In the age of five- and six-figure commercialism, empty and sugary big-stage shows, “DJ” has for some become the butt of a joke, a self-caricature. But DJs are essential to music lovers – now more than ever, with a deep catalog of records past and an astounding volume of new work produced daily, with the DJs shaping tastes and tone in clubs and beyond. Even if you never step into a club, these are the people shaping the way your audience hears.
And so it’s refreshing to see the work of Mint Berlin, a booking agency augmented by parties and wokrshops that has proven its ability to be selective about its selectors, even in the cut-throat, oversaturated club scene of the German capital.
It’s worth eyeing Mint not just for whom they present, but the way in which they picture them.
Mint quietly assembles lineups that are all women – both for its parties and for its select workshop series called “Campus.” But rather than make that the lead item, the quality of those lineups speaks for itself, with or without the identification of gender politics.
“Faces,” the name of the video series, also neatly sums up that approach. Each event is announced by a signature, unadorned image of a DJ staring down the camera. Somehow avoiding any mug shot associations, those images carry the come-as-you-are banner of the whole affair. These are DJs are personalities, not interchangeable on one hand, but not hyped-up commercial objects on the other. That’s especially important for women working to enter the scene. I would try to count the number of women in club music who’ve told me the press or an event venue has asked them to sex up the images of themselves – depressing as this may sound, it’s more or less all of them.
Now, of course, sometimes men, too may become commoditized in some way. But that’s all the more reason even men may find sympathetic cause with groups like Mint: they’re creating an environment that could be healthier for everyone. If women are under the greatest pressure to become objects, then they also represent both the surest need and surest opportunity to point portions of the scene in the opposite direction.
This isn’t really about that issue alone, though. Stripped of that baggage, these videos – and the activism of the group behind them – represent some of the best focus on finding the best music.
I’ve been fortunate to get to hear (and in most cases, get to know) each of these DJs, and to me they represent what I find most inspiring in the scene overall. They could cure almost anyone of DJ allergy.
Esther Duijn is a resident at Tresor and Sisyphos, straddling the scenes in Amsterdam and Berlin, a lover of records ranging from house to techno. Kate Miller is an incredibly warm presence in DJ booths, creating friendly atmospheres on dance floors. Camea is an exceptional producer as well as DJ, a great representative of Get Physical and BPitch … I could go on.
Mint was also involved in a panel event last weekend, in which I was the sole member of the press (and the sole member identified as a dude), covering how the role of women in electronic music can grow. But this video series to me is the best answer of why it’s important to do that. The scene that’s more open, that’s free of obstacles to passionate people finding platforms, is simply a better scene.
And anyone concerned that networks that support women will isolate them – not so; I think people supporting one another generally achieve more in their careers, and this is no exception. These are DJs to watch, full stop. Here’s some Resom Boiler Room for good measure:
And Mint’s tracks: