IWD: 5 Female DJs Taking Back The Underground Music Scene

Lucia Botfield

By Lucia Botfield

Lucia Botfield

8 Mar 2023

For International Women’s Day, we spoke to some of the powerful female disc-jockeys getting the underground club and rave scene moving. Since the beginning of the movement, DJ booths have been heavily male-dominated, often lacking representation and diversity.

With large events often showcasing primarily male talent, these DJs strive to perform at and organise events with the best and baddest girls in the game.

Gyals in Notts at Brickworks, Nottingham

Gyals in Notts

Duo Aura and Nelly co-own the Nottingham-based brand “Gyals In Notts“, which launched in April 2022. The pair had been DJing individually for several years prior, but formed their collective to support women and non-binary people who feel underrepresented in the industry. The duo have performed alongside p-rallel, Girls Don’t Sync and Interplanetary criminal. Their collective started as a one-off livestream event in aid of Nottingham women’s centre, but continued doing events after the initial success.

Speaking to Mixtape Madness, Abbie highlighted the stigma around the term ‘Female DJ’, saying: “I think the term ‘Female DJ’ when it is used by men means something very different, it singles out women, I am just a DJ. Sometimes it feels like when women are booked, the brand are doing so just to make themselves look good, rather than if they have respect for them as an artist. Agreeing that efforts are being put in place to improve diversity in the scene, Nelly said:”I think we need to keep on going as we’re going, a lot of the right steps have been made. I’m seeing lots of safety things on nights out, and loads of support everywhere for females coming through. “

Vanessa Maria Wilson

Vanessa Maria

Vanessa Maria, 25, is a DJ and broadcaster, who has been navigating the industry for the last four years. Nessa performs across the country, with an electric 130BPM atmosphere, making appearances at Boiler Room, Warehouse project, and in Berlin. Her mixes showcase a variety of eclectic genres, producing projects that showcase underrepresented regional talent. She recently launcher the non-profit organisation ‘Don’t Keep Hush’, which discusses mental health through music. Nessa used to be a Drill DJ but has now moved to showcase dance music from around the world. She told Mixtape Madness: “I don’t play it anymore unless it’s a club edit but I do think that we need to see Drill as a resource with which we can navigate impactful conversations from. Demonising music in isolation will push the darkest ideas explored in drill’s verses further out of reach of those who are trying to make real change. This includes conversations around misogyny and violence. Drill, in my opinion, is a circumstantial product of a society that’s failing young people.

I think it’s important to be actively trying to push for a progressive space in the art that you make. But I also think it is important to give grace to people coming from certain environments where you may have not had access to education or knowledge on certain topics. Musical censorship will achieve nothing and in line with what George the Poet said, sometimes it’s the telling your own story that becomes key to your survival. So instead of attacking young people for telling a story we don’t like or disagree with, I believe we should enable them to tell a better one” 

Image courtesy of @livzfilm

Nia Archives

24-year-old Nia Archives has been strongly commended for her influence in the underground rave scene, with her hit remix of Baianá amassing ten million streams on Spotify in just six months. She has been recognised for her achievements by being the first recipient of the ‘Best Electronic/Dance’ award at the 2022 MOBO Awards, and performing at an impressive lineup of festivals last summer, including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, BoomTown and Detonate.

The Bradford-born disc-jockey heavily celebrates culture in her music, flying to Brazil to film a music video. Her successes can be greatly accredited to her unfaltering energy at every performance, and her sound that collates 90s jungle, neo-soul and her own singing. She often speaks of the importance of representation in jungle music, which is derived from Jamaican music. She aims to reclaim the dance and electronic scene, to move away from current trends of gentrification and white-washing.

Jyoty at EartH, Hackney


Jyoty Singh is everyones favourite DJ aunty. She is the creator of the carefully curated event ‘Homegrown’ which celebrates up and coming DJs, particularly from marginalised backgrounds, showcasing diversity and fresh talent. Homegrown prides itself on respecting “people’s space and bodies”, stating on its Instagram that “You’ve been on this planet long enough to know that ‘No’ means ‘No’, keep it thoughtful and kind!”.

Jyoty uses influence from her Punjabi culture in her mixes, playing upbeat club classics that get everyone moving. Her vibrant energy and no-nonsense attitude give her a commanding stage presence, clear in her globally sold-out shows.

Image from the Girld Don’t Sync Instagram Page

Girls Don’t Sync

Girls Don’t Sync are an all-women DJ collective, made up of Matty Chiabi, Sophia Violet, Hannah Lynch and G33. The group have been highly commended for their impact in terms of representing female artists in music, performing across the UK. They are currently mid way through their national tour, hitting notable venues such as YES Manchester, Green Works Bristol and Meraki Liverpool, and have just been announced in the Reading and Leeds line-up. Their high-energy mixes blend Dancehall and Garage, with a stunning electric atmosphere at their events.