Like many other fields, it is no surprise that the dance music scene is predominantly dominated by male artists and DJ’s. Over the past few years, the dance music industry has seen the progression of many female artists like Amelie Lens, Peggy Gou and – much closer to home – LaLa.
Twenty-year-old Ashah Hunter from Fife finds inspiration from these artists, particularly LaLa. Ashah became interested in mixing herself after being surrounded by DJs in her daily life. she began learning from them, practicing in Pirate Studios and eventually got her own set of decks during at the beginning of last year.
With the industry reopening in the coming months, the Project Radio resident is determined to use the negative attitudes of others motivate her success. Having received a great reaction after releasing her debut track “shut up”, Ashah’s future as a DJ is looking extremely bright. Find out what she had to say about being an up and coming female artist in the Edinburgh dance music scene in her interview with Project Radio…
Where do you find your inspiration? Anyone in particular?
One of my biggest inspirations is Lala as I love how open and honest, she is on her social media platforms about not only DJing but also about other things such as mental health and even her experience throughout the pandemic. She is always engaging with her fans and speaks to them, which I think is really important. I find her story of how she’s got to where she is right now really inspirational, and her advice has given me a lot of motivation to keep up the hobby through the pandemic. I also find a lot of inspiration in the underground techno scene in berlin, for example artists who play at HOR. I think people I find the most inspiring are those who aren’t afraid to stand out and be a bit different from the crowd as I feel like being yourself is what the industry is all about.
I’ve seen some of your mixes, do you plan to release any of your own stuff?
Right now, I’ve got a monthly residency with project radio, and I’m planning on having a few more mixes released elsewhere in the next few months. In terms of producing, I’ve kind of gone off it, possibly due to losing interest in it throughout the pandemic. It’s been really hard to keep that motivation up and I think I just discovered it’s not really for me and I’ll just stick to mixing for the time being. It was fun at the time though and I might dabble in it again in the future
What has your experience of being a female in male dominated industry been like?
It’s hard to say, at the beginning I think a lot of people (boys) in the industry looked down on me because I DJ, maybe because it’s kind of out of the ordinary and they didn’t want any new competition. I always found I used to be kind of embarrassed in a way because I cared a lot about what people thought of me. A few people would make judgements about me and who I was without even knowing me just because of the hobby, which honestly got me down a lot. As I progressed through the scene however these same people were quick to change their minds once they realised that I wasn’t just in it for the show, and I genuinely enjoyed it. I think over time I’ve learned to not let other opinions phase me and if anything, the negativity just motivates me to do more. I’ve seen over the past year much more females are getting into it, which is really nice to see, as I’ve met so many amazing and talented girls through it and I really hope more girls get into it.
Have you got any gigs lined up?
I’ve got a few gigs lined up for whenever restrictions get eased a little, which will hopefully be in the next month or two. So, no dates set in stone as of yet but will hopefully get these soon.
What kind of reaction did your tune “shut up” receive?
For the most part the reaction was really positive. I’m really lucky in the sense that I’m surrounded by an amazing group of friends who never fail to support me and help me out especially when doing something new, and ill forever appreciate them as without their support honestly don’t think I would be where I am right now. You do obviously get the few people that love to be negative, which used to really upset me because it was for seemingly no reason. It’s hard to understand why people would want to be so negative towards someone else who is just doing something they love, and it’s also not affecting them at all. Over time with the help from my friends I’ve realised these people are just doing it out of bitterness and projecting their own problems. I try not to let things like that bother me now and can say I just laugh at the negativity as no reaction is the best reaction.
What do you miss most about clubs being closed?
When clubs were open my favourite thing was bumping into people you wouldn’t normally see day to day. I also loved meeting new people when going to clubs which we obviously haven’t had for so long. It’s just such a fun atmosphere totally different than anything else like going out for drinks. I miss the pre rave nerves and just the general excitement with your friends when going out.
How do you keep motivated to continue producing music?
To be honest I’ve not, I think maybe trough lockdown I overdid it and stressed myself out a lot with it. Producing music is much harder than I had ever anticipated and always feels like this never-ending cycle. It’s really frustrating. Saying this I have learned a lot from producing that I feel like I can apply to DJing, and as my confidence in DJing grows I might get back into it because it is really rewarding and fun when you don’t put too much pressure onto it.
Finally, do you have any advice for other girls looking to get involved in the industry?
Just put yourself out there as much as you can, and network as much as you can. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Being active on social media I have found really helps get your name out there. Always try to support other artists as much as you can as this is the best way to not only make new connections but also new friends. Treat others work as you would like yours to be treated, and don’t be afraid to be the first person to reach out and offer your mixes!