Celebrating women of Anjuna—in conversation with Qrion, Pretty Pink, Olan, and more

Take a look back just 10 years down the line and count how many female acts you see on lineups and club residency rosters. Now look back five. There are certainly more, but still not enough. Fast forward to 2021 and while the line on the graph of female representation is still steeply climbing upward, there remains a very long way to go. And while there exist the Alison Wonderlands, REZZs, and Nicole Moudabers, dance music still reps a boys club in both numbers and perception. Simply put: until the distinction of “female DJ” no longer needs to be made, the scales are out of balance. But at least as a culture we’re addressing this. Women’s representation in dance music is shifting towards positive change, with powerhouse label heads like Nina Las Vegas, TOKiMONSTA, LP Giobbi, Charlotte de Witte, Sofi Tukker, and The Blessed Madonna paving the way alongside a plethora of talented acts like TSHA, Jayda G, Hannah Wants, Ela Minus, Mija, and more. Femme-identifying artists have taken front-and-center across a multitude of spaces, from renowned imprints—Aluna on Mad Decent, J.Phlip on Dirtybird, Amelie Lens on Drumcode—in diverse genres—Yaeji for hip-hop influenced electronic, CloZee for organic, WHIPPED CREAM on experimental bass, UNiiQU3 in jersey club, and around creative intersections—Honey Dijon and Peggy Gou in fashion. Despite these diverse placements, women in prominent spotlights are ultimately far and few in between and for those who have “made it,” discrimination and sexism are still factors that mire aspects of every women’s career; accusations of being ghost produced to having their skill integrity scrutinized, and being falsely boxed as a vocalist contributor all encompass a small scratch on the surface of biases inherent in the untold stories. The bottomline is the industry standard and consumer perception still have work to be done. Fortunately, there are producers, players, and brands within the industry proactively looking to take meaningful and inclusive actions. And in terms of looking at the future of dance music, thankfully, Anjuna is laying a heavy emphasis on a female future in dance music, and working to balance those scales, especially as they continuously promote, sign and discover talent. On both the Beats and Deep side, Anjuna’s programming has taken an inclusive and holistic approach towards highlighting women at all points in their careers—with seasoned producer Wanderlust head honcho Pretty Pink and newcomer Egyptian-born Nourey making their respective Anjuna debuts in the last year alone while label synonymous names like Qrion are continually integrated into mix compilations, original releases, and lineups. Using spotlight opportunities like Twitch stream initiative #AnjunaUnlocked in combination with mix series The Anjunadeep Edition and Anjunabeats Worldwide as vehicles for promotion, the imprint has made consistent efforts to introduce and re-familiarize their audience with talented female artists. The key has been tapping into a devoted listenership that trusts the brand as an authority on dance music. This has primed the stage for artists like Olan to have minimal concerns regarding non-creative processes and to do what they do best: make music. Olan shares, Not only has Anjuna’s strong community bond created a space for women to share their craft, but also the label’s vast engagement range in the events and live streaming space also provide abundant opportunities. UK-hailing producer Just Her reveals, For Pretty Pink and Nourey, two distinct artists, their first Anjuna touchpoint lands seemingly close, having both remixed Gabriel & Dresden’s Remedy LP, with “Remember” from the former and “Something Bigger” from the latter. Despite operating in separate spaces, their experiences as women in dance music resonate intimately as well. On hers, Pretty Pink divulges,Nourey echoes similar positive sentiments, sharing, However, multifaceted challenges within the industry still exist and prevalently so. And while we try to give women in dance a platform, artists have expressed they do not wish to be associated simply with their identity as a “female producer,” which can dilute their artistry in a way that has never affected their male peers. Qrion, who has grown to become an Anjunadeep mainstay since her 2019 debut, shares, The question of identity and its impact on the perception of women as creators and their work is one that also strikes Olan. On her thoughts, the Atlanta singer-songwriter states,For Just Her, the path hasn’t always been smoothly paved and even in the present, she encounters gender biases as a DJ and artist. She notes, Keeping that in mind, a label home as well as male producers and DJs are integral support systems and catalysts for change. Parallely, the Anjuna brand and founders Above & Beyond have used their platform to amplify the voices of female artists. Nourey says, Qrion also notes, In particular, Mat Zo’s campaign for his third full-length album Illusion of Depth, has been an illuminating example of how male artists can uplift their female collaborators. Olan’s significant contribution has been emphasized as formative to Zo’s latest body of work, with presence on key songs including “Problems” and “Colours.” Often female vocalists are trivialized as a feature; however, Anjuna and Zo made a widespread distinction that Olan should be recognized as a crucial creative partner and gave her recognition where it was due. As the industry pushes for a more women-centric focus, consistent and genuine engagement is increasingly important. Offering a word of advice, Olan cautions, Within Anjuna’s 2021 release schedule, cross-collaboration between female peers has been a welcoming and empowering symbol. Just weeks into the new year, Nourey and ZOYA joined forces for their Anjunabeats Rising spectacle, “All Night,” gracing the first installment of the talent-highlighting vertical. Aptly timed for International Women’s Day, Olan and Nourey followed with a joint single “In Motion,” coming together in a powerful union of affecting vocals and grungey breakbeats. With regards to Anjuna’s ever-increasing emphasis on female talent, the future looks bright. At the end of the day, the fight for equal representation in music comes down to proactiveness from all ends including labels, booking agents, event organizers, producers, and DJs. This means inclusive festival and event programming, label rosters, DJ support, and more—everyone is accountable. Qrion relays her call for change, stating,Just Her believes in inclusivity at its most granular level can be a step in the right direction. She shares,There is also room to push simultaneous movements as progress in women’s dance music advancement are made. Our spotlighted artists express open minds at the power of dance music. As not just women, but as powerhouse creatives, they acknowledge their art can be molded into various tools of change and activism. On a final note, Dancing Astronaut closes out this feature in celebration of women in dance music with a simple question to our five guests: what empowers you? Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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