lo key’s International Women’s Month 2018 – Part 2

Frau DJ’s

Tor Byrnes of Frau DJ's & We Broke Free wrote a little anecdote on the role 
gender plays within the music industry

The term ‘Female DJ‘ is one of those divisive terms that is arguably redundant, though seems to be used more and more in contemporary music circles. As with many professions, females have had to defy the odds to be taken seriously as a DJ – and be referred to as such.



  1. 1.

a person who introduces and plays recorded popular music on radio, club or party.

“he was the only DJ to play our last release on the radio”


Even when googled it refers to the masculine by default. So why do we need the word ‘female’ in front of DJ? It’s a debate that we revisit frequently, so I’d like to use this opportunity to express my feelings about why I, a female DJ, embrace the term – even with my fairly strong equalitarian views.

The music industry is changing, and though it’s taken 10 years involvement on my part, people don’t treat me like a new-born fawn quite so often anymore when they see me behind the decks. In the beginning (circa 2008), men would regularly invade my space behind the decks, flick through my CDs and vinyl’s, ask if I needed help (“coz I DJ in my bedroom babes”), critique my technique, and be ever-present in my eyeline – intimidating for anyone stuck in a small space for hours at a time!

These issues were the incentive behind the creation of FRAU DJ’s. Local creative pioneer Katie Dane assembled many of Bournemouth’s local female artists, inviting them to make a stand together and self-organise our own brand of party. In Frau we had a tribe, a pack, a squad, a group, a gang, a crew, a team. Katie had the vision of a united front, one where we could support and encourage each other as individuals whilst harnessing our various talents and contacts to create a versatile and creatively relevant team.

After conquering many clubs and festivals across the UK, as a group and as solo artists, I feel now is the perfect time to embrace the ‘female DJ’ title. Gender is, slowly but surely, becoming irrelevant in the music scene thankfully, and if you asked me what my job role was, I wouldn’t prefix my title with my sex.

BUT in a UK music scene that still struggles with the amount of female artists being taken seriously, on festival line ups and in the clubs, by reclaiming the power in being ‘female’, we don’t undermine our talent, rather champion and celebrate who we are and our respective challenges taken to get where we are.

We don’t need a round of applause for doing what the boys do, but we do need a nod, for paving the way, for following our dreams, for making our hobbies and passions a reality.

Tor x


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