To celebrate International Women's Day 2022, we hosted a live stream powered by our friends at Sisu. Watch the full stream, here
Determined to be undefined by one style, Melati is a fast-paced, multi-genre DJ with a sound encapsulating anything that brings a sexy, sassy, and playful energy to the dancefloor.
Immersed in all things music, Melati moves across the club, radio, and community sphere. She has a monthly residency on Aaja Radio as co-host to the show Cadenza Theory with Arkadian, is part of the core crew behind the community-driven, grassroots music festival Floorless and also manages club nights at the south-London venue Corsica Studios. She continues her passion for music spaces by working for Sound Diplomacy, a music consultancy that helps to create space for music, arts, and culture in towns and cities all around the world.
Read on to find out more about Melati, why she’s passionate about Sisu's work and her advice for beginner DJs. Listen to more of her music via Soundcloud
When did you first start DJing?
I've been DJing for three and a half, almost four years, which pretty much started when I moved to London to do my Masters in Architecture. I first learned to DJ on vinyl - which was hard, but also a great way to begin. It took me about two years to start feeling confident that I was any good. When lockdown started and clubs were forced to close, I was able to borrow some CDJs and after that my skill level just went up exponentially. Starting on vinyl gave me a great foundation, but my sound rapidly evolved after acquiring CDJs because there’s just such a wide variety of music styles that you can buy easily digitally that can be difficult to find on vinyl.
How did you hear about Sisu Crew? Why did you want to be involved?
I was aware of Sisu Crew for a little while, and then when I saw the call out for their roster last December I just applied instantly!
I was particularly interested in what they are trying to do with their educational workshops. I had some experience in running DJ workshops for marginalised groups at the small festival I help to run in the summer which went well and was a lot of fun, and I also taught some of the girls who worked at Corsica how to mix before the pandemic. I’m really passionate about getting more girls behind the booth and I enjoy teaching a lot - so this just seemed like a perfect fit!
Why are groups like Sisu important?
For me, I’m passionate about this because I find there are so many female or non-binary DJs in the scene, but there's still an issue of diversity amongst headliners. Even in events that are supposed to be progressive, you can still find that their 2 or 3 headliners are often male, with females who are either warming up, closing, or doing a b2b set with someone, rather than having a set in their own right.
In a lot of afterparties or casual sessions with friends, I have found that there is always a gender disparity on the decks. Even if there are female DJs in the room, the booth is often male-dominated and it can feel intimidating to jump on with confidence. I find those are the moments that push you to be a better DJ. It’s relatively simple for anyone to prepare a set at home, work out their cue points and craft the perfect mix, but being able to be a good DJ is more than that. It's about responding to what's in front of you, and the more techniques you know, the better you can respond to people. It’s a very different way of mixing over preparing your own set. For me it’s those casual sessions that I would like to see diversified; those small experiences and moments within your own circles that build a person's confidence and inform their presence on the main stage.
What would be your advice for anyone wanting to get into DJing?
My advice would be to practice mixing b2b with people. You'll get better and learn quickly. Plus, I'd say just have fun! I bump into a lot of the same people in clubs and often ask why they don’t mix themselves? These people clearly love the music and are passionate about it and there's space for them, so why not? You don't have to pursue mixing to be a professional DJ, it can be purely for yourself. Mixing is enjoyable, you can start pretty cheap if you get a controller, and then just invite your friends round for a nice dinner and have a mix.
It's those kinds of times that make you good. Once you get fully into it you can see if you want to start playing out and bouncing off people. I've started a couple of friendships with women and non-binary people based on a love for music, and they are some of the most cherished friendships I have. I would love to see more people experience that.
What's your favourite track at the moment?
I don’t really deal with favourites! I have a lot of different influences and my taste is constantly changing.
If I had to pick then I'd probably go wildly off-brand and say When You Believe by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, but the Prince of Egypt version. I grew up in a Christian household and The Prince of Egypt is a film I remember from my childhood. The scene with this song is incredibly moving. I don't consider myself a Christian anymore, but even now whenever I hear this song I struggle to hold it together, I just find it so powerful.
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.