Yesterday, Ears To The House ran an exclusive by an anonymous DJ of several decades standing in which he detailed why he doesn’t support inclusion riders – something campaigners wish to see male DJs introduce in order to help with the chronic shortage of female and non-binary people in the music world.
Whilst his opinion was clearly controversial, Ears To The House makes no apologies for publishing it. We believe this is a legitimate subject of discussion and that it should not be up to a select few to choose which voices are aired in the debate. With that in mind, we agreed to publish his views anonymously in exchange for getting to ask him a few questions.
So here’s how he got on with our editor…
First thing’s first – why did you get in touch with Ears To The House over this?
Because I knew there was no chance I could say this publicly without risking a backlash. A lot of people get annoyed about this subject in a lot of ways. Its supporters often think anyone with an opposing view must have a problem with women, its critics usually have their own agenda at work.
So you don’t have your own agenda at work of wanting to make sure you get paid as much as possible?
At my stage in my career? Believe me, I’m fine financially. I make money in a few different ways, so sharing a stage with someone else doesn’t bother me. I know what I’m worth, but I also know promoters and festivals don’t have infinite budgets. That said, there will be other DJs out there who do want all the money for themselves.
Would that have been you earlier in your career?
Probably, yes. There was a time in my career when I was very greedy. I took every penny I could any chance I could. I used to think it wouldn’t last forever, so I’m amazed my career is still going strong now. I’m not totally against inclusion riders, but I think what’s being proposed now could result in less money and less DJs entering the industry. The idea needs a lot of work. I spoke recently to one of the people who pioneered the idea, and even they admit it needs fine tuning.
What do you think of people who support this idea?
I think their hearts are in the right place, but their idea needs a little work to make it more practical. I heard one of my friends tell me recently say it’s just part of what he called the woke agenda. I don’t agree. Dance music has never been as diverse as it should be, and I admire people who want to do something about it. I just think this idea, in its current form, isn’t practical and could actually be counter productive.
Are there other ways of getting more women and non-binary people onto lineups, then?
Definitely. Promoters and agencies should educate themselves, it’s as simple as that. A lot of them don’t really keep up with what happens in the scene. New names come along all the time, and plenty of them are ridiculously talented women. Because they don’t keep an eye on rising talent, they miss opportunities and end up relying on oldies like me. With dance music being in this weird, sort of post-Covid period…
Yeah, exactly. With it being in this period, festivals and venues have nothing to lose from putting more women and non-binary DJs on stage. They might even discover the next superstar or the next pioneer in the process, and you just can’t buy that kind of kudos. The industry needs to do this. I can’t keep DJing forever. I’m hoping to retire sometime during the next decade, and I know others who are planning on doing the same thing. There’s few better times than now to do it.
Do you reckon you could teach them a thing or two?
I’ve done that my whole career. I’ve always tried to be approachable and to help out the next generation of DJs. No one helped me when I started out and I made a lot of f***-ups because of it. If I can help anyone out, I try to, and that would definitely include anyone up and coming now. I’ve learned a lot during my career and I’m still learning now. It never stops. I’ve seen what happens when it does. You disappear very quickly.
The one other thing I’d say is women and non-binary people should try and put on their own events too. I’ve learned during my career that pulling up a chair to the table isn’t always the best idea. Making your own table and then inviting others onto it on your own terms is very satisfying. It also allows you to create your own audience to hone your skills with – something I think DJs just don’t get the chance to do often enough now.
Is there something to be said for returning to the older model of having smaller festivals and clubs?
I’d lose out financially if that happened and so would a lot of those in the current system, but f*** it, you’re right. Playing in front of 100 people is a world away from playing to thousands of people. We had this model years ago and it did little for increasing how many females we had in the business – but that’s because the drive to change it simply wasn’t there back then. It’s here now, and it’s not going away.
Thanks for writing your piece for us and answering our questions today. Just one more question for you – was the scene better in the past than it is now?
It wasn’t better in the past, nor was it worse. It was just different. There’s more of a social awareness nowadays, though, and that’s starting to filter into the machine. That can only ever be a good thing.