A Spin on Hyderabad’s Most Popular Female DJs
DJ Nephra – image credit: #SundayPlayground
Although there aren’t many female DJs in Hyderabad, the ones that do exist draw a good crowd.
Neha Pardeshi aka Nephra moved to the city from Pune and has been living in Hyderabad for about 8 years. “I was on a plane, travelling back from a business trip. I was an ardent listener of music and very emotional with my heart full of great memories from the amazing music that I had heard over the past days. As I peeped out of the plane window, I saw this endless blanket of clouds covered with soft golden sun rays that glowed like something sacred. That was the moment I realised that if this music makes me so happy and blissful, I should pursue it. I promised myself to work hard. So here I am, inspired by a bunch of clouds. I promise it’s not as ridiculous as it sounds,” laughs DJ Nephra, who plays anything that’s groovy from progressive, techno, tech-house and deep house to other genres of electronica.
While her journey like many others in the industry is inspiring and commendable, it’s not always rosy being a woman in this field. “Personally, my biggest advantage is my solid passion for dance music,” says Nephra adding that she has felt the pressure for personal favours of sexual nature a few times. “It’s swept under the carpet but I have felt the pressure for personal favours from people who I have asked for help or direction with music; I have been judged too quickly, etc. But I’ve learned to overlook these, so it really doesn’t matter now.” she muses.
For some others like Ayesha Pramanik aka DJ Ayesha, who has been living in Hyderabad for a few years now, it’s the choice of music that a person makes which drives his or her experience to a certain extent regardless of gender. “It’s not that easy to survive as an artist monetarily if you’re playing a selected sound. So I guess girls or boys choose the easier way by playing all genres. But there are some very talented girls from Hyderabad in the electronic music scene like Nephra and Kini Rao,” she says.
“Hyderabad is one of my favourite cities to play; things have changed here a lot over the years. My first gig in Hyderabad was in 1999. People here accept a woman behind the console and support them too. I don’t think I’ve faced any problems in this city,” she says. For Ayesha who started DJing at raves in Pune and Goa and has been performing for a solid 17 years, the best parties she has played in the city are at bustling venues like N Grill, Liquid and Sunday Playground.
While the gender ratio in Hyderabad’s electronic music scene seems skewed, Nephra believes it holds true in any industry. “Frankly, I think the unbalanced numbers are not just in the dance music industry, but holds true for almost every industry. One possible reason that contributes to disparity in this industry could be because of our mindset; as women we tend to be more sceptical or self-critical than we should be. This deters many from following their passion in full fervour. That attitude needs to change if we want more women behind the console. I also think that because DJing is not perceived to be a ‘safe’ professional choice in India, it probably does not figure as a career option to many,” she observes while reminiscing her international tour experience. “Europe will always be an unforgettable experience. The dance music culture is in the air. I heard and experienced music in a very different dimension,” she laughs.
Anjali Doshi aka Ashes who now shuttles between Mumbai and Hyderabad and has made both cities her home believes there are many downsides to being a woman in this industry. “I don’t think there are any advantages, at least for me except that there are very few of us and so we have all the eyes all the time and if we are not able to deliver right, we are judged only because of our gender,” she says adding that her move to Mumbai has given her more perspective. “My move from Hyderabad to Mumbai was definitely something that worked for me. The differences between these two cities are many; while Mumbai has more exposure and listeners who truly know their music, Hyderabad is a growing market and has a fixed amount of listeners,” explains Ashes.
Event organisers and promoters who work in the industry believe it’s part of how things work. Raunak Vazir who co- founded Musifix – an artist and event management company – believes that DJing is not an all boys club for sure but female DJs often get booked based on their looks and not talent “A sad truth which I hope changes soon,” he observes.
According to Nephra, Hyderabad is one of the top cities for dance music right now. “The people are listening to the right kind of music, this community has been growing for the last few years. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our city’s veteran DJs and some dedicated agencies like Musifix, who are really pushing the boundaries to give space to homegrown talent, as well as booking and promoting international artists,” she ends.
written by Shri K