Contrary to popular belief, some of the world's most talented DJs are women. Here are 13 of the best women DJs you should know — and if you don't, you should follow them now.
What Is the History of Women DJs?
Female DJs have a long history, as women have always played a critical role in music and dance. Beyond building careers as vocalists and dancers, many women have produced their own music and have even played this music at clubs, festivals and parties worldwide. By the late 1990s, women had largely penetrated the mostly male-dominated industry. Big names then included DJ Rap and DJ Sandra, for example.
13 Women DJs You Should Follow Now
There are countless impressive female DJs mixing tunes across the globe. With that said, here are 13 of our favorites who you should know, or get to know, by now.
These DJs have performed for some of the world's biggest festivals. They've held residencies at some of the most popular, notable clubs across the globe. And they've founded some of the most successful record labels and agencies in the music industry. Add to that the fact that every single one of these women wear many more hats than the DJ cap, and it's impossible to find yourself impressed.
DJ Sabine focuses on the exposure and pleasures of African diasporic music — global soul, house, afrotech, afrobeat, Haitian Roots and other diasporic tunes. Her mainstays have been the monthly event, Brooklyn Mecca, the Bembe NYC Party, where she was the resident DJ, and now Subrosa's new signature monthly party, Cumbancha, featuring African inspired rhythms. She's also worked for Ocha Record Label as a brand marketing director and producer and sits on several panel discussions, curating showcases for the renowned Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI).
Tasha Blank is a DJ, producer, speaker and self-proclaimed "artist on a mission to set the world free," according to her site. She's committed to creating both content and experiences that "invite humans into the wildest expression of themselves." As such, she's devoted the last decade of her life to intensive studies in neuroscience, psychology, creativity and somatics to cultivate a deep understanding of how the technologies of music, mind and movement unlock humans' fullest potential.
Dreeemy is a "genre-bending sonic alchemist, meditation guide and community catalyst," according to her Soundcloud. She describes her sound as a "communication of soul vibration: global rhythms, groovy basslines, pulsing 808s, glittering synths, ancestral vocals — ancient sounds and future beats." She's performed at festivals, venues and gatherings such as the California World Music Fest, House of YES NYC, Elements Music & Arts Festival, AFROPUNK BK Festival, Art Basel MIAMI, the Rubin Museum of Art, The New York Botanical Garden and more. On top of her music, she's the founder of BAE (Before Anything Else), a series of New York City-based gatherings created by women for everyone that intends to amplify and evolve connection, collaboration, co-creation and community. She's also founded BASSyoga, through which she combines subfrequency sound-healing music and movement medicine.
Australian twins, Miriam and Olivia, make up Nervo. Together, they create an infectious energy that consistently lands them in DJ Mag's Top 100 DJs list. Equally impressive, they co-wrote the Grammy Award-winning When Love Takes Over with David Guetta and Kelly Rowland, and they've played some of the biggest stages in EDM.
Ellen Allien is a German electronic musician and music producer who founded BPitch Control music label in 1999. Her music is largely inspired by her city of Berlin, though she splits her time between Ibiza's party scene and her home city. The multi-talented DJ also sings in both German and English.
ill-ēsha is a lyricist and pianist, on top of being a talented DJ. In fact, she incorporates live music elements into her tunes, using keytar, electrifying controllers, turntables and vocal loopers in each of her performances. She's toured solo around the United States and Canada over the course of her career, collaborating with Bassnectar, Beats Antique and Big Gigantic, as well.
Nina Kraviz is unique in that she's a former Siberian dentist-turned-international-DJ-and-producer. Her vibe is house and techno, and she's perfomed at major festivals such as Coachella, Sonar, Awakenings and Decibel.
Anja Schneider is perhaps best known for founding Mobilee Records, but the internationally acclaimed DJ and broadcaster is a woman of many talents. Her music has taken her around the globe, from the Americas to Japan and all across her home country, Germany. She plays at some of the world's most notable clubs, such as Fabric, Fuse, Rex and Goa Madrid, and she has held residencies at Berlin’s Weekend and Watergate.
tINI hails from Germany, where she's incredibly well known. She's a member of Loco Dice's Desolat crew, as well as their affiliated Artist Alife agency, through which she's become a constant part of the worldwide Desolat Nights.
Her sets are impulsive, as she never prepares — rather, she plays for the crowd, she told DJ Mag.
"Well, as I use Traktor I always have everything with me, so I have a database with all kinds of music — I never prepare my sets though, I just go with the flow," she said. "I suppose my sets, you could say, are as good as the crowd, and obviously the soundsystem plays its part too. If I can create the right vibe with the people, it can be very deep and sometimes it can be banging at a bigger club, but I don't really plan. I come to the club, I catch the vibe, I see what the crowds like and how I feel, and then we all work something out.”
MAGDA is one of the electronic music world's most notable DJs who's recognized for bending the rules with her highly experimental music sets. She will admittedly try her hand at "whatever feels right — from music technology collaborations and events to producing premium Tequila — creating a truly unique, multifaceted expression of herself."
The Poland-born artist was raised in Detroit, where she started her DJ career. In 1998, she joined Minus and toured as Richie Hawtin's opening DJ. In 2003, she embarked on her first international tour. By 2006, she established the Items & Things label and booking agency, releasing her forward-thinking DJ mix album, She's a Dancing Machine, followed by her debut artist album From the Fallen Page in 2010. And in 2017, she launched the Perm event series in Berlin.
Annie Mac, who comes from Dublin, is a powerhouse DJ in the UK.
Mac is perhaps best known as the host of the electronic dance music show Annie Mac on BBC's Radio 1 in the UK, which airs at 7:00 pm on Friday evenings (a great slot!). She's also the host of the 7:00-9:00-pm slot on Mondays through Thursdays. Her first live set was at Radio 1's Big Weekend in Dundee in May 2006, which was part of the Essential Mix live broadcast. She's since been featured across multiple radio stations and has played at festivals around the world, including Malt's Lost & Found festival.
Nicole Moudaber wears many hats. She's an event promoter, a radio host and one of the most popular DJs and producers in the world who even started her own record label. The self-proclaimed one-woman army "is marching her muscular take on techno all over the globe, winning fans not only with her music, but her way of being, that’s at once uncensored, inclusive and fierce," according to her Soundcloud.
Moudaber has everywhere from intimate after-hours clubs to famous nightclubs such as Space, DC10, Output and Stereo, to massive festival stages like Glastonbury, Electric Daisy Carnival (hosting her own MoodZONE stages) and Coachella. She’s been featured by the New York Times and CNN and even named “one to watch” by Billboard and Paper magazine. It's no surprise, then, that she won the Best Online Music Show in the 2016 Online Radio Awards and is syndicated across over 80 stations in 50 countries.
Hanna Handra is a London-based "DJ, writer, editor, gunpowder, gelatine dynamite with a lazer beam." When she's not spinning, she's working on her music magazine, BEAT. She started BEAT "to create a music magazine where the images and interviews were as important as the mixture of musicians features." And, through the magazine, she's since hosted numerous events and collaborated with brands including Chanel, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Paul Smith and Converse.
She also works with a number of clients for musical direction, including Nike, Hermes, Dior, Coach, Vivienne Westwood, M.A.C Cosmetics, Topshop, The ELLE Style Awards, Victoria Beckham and more. It's safe to say she's a music success.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.