Breaking the stereotype
Breaking into the music scene as a female performer is a task close to impossible. It is not often that you find a woman DJ scratching the record at a party you attend.
KOCHI: Breaking into the music scene as a female performer is a task close to impossible. It is not often that you find a woman DJ scratching the record at a party you attend. According to Female Pressure, a network of female, transgender and non-binary music artists, only 10 percent of artists at music festivals around the world are women.
The numbers are far worse in India. But Shahana aka DJ SANAAH has broken past the glass ceiling by making her mark as one of the very few female DJs in the state.
Shahana started DJing professionally since 2015, her fascination with the craft however developed much earlier when she would watch people with huge headphones thrumming music from behind the turntable. “To be honest, I learned DJing only out of curiosity. I never thought of taking it up full time. I initially asked my DJ friends to show me how it’s done. I eventually realised that though playing music is an art, it also requires some skill. So I enrolled myself at the Mantris Music Mantra academy in Pune for a six-month course,” says Shahana.
The journey towards establishing herself as a performer to reckon with was an arduous one. “Rather than an expressway ride, I like to call it an off-road trip. As a Muslim girl, I had to cross multiple hurdles. The pub culture in India is very male-centric. Many said that being a DJ is not a woman’s cup of tea, the struggle was especially difficult because of the lack of female DJs whom I could consider as my role models. I had no one to consult for guidance but I was stubborn enough to follow my heart.”
Hailing from an orthodox Muslim family, the odds were stacked heavily against her but Shahana thinks her parents’ unfamiliarity with the profession helped her in hindsight. “My parents had no idea what being a DJ entails or what happens at a music event. Because they were so oblivious to this world, they had no words of caution. They neither encouraged nor discouraged me,” adds Shahana.
Currently based in Kochi, Shahana has performed at over 25 events in cities all over the country including Pune, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, and Kochi. She has honed her expertise through the years, her musical ideology is based on astute observation of her listeners taste. “I love EDM but the trend these days is techno tracks and there is always a demand for Bollywood numbers. As an artist, I want to please my audience. I can’t be rigid by saying I will only play the genre I like.”
Shahana, who was a TV host in her previous avatar, is upbeat about the growing party scene in Kerala but as a woman performer, safety is her first priority. “My field of work mostly involves me staying out late into the night. Hence I only work with event management companies I trust. Also, my manager accompanies me on most of my gigs,” she wraps up.
Courtesy: The New Indian Express