CAN SHE DJ? YES SHE CAN!
Think the DJ profession is a strictly male one? Think again. EMI’s SheCanDJ competition is highlighting the best female DJs across Australia and New Zealand. Ten finalists have been picked, with the winner scoring the offer of a recording contract, an album release, a mix compilation release, production classes and a networking trip to Ibiza.
In the running for all of this is Melbourne-based artist RACHEL ANDREWS. Andrews got her start right here in Canberra after pestering a local DJ at North Bar to show her the ropes. “He eventually gave in and showed me the basics of beat mixing,” says Andrews, reminiscing, “I picked it up really quickly and went from there!”
The idea of sharing her passion for house and dance music with people in clubs, and being able to make the night an amazing one for the crowds is what drew her to being a DJ. “I love the connection you can make with the crowd through the music you play,” Andrews says. “It got me hooked and I love every gig that I do.”
Initially it was hard trying to break through in a male-dominated profession. “When I first started there was often the perception that you were getting gigs because of how you looked, not because you had any talent,” says Andrews. “Other times you wouldn’t get the gigs at all on the assumption that you didn’t know what you were doing.” The key to getting the gigs according to Andrews, was earning respect. “You have to prove yourself before you can earn respect, and I did that. Those that gave me a shot didn’t regret it, because they kept bringing me back.”
Andrews gets inspiration from local and international DJs, including Shapeshifters (UK), Martin Solveig (France), Dirty South (Aus) and Sarah Main (Aus/Spain). She is deeply attuned to the mixing of others – even when she’s on a night out herself. “I’m terrible actually! I can be deep in conversation with someone and stop mid-sentence to comment on the mixing. Most places I go, the DJs are excellent so I’m now listening to hear the different ways they mix and what songs they put together for inspiration for my own sets.”
Starting her career in Canberra was fantastic says Andrews. “The best thing about DJing in Canberra is the long sets. I used to play six-hour sets, taking a room from open to close – which is a skill most DJs don’t learn these days. The longer sets teach you to read a room, how to build a night and how to maintain a dance floor.”
And what types of songs are best to maintain a dance floor? Andrews says there are three key ingredients that make a great club song. “A really catchy hook, a solid bass line and a driving kick. It has to have some guts to it to really get your heart pumping.”
Rachel Andrews is one of the Top 10 finalists of the ShecanDJ competition. The winner will be announced in September, but in the meantime, keep up with the comp at shecandj.com. You can also catch Rachel at Trinity on Saturday August 20.