Eye of Tigerlily
This Australian DJ is leading the way for chicks in charge
Although Aussie DJ Dara Hayes(stage nameTigerlily) is often among superstar king- (and queen-) maker Tiësto’s hand-picked supporting acts, Hayes’ Valentine’s Day gig at Hakkasan will be her own as she headlines her upcoming North American tour. Hayes has expressed that she’d rather be referred to onstage as a DJ rather than the token “female DJ,” and is passionate when she speaks about the gender disparity in the dance music game.
Is the music industryunfair to women?
The industry isn’t necessarily unfair to women, but there is inherent sexism both for the dance music industry and dance music in general that creates problems for women. There’s a lot to talk about.
The history of dance music and house music—a very male-driven thing. It’s been men sitting in studios for hours and days on end writing dance music. Women traditionally haven’t done that. And now that they are doing it, it can become quite difficult for the audience to understand and to [accept it]. Females have to overcome a lot of problems in an industry, but there’s no time like the present to be trying to change it.
What can women do toaddress the situation?
The more that girls get into the industry and start working their asses off and really getting in there and giving it a shot, it’ll make it a lot easier. In saying that, it is sometimes also made more difficult by women in the industry who don’t necessarily do it the right or the traditional way. [Some] girls aren’t necessarily in it for the music, which may be a reason they add to the problematic nature of the situation.
Do you think sexism in the industry stems from consumers who don’t accept female DJs, or from the festival and nightlife talent buyers who don’t bookfemale talent?
It’s both. It’s not even necessarily a matter of teaching women how to mix and produce, it’s a matter of telling young women that they can do whatever they want. When does it become an insult to say [you do something] “like a girl”? When does that change? At what age? It’s a matter of socially teaching women that empowering factor of just how great it is to be a woman. It starts with telling young girls that they can do whatever they want. Also, it relies on women being more prominent [and visible] in the dance music scene.
Some women would say that drawing attention to the problem creates a larger problem. You seem to beopen to talking about it.
Some women choose to ignore it and not talk about it, which is definitely fine. Some artists refuse to talk about it because they think the more we talk about it, the more the problem is amplified. I’ve spoken with a lot of people in places of quite high regard, and [many] think that there is a problem. The problem [still] grows from all angles.
Have you ever personallyfaced issues in the industry that are solely based around you being a woman?
I’ve been pretty lucky. I’ve got a great management team that has managed to [overcome] a lot of those issues. For example, [avoiding] people booking me for the wrong reasons. I never play shows with exclusively all-women lineups because that’s really detrimental.
And then once you get to the shows?
Playing a lot of the big festivals when there’s a group of 100 artists touring, you definitely realize how much of a boys club it is. At the start, that was definitely difficult for me to wrap my head around. Now I feel comfortable and confident enough with my skills and my abilities to not let that worry me. But I can see from the perspective of a young woman who is maybe finding her footing or a little bit shy, how that could be a really problematic and quite stressful situation to be in.
Do you have any advicefor female DJs who wantto get into it?
It can be easy to give up quickly. When I started DJing, a lot of bullshit focused on people saying nasty things and creating gossip for the sake of gossip. Young women can let that get to them. The most important thing is not letting that kind of behavior and the attitude of other people who are in the industry get to you. If you’re really passionate about what you do, then make sure you stick with it.