10 Female DJs You Should Know

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It’s depressing to see that it’s not just the guitar-oriented end of the musical spectrum that’s a complete sausage fest at times. Last week, DJ Mag published its annual reader-voted Top 100 DJ list, the results of which were entirely predictable for two reasons: a) the top spots were dominated by dire low countries trance and Eurohouse DJs and b) there were no women featured. At all. Not one. We’re not the only ones to have noted this — Peaches, bless her, took to her Facebook page to proclaim “DJ Mag! Your Top 100 DJ boy club list can eat a dick! Where the ladies at???”

In fairness, the fact that there’s no women is far from the only thing wrong with the whole thing — the fact that the godawful David Guetta is #1 gives an indication of what we’re dealing with, as does the absence of the likes of Lindstrøm, Ricardo Villalobos, etc. — but anyway, despite the fact that not being on such a weak list is probably a perverse mark of pride, we thought we’d take the opportunity to laud the work of some female DJs who we reckon are right up there with the best. (And by the way, before anyone gets all pissy about the difference between DJs and producers, we’ve included live footage where we could find it, and productions where we couldn’t.)

Ellen Allien

One of the mainstays of the ever-abundant Berlin techno scene, Allien has been responsible for founding BPitch Records, releasing six artist albums and a slew of remixes, playing floor-destroying DJ sets all over the world, and generally being awesome for over a decade now. None of this, however, is good enough for DJ Mag voters, who apparently rate Boy George (#91), Bloody Beetroots (#86), and Skrillex (#19) above her, despite the fact that none of them are actually, y’know, DJs. Sigh.

Steffi

Years ago, we read an interview with a Dutch producer (sadly, we can’t for the life of us remember who it was) who described his music as “an apology to the world for Alice Deejay.” A decade on, you could quite happily argue that Amsterdam-based Steffi’s work is an apology to the world for trance overlords like Tiësto, Armin van Buuren, Sander van Doorn, etc. Her sets are definitely floor fillers, but happily devoid of the aroma of fromage that tends to waft over the dance floor whenever so many of her compatriots step behind the decks. Which, perhaps, is why the DJ Mag vulgus doesn’t quite get her.

Magda

Given the amount of time we spent constructing a Halloween mix last week, we’re appalled in retrospect that we managed to omit Magda from it. Born in Poland, she grew up in Detroit, the home of techno, and her sound is strongly influenced by the sound of her adopted city. She was given her first residency by techno übergenius Richie Hawtin, and has gone from strength to strength from there, playing a dark brand of techno that’s minimal and ominous but somehow also engaging and involving (she cites Italian horror soundtracks as an influence, which makes perfect sense). And she’s also part of a trio called “Run Stop Restore,” which appeals to the Commodore 64 geek in us.

Lauren Flax

Speaking of Detroit, here’s another of its favorite daughters. Lauren Flax got her start as Fischerspooner’s tour DJ, which must have been an, um, interesting gig. These days, she’s probably best known for her connection with the… well, we guess we’d call it the indie dance scene — she’s remixed MEN, Telepathe, Le Tigre and various others, released a successful single of her own in 2009 (“You’ve Changed,” with Sia on vocals), and now forms half of decidedly witch house influenced duo Creep (or CREEP, if you must).

Maya Jane Coles

If there was one name that people seem to have been kicking up a particular stink about being omitted from DJ Mag‘s Top 100, it’s this one. Coles hasn’t exactly been ignored elsewhere — she won Best Newcomer at this year’s Ibiza DJ Awards, and even DJ Mag itself broke with its Y chromosome fetish to nominate her for its Best Breakthrough Producer award last year. She’s a diverse talent — her own productions are strongly house-influenced, while her work under the She Is Danger moniker is decidedly darker and more bass-heavy, and her productions as Nocturnal Sunshine is straight-out dubstep — and her DJ sets reflect this versatility, as well as a restless musical appetite.

Miss Kittin

In fairness, Caroline Hervé isn’t the greatest mixer in the world, but given that she was part of the birth of electroclash, we stand by her track selection — and anyway, her DJ sets are always great fun. And if you reckon electroclash is out of fashion right now, just you wait. Give it another few years and you’ll be hearing “Frank Sinatra” everywhere. Twenty year cycles. You just mark our words.

Cassy

Frankly, if she’s good enough to be a resident at Berlin techno mecca Berghain, she’s good enough for us.

Jennifer Cardini

Similarly, it’s generally safe to assume that anyone on German techno behemoth Kompakt knows what they’re doing, and French DJ/producer Jennifer Cardini signed to the label in 2008 (making her Kompakt’s first female French artist, apparently). Long before that, though, she’s been one of France’s most innovative DJs, and she’s also been something of a trailblazer for lesbian DJs — her late ’90s nights at Paris gay club Pulp quickly became an institution, despite inauspicious beginnings (“It was stinking hot,” she told French website Tetu this year, “nothing worked, the sound was terrible, and they only served Mamboco [cheap Malibu] and pineapple — but it was fun!”).

Anja Schneider

And while we’re back on minimal ground, we’d be lax in the extreme to neglect the work of Mobilee Records co-founder, DJ, producer, and techno doyenne par excellence Anja Schneider. Like UK stalwart Annie Mac, Schneider’s career started on radio — her show “Dance Under the Blue Moon” is still on German radio every week, and it kickstarted her DJing career, which has since gone from strength to strength.

Motion Sickness of Time Travel

Wait, she’s not a DJ! But before you take your outrage to the comment section, have a listen to this. It’s probably our favorite mix of 2011, and we’re hoping that it might encourage Rachel Evans toward spending more time behind the decks.