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Women's History Month: We celebrate DJ China L'One

RUNNING T'INGS: Founder of We Run the World female DJ agency, DJ China L'One

AS WOMEN'S History Month continues, The Voice will be proudly presenting females of note who have made waves in their respective fields.

DJ China L'One owns We Run the World, a DJ agency that sends its exclusively female talent roster all over the world to perform what can only be described as one of the most exciting and lucrative jobs one can think of.

BOSSIN' IT: DJ China L'One

One of the subjects featured on Making Slough Happy, a BBC3 documentary shown in 2005; DJ China L'One is a former H&M clothing store DJ making appearances at the brand's special in-store events and former resident DJ at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel. In a bid to focus more on her ever-expanding duties as Managing Director, China L'One gave-up these two positions and turned down all other DJ gigs that came her way.

In addition to all this, the #GirlBoss has played at venues most DJs only dream of playing at, including iconic Ministry of Sound, Pacha and Palm Beach Casino.

The Voice caught a moment with the Royal Society of Arts award-winner to find out more about her business and the world of female DJ-ing.

Q: What inspired you to set-up a female DJ agency?

A: I am a female DJ myself, so I know the industry from the inside out. Unfortunately, even in the 21st century it’s still more difficult for female DJs than male ones to find gigs; even though they’re just as capable, knowledgable and fun as men. Sometimes even more so.

IN THE MIX: DJ China L'One at a live gig

I talked to many other female DJs about my discovery and we all agreed that in this case - as in everything else - women must be given more opportunities to shine. That’s how We Run the World female agency was born.

Q: What do you see as the number one challenge facing female DJs in today's commercial market?

A: It’s a combination of factors really. There’s huge competition, many capable DJs out there, but I also think it’s the market itself. Men are more likely to hire men. Successful male DJs are more likely to mentor young male DJs.

That’s why it’s important that we build the foundation now; that we start the change now. Not just for us, but also for future generations.

Q: Who are some of your favourite female DJs?

A: Well, that’s the thing. Because there weren't a lot of female DJs when I was developing as one, it’s hard for me to answer this question. But, a few DJs that have inspired me are Mike Anthony (Rampage), Calvin Harris and DJ Jazzy Jeff.

BARRIER BREAKER: DJ China L'One

Q: Why do you think there is a need for a specialist female agency as opposed to women DJs joining a general agency?

I think a female agency gives us the chance - by us, I mean female DJs - to position ourselves in the market in a unique way and even offer additional benefits. For example, we’ve played with styling, outfits, hair and make-up for different events. Those things make a DJ visually more interesting too.

I’m not sure that a general agency would ever pay attention to such factors, nor do I think they would ever pay attention to making sure women get hired as much as men do. A general agency just cares that one of their DJs - anyone - is booked.

Actually, when we first started we did talk to clients who told us they have been looking specifically for female DJs to appear at certain events and it has been difficult for them to find any. So, this tells us that general agencies maybe can’t even be bothered to hire women, even when there are clients looking for that.

Q: Have you seen any success stories since opening your agency?

A: I’ve seen so many! But maybe the one that really stands out is the story of DJ Natalie Roache. It actually answers your previous question about female DJ agencies vs. general agencies too.

SETTING THE SCENE: DJ China L'One DJ-ing for the venue that held an event for Kendall and Kylie Jenner's swimwear line

She moved here from Ireland and DJ-ing was only a hobby for her initially. She did dream of turning it into a career, but her lack of experience stood in the way of her entering just any agency. But, because we were looking for strong female personalities and a lot of drive, which she had, we took her on-board and helped her learn and grow as a person and a DJ.

She didn’t only achieve her dream of becoming a professional DJ, she is actually booked, I think, months in advance now and her job takes her all over the world. Read what she has to say about the experience by clicking here.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring female DJs hoping to get signed?

A: As I already mentioned, the DJ industry is very saturated. There are a lot of agencies out there that promise you the stars, but when it comes to delivering on that promise… It’s difficult.

That’s why it’s important to find the right people, find the right agency for you that really shows interest in you and is willing to work with you towards your success. You don’t just want to be a page on somebody’s catalogue. You want a partnership that works for both sides. Do your research, contact people on social media. Choosing and contacting the right agency is key.

To learn more about We Run the World, click here.

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