Where My Ladies At?

Female DJs are a rare breed in the electronic dance music world. Meet the twin sisters who are trying to change that, one hit at a time.

Via: beatmyday.com

On a recent Friday night at Long Island nightclub Glo, DJs Mim and Liv Nervo are curled up on couches in the dressing room, tapping out messages on their BlackBerries and waiting to start their set. The 27-year-old Australian twin sisters — tall, leggy and blonde, with big blue eyes and wide smiles — are two of the hottest DJs in electronic dance music (EDM) at the moment; in addition to solo gigs at clubs like Las Vegas' XS and Miami's Mynt, they've also produced dance-pop hits with Afrojack, Steve Aoki and Avicii, and toured alongside Nicki Minaj and Britney Spears on the Femme Fatale Tour. And in the week following their Glo gig, the girls will play at Los Angeles' Beyond Wonderland festival and Puerta Vallarta's Electro Beach concert series, as well as three shows in Miami leading up to an appearance at the sold-out Ultra Music Festival, which kicks off tomorrow.

But the Nervo sisters' success is the exception when it comes to females in dance music. As electronic dance music EDM has moved ever more into the mainstream in recent years, it has been male DJs and producers leading the charge. Top 40 artists like Nicki Minaj, Flo-Rida and Rihanna have collaborated with DJs David Guetta and Calvin Harris on chart-topping dance-pop tracks, and dubstep DJ Skrillex received an unprecedented five Grammy nominations this year. And of the 200-plus artists performing this year at Ultra, just over a dozen are female.

Via: zimbio.com

Despite frequent claims of egalitarianism in EDM — electronic music has "always been an open door," says Jim Tremayne, longtime editor of DJ Times magazine — women have been largely absent behind the booth. Sara Cooper, a veteran dance music publicist who represents acts like Afrojack and Sander Van Doorn, is wary of representing female DJs. "I'll be the first to say it. I don't take girl DJs seriously," she says, "because they usually put themselves out there in a certain way." The implication, of course, is that women use their looks to get DJ gigs, whereas men rely on their mixing skills alone.

"I think it's funny how a lot of male DJs get away with just looking like geeks,"  says producer and DJ Laidback Luke, one of Ultra's headliners. It's a tough line for a female artist to walk: "Looks are important, since I do consider us a part of showbiz," says Luke, but he also warns against looking "over the top [or] too sexual."

As a fellow female DJ, I've encountered this point of view all too often. I have the necessary skills to spin a killer mix — the ability to read a crowd, an ear for unusual mash-ups and combinations, a 15,000-plus song iTunes library — but that’s often not enough. Like Cooper in her producing days, my DJing chops have been frequently questioned before gigs; in fact, I’ve been asked if I plan on playing a pre-mixed CD and “just standing there.” But there are few things more hilariously vindicating than watching a male clubgoer or manager’s eyes widen as I drop an unexpected track or execute a flawless mix. The Nervos evidently feel the same way: They recently retweeted a post from a male fan that reads, “WOW!!! I thought [Mim and Liv] were barbiedoll sociallites posing during a pre-mixed cd. WRONG! those girls are mad talented!”

Indeed, their DJ chops should speak for themselves, but there's no denying that Liv and Mim certainly look the part — they're every bit the bleached-blonde, beach-babe fantasy one might have of an Australian swimsuit model. For their gig at Glo, Liv wears her hair long and straight with a black fedora, while Mim's hair is short and styled in a rock-chic faux-hawk. They offset the toughness of their ripped tights and combat boots with chic, fitted tops and cropped jackets. When one sister talks, the other looks at her intently, nodding along, and they almost always finishing the sentence in unison, using their hands for animated emphasis.

They're similarly in sync behind the decks. At Glo, they stand side by side wearing matching headphones, heads bobbing simultaneously to the beat. They work together wordlessly, four hands reaching over one another to make quick changes to the mix. When a song reaches its climax, the sisters put their hands in the air at the exact same moment, pumping their fists energetically and cheering back at the euphoric crowd. Their set is full of unexpected transitions and combinations; after slowing things down with Cassius’ “I Love You So,” Liv and Mim electrify the crowd by dropping the thunderous bassline of Sandro Silva and Quinto’s “Epic.” Nervo’s own songs appear throughout the seamlessly mixed set too, at which points the girls grab a mic to sing along. They belt out the chorus of the sassy single “The Way We See The World,” as well as the lyrics of their Avicii collaboration, the dance-pop anthem “You’re Gonna Love Again.” The crowd eats it up, chanting the lyrics along with the girls — even though the latter song hasn’t yet been released.

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