Owning The Title Female DJ

Owning The Title Female DJ

And being proud of it.

Being a woman in electronic music is no easy feat. Everywhere you turn, you hit roadblock after roadblock of discrimination and misogyny. A devastating amount of industry personnel, sound engineers, and other musicians, believe that your skill set is somehow lesser than theirs, simply because of your gender.

I've seen a great deal of conversation recently about how even being labeled as a "female artist" is detrimental to your craft, because it is a form of othering and puts you as a woman first, an artist second. This topic it a slippery slope in music journalism where you can begin with good intentions, and end up at the bottom of a pit having lowered the artist you meant to praise down to a subordinate level, by focusing solely on her womanhood instead of her artistry.

I've been in New York's electronic community for about two years now, first (and presently) as the front woman of dark synth pop band LANTRNS, and recently have also gotten involved in the community as a DJ, under the moniker alice.km. In all of my artist circles, I've encountered nothing but support, encouragement, and enthusiasm for my craft from collaborators and friends. However, the second I step outside of that bubble, I start amassing stories of disrespect, misogyny, and, frankly, degrading encounters.

Last week provided me with one of the worst experiences I have ever had working with another artist. I had been hired to DJ at a mixed media event featuring visual artists, vendors, and comedians performing short stand up sets. The event coordinator had an incredibly laid back attitude about the event, not telling me until the day before when my set was or how long I was expected to spin for. Less than 36 hours before the event, I received a message saying "you and another DJ will switch off back and forth the whole evening, you two can figure out details when you arrive tomorrow."

This was problematic firstly, because the venue was not providing any gear besides the house PA system. I had to coordinate with the other DJ to see what setup he had, if he was bringing it, and try and determine if our two differing set ups could be supported simultaneously. Despite being told all our gear would fit in the booth, and that the sound system had enough inputs for both of us, that is not what transpired.

I arrived at the venue, only to find that "DJ Pumped Kid" had already set up and taken all of the available space in the booth. When I asked how we would fit my gear as well, his answer was "pull up a side table and set up next to the booth." From the very start, he was dismissive of me and pushing me out of the way. The event coordinator arrived with a very low bar table, which would have been impossible to spin off of (I'm 5'9'', I can't be doubled over a tiny table, straining my back during a set). Regardless, I tried to be cheerful and find a way to make this work.

Then the owner of the bar (who was functioning as the sound engineer for the evening) came over and informed me we could not set up a second controller, because their system only had one set of inputs. This meant I had not only been misinformed by the production staff, but also had lugged my extremely heavy gear all the way from Bushwick to Tribeca for nothing. Most frustrating of all, I had to use Pumped Kid's software and gear since he was already set up and spinning, and it was a set up I had never touched before.

I'm trained on Traktor + Trakttor Kontrol S4, as well as Rekordbox + CDJ 2000s. This guy had Serato running through CDJ 1000s. At their core, there are not huge differences between what the programs and hardware accomplish. Mainly the layout, and logistics what varies, but none the less, I had a bit of a learning curve going into this gig.

I asked basic questions to quickly try and familiarize myself with the programs I was being forced to use, such as "where can I adjust the BPM [beats per minute] of the song?" Pumped Kid looked at me like I had three heads and said "WHAT?! YOU CAN'T ADJUST THE BPM OF A SONG!" He then went on to lecture me on how, "you gotta just feel it, you can't change the tempo of a track, you just need to watch the grid lines and make sure they match up when you stop one song and start the next."

If you know anything about DJing, you know that at a very base level, the DJ is mixing tracks together. That means, when two songs are not the same BPM, you need to adjust one or both so they seamlessly flow into one another for a clean transition. This guy was literally hitting start and stop at the same time on two separate tracks, often in the middle of phrases, not attempting at all to create a transition between the two. He then had the audacity to boast to me that he had years of experience and I had no clue what I was doing.

He also had somehow managed to finagle the CDJ so that the Master Tempo feature purely adjust the pitch and not the BPM. Troubleshooting on the fly while spinning, made it nearly impossible for me to solve this issue at the time. No matter what buttons I pressed to try and remove this setting, the side meters on the decks would not adjust the BPM. My set was doomed from the start, because I had prepared a house set that increased in tempo over time.

I managed to find a handful of tracks from the USB drive I had quickly thrown a playlist onto that blended well together, and played for about 30 minutes. Then Pumped Kid kicked me off the decks saying "here let's switch off for a minute". That was fine by me, but then when I returned one full hour later to try and hop back on, he actually yelled at me saying "No, I just got started. Come back in 45."

At this point, I was extremely frustrated and on the verge of walking out. I went and found the two event coordinators (who hadn't sought me out to check in at all throughout the night) and informed them of the situation. Both were appalled by my recount and swore they had no idea this was happening (how would you know unless you check on your talent, fellas) but completely had my side and said they would kick Pumped Kid off the decks for the next hour so I could spin. I watched as they spoke with the DJ, and walked up to take over when they departed the stage.

"Okay, you have the next 30 minutes" Pumped Kid growled at me without even making eye contact. Incorrect, I had been given the next hour. When I said this to him, he barked "No. If that's what you think, go get the coordinator back up here." For the second time in a ten minute window, I was angrily pushing through the crowd trying to hunt down the person running the show. I finally found him, relayed yet again what was transpiring, and he swore he would handle the situation while I was spinning.

I returned to the booth, and spun for about 45 minutes. Not my best set by any means, because the gear was configured to such specific and unintuitive settings, but there was a group of people enjoying what I was playing and dancing (on the non existent dance floor). Pumped Kid returned exactly at the 45 minute mark and shouted "You happy? You got your extra half hour. Now give the decks back, you made all my people leave."

