Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER
Interview JUSTIN ROSS
TURNING THE TABLES on a once heavily male-dominated industry, 4SEE spotlights the art and talent of a new wave of female DJs leading the pack.
Renewed attention on electronic music in general is putting women front and center on the main stage. Along with all-female lineups, there is a concerted interest on placing the attention on what matters—the music and creativity of the DJ/producer.
No longer looked upon as a niche within the industry, perceptions have changed and female DJs are respected for their contribution to the art of DJing and producing in their own right. Although they may have had to fight harder for their place in the industry, gender is of secondary concern to many of the women these days. They are first and foremost creators, DJs, and producers and their hard-won respect is based on the quality of their music.
Name: Najaaraq Vestbirk
DJs as: Courtesy
Lives in: Berlin / Copenhagen
Favorite Place to Play: De School (Amsterdam)
Favorite glasses: Mykita
How did you get started with music?
I started when I was a kid and I would be dominating the CD player in the classroom, and in fifth grade no one else would be allowed to touch it except for me.
How would you describe your sound?
I play a very eclectic mix of music, so I will play a lot of ’90s rave-influenced stuff, both in the sense that it can be breaksy, but it also very much things that sound like techno but they are a bit weirder, maybe like big-room techno, but its not big room techno. I also play house and disco-influenced stuff, as well as some Italo sometimes.
What motivates you when you are playing a set?
Basically when I’m up in front of a lot of people DJing it feels like controlling some kind of spaceship or a vehicle. You have to navigate this room of people and try to make them dance For my sake I try to play as weird as possible without losing people, keep it really interesting. I like to see how weird I can go and to play for people who are maybe not used to listening to that kind of music.
What draws you to Berlin?
I like to be in Berlin because I have a lot of friends and colleagues here. In that sense it is very nice to be at a point where everyone is constantly coming through. In Copenhagen it is much more about the local scene and hanging out with my friends. Where in Berlin I get to meet my friends the entire world much more often and I really like that.
How do you handle all the travel?
I try to stay as healthy as possible… drink a lot of water and sleep every second I can. And let myself sleep when I’m home. Not feeling guilty about having to take extra naps during the week and chilling out on a monday while everyone else goes to work. Eating healthy food and sleep are the main things to surviving.
What do you think about female Djs?
I’ve kinda stopped talking about it. Because I was in an all-female group earlier, we would get approached a lot, being asked how it is to be a woman in the DJ industry and I kind of just got to the point where I don’t talk bout it anymore. I’ve written some pieces and it is good to contribute in any way you can give something new. I don’t have anything really new to say that hasn’t already been said in any of the really big music magazines already.
I don’t want to be called a DJane. I think you see, generally coming out from the alternative music scene, it is really condescending to be called DJane, just like anyone else. If you google a DJane you will see what I mean, kind of like pornstar women with headphones on in pictures. And that is what DJane is symbolizing and that has nothing to do with my job.