Looking at lineups globally, it can feel like the worlds of DJing and electronic music can be a bit of a boys’ club sometimes, despite women having been a vital part of that world for decades.
Thankfully, when we look at Australia we see a host of female DJs and producers raising the profile of women in Australian music, from a host of exciting new selectors, to international success stories and local underground legends.
With one of the our biggest names in DJ Tigerlily back with a new single, we’re taking a look at just a few of Australia’s most notable women curating our nightlife from behind the decks.
If being voted Australia’s number one female DJ three years running doesn’t cement your spot on this list, nothing will, and Tigerlily aka Dara Hayes has been one of Australia’s big recent success stories of electronic music.
She got her first break as the runner-up in the Your Shot DJ contest, and honed her skills playing prog house and techno around the Sydney club circuit before a mentorship from EDM superstar Tiësto saw her step it up and play huge stages across the world.
With her rep as one of the country’s biggest global party-starters secured, Tigerlily turned her attention to producing and now has a string of hits under her belt, including her breakthrough hit ‘Paradise’, a huge collab with Spinnin’ Records artist KSHMR in ‘Invisible Children’, and her new pop-infused single ‘Ashes’.
After experiencing the successes and rigours of the music industry firsthand, Tigerlily has also become a high-profile ambassador for physical and mental health, working with RUOK? Day and Lifeline, as well as an outspoken voice about gender inequities in music.
Tigerlily has returned with her new single ‘Ashes’
Janette Pitruzzeilo is one of the undisputed heroes of Australian dance music, having been a cornerstone of the Melbourne scene since the early ’90s, including a stint presenting ABC’s iconic Recovery, and her own radio show Are You Ready? on PBS.
You won’t find a deeper knowledge of house music in the country, but her boundless crates of vinyl span funk, soul, hip hop and techno, and there isn’t a gig in the country she can’t handle, and she’s played alongside everyone from Frankie Knuckles to Theo Parrish, finally releasing her own debut EP Wildlife last year. One of our absolute greats.
She may be a Toronto native, but the talented selector couldn’t be a better fit in the Melbourne electronic scene, playing big festival stages like Pitch and Strawberry Fields, and a tonne of rooms across the city.
A classically-trained pianist from a young age, she’s got an incredible ear for music – not least her signature house and techno picks – and has supported plenty of big names like John Talabot and Axel Boman. Sorry Canada, we’re claiming her.
Nina Las Vegas
As a DJ, producer, label boss and radio host, Nina has become a household name in Australian music, having helmed triple j’s House Party and Mix Up Exclusives, before launching her own label NLV Records to foster the next generation of local talent.
Nina has been a mainstay on big stages like Stereosonic and Splendour in the Grass, and has played alongside everyone from Flume to Flight Facilities, and she’s established herself as one of the country’s finest tastemakers and biggest champions of electronic music.
CC plays what are without a doubt some of the most unrelentingly fun sets you’ll hear, taking her crowd along on joyous journeys through disco and house that weave in deep cuts without taking the whole thing too seriously.
Having settled into Melbourne at 23 after time spent overseas, CC has been running gigs since before she was old enough to technically be let into venues, and has gone on to play the stages of Meredith and Strawberry Fields along with Boiler Room and her own night Club Coco.
Originally learning classical cello, Alison definitely made the right choice focusing on the decks instead, becoming one of our biggest party-starters and a maestro of EDM and trip hop.
Her debut album Run in 2015 saw her working with names like The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne, as well as Slumberjack, SAFIA and a host of international talent, and its title track broke into the triple j Hottest 100. And while she’s become a household name on home soil, she just won ‘Best New Artist’ at the Electronic Music Awards in the U.S., suggesting the world is just starting to catch on.
Getting her start as an in-house selector for Island Records, Havana gained attention for her steady releases of Crave remix compilation records, which led her to tour with everyone from Britney Spears to Rihanna.
When she tried her hand at making her own originals, she quickly blew up with her hit ‘We Run the Night’, which went triple platinum and won her the ARIA for breakthrough artist, and saw its remix with Pitbull topped the U.S. charts. With several more platinum singles to her name, she’s well and truly established herself as one of the country’s biggest crossover electronic acts.
With over a decade in the game, Kiti is another of our DJs with classical training, this time as a flautist, and it was her love of music – and collecting it – that saw her become one of our finest selectors, hosting long-running nights across Melbourne like Roxy, which lasted seven whole years.
She’s played just about every techno party worth its salt across Melbourne and Sydney, and all across the globe in between, transforming every room she touches into the dream rave cave.
Playing alongside legends of music like The Village People and Spinderella of Salt-N-Pepa, Whiskey Houston has also been a hugely important figure in Australia’s queer scene, not only playing a range of local events and launching her own in The Outpost, also but taking her talents overseas to perform at pride events in NYC and LA.
Houston plucks each member of the crowd and transports them back in time with disco, new wave, soul, vintage hip hop and synth-pop from the ’70s through to the ’90s, with a sprinkling of modern gems just to break the expertly-crafted illusion.
Now an LA resident, Anna Lunoe has become one of our biggest exports, supporting The Weeknd, M.I.A. and Disclosure, and hosting her own HYPERHOUSE program on Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio – a long way from her start hosting a show on FBi Radio in her sometown of Sydney.
Having started out strumming away on an acoustic guitar, Lunoe made the right move picking electronic music instead, and the reception to her debut EP featuring Flume and Touch Sensitive saw her go on to work with everyone from Skrillx to TEED.
She’s become the first solo female DJ to perform on the main stage of Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, took to the stage at Coachella this year, and has turned HYPERHOUSE into a touring and music platform – more like a powerhouse, really.
The sisterly duo of Miriam and Olivia Nervo have had one of the most successful careers in Australian music in general, with Forbes dubbing them the highest paid female act in EDM. Having signed to Sony/ATV at just 18, they’ve spent the better part of a decade spinning pop-tinged sets to some of the world’s biggest rooms.
Notably, they play about 60% of their own tracks in any given set, and have written music for some of pop’s biggest names like Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue, as well as working with EDM figures like Armin Van Buuren and Afrojack.
“In regards to female DJs, I always really looked up to the NERVO girls,” says fellow big-room DJ Tigerlily. “In my eyes they’re really the only girls that have broken through into the top tier of DJs in the EDM scene, and it’s so awesome to watch their career go from strength to strength.”