The Women DJs Exposing EDM’s Sexism Epidemic
TIFFWhen Jennifer Lee, better known as TOKiMONSTA, started DJing, there was one thing she heard whispered about her again and again: that she hadn’t created her own music. She remembers people attributing her work to the men in her life, guessing that her boyfriend must’ve made it for her. Since then, she has prioritized transparency in her process. “The more I share that with people,” she says, “the more they know that what I make is mine.”Seizing ownership over one’s work and artistry is a theme that comes up repeatedly in Underplayed, Stacey Lee’s thoughtful and thorough documentary probing gender inequality in the electronic music scene. Profiling a series of DJs and music producers, the film presents a broad and commanding look at the EDM landscape. It starts with a bleak statistic: On Billboard’s top 100 DJ list in 2019, only five women made the cut. The film then proceeds to interview each one of them—along with a host of other, more up-and-coming or underground female talents—about their experiences.The documentary opens on Suzanne Ciani, a pioneer in electronic music whose career began in the 1970s. For women in the industry at that time, she says, “There were lots of signals that you weren’t quite OK.” When Ciani went to work with Don Buchla, creator of the Buchla synthesizer, she remembers him disinviting her from a class he’d sponsored, saying that he’d decided not to include women. Men in the field found women to be “a social discomfort,” she explains. “They just were used to being among themselves. And they wanted it to stay that way.”Read more at The Daily Beast.