Hi, my name is Charissa Saverio aka DJ Rap. I am been in the music business since I was 14 and am still touring, DJing producing music on my labels and kicking ass after 25 years.
I get asked by so many wonderful women this question that I thought I'd write a blog and dedicate it to them.
'How do I break into the male dominated DJ/Producer industry ?'
Let's start with why are there so few women at the top of the game.
The answer is one word.-Production.
If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times if you want to be a world-class Electronic DJ you also need to be a world-class producer. There is a limited future for you if you don't produce.
If you all you do is play other DJ's music then, in essence, you are a jukebox. I do not mean that in a disrespectful way, there are many talented DJs out there, but if you are dreaming of Coachella and rising all the way to the top, then you need to produce!
If you can't produce but you have other talents, a talent for business let's say, or you love performing (here is an example of 2 mega stars who in all fairness are not great producers or singers or even songwriters as they have teams to help them, but showed the world the power of what a women can achieve with their vision of art, as great artistes and performers with a strong sense of self and highly individual personalities- Madonna) who has amazing Drive and a great work ethic (JLo) who understands how to market herself and cater to her strengths.
Still, don't want to turn the knobs? If you have a good ear and you can sing, write melodies and lyrics then you can hire an engineer and you will be a triple threat rather than a one dimensional DJ. Many producers don't know how to operate a hairdryer let alone a studio, they have an incredible ear and sense of what the song needs. Not everyone needs to be a button pusher.
Know what you are great at, hire someone to fill the not so great parts and LEARN from them!
Every single world class DJ in the world also has productions under their belt.
This is why I opened up a music school to teach production, especially for women.
Music Tech Collective.
Mostly I teach privately, but I believe this should be affordable for the masses who have time and budget limitations. hence the online production school was launched a month ago!
As children, we are brought up differently from our brothers without our parents even realizing it, Mums are buying us dolls and the boys are playing with hammers with their dads in the garage.
They are learning how to take things apart and problem solve, we are learning how to be pretty and cute.
This is why women hate manuals and boys have no fear of them. It's not that we don't understand them or are stupid, we were just brought up to solve our problems in a different way.
Boys were playing in sports and learning guy etiquette, guess what the DJ world is?
A boys sports club.
So if you were a tomboy like me, you probably fit right in with the boys, and most female DJ's I know who are truly successful are kinda one of the boys and learned to be a team player when they were young rather than painting their nails. Not saying girlie girls can be DJ's, but I am saying girls who are obsessed with technology, and music over boys usually make better DJs.
This isn't a trend, it's an obsession and I have been obsessed with it the moment I played with plugs and wires and sat in a studio at age 10. I never played with dolls, but that was me in the mirror singing my heart outperforming to the crowds in my head as early as 5 years old.
It is so important to have an infrastructure of support from your fellow DJ colleagues, I'd be lost without mine.
I tell you this because we can be so competitive we can make enemies of those who do care and alienate ourselves. Be careful of that, throw yourself not into proving yourself, you don't have to do that for anyone, but send your energy into how you can be the best version, the highest version of yourself. It's a fast climb up and a long way down, and you meet the same people on the way up as down, so, do try to make fewer enemies.
Most guys want to help. So take the time to hang in the studio if you can and watch, ask questions, if you have money take a course, these days you have no limitations on what is out there in terms of education. It was not like that for me back in the day!
Watching Youtube will help but honestly after trying this myself for years and only really learning so much and not getting the whole picture, the advice I give is the advice I took, taking a full course that leaves no stone unturned with a qualified teacher there to guide you is truly the best way to learn. This is why I teach, it changed my life!
So, what are the other 9 tenths that we don't see?
This is all about hard work. Preparation, Preparation, Preparation in everything you do. Before every show I practice for days. This give me the freedom on stage, relieves anxiety because I know my records backwards forwards. Creating edits, intros, making tracks for other labels as well as my own, working on my craft daily in every way. Understanding the business is key, knowledge is power!
Become a master at what you do, there is no point if you do it half-assed but it comes with a price. Loneliness, depression, lack of family friends who are fed up with you being too busy to hang out, jealous boyfriends V no boyfriends. I had to navigate through all of that, I had to learn balance, to be healthy, I had to put me first, and I had to walk away and become single-minded because you have to make hay when the sun shines. You have to have discipline. You really have to love this as it doesn't always make you money.
As we get older our priorities change, we value relationships over being famous like we dreamed in out teenage dreams, the reality of life is more apparent than the grammy you hoped to win singing with that hairbrush. Giving back is satisfying instead of performing in from of crowds, making a difference and being healthy and living with balance and growing into your skin is what the gift of wisdom brings us.
Dare to be great, to create more than the typical!
There are so many ways you can approach your career but ultimately, it is your path to take.
I think I will give you more value sharing the mistakes I made rather than tips only.
The future of women in the industry? Well, that's down to each individual and us standing as a group supporting each other. We are creating history right now and one day you will share this with your kids, this moment we are all having. But, will it really change what is going on? I believe so even if it is a slow progression. The way to change this is by letting your talent speak for itself, surround yourself with people who share your views and morals and have your best interest at heart, and who aren't afraid to call you out on your bullshit. Finally, make hits, not selfies.