When I first became a fan of electronic dance music (EDM), I remember thinking I had found a wormhole of acceptance and freedom inside a world plagued by stereotypes and stigmatizations. As a woman, I felt freer and more empowered than I ever had before.
I was listening to a stream from an EDC Las Vegas set when I heard a killer mix from an artist I had never heard before - an artist named REZZ. I instantly fell in love with the dark, unique beats flowing through my eardrums.
“Wow, this REZZ guy is really good!” I told my friends.
“REZZ is a girl,” one of my friends responded.
“Wow, really?” I said. “That’s so crazy.”
From that moment on, my outlook of women in the EDM industry changed completely.
I remember how shocked I was to discover that a woman was making heavier, darker music in a predominantly male-dominated industry.
The sinking realization soon followed - if I, as a woman, was surprised by another woman’s success, how prevalent was sexism in the EDM community as a whole?
REZZ has since become one of my all-time favorite artists, and as my love for EDM grew I began to discover other successful women in the industry who are fighting everyday for the recognition they deserve.
I had the privilege of sitting down with four women who all are working to fight stereotypes and sexism in the EDM community through their individual talents.
Of those women, I discovered the wicked sound of music producer and DJ, Wenzday.
Producing music since 2014, Wenzday has been using her no-sleep work ethic and raw talent to fight for her success in the industry. In addition to being a producer and DJ, she is also a classically-trained vocalist, and co-founder of the record label and clothing brand, 40oz Cult with her brother, Dack Janiels.
Wenzday has since gone on to be the youngest person to DJ at the iconic Playboy Mansion, and her co-founded brand, 40oz Cult, has had takeovers in five cities across the United States. She has also released numerous acclaimed singles, -including her newest EP, Heartbreak House, with Insomniac Records imprint, In/Rotation- and played at the renowned mainstage at Beyond Wonderland this past March.
“I played an art car last year [at Beyond Wonderland], so moving up to the main stage was a dream come true. This year was especially special to me because there were so many up-and-coming women on the lineup as well,” says Wenzday.
Beyond Wonderland is a two-day electronic music festival held in San Bernardino, CA. With over 60 acts performing, it is estimated that over 70,000 fans attended the event this past year.
Despite her success, Wenzday is still forced to prove herself as a woman in the industry.
“I’ve experienced sexism from both men and women,” Wenzday says. “When I first started releasing music and playing under my Wenzday moniker, I would get messages like ‘you didn’t make this’ or ‘your set was pre-recorded.’”
Wenzday says her response to sexism and hate is to keep her head down and focus on her craft, and that choosing her stage name was a direct statement on becoming a successful woman in a predominantly male industry.
“I wanted a name that was synonymous with a strong female,” says Wenzday. “Wednesday Addams has always been my favorite character because of her boss attitude and outlook.”
However, Wenzday’s empowering mindset doesn’t come without sexist remarks and skepticism.
“I think that my biggest obstacle has been convincing people that I do everything (make music and play shows) on my own,” Wenzday states. “There is still a stigma among fans and fellow producers that when a female in the industry is successful, it is because someone else is doing it for her.”
The fight for female recognition in the industry is not exclusively fought by women alone, as Wenzday says her battle is accompanied by the support of male allies.
“I have had an insane amount of support throughout my career from men in the scene -like my brother- who push me to just focus on myself and not worry about the opinions of other people,” Wenzday adds.
Letting her craft speak for itself, Wenzday continues to push herself everyday to make her mark on the industry.
“I just plan on letting my music and performances speak for themselves,” she says. “I love what I do and cannot imagine doing anything else.”
Wenzday adds that while sexism may be prevalent within the industry, she believes that the key to reaching true success –both as individuals and women as a whole—is hard work, dedication and female-to-female support.
“Don’t give anyone a reason to doubt you. If you believe in yourself and your project, then that is all that matters,” Wenzday shares. “Women need to support other women! It can be as small as liking and commenting [on] a fellow girl’s Instagram post, or taking the time to listen to...a new female artist you just discovered. I feel like camaraderie is so important nowadays, especially in the EDM space.”
