Ladies First starring Denise Benson, Nicole Moudaber, Madame Zu, Hellen Angelucci

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For the longest while, disc jockeying has been the virtually exclusive domain of men. It’s a man’s, man’s world I tell ya. In the 90’s, it was extremely rare to see a woman on the decks. Since then, significant strides have been made as female DJ’s are becoming more prominent. There’s still a lot of progress to be made though. The dance music industry is fiercely competitive, and so we find the world of DJs is still very much a boys’ club. Don’t get me wrong – I have mad love for all the men holding down the fort, but let’s face it; female DJ’s generally receive less recognition for their contributions. For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate this posting to female DJ’s. Nothing can stop the Return of the Divine Feminine – not even the pope. I guess the Holy See failed to realize if you ban a book on sexuality written by a nun, it’ll only encourage more people to read it. Booyah. So my dear Benedict, if you’ve somehow managed to stumble across this article whilst surfing for kiddie porn, tune in – you  might be enlightened…

DENISE BENSON

In my humble opinion, Denise Benson is a legend. This Toronto resident has been DJ’ing for over twenty years. Surviving that long in the biz takes brains and some serious ladyballs. I have fond memories of her hosting CKLN’s Mental Chatter, where she spun a variety of eclectic music ranging from electro, ambient, synth pop, rock, indie and trip hop. Benson lasted an incredible 20 years on CKLN, where she volunteered her time and expertise to bring fresh, interesting vibes to thousands of listeners. Her live sets at Andy Poolhall, alongside Andrew Allsgood used to be da bomb on a Friday night. To some extent, Denise was also involved in the 90’s rave scene. I remember her spinning in the parking lot of The Guvernment, back when they used to have those wicked Sunday sessions on the roof. Come June 23rd, Benson will be celebrating 5 years of Cherry Bomb, an all female DJ showcase which she started several years ago with her partner in crime, Cozmic Cat. This queer friendly event will be going down (no pun intended :)) at Andy Poolhall, just in time for Pride Toronto.  

NICOLE MOUDABER

This rising star recently wowed Adam Beyer with her demo so fantastically that he tweeted praises. Nicole Moudaber’s tracks have been included in mixes by Carl Cox and Digweed, and have been picked up by Drumcode, Kling Klong, Waveform Recordings and other forward thinking independent labels. My personal fave is her funky remix of Carl Cox’s Chemistry, which won an award at the Miami Winter Music Conference for “Best Minimal / Techno Track.” Nicole spins techno with an edge like a flaming shot of Sambuca, but unlike other men, Moudaber has no moustache to burn. With the bouncy feel good flavour of “Chocolate Love” and the aesthetically pleasing “Toe Cleavage,” Nicole is obviously a very talented producer with a discerning ear and superb mixing skills. She originally started off as a raver in early 90’s NYC before becoming a promoter for the scene in Beirut and at Turnmills in London. And if that wasn’t enough, she also ran a record label (Southeast Recordings) before she decided to try her hand at DJ’ing. Needless to say, that was a career move in the right direction. Since then, she has earned accolades from industry heavyweights such as Pete Tong and Danny Tenaglia, among others.  Carl Cox once described her as “the most underrated DJ of 2009.” Her recent appearance at Electric Daisy Carnival in NYC should put this talented, beautiful lady firmly in the spotlight – where she belongs.

MADAM ZU

Anyone who’s been lucky enough to hear Madam Zu spin in the 90’s knows this lady is effing hardcore. Famous for her no holds barred hard house/ techno setlists, Madam Zu was still going strong up until 2006. An active participant in U.K. rave culture since the early 90’s, she has earned distinction as a music journalist and producer, famously collaborating with John Does on classic rave anthem, “Red Pill.” She doesn’t seem to be active on the decks at the moment, but it would be great to see her resume her wallbanging sessions in the near future.

HELLEN ANGELUCCI

Not much is really known about this mystery lady…accessing her bio link nearly crashed my damn computer, but whoever you are, Hellen, you rock!!!

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 
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2 responses »

  1. I guess it’s a testament to both promoters and DJs that I’ve never been in the audience of a lousy female DJ. I don’t know if it’s because they felt they had something to prove so they worked harder, or if I’m silly to even assume women and men would be equally talented at all, but I’m a harsh critic of DJs and a disproportionately large number of my most-respected idols and mentors are female.

    I’ve seen Madam Zu a few times and she’s astonishing. Her selections, her high energy transitions and juggles, her stage presence, her dreads, it’s all a force to be reckoned with. Crowds love her and she’s been highly influential to me technically.

    Misstress Barbara from Montreal is a legend and yet another star putting Canada on the map. There’s a million kinds of techno but she only plays my favourite subgenres and producers and she mixes them with energy and tact. I especially love her loooooong transitions. She has a great ear for complimentary sounds and I own many of her mix CDs (Relentless Beats ftw!)

    DJ Amber from San Francisco is a banging techno DJ who did some great self-promotion by giving away many mixes for free while selling CD copies. I admired her strategy as much as her ability so I bought a CD from her and got her to sign it for me. Can’t praise her enough – she’s outstanding at putting songs in order to take you on a journey that peaks and flows and keeps you engaged with variations and gradual adjustments.

    DJ Freedom was a Toronto jungle DJ who moved to the States in the 90’s. I used to see her occasionally at Destiny Fridays. A soft-spoken lady whose calm demeanour contrasted with her bombastic bassy sounds, showing the crowd exactly who’s in control.

    Lori the Hifi Princess is another Toronto DJ I respect. She’s been doing her thing since the mid-90’s and now runs a techno and house label. She got top billing at home even with many international DJs on the flyer.

    Probably my favourite female DJ is LeFreak, also from Toronto. Chatting at several parties she and I really hit it off and found a lot in common personally and philosophically, but most of all musically. Good music that touches just the right nerve will make her cry, just as it does to me. She’s into oldskool, techno, trance, hardcore, jungle, house, you name it, and she’s not afraid to spin it all. She’s not afraid of anything, come to think of it. Her confident mixing taught me so much – don’t be afraid to mix styles, change tempos, and defy expectations. Love what you do and the crowd will amplify it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I have the greatest respect for a DJ that would rather try something audacious and have it come out a little sloppy, rather than play it safe and be unremarkable.

    Nuff respect to the women who augmented raw talent with hard work to defy the odds and earn success. The stigma can’t be denied – society is stupid and women have to work harder to earn a reputation equal to men. Thank goodness for ravers – a subculture that can close its eyes and listen with its ears and heart.

    Whoopsie, I’ve turned your blog into my own blog, Frankie! Sawry!

    • Lol…ur really passionate about this! Good for you! I’ve got a mixtape from that era with Deko-ze on Side A and Lori the Hifi Princess on Side B. Her mix blew me away and I’m happy to know she has her own label. Thanks for your input Brian; your heart is definitely in the right place when it comes to music >

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