sisu crew spotlight: jacki-e

Article written by
March 25, 2022

To celebrate International Women's Day 2022, we hosted a live stream powered by our friends at Sisu. Watch the full stream, here

Jacki-E is a DJ and Producer from Northamptonshire in the UK. With two weekly radio shows under her belt, A Darker Wave which plays new techno, and Draw The Line Radio Show, which showcases female talent, Jacki-e is no stranger to the decks with over seven years of experience.

Her releases on Get Physical, DeepDownDirty, Dead Groovy, Platz fur Tanz & Nahual Records have led her to play sets in Germany and across the UK. Her latest single, “Steady Skank” released by drum and bass label Nahual Records is just the precursor to her first EPs - one techno and one drum and bass - releasing 14th April 2022 on UPUK Records. Her influences are techno, deep house, jungle, DNB, and the ethos of the acid house raves and festivals of the early 90s.

Read on to find out more about Jacki-E, how she got involved in Sisu and why we need to keep diversity and inclusion at the forefront of music.

Your music career moves across DJing and Production - how did you get into it?

I’ve always been into music from my very youngest day - from listening to the radio and hearing Sparky on the piano. I was originally a punk but slowly gravitated towards the electric music scene. Once I started going to clubs and watching DJ sets I began thinking, “I could do that!” But having the idea and doing the thing is quite different! I realised if I was going to do it - and do it well - I needed to practice and hone my craft.

From there I decided to buy an entry-level pair of decks and create a few mixes. One of these mixes landed me an invite to play on a friend's community radio show, though I said yes before I even knew how to create one! It's funny, in the first show my co-host and I couldn't turn the microphone off, so we had to pass pieces of paper to each other to see what we were going to say! Luckily we've moved on from that but that was the very beginning of ‘A Darker Wave’  

How did you learn to DJ and get better at mixing?

It was trial and error mainly - but this is actually how I heard about Sisu! I went to one of their DJ courses aimed at women and beginners and learned an awful lot about DJing. It was an invaluable experience with guests from the London underground scene sharing their knowledge. That course really lifted my skill set and made me realise that I can't just play at this thing - I've got to work at it too. I've got to practice, practice, practice; I've got to train my ears and learn what mixes with what and how to adjust the faders, effects, and the EQs…basically, all the stuff that comes with being a DJ and playing a fun and enjoyable set for both myself and the crowd.

What do you think of International Women’s Day?

Now, that’s a really interesting question!

First of all, I think it's important that we do highlight women's music because if you don't we can plainly see that it just doesn’t get the same recognition as men’s. I think where the difficult, but most important challenge lies, is in fixing the predominant male lineups at festivals and in clubs, as well as the predominance of male tracks in people’s mixes and setlists.

You can see it for yourself - have a think about where you listen to mixes, be it Soundcloud, Mixcloud, or elsewhere; if you stop and count how many women there are in those tracklists it's sadly very, very few. DJing has been seen as a bit of a 'boys club' but I don't buy the argument that there are fewer women making music than there are men. If you did a census, that may be true, but my goodness, there are lots of women making fantastic music. So why aren't you playing it in the club and on the stage?

I think that we do have to be careful of ghettoising music made by women and putting it into a box to only showcase on International Women’s Day. It means people can go ‘That’s it, we’re done! We’ve played some tracks on International Women's Day and we can forget it now!’

I believe International Women’s Day should be used to highlight the role of women in music and use it as a platform to push new progressive ideas forward and support voices we don’t normally hear. I think when it’s used like this it’s ultimately a good thing and that is why I like to be involved.

Do you think DJing is still a ‘Boys Club’ or do you think it’s changed?

Yes, it can be very much like a boys club although we have to recognise that there are many promoters and events out there that aren't like that. Whilst they’re run by men, they work as allies to promote diverse DJs and create balanced events, and I think it's important to highlight. We have to keep doing what we’re doing and bring attention to the fact that there are lots of women out there that are great DJs and musicians that are making great music too, but we have to work together to show this.

It’s quite horrific when you realise that minorities have been erased from history. Whether we’re talking about women, people of colour, those who don’t define themselves as heterosexual, or other marginalised groups - all have had their contributions cruelly ignored. There is so much diversity in society. By utilising it and seeing our differences as strengths, society will improve and progress and create opportunities, fairness, and equality for everyone.

A lot of people throw around these terms and can see them as being something quite glib, but they’re not; these words and beliefs are a very powerful tool. Ultimately, utilising the opinions and the talents of minorities and giving them an opportunity to flourish is so important as this is what makes our society as a whole, advance.

And lastly, what’s your track of the moment?

Hard to choose! At the moment I am liking Mha Iri, who's a DJ and amazing producer from Scotland, though she’s also lived in Australia. She's now releasing tracks on UMEK label, ‘1605’, and I cannot stop listening to her latest EP.

There’s also a duo called Tom Wax and Ben Champell, who collaborate together regularly, and they’ve produced a track called We Rise. I think these times with what's going on in Ukraine is a great anthem for those of us who think it's important that you resist tyranny and subjugation. And that applies in all walks of life, of course, and I think it's a great track for that.

Sisu is an international community acting to educate, inspire and showcase aspiring women and non-binary DJs and producers. They have a diverse roster of 34 artists for whom they create national and international opportunities, connections and pathways into the music industry. They are community-led, grassroots, and hold a collaborative and inclusive ethos.

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