WOMANchester - Female DJs are storming the scene
Manchester has long been known as a hotbed of musical talent, and the DJ scene is no different. The list is long - Dave Haslam, Hewan Clarke, Mike Shaft, Graeme Park, Mike Pickering, Irfan Rainy, Simon Nicks (Nicksy); and Manchester’s scene is thriving with venues like Albert Hall, Sound Control and Suburbia to name but a few.
But while male DJs often have top billing in this great city, the women are often unknown, operating in smaller venues, working bloody hard and travelling the length and breadth of the country to share their talent.
Gina Breeze (Miss B) was given a residency early in her career at the legendary SpeedQueen club and her love of House Music blossomed, Gina gained great support culminating in an invitation to play on the G-Stage at the world-famous Glastonbury Festival.
In 2013, Gina beat off over 300 entries to win the Parklife Festival Producer Competition with her own killer track ‘Don’t Stop’. The track was snapped up by Layers, an Italian Record Label who are focusing on infectious house beats.
In 2015 still producing under 'MissB' - Gina had her 1st E.P released with NYC's Get Up Recordings!
Hazel O’Keefe (DJ H2O)
Hazel, known as one of the hardest working women in Manchester’s club scene founded Dulcet Sounds, an award winning not-for-profit event management company in 1998. The company encompasses popular Manchester brands, all developed by Hazel with the commitment to nurture female talent, not only in the North West, but internationally (Hazel has big ideas and the work ethic to fulfil them!) – The Women in Comedy Festival, Club Feminista and Laughing Cows Comedy, to name but a few. Her work has been recognised by Manchester City Council who awarded her ‘Women of Arts and Culture.’ and commended by the Northern Power Women Awards in 2017 as an Agent of Change.
Hazel has achieved a unique way of supporting women in Manchester and has created a legacy for women both at a local and international level in an art form where women are still under represented.’ Manchester City Council.
As DJ H2O, Hazel is resident DJ at Queer Indie Alternative. Her latest venture at TriBeCa Manchester is to bring more arts and culture to Manchester's gay village.
Screw the DJ
DJ Screw (or Caroline Wright to her friends) plays Funky Vocal House and specializes in Retro House.
Screw, so named as she worked in the prison service, like many djs, started developing her talent as a hobby at home. She bought a home mix from Argos and, in her own words, didn’t have a clue what she was doing! She is completely self-taught. Her first public performance came after she was asked to DJ at a friend’s 30th birthday party, about 7 years ago. Steph Kay, the owner of Vanilla Bar in the Gay Village, was at the party and asked her do a retro set at the bar for that year’s Manchester Pride. Her success built from there, with a residency at Vanilla.
Two years ago, Screw entered a competition for all of the village DJs for which she had to produce a 30 minute mix. She beat all the other DJs, mostly men, winning a half hour set on the Pride main stage.
DJ Sandra D
She first made a name for herself on the gay alternative scene as a popular, lesbian DJ at Popstarz and Ghetto. Having played at some influential nights on the gay alternative scene, she moved into promotional roles at those clubs after gaining experience in the role of Promotions Manager of Candy.
On 29th June, Sandra, along with DJ H2O brings Queer Indie Alternative (QIA) to TriBeCa Bar on Sackville Street.
DJ Nickie B
Nickie’s lifelong passion for music, particularly house and glitterbox, has shaped her performance. On their wedding day, Nickie’s new wife gave her a set of decks as a wedding present, and a new passion was born.
Self-taught using YouTube videos, and refined under the support and tuition of Hazel O’Keefe, Nickie has now been DJing professionally for 5 years. Starting her work as a DJ on the Burlesque Circuit in 2013, she soon became the resident DJ for several burlesque events in Manchester. Since then, she has built up a dedicated following through her work at TriBeCa Bar, Club Tropicana, and more recently No. 1 Canal Street.
Her DJ CV includes; Birmingham Pride’s Women’s Stage, The Boi Zone, Manchester’s only dedicated Drag King night, LFest and the prestigious Sparkle Ball in 2017, the highlight of Sparkle, the transgender celebration. She was so popular that they immediately booked her again for 2018.
Not your typical mobile DJ, Gemma Torr has the ability to bring the energy of 1000 Duracell Bunnies to any event. An ex-youth worker and teacher, Gemma fell into DJing when she realised that running kids parties was a far more enjoyable way of working with kids!
Originally from Rotherham, Gemma started DJing part-time whilst working in sales after the economy collapsed and the job she was made for (teaching adults) no longer existed. Her first gig was DJing in a dive of a Rotherham pub next to the football stadium playing Northern Soul on a touch screen system!
She landed a residency at Rotherham’s 3rd busiest pub, where she stayed for 6 years covering gigs as diverse as birthdays and weddings, and fisherman’s club meetings!
Upcoming Manchester Events
29.06 – Queer Indie Alternative (QIA) – TriBeCa (Early Bird Tickets £3)
05.07 – The Boi Zone – TriBeCa – (Free Entry and Tips)
07.07 – The Sparkle Ball Mercure Hotel – (Tickets £45 fundraising for Sparkle)
07.07 - BabyHomo – The White Hotel – (Advance Tickets £8)
By Lydia Bernsmeier-Rullow