Wenzday also shares that it is her hope to inspire other women to continue to be creative and produce the work they’re passionate about.
“My inbox is always open to anyone who wants to send me new music or has any questions. You can find me @WenzdayMusic on all socials,” Wenzday adds. “Make sure to check out my new EP
“Heartbreak House” out now on In/Rotation Records!”
Female music producers are not the only women fighting for their success in the industry.
Lexi, who goes by the brand name FestFashions, is the owner, photographer and blogger of her festival-fashion brand. For the past five years, FestFashions has been capturing, blogging and posting trending styles in festival fashion.
While FestFashions says that she is, “proud that 75 percent of my followers are female,” judgment and sexism are still apparent within the industry, particularly with people’s fashion choices.
“That’s a reality I’m trying to fight,” says FestFashions. “I’m trying to build a world where we celebrate men, women and everyone else without sexualizing them. They can be wearing the smallest pasties or a full coat, it shouldn’t matter. It should be about the person, [and] their self-expression, not the sexualization of their body.”
Like Wenzday, FestFashions is letting her craft speak for itself as she grows in her success and cultivates a welcoming community for all.
“I’m trying to show people how beautiful they can be…,” FestFashions states. “I also do very little editing to my photos. I want anyone I photograph to feel comfortable and see how amazing they look without touch ups – my photos are very real, and very relatable.”
FestFashions also shares that while it might be tough for women in the industry, it’s important to never stop believing in your abilities.
“You’re just as good as anyone else, so put yourself out there and success will come to you,” she says.
Boss babes such as industry hair stylist, Tasha Tripp, and Lunautics brand owner, Claudia Pena, also share that the key to finding success and terminating sexism is to keep fighting, and to stand together.
“Follow your dreams and don't let anyone take them away from you,” says Tripp, who has been a hair artist for the past five years. “Fight for what you believe in, stand up for what's right, and push through the barriers that you've not only set for yourself, [but] perhaps that others have set for you. You are in control of your success and [while] others may try to stop you, be strong and prevail. We have to stand together!”
Tripp also adds that while the road to success may be filled with barriers, it’s important to keep persevering.
“Sometimes when everything seems like it's falling apart, it's only because it's the building blocks to what's coming,” she adds.
Starting off as a festival photographer, Pena has been a creative force since she first stepped into the festival world, and has faced sexism by those threatened by her capabilities.
“I once had a male tell me in an interview that they were afraid I would be too powerful and they would be left out of important decisions if I was hired,” says Pena. “Nothing has fueled me more than that, because even though I didn’t get the job they unknowingly told me I had the power and I haven’t forgotten ever since.”
Photo provided by iHeartRaves
“Don’t be afraid of your own success, and don’t limit yourself. If you smashed one goal, then make an even bigger one. Don’t dumb yourself down or limit your accomplishments to make someone else comfortable,” she shares. “Same goes for your friends - don’t be afraid of their success either. Celebrate it, because if it’s not your win this time around, it might just be the next time.”
Pena credits her success to the help and encouragement of other women in the festival industry, stating how important she believes it is for women to help other women reach their goals.
“It is so important for women and girls to lift each other up. Helping another person achieve their goals will always positively impact you, and you never know, that power can come back tenfold when you least expect it and benefit you immensely, like it has for me,” adds Pena.
Women such as Wenzday, Festfashions, Tripp and Pena are all a part of a movement focused around shaping the EDM industry into what its meant to be- a community of love, equality and acceptance for all.
Other female music producers such as REZZ, Alison Wonderland and WHIPPED CREAM are also a part of the same movement, fighting sexism with their craft and their success.
There are so many amazing women in the EDM industry, proving time and time again that your gender does not define your success. The women of EDM are creating, inspiring, diversifying and shaping the industry in so many unique ways, and they deserve recognition for their hard-earned success.
As fans, it’s important for us to appreciate and support the killer work all of these women are creating, and stop ourselves and others from making comments around their gender. Afterall, sexism is not PLUR.
Do you have a female role model in your life? Post her name as an honorable mention in the comments below!