A Year In Everything: Aimee Cliff

There’s still too many men in DJ booths, but all my favorite 2016 mixes were made by women.

December 21, 2016
A Year In Everything: Aimee Cliff

I mostly listen to music made by women these days. It’s partly a conscious choice, I guess. Maybe it’s a reaction to all the times that I’ve been told, by shrugging bros who curate parties with 97% male lineups, that there simply aren’t enough good women producers out there for them to book. But it’s also incidental — much of the most exciting club music being made worldwide right now just happens to be coming from women.


The more great music I hear, the angrier I get at those complacent dudes who act as gatekeepers to so much of the scene. Year after year, it never fails to amaze me how my experience with music differs so dramatically between my headphones and the club. My iTunes is full of women producers. I currently host an NTS radio show that hosts DJ mixes and interviews from women every month, and we never struggle for guests; in fact, we struggle to accommodate everyone we want. But to see a woman DJing live, too often I have to turn up to an empty room at 11 p.m. to catch the warm-up set, which is so frequently given to the token woman on the lineup.

Everyone in the dance music industry — journalists, promoters, labels, fans — has a role to play in changing this. It’s not good enough that Resident Advisor’s Top 100 DJs of 2016 only included six women, nor that DJ Mag’s named only three (both polls were voted for by readers). It’s not good enough that no major electronic music festivals in 2016 had a 50/50 lineup, and many didn’t come close. If you don’t believe that there are “enough women” out there making exciting music, try broadening your circles. Follow Sister on Soundcloud for regular mixes by emerging women artists. Go to an event curated by Discwoman, or peruse their artist roster. Get to know these nine women-only DJ collectives. Acknowledge that if you don’t know where the talented women are, you are not looking hard enough.


The DJ mixes below represent a cross-section of my listening in 2016, and a list of who I think are some of the most exciting electronic artists and curators working right now. Though they’re all doing markedly different things, a lineup that boasted them all would be my dream party. I’m praying it happens in 2017.

Night Slugs/BBC AZN Network affiliate Manara made an unforgettable mix for The FADER.
In a Discwoman takeover, DJ Haram and BEARCAT went in hard on Rinse FM.
Helena Hauff created a free-wheeling tribute to the sound of Frankfurt in the ’80s and ’90s for Mixmag.
Juliana Huxtable is one of the best doing it, period.
London NTS DJ DEBONAIR conjured “space, intrigue, and tenderness” for Blowing Up The Workshop.
Berliner Ziúr burrowed down a sonic wormhole for Resident Advisor.
Norwegian producer Svani makes the best bootlegs on Soundcloud. Hear some in this full-throttle mix for Truants.
E.M.M.A. (my friend and NTS co-host) combined sad synth melodies and harder club tunes in a mix for Dazed.
Nkisi knocked the wind out of listeners with "The Dark Orchestra," her mix of mostly original music.
NON Records affiliate Bonaventure stopped by NTS for a dark, skin-prickling special.
It’s hard to choose one mix by NTS’s TTB, but this one for The Astral Plane could easily soundtrack your spiritual awakening.
And Amy Becker captured the vital energy of London’s dancefloors, again for The FADER.

From The Collection:

A Year In Everything: Aimee Cliff