What. An. Asshole.

We were both hired to play at this event. We were both brought on because the event planners liked our (drastically different) musical styles. We were both here as a backdrop for an art show, not the main attraction.

But this guy thought it was simply his show. Throughout the night he told me I was "playing music for myself" and actually said "you can't play house music for crowds of Black and Hispanic people", referencing our fairly diverse audience.

Not only is that incredibly racist, but the event planners knew that I gravitate to deep house/tech house, and asked me to do this event anyway. They thought it was a good fit. Also, it was an art show without a dance floor, we weren't exactly there to make the room move.

Had I been a man, and not 10 years Pumped Kid's junior, I guarantee he would have treated me differently. He definitely would not have called me "sweetheart" disdainfully, and wouldn't have said such absurd things like "just because you're a female DJ doesn't mean I'm going to kiss your ass."

Please, don't do that. But more importantly, don't tell me that I don't know how to do my job simply because I'm a woman. Your "years of experience" did not make a good set, nor did it show any knowledge of the gear you were operating. I'll admit that I'm still learning and very early into my career, but I will not tolerate being disrespected by men in this field.

In fact, I'm going to own the controversial title I'm a female DJ, and incredibly proud of it.

P.S. I got Pumped Kid blacklisted by the event planners because of how he treated me. They swore to never hire him again.

Cover Image Credit: alice.km

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.


Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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Instagram Skincare Influencer @sakura.skin Uncovers The Journey To Her Natural Glow In 10 Beauty Questions

Beauty tips and tricks from Instagram skincare guru and blogger Hannah, also known as @sakura.skin!


Ever since I entered high school and started puberty, I've been obsessed with all things skincare and acne. I've struggled with mild to moderate acne for several years, and about two years ago, I decided I was going to do something about it. I began researching ways to mitigate the number of active pimples, how to reduce scarring and how to get all-around dewy skin. I eventually stumbled across Instagram pages with genuine, tried-and-true advice with product reviews and recommendations. One of said pages was Hannah's account, @sakura.skin. I had been following her for awhile and bought a few products on her recommendation, so I knew I wanted to interview her and finally got the chance to!

1. How did you get started in the beauty community? What made you want to be a skincare influencer?

"I got started because I had been posting some routines on my personal Instagram, and I had friends always asking me about products and routines so I decided to make a separate account just for skincare stuff. I never set out to be an influencer (I don't think I am one at all!)"

2. What are your thoughts on influencer sponsorships and their relation to the potential honesty of reviews, especially when it pertains to skincare?

hannah sakura on Instagram: “Good morning 🍊 Starting the week off with a little update on this shelfie. Still messy but now somewhat organized? 🤔”

"I've personally never done a sponsored post or anything since I'm such a small skincare Instagram right now but when I receive a product from a brand for my honest review, I definitely do keep it honest. My following is small, but I know people take what I say pretty seriously so I would never lie about a product that actually broke me out or something. Having a following of any size comes with a responsibility, so it's definitely frustrating when someone's review isn't honest just so they can get some ad money or free products."

3. What advice would you give someone who is just starting out with skincare?

"My advice would be to start out small and in your budget. I'm a full time student, so I can't afford all these fancy new skincare brands. Start off slow and with what you know. Always test out products before you take the full plunge!"

4. Who has been your biggest influences in terms of which products you buy before you started your Instagram?

"I followed the Into the Gloss blog and that was the first skincare blog I followed that really taught me a lot. I didn't follow individual skincare bloggers until I started mine but the community I've made is honest, and I trust everyone's recommendations."

5. What 3 holy grail products would you recommend for people of your skin type?

"I have oily/combo/acne prone skin. I'm super hormonal so my skin breaks out a lot when I'm on my period. I'd recommend the Cerave gentle foaming cleanser, Cosrx snail mucin, and Saturday skin glacier water cream. All three have been amazing at balancing the oils on my face while not drying me out."

6. Are there any brands you’ve boycotted/simply stopped purchasing from? If so, why?

"No. I wouldn't stay I boycotted a brand, but one of my resolutions for 2019 is to stop buying from skincare companies that still test on animals."

7. How much do you trust customer reviews?

"It's pretty easy to tell when a consumer review is falsified, at least it is for me. So when I read reviews written on websites I typically take them with a grain of salt. There are reviews that are totally trustworthy, and it's easy to tell which ones are. I get most of my honest reviews for skincare from fellow bloggers."

8. Have you ever gotten a product based on the recommendation of other influencers? If so, which product and who?

"Yes! I've gotten most of my products based on recommendations of others. Most recently I bought my first Klairs product because so many followers and people I follow recommended the brand. I bought the midnight blue calming calming cream."

9. Has anyone ever reached out to you after buying a product you recommend? What was their reaction?

"Yes! I remember a lot of people reaching out about the Cosrx snail mucin, especially people I know in real life. Everyone raved over it! So I'm happy I was able to introduce a K-beauty must have to a few people."

10. Do you have a best and worst skincare tip?

"My best tip is to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! My skin used to be super oily because I thought moisturizing it made it that way. Wrong! Oily skin needs all that moisture too! I moisturize all year long with moisturizers, toners, and serums. It's so important!

"My worst skincare tip would be to follow what everyone else is doing. Everyone's skincare journey is different. So if a product doesn't work for you, it's not the end of the world! It takes time. And I see so many skincare newbies get frustrated when a specific person's routine doesn't work for them. Know it's fine and totally normal and you'll find your own routine in no time."

A huge thank you to Hannah for letting me interview her! Find her at: her Instagram and her blog.

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