For those familiar with Complex Magazine, the “Ultimate Mens Buyers Guide,” you know to expect the usual smattering of articles on cars, curves, sneakers, sports and hip hop culture. Recently Complex took a pitiful stab at naming the 10 Sexiest Women in EDM, pulling together an overall mystifyingly random collection of females, with “sex appeal” as the primary criterion.
Aside from committing the carnal sin of referring to them as “girls” throughout the feature, from a musical perspective Complex totally dropped the ball on coming up with a legit list, despite the obvious availability of so many worthy candidates. Their readers knew better, and the comment thread showed unanimous disappointment in the sparse, underwhelming top 10, so we decided to set the record straight with a slightly more comprehensive top 40.
With so much hype around the notion of women’s absence from the electronic music scene, or the need to distinguish artists as “female producers/Djs” in an ironic attempt to laud them for succeeding in a male-saturated industry “despite” their femininity, let’s simply recognize the fact that there are a slew of women in “EDM” already, many who have been in it for decades. Rather than jumping to the detail of gender as their defining quality, it’s time to stop talking chromosomally and just appreciate their music and who they are as artists.
The first installment of this top 40 series features 10 women who have made a huge impact in dance music – as club DJs, broadcast DJs, producers, vocalists, label owners, promoters – wearing any and all hats, they have demolished the myth that women don’t thrive or even belong in the electronic music world.
Mary Anne Hobbs
The Queen of Dubstep, one of the UK’s most successful broadcasters, as well as a music journalist and editor, Mary Anne Hobbs was a rebel with a cause from the age of 16 when she left school and “eloped” to London with a hard rock band. She’s been immersed in many facets of the music and entertainment industries ever since, hosting BBC Radio 1 shows, including her groundbreaking “Dubstep Warz” show that contributed to dubstep’s global impact, along with her curation of “Generation Bass.” She’s also curated annual stages at Sonar festival, has broken into sound design for film, working with director Darren Aronofsky on the soundtrack for Black Swan, and also creates her own “ghetto road movies” on her YouTube channel.
Watch her talk about her Tuesday – Wednesday Radio 1 show that pushes the boundaries in experimental dubstep, grime, drum & bass, hip hop, and techno:
Check Annie Mac spinning at a BNR party in Miami:
Her nomadic nature and hunger for change brought her to Berlin’s underground world. By 1998 she joined the Berlin-based Minus label and began an international touring circuit as Richie Hawtin’s one and only opener. With a style influenced by Chicago Jack, minimal techno, and acid house, her unique sound found it’s way to residencies at Robert Johnson in Offenbach, Technique in Leeds, and Fuse in Brussels.
In triangulated partnership with Marc Houle and Troy Pierce, Magda formed their Berlin imprint Items & Things, as well as a boutique Down & Out worldwide underground party series.
Watch a clip of Magda throwing it down during one of her closing sets at Cocoricò:
This year Heidi launched her own label, Heidi presents Jackathon Jams, which was born from a global brand party series she created, with the goal of performing alongside artists she respected not only for their talent but also for their personality.
Watch her jackin’ Boiler Room set, the first session held at the infamous Warehouse Project:
Coles’ creative ambition bloomed from an early age, as the British/Japanese producer began her music making at the age of 15 exploring hip-hop terrain, and by 16 moving onto dub and drum’n’bass. Breaking into the house music realm with her award-winning track “What They Say,” she’s proven herself an all-purpose artist, conceiving her vision from all angles — from writing, producing, engineering, arranging, mixing, performing, even doing her own vocals and album artwork, as is the case for her recent EP releases “Don’t Put Me In Your Box” on Hypercolour, and “Easier to Hide” on I Am Me.
Best known for releases under her own name, Maya Jane Coles is also one half of the live dub/electronic band She is Danger with Lena Cullen, and also creates dubstep music under the guise of Nocturnal Sunshine.
Read more about her in our featured artist post, and check out her Essential Mix:
Self-taught, Nicole Moudaber describes her sound as ”driving, techy and dirty” and found a new home in London’s scene where she ran a monthly party called Soundworx at Turnmills. She’s released tracks for labels like INTEC, VIVa, 8Sided Dice, Kling Klong, Monique Musique and Waveform Recordings, and is a favorite of Carl Cox, playing at his weekly party at Space Ibiza for the past several years. She also created her own party at Ushuaia in Ibiza focusing on classic house, with performances and support from house legend Danny Tenaglia.
