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The Rise of the Female DJ

DJ Kelly with vinyl. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

For a long time, it's been a man's world in the land of electronic music. But not anymore. Meet three DJ divas who are breaking that trend on dance floors in San Francisco and beyond.

DJ Kelly What was your first gig in SF?

Retox in the Dogpatch. I invited everybody and nobody came (laughs). Then I got a Monday night weekly gig at Vertigo on Polk St. It was great practice for six months and it led to gigs at Wish and the W Hotel.

Tell us how you became a DJ

I was dating a DJ in college and I fell in love with electronic music. I would stay up past everyone else at parties and go play at the turntables in the back room when nobody was looking. The joy of DJing is making it happen by your own hands.

How would you describe your style?

I spin house music, mostly disco and jazz. Historically, I love DJ Dan, Mark Farina and Carl Craig. Currently I’m into the indie dance scene, like Gigamesh, Zed, and White Noise.

What’s the male to female ratio of DJs in this city?

Probably like 50:1. There are no female DJs. I think women have really good taste in music. If they had an easier way to get involved in DJing, the influences they could bring would be great for music performance as a whole.

How many years have you gone to Burning Man?

This will be my third.

What does Burning Man mean to you?

Art, in so many forms – physical, structural, music as art, and performance as art. It’s also the freedom to express yourself in any way you like and you don’t have to worry about judgment or society saying “you can’t do that.” It’s a big playground for adults.

Where are you DJing at Burning Man this year?

Elephant Bird and Eggs Bar, then I will be a free agent the rest of the week.

What is your dream gig in SF?

Monarch, because the sound system is sick. For the kind of music I like to play, I want it to be intimate, but big enough that you can dance, but you don’t feel alone dancing, kind of like a fancy underground.

Where can we dance to you in San Francisco?

I’m DJing a lot of Burning Man fundraisers and parties like Precompression and Decompression. I’m trying to find my special weekly spot, but I’ve been playing at 414 at Ruby Skye and Wish.

What's your day job?

I design office spaces for tech companies.

 

ShOOey on the decks. Photo courtesy of Jim Vetter Photography.

ShOOey - Where can we dance to you in San Francisco?

I play with the Space Cowboys all around the city at various events. I have a monthly residency at Beatbox called FiX. You can find my gigs and music at on my website

How would you describe your style?

I love playing house, electro, and breaks. My local DJ heroes are Chuck ‘n' Roll, Brad Robinson, and Aaron Pope. I look up to DJs who care about the music and not about the ego trip that comes with DJing for a lot of people.

What was your first gig in SF?

My first "public" gig was at a little bar on Polk Street called The Cinch.

What's the male to female ratio of DJs in this city?

I would guess it's something like 10:1.

Do you use vinyl or electronic?

I played vinyl for three years before switching to CD's because I wanted to prove to myself that I could really DJ with records.

How many years have you gone to Burning Man?

I've been six times.

What's your favorite aspect of Burning Man?

The spontaneity of your experiences there.  You don't seek out experiences... experiences find you.

Why did you start DJing? 

I started listening to electronic music in college in the mid-90's. When I moved to SF in 2002, I bought a pair of turntables off Craigslist and a bunch of used vinyl and practiced in my apartment for weeks on end... and the rest is history!

What's your day job?

I am a corporate finance manager at Dreyer's Ice Cream.  I eat ice cream almost everyday, sometimes twice a day!

 

Kimba. Photo courtesy of VITAMINDEVO.


Kimba What's the male to female ratio of DJs in this city?

(Laughs) Probably 15:1 or even higher.  If you separate by genres, it gets skewed even further. In the world of breaks, I'm sure I’m one out of hundreds. The lineups for Burning Man illustrate that accordingly - at Opulent Temple, I'm one of only three female DJ’s in the lineup.

 Tell us how you became a DJ

When I was 17 and graduated high school, I used all of my graduation gift money to buy a "DJ in a box" kit. It had two low-grade Numark turntables, a mixer, speakers, and headphones.  I'd spend hours shopping vinyl at Skills in Berkeley and then attempt to beat match on my funky turntables on the floor in my room. 

How would you describe your style?

I've been calling my style of music "Elegant Warrior Breaks & Techno.” I started DJing with Deep House, so I always try to find tracks that represent that sweet musical and instrumental nature. 

What's your dream gig in SF?

Outside Lands would be awesome.

What was your first gig in SF?

It was at the late Triple Crown for my friend Mona's birthday.

How many years have you gone to Burning Man?

This year will be my 5th!

What does Burning Man mean to you?

My first year at Burning Man completely blew my mind. Every year, I've tried to give back in an exceptional way. There is no crowd quite like a dusty one.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about Burning Man?

That EVERYONE is on drugs.  Sure there might be a heavy amount of partying going on, but there's really something for everyone. It’s not just about the drugs.

Where are you DJing at Burning Man this year?

In order of the week - DISORIENT, BASSHenge, Playa Surfers, the Purgatory Cruiser, Charlie the Unicorn and Opulent Temple.

Where can we dance to you in San Francisco?

I've played all over SF, Public Works and Mighty tend to be my favorites, you can also listen to me nearly every Friday night on my radio show ReFreshed FridaZe on nubreaks 7-11 p.m.

What's your day job?

I'm a licensed Acupuncturist, I practice in the Marina / Cow Hollow and in Walnut Creek.