- 15 Feb 19
Guest columnist Anna Stich highlights the increasing number of female DJs adding to the vibrancy of the Irish electronic scene.
Going through endless festival line-ups, it’s sobering when you remove men from the bill and see the obvious inequality. Therefore, it seems more urgent than ever to emphasise the work women do on the Irish electronic scene. I got the chance to talk to four of them, Sarah Mooney, Cailín, Aoife O’Neill and Niki K, all whom have been DJing for many years.
Sarah Mooney, aka MNE, is a Dublin-based DJ who has played some of Ireland’s biggest festivals, including Life, Electric Picnic, Longitude, Metropolis, Castlepalooza and Fuinneamh. She has also showcased her tech-house sound in well-known Dublin clubs like Opium Rooms, the Button Factory, Hangar, the Grand Social and Index.
One of her personal career highlights was participating in a panel discussion on mental health and DJing at DIT. Mooney notes that, “mental health is a such an important issue in club culture. It’s a very important topic to me, so I was delighted Bear in Mind asked me to partake in the discussion.”
Mooney’s emphasis on mental health is also evident in her next project, which she describes as “an installation that will help raise awareness for mental health in club culture, through an immersive, mixed media, audio-visual experience”. On the topic of women DJs in Ireland she is optimistic, adding that, “I think we need to start dropping the term ‘female DJ’ and just keep it to DJs. We all have the same passion for music.”
With residencies at Subject, Index and the recently closed District 8, Cailín is a name that will be recognised by regular Dublin clubbers. Talking about her proudest moments, she expresses her excitement about headlining the rave in the woods at Electric Picnic in 2017, as well as gigging in Paris, London, Berlin and New York.
She considers the Irish scene to be on a positive path: “It’s no longer unusual to see a girl behind the decks or appearing on a record. It’s becoming a safe place for girls to give it a shot.”
Cailín has two upcoming releases about which she “can’t give away any info yet”, but which can be heard at her gigs over the next two months in Belfast, Dublin, Kerry, Derry, Waterford and Berlin.
Another woman shining her light on Irish stages is Aoife O’Neill. Her radio show Out Of Space airs on Dublin Digital Radio every second Wednesday of the month, and she will also be supporting Or:la in Cork on February 8.
She cites her four-hour set for Secretsundaze at London’s Pickle Factory as one of her greatest experiences. Aoife also sees a bright future for women DJs, whilst noting that, “I’d like to see an increase in newcomers to the scene, especially producers.”
Currently based in Berlin and a resident of the eclectic event series ‘Skizze’, Niki K started her career as part of the thriving collective Macronite in Limerick city. Her wish to perform was influenced by Irish artists such as Fran Hartnett, Sunil Sharpe and Dan Sykes, with her sets carrying a strong sense of “not wanting to feel stuck to one sound”. She says, “I can’t remember a time where Ireland wasn’t on a good path for DJs, but currently there is a lack of respect from the government for Ireland’s nightlife and its potential.” Niki recently launched ‘RAPPOR BOOKING’, and is looking forward to playing some exciting shows shortly, including events in Ireland.
There are many more women whose work stands out and should also be mentioned. These include the Cork-based Gash Collective, run by DJ and producer ELLLL, promoter and DJ Laura O’Connell, and visual designer Bláthnaid King, who organise free workshops and continue to emphasise the importance of women and LGBTQ+ in electronic music. Then there’s Justyna Koss’s all-female line-up nights, Shaw Kicks, at the Bernard Shaw; Holly Lester’s Belfast Boiler Room set; NANCY’s upcoming show on March 15 at Pygmalion; and Jess Tillion, Lauren Kenn, and Ivana Miculinic, better known as the DJ Collective Eve, who play Tengu on February 15. These are all examples of how the Irish electronic scene is evolving and hopefully will soon become a less male-dominated industry.