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move the needle

These Irish musicians are setting up workshops to inspire more women to become DJs

They’re setting up workshops in Galway, Cork, Belfast and Dublin.

move the needle logo Move The Needle Move The Needle

NOT TOO LONG ago, we had a look at the dire gender imbalance at Ireland’s music festivals this year.

Forbidden Fruit fared particularly poorly, as most electronic dance festivals do. Somehow, while 50% of the world’s population are women, men made up 84% of the lineup for Forbidden Fruit.

Sally Cinnamon Move The Needle Move The Needle

When we looked into this a bit more, it became clear that women find it very hard to get involved in music when there are so few women present on main stages. It’s hard to believe that a career in music will amount to anything when you’re a woman and you see that only 16% of the lineup at Forbidden Fruit is female. Visibility is key.

Veronica Vasika Move The Needle Move The Needle

On International Women’s Day, Smirnoff launched the Equalizing Music campaign, which pledged to double female festival headliners by 2020. They’ve joined forces with Irish group Gash Collective in order to make it a reality by hosting workshops across the country encouraging young women to get involved.

Gash Collective and Smirnoff put together a short documentary that was released earlier this week.

SmirnoffEurope / YouTube

In the documentary, which is called Move the Needle, a number of Irish female DJs and producers share their stories about how they got into making dance music, what they had been apprehensive about beforehand and how it wasn’t as hard as they had expected it to be in the end.

Joni Kelly Move The Needle Move The Needle

One of the artists featured in the video is Joni Kelly, who described sitting around as a teenager watching her male friends playing video games – a similar experience to standing on the sideline when it came to making music.

I’d sit there kinda like burning, wanting a go, but not being able to just ask “Can I have a go?”, and it’s not like anyone would go “No! You can’t have a go!”, but it’s just – there’s something about it when there’s a group of guys standing around it you automatically feel like it’s not for you.

Today, she has a bit more confidence. She refers to Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In and says that rather than starting to simply ‘lean in’, women need to start saying “get the f*ck out of my way” when it comes to these things.

There are loads of other prominent Irish artists involved in the project.


This includes ELLLL, a cork based producer whose music is described as an “immersive narrative that pummels the listener”. She recently did a Boiler Room set that you can check out here.

Other names involved are Sally Cinnamon, Veronica Vasicka, Claire Hall and Marion Chawke of GRL, Cailín, Aoife Nic Canna, Sorca McGrath of Wounded Healer and Ships and Sarah McBriar who is behind AVA Festival in Belfast.

Together these women have arranged four workshops in Ireland to teach young women and non-binary people how to make music and DJ.

The first workshop will take place on Sunday the 18th of June in the Galway Arts Centre. Belfast’s workshop will be hosted in Catalyst Arts on the 15th of July. Anyone from Cork can catch Move the Needle’s workshop on the 22nd of July in Wandesforth Gallery.

The final workshop will be in Dublin in the Tara Building on the 12th of August and they will host a showcase in Yamamori Tengu on the same night.

The workshops are aimed at beginners but anybody can come along as there’ll be help with CDJ, vinyl and production elements on the day so if you’ve got experience with one aspect of production and DJing, you’re welcome to come and pick up a new skill.

The workshops aim to create a comfortable environment to ask questions and get to grips with software and equipment. The aim of the project is to inspire a new wave of female talent in electronic music in Ireland.

If you’re interested in signing up you can do so here.

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