Though female DJs don't always get their due in a patriarchal industry, there's no shortage of women who can hold their own behind the turntables. From seasoned veterans to rising stars, here are 25 female artists you can't afford to be clueless about.
Alison Wonderland has come a long way from her start as a classically-trained cellist: in 2015, she hit the top of the Dance/Electronic Albums chart with Run. The full-length showed her versatility – she writes, produces, and sings – and her eclectic taste in collaborators: Lido, The Flaming Lips Wayne Coyne, and AWE all contributed. The lead single from the album, “I Want U,” has amassed nearly three million plays on SoundCloud and another six million on Spotify.
Kerstin Zu Pan
Anja Schneider has engaged with multiple facets of the electronic music scene. She learned to DJ while working in radio, and eventually her long-running “Dance Under The Blue Moon” show spawned Mobilee Records. The imprint has gone on to release important records from Maya Jane Coles, Pan-Pot, and others, while Schneider has pursued her own career simultaneously, putting out her debut album in 2008 and turning in a stellar entry the Essential Mix series.
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Hailing from Australia, Anna Lunoe is a skilled DJ, producer and singer who has previously supported the likes of The Weeknd, Disclosure, and M.I.A. The Los Angeles resident has also become a staple at HARD events, from Destructo’s Ship 2 Ship tour and Holy Ship to the recently announced Go HARD Tour.
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Since landing her first BBC Radio 1 show in 2004, the Irish host has emerged as one of dance music’s most important tastemakers. Her Friday night Radio 1 show regularly draws more than a million listeners, and her recent expansion to BPM Channel 51 and SiriusXM has boosted her stateside profile.
The Black Madonna
The Black Madonna is based out of Chicago, where she plays regular residencies at the famous independent venue Smart Bar. She has distilled her musical philosophy into a potent, inclusive manifesto that serves as a testament to the inspirational potential of dance music. “Dance music needs riot grrrls,” her Facebook page declares. “Dance music needs some discomfort with its euphoria. Dance music needs salt in its wounds. Dance music needs women over the age of 40. Dance music needs breastfeeding DJs trying to get their kids to sleep before they have to play. Dance music needs cranky queers and teenagers who are really tired of this shit. Dance music needs writers and critics and academics and historians. Dance music needs poor people and people who don't have the right shoes to get into the club… Dance music needs people who struggled all week. Dance music needs people that had to come before midnight because they couldn't afford full admission. Dance music does not need more of the status quo.”
After forming in Montreal in the late ‘00s, Blond:ish have gone on to release music on acclaimed labels like Berlin’s Get Physical and Cologne’s Kompakt. In addition, the duo has been asked to make official remixes by big name acts in the dance music world (Pete Tong) and beyond (Depeche Mode).
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Earning a residency at Berghain’s hallowed Panorama Bar is one of dance music’s toughest hurdles, so it’s no surprise that Cassy’s name is synonymous with credibility. She's released music on Ostgut Ton and Cocoon and worked with the likes of Luciano and Ricardo Villalobos.
Da Black Swan
Dani Deahl inhabits many roles at once within the dance music space. DJ? Check. Producer? She launched a 30-date tour last year in support of her single “SMYK.” She’s also a longtime journalist-- earlier this year, she was appointed editor-at-large of DJ MAG – and she has given a TED Talk. She explained her approach to Billboard in an interview last year: “I’d rather take those calculated risks -- succeed most of the time and fail part of the time -- than never take those risks at all.”
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A prolific producer with eight full-length albums to her name, Allien founded influential label BPitch Control -- home to the likes of Modeselektor, Apparat and Paul Kalkbrenner -- in 1999. Her envelope-pushing blend of techno and experimental electronica has earned her prestigious residencies across the globe.
Francesca Lombardo cut her teeth in London clubs under the name Jackie Misfit. She’s released her own tracks on Crosstown Rebels and played at the label’s Rebel Raves; she’s also earned attention for her sets at Burning Man. She recently expanded her Echolette label with an Echoe sub-label that focused on underground sounds, and she’s gearing up to release her debut album, Once Upon The Ether.
Gina Turner has hosted a number of syndicated shows encompassing Scion, iHeartRadio, Underground FG and her present gig at Sirius XM’s BPM. She’s also released on top-tier labels including Ultra, Ministry of Sound and Sound Pellegrino. And did we mention that she’s a certified vinyasa yoga instructor?
After years working at record stories, including London’s Phonica Records, Heidi has been a fixture on BBC Radio 1 since 2008. Not long after she started her residency on the airwaves, she kicked off the Jackathon events, which eventually spawned a compilation album – featuring contributions from Derrick Carter, Anja Schneider, Jamie Jones, and more – along with a sub-label, Heidi Presents Jackathon Jams.
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Ida Engberg started DJing in Sweden’s club scene. “In the winter nobody wants to be outside in Stockholm,” she explained in an interview. “So it’s great for being creative inside… it’s like a virus spreading from one friend to another.” Many of her releases can be found on the Drumcode and Truesoul labels, and she recently headlined the New York debut of the famous Dutch Awakenings Festival.
Dirtybird’s first lady -- born Jessica Phillippe -- comes from a diverse musical background, and it shows on songs like “Coefficient” and “Say My Name.” Combining house and techno influences drawn from time spent living in Chicago and Berlin, J. Phlip is one of the beloved S.F. label's most exciting talents.
Following a stint in rehab, this New York native has turned her career around in a major way. A fateful meeting with Louis Brodinski led to fruitful collaborations and a move from L.A. to Paris to join his Bromance Records. Don’t sleep on her new Friction EP with Maelstrom.
The Polish native became a fixture in Detroit's underground techno scene under the tutelage of Richie Hawtin. When her mentor moved to Berlin in 2003, his protégé followed suit and launched her eclectic Items & Things imprint with Troy Piece and Marc Houle three years later.
Courtesy of Maya Jane Coles
Maya Jane Coles
The London artist's 2011 breakthrough with single “What They Say” feels like ancient history at this point. She's reached the top of her field with a well-regarded album release and major festival bookings at the likes of Coachella, Glastonbury, Tomorrowland, and Electric Daisy Carnival under her belt.
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Inviting Skrillex to join her playing back-to-back on a Bonnaroo art car was the best career move this Phoenix native has ever made. The OWSLA boss has taken her under his wing since, whisking her off to Los Angeles and AM Only, where her career has blossomed with a series of quality bookings.
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The French veteran may be best known for early 2000s singles like “Rippin Kittin,” “Frank Sinatra” and “Silver Screen Shower Scene,” but she’s worth a refresh for those who haven’t followed her since. Miss Kittin has proven herself a dual threat behind the decks in addition to her vocal work.
Born in Nigeria, reared in Lebanon and currently residing in London, techno’s dark queen has traversed a winding road to prominence. Her 2013 album, Believe, elevated her to the ranks of techno’s elite, where she has solidified her standing by virtue of her dynamic DJ sets and MOOD Records imprint.
As a DJ, producer, and labelhead, Nina Kraviz pledges allegiance to a raw, imperfect sound. “I don’t like clean finished music that has no character,” she told Billboard recently. “I really like personality… There should be something f---ed up… That’s what makes it unique and interesting.” She released her debut album in 2012, and founded the трип label in 2014. She recently oversaw a stage at Detroit’s Movement festival, where she also played a headlining set.
Nina Las Vegas
For years, Nina Las Vegas served as the host of “House Party” on Australia’s Triple J radio. During that period, Australian electronic music reached a new level of international success behind acts like Flume, and Nina went on to found NLV records to provide a platform for underground Australian talent. The DJ/producer is also engaged in charitable efforts – founding the non-profit Heaps Decent with Diplo to help underprivileged musician – and activism: she’s been an outspoken critic of Sydney’s “Lockout Laws.”
REZZ suggested a definitive moment for her as an aspiring producer was watching a stream of a deadmau5 show. “I immediately jumped onto Ableton,” she remembered. “I haven't looked back since.” “Plague,” which appeared on last year’s Insurrection EP, has more than 350,000 SoundCloud plays, and REZZ got a chance to put out music through deadmau5’s mau5trap imprint.
After gaining recognition on Loco Dice and Martin Buttrich’s Desolat label, this Munich native with a magnetic persona has truly come into her own. Known for varied vinyl-only sets, her free tINI & the Gang party is fast becoming one of Ibiza's crown jewels with expansion niches at Sonar and BPM Festival.
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Jennifer Lee became the first female to join Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint, where she released her Midnight Menu LP in 2010. Since then, she dropped albums Half Shadows on Ultra and Desiderium on her own Young Art Records, plus built her Spam n Eggs event brand in L.A.’s Koreatown.