Coming up this year Moudaber will start her own monthly at Cielo NYC & Pacha NYC in February, and is also in the process of launching a new label called MOOD.
Listen to her new “Sonic Langauge” EP released on Drumcode, and watch her do her thang at Space:
A year later she migrated again to San Francisco and began exploring production more and more, teaching herself Ableton and Reason. Fortuitously, she ran into Justin Martin out on the dancefloor one night, and then met him again soon after at Winter Music Conference. The Dirtybird crew had just begun to forumulate, so it was the perfect time for her to link up with her flock. She’s become one of Claude VonStroke’s favorite partners in crime, and together the two have created a rather hush-hush, exclusively vinyl label project called Krush Groov.
J. Phlip’s first release off of Dirtybird Records was “Rumble Rumble” in 2008, and she plans to release upcoming EPs under her full name in February 2013. She’s currently residing in Berlin but jets back to California often to reunite with her Dirtybird clan.
Here’s some wise words from a Beatport interview, where J.Phlip delivers sage advice to aspiring artists:
“Please don’t take half-naked press shots if you want to be taken seriously – unless you’re a badass like Lil’ Kim. I don’t care how hot you are, I don’t want to see your headphones being used as a bra. Have style, show it off, and work your sex appeal if you want to and if you have it – but be careful with how you do it. People want to judge – let your music speak! Once your music has something to say, everything else will follow.”
Check out one of J. Phlip’s killer EPs, “The Barbary Coast:”
The Cassy & Dave the Hustler project set her ablaze in the minimal techno realm, and from that point she pursued her style and inspiration in Berlin, continuing to form significant partnerships with heavyweights like Ricardo Villalobos and Steve Bug. She took up a residency at Panoramabar, Rex Club Paris and Trouw Amsterdam, launched her own imprint, called Cassy, and also became one of the legendary Cocoon Heroes. Her debut artist album is due out in 2013 on Planet E, co-produced by Kirk Degiorgio.
Melt to her mixing live this past summer at Cocoon Ibiza, and watch her spinning on vinyl at Dommune in Tokyo:
By the early 2000s she had built considerable momentum in Germany’s fertile scene, and began to branch out to the rest of Europe. Then in 2008 she was signed to Desolat, the imprint created by Loco Dice and Martin Buttrich, as well as Artist Alife. She debuted her first release on Desolat, “That’s Right” in 2011 and soon after put out her album Tessa, named for her best friend who introduced her to Ibiza and encouraged her to pursue a career in music. A significant portion of the album was produced in Ibiza, so it reflects her love for the magical White Isle as well.
Watch tINI describe the making of Tessa and her Ibiza inspiration:
She quickly developed a name for herself in Moscow, hosting a weekly party called “Voices” at Propaganda Club, (which she considers to be the “Russian Fabric”), booking guests like Theo Parrish, Cassy, Shed and Marcel Dettmann to play alongside her.
As enthusiastic about absorbing music as she is about making it, her introduction to electronic music in particular began in her childhood. She would stay awake into the wee hours of the morning listening to a radio show that featured US garage and Chicago house. It was then that she first feel in love with that magical 808 sound, and it’s energetic power over the body. To Kraviz dancing is essential, even you’re the DJ.
With releases on Rekids, Underground Quality and Naïf, her haunting production “Voices“ is what first put her on the map through Jus-Ed’s Underground Quality imprint. Her voice adds an extra-special spark to her music. Delivered with a rare combination of grit, sensuality, and elegance, her vocals supplements her brooding soundscapes, infused with acid, deep house, techno, and 70s underground disco influences.
During an interview with Halcyon she was asked about sexism in the music industry, and gave an exemplary response that speaks to the crux of this rather complicated “gender issue:”
I would say I have no problem with people taking me as a woman behind the decks. No problem! But only if they are really educated enough to realize the difference between just any woman behind the decks and me is huge, enormous… it’s immense, it matters. So when they realize the difference and they realize I’m a professional first and can mix my tracks and have my own style and sound, then no problem. Look anywhere you want! Enjoy my ass shaking, anything, feel free, but only if you realize that and enjoy what I’m doing and the music, only if you take it as the whole concept. If you take it separately, then get lost really! Then this is sexism, I don’t want to be the doll really or a puppet.
Her debut self-titled album was released this year on Rekids, with an utterly mesmerizing lead single called “Ghetto Kraviz” – check out the music video below and get a taste of the essence of Nina: