultures. 

What’s the first track you’re going to play when lockdown has lifted?
"Feel Like Makin’ Love" by Roberta Flack.

Qendresa

@whereisqendresa

Unknown 2
It’s been a challenging year for the music industry, how do you remain positive?
For me, a break from the normal pace of my life was so necessary. Almost like a reset. I think having the time and working hard on myself and my mental health has helped me stay positive for sure. A healthy routine is great, but so is speaking to yourself kindly instead of beating yourself up all.the.time. That was my starting point at the beginning of lockdown. Honouring myself. I noticed a drastic change after that. Gratitude for what you already have, a genuine feeling of gratitude goes a long, long way too.
The music industry is notoriously male-dominated, what advice would you give to aspiring DJs, musicians, creatives?
You are enough. In fact, you are magic. Keep following your passion, the rest is noise.

Who inspires you and why?
I am inspired by people who are in tune with their higher selves. I’m almost so inspired that I’m jealous. It’s like they have mastered acceptance and are living in peace and that’s so inspirational to me.

What businesses are doing work you’d like to shine a light on? 
Feed Me Female, two girls touching on interesting female topics. Hairitige, a hair shop in Willesden Green led by two friends that want you to embrace your curls. The best products and prices and knowledgable staff. Frankie Saturn, a women’s circle facilitator and healer. Cacao ceremonies and meditations with guest yoga teachers and clairvoyant readings too! Drenusha Xharra, an insane designer with wedding dresses to die for!

What’s the first track you’re going to play when lockdown has lifted?
"Choca" by Plan B. 

Albertina

@albertinaberri

Unknown 3
It’s been a challenging year for the music industry, how do you remain positive?
I have had time to focus on inner healing through reishi, stretching, and dance. I also enjoy the little things in life, reconnecting to the beautiful outdoors, cooking a sweet cinnamon pancake, and massaging my feet. All at the same time, of course.

The music industry is notoriously male-dominated, what advice would you give to aspiring DJs, musicians, creatives?
Make mistakes, they often lead you in the right direction. Don’t box yourself in a frame or be afraid of being wrong. After working with many different kinds of people I've learned sometimes you need to fight to be heard and understood, and other times just listen and go with it, things flow like water. Look for qualities in individuals to work with who you can build a genuine connection. This aids a healthy frame of mind for growing working relationships with reliability. Trust what someone is offering through their actions, and don’t take everything personally. Reach the depths of creative solitude, believe in your projects and free your mind.

Who inspires you and why?
Eartha Kitt. I first was intrigued by the leading character she played in one of the first Black funded films. “Anna Lucasta,” she displays magnetising confidence. I equally adore Dorothy Dandrige, both women so poised, graceful, and wise. Black film stars of the 1940s and 1950s I believe were of a different league, their many talents couldn't suffice, they had to overcome many challenges, and we are sitting on the back of them today. Of course my beloved friends and family are my utmost inspirations, they're all doing incredible things, creating music, parenting, encouraging, nurturing and living through life's madness and coming out strong and smiling.

What businesses are doing work you’d like to shine a light on? 
Kensho Cosmetics. Lauren and Faatima are making naturally active and sustainable skincare, here in the UK. I'm gripped to their hemp facial oil, it smells gorgeous, my face is nourished, and glowing for summer.

What’s the first track you’re going to play when lockdown has lifted?
"Free" by Ultra Naté. 

Leanne Wright

@i_came_to_dance
Unknown 4
Who inspires you and why?
Musical inspirations…way too many to list!  Here are just a few:
Georgia Anne Muldrow: https://georgiaannemuldrow.bandcamp.com
Angel Bat Dawid:  https://intlanthem.bandcamp.com/album/the-oracle
Cleo Sol:  https://cleosol.bandcamp.com
Moor Mother:  https://moormother.bandcamp.com
Shanique Marie:  https://shaniquemarie.bandcamp.com
Midnight Roba:  https://midnightroba.bandcamp.com
Tyson:  https://tyson.bandcamp.com
Yazmin Lacey:  https://yazminlacey.bandcamp.com
Sault:  https://saultglobal.bandcamp.com
Kareem Ali:  https://kareemali19.bandcamp.com
BLVCK SPVDE:  https://blvckspvde.bandcamp.com
Kirk Barley:  https://kirkbarley.bandcamp.com

What businesses are doing work you’d like to shine a light on? 
I’m inspired by the entrepreneurial ingenuity of women like:
Imwen Eke / Of Course I Talk To Myself, digital technology artist creating new systems and perspectives for audiences to actively observe, play, and analyse transformations in their own cultural and social spaces. Erica McCoy / The Grow Guide, founder and curator of a monthly subscription box of specially selected and seasonal seeds. Gynelle Leon / Prick, founder of London’s first boutique shop dedicated to cacti and succulents and author of ‘Prick’ and ‘Grow’ - she switched up her career path from a background in finance and forensic science to starting her own successful business. She gifted my daughter a small cactus at her launch party which has gone on to instil her with a love of succulents.  And by the founders of vital social enterprises such as: Agnes Mwakatuma & Annie Nash / Black Minds Matter, an organisation that connects Black individuals and families with free mental health services by professional Black therapists and by removing the stigma of mental health, aims to make these topics more relevant and accessible for all Black people in the UK. Lavinya Stennett / The Black Curriculum, holistically delivering black British history across the UK and in doing so, preparing students to become fully rounded, global citizens and remedying a wider systemic issue

What’s the first track you’re going to play when lockdown has lifted?
First track, Pharoah Sanders "Gathering," Cajmere "Brighter Days: (Underground Trance mix on this particular occasion I think), or Congo Natty "Code Red." Maybe it will happen at The Standard!

Tune Into Freedom

Look forward to post-lockdown days with tracks selected by the wonderful women above

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