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Female of the Species

Female of the Species

It doesn’t matter who presses the buttons or pushes the records… The music should ALWAYS do the talking. But being as today is International Women’s Day, and drum & bass is occasionally regarded as a bit of a sausage fest, we thought we’d big up the many girls in the game. Naturally we called up Storm – officially the first lady of drum & bass alongside the gone but never forgotten Kemistry.

“It’s not completely male oriented but, sure, the majority of people in the scene are guys,” admits the Metalheadz mainstay. “I think the main thing is we’re not going to be able to think like guys and guys aren’t going to be able to think like us.”

Or do we? As our chat progresses, Storm shares a secret she learned when her and Kemistry were handed the reins of Metalheadz when Goldie took time out to record Timeless… “We were like ‘okay!’ But we had to work out how to do it pretty quickly! I think sometimes you have to say yes to things and then work out what you’re doing. Guys seem to say yes and they know what they’re doing but girls might say yes then work it out.”

All honest men reading this should be disagreeing at this stage. That sounds more like the fine unisex art of blagging with a healthy dose of determination. Every single debut DJ set in the history of rave is the fruit of an unequivocal ‘yes’ regardless of actual talent. The same ‘in at the deep end’ technique can be found with all start-up labels, promoters and any other aspect of the wider dance music scene. This is true for girls and boys… anyone who says otherwise is telling a porkie. But, as Storm observes, it’s how we react to the challenges.

“Girls organise things very well. Men are brought up to put their love into things while women are brought up to put their love into people,” says Storm. “We’re meant to be mothers and we’re meant to nurture. Take cars; a woman just needs a good, reliable car that gets her from A to B. Men, meanwhile, meanwhile see it as an extension of a family member and washes it every week.”

It’s true… Some of the most successful promoters, agents, managers and label heads behind your favourite tunes, DJs and parties are females with organisational skills so sharp they could shave a man at sixty paces. But this still doesn’t answer why the majority of producers – in all genres, not just D&B – are men and not women?

“Well I’ve never got into production and I do ask myself why sometimes,” admits Storm. “Why don’t women produce as much as men? We’re a bit more hands-on, we’re not so technical. We want to control everything just like men do. It’s weird, but it’s changing. Look at Ikonika – she’s making amazing productions and really going places!”

Things are changing with more female producers in dance music than ever before… Not least amidst the many shades of bass music. There’s Alley Cat – director at leading agency ESP and one-to-watch with her deep, enticing Kokeshi compositions. There’s Kito who’s dubstep, electro and booty bass workouts are causing ructions on a global level. And Digital Soundboy’s B.Traits who’s tempo-flexery and clear ear for melody have scored her a Radio 1 residency as of next month. From Flight to Riya, Deeizm to Chickaboo, drum & bass may be top heavy with chaps but it wouldn’t be half the scene it is without the female of the species.

On Tuesday we gave our 20,000-strong Twitter crew just one hour to big up their favourite D&B females. Over 30 names were thrown our way. Here’s their top 10 selectors, singers and soundgirls…

 

Storm
Storm and Kemistry scored the top spot by a long shot. Their legacy as founding Metalheadz family is encrypted in the D&B DNA. Storm’s on-going DJ craft sealed the deal. Here’s her latest Metalheadz radio show.

 

DJ Rap
Another old skool vote. Rap’s glamour twinkles with a repertoire that spans from scoring Hollywood block busters to 1992 classics like this…

Riya
Gracing deep cuts by the likes of Calibre, Marcus Intalex, Lenzman, S.P.Y, Von D and Total Science, Riya’s vocals are instantly distinctive. Look out for a debut album coming soon and in the meantime, enjoy this…

Jenna G
Another instantly familiar vocalist, Jenna’s range is boundless thanks to collaborations as varied as deep, leftfield soul joints by Zed Bias to full-throttle rock influenced cuts by Qemists. This Chase & Status produced number is our fave…

Flight
Former 1Xtra D&Bassador, DJ Flight can now be heard monthly on leading bass station Rinse… And caught on live on all good global dancefloors. Resident for Metalheadz and Genre, what she doesn’t know about the art of DJing isn’t worth knowing. Check out her mixcloud

Lady V Dubz
Queen of the double drop, resident at numerous London parties and beyond… Lady V Dubz has clearly got a passionate following as she scored more votes on Twitter than some longstanding ladies in the scene. Recognise.

 

Chickaboo
A card carrying crowd hypestress, Chickaboo’s unique delivery works just as well with the work of chart-topping house producers as it does with material by breakbeat champions. Her roots, though, are drum & bass. Here she is with Storm on D&BTV…

Tali
Her discography reads like a who’s who in D&B (Goldie, Marky, Shy FX, Roni Size, EZ Rollers, LTJ Bukem and many more) and last year’s LP featured the likes of Lynx, Bennie Page and Eveson. Tali’s trademark spitfire lyrics are still big news. Here’s a classic…

Liz-E
With an eye on both drum & bass and dubstep scenes, Liz-E’s currently peddling some dark, devastating sounds. Signed to Smoking Riddims and Punch, her sonic brew has serious peaktime potential. Here’s some darkness with Jaydan…

Deeizm
Last heard on Makoto’s album in 2011 with a remix of her own funk-powered gem Untold, Deeizm’s delivery packs a punch and ooze soul. Just listen.

 

 

Drum&BassArena Editor: Dave Jenkins has documented beats for over 15 years working with the likes of UKF, Mixmag, DJ Mag, iDJ, Bandcamp, Resident Advisor, Radio 1 Xtra and many more.