Kiwi women helping break the DJ world’s glass ceiling

The glass ceiling of the male-dominated DJ world could be cracking, with the country’s biggest DJ school seeing more women than ever complete the course this year.

Your playlist will load after this ad

A third of this year’s intake at NZ’s biggest DJ school are female, with those in the industry saying it’s about time. Source: 1 NEWS/ @lrk.creative - Louis Kidd

A third of the intake at Te Auaha’s specialised diploma this year are women, with the head tutor calling it unprecedented to have this many in the class.

“It's really good for the scene,” said head tutor Ian Seumanu, or DJ Raw. “There's starting to be an influx of female DJs out in the industry and I think it's really good.”

There’s currently only a handful of professional female DJs in the country, one of those being Arii Jade, who’s style has earned her the nickname the "mermaid DJ".

“Right now I'd say in New Zealand there's about five of us, five established female DJs that would play in different cities.”

She said she owes her success in big part to her male friends in the industry, who helped her get in and continue to back her.

“If I didn't have that, I probably wouldn't be where I was because they seem to just not take women seriously,” Arii Jade said.

Most of the industry’s promoters - those who book the DJs and organise gigs - are also men, and she said it’s awesome that there are girls coming through a course to learn all that stuff.

At Te Auaha students learn everything from the business side of music, promotions and production, to the mechanics of using and playing music through turntables.

Student Valentina Rios Diaz, known as DJ Zectra, said she didn’t know anything about the industry when she signed up, but it’s the best decision she’s made.

“I didn't know what a turntable was or anything. But I learned to do some scratching and some loops and mainly mixing, I love mixing drum and bass.”

The school’s tutor DJ Raw puts the rise down to confidence, saying as more women are seen doing well in the industry and getting bigger and better gigs, the more who’ll see it as a viable career option.

He said there’s money to be made across clubs and pubs, festivals and more and more commercial opportunities like playing in malls and shops.

There’s also a big competitive scene, which he said his school usually does extraordinarily well in.

“We've won pretty much every title there is in the country, we've even got a world champion,” he said.