equality factor: cliché-refuting DJ powerhouse
musical hero: Calvin Harris
based in: Austria
Austrian DJ and producer Dominique Jardin have big aspirations: she wants to become the female Calvin Harris and have her music be played anywhere around the world - from boutique to dance floor. Next to that, Dominique works night and day to establish more female representation within the EDM scene and aims to represent the electronic music industry in a cliché-refuting manner.
“You walk up with your long blonde hair, and you have to have nice clothes – people will think: can she even DJ?”
Dominique Jardin – her artist name being a clever twist on her legal last name – began her path towards table-spinning in the mid-2010s. As a teenager, inspired by EDM legends and her love for electronic music, she began to dabble in DJing herself, watching tutorials, and learning by doing. One day, a DJ friend of hers offered to help her get more familiar with the basic techniques of turntablism – and not more than three hours into the lesson, her friend deemed her ready for the stage. One thing led to another, and quickly after that, Dominique scored her first set at the club of her best friend’s friend.
“The crowd are – and were from the beginning on – super supportive. And the feeling that I always get from them is that they don’t really care if you’re a woman or not.”
Over the course of less than a decade, Dominique’s career has skyrocketed. From playing for crowds in Brazil, Mykonos, Ibiza, and Berlin to sharing the stage with David Guetta, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, and her musical idol Calvin Harris, and scoring a brand ambassador deal with Mercedes Benz – this Austrian powerhouse is on the way to the top. But getting there is not her only goal. While Dominique Jardin’s knack for the music, her undeniable charisma, and her ability to control the crowd set the foundation for a successful career, her aim to change the EDM industry from the inside out also sets her apart from many fellow artists. Her message: one’s success as a DJ is not related to being male or female, it takes hard work and dedication. DJing is a profession – not a crazy lifestyle that revolves around partying and losing control.
“I think with a very young audience you have a certain responsibility. This is why I never post anything with alcohol, and as a woman you have it even more, because people have higher expectations of you.”
Having been in a number of awkward encounters with male colleagues or and location crew, Dominique has learned to not take gender-related questioning of her skills too seriously. “It still happens to this day that I get up on stage and men say ‘Do you know how all this works? Do you know where you put the USB stick and how you do that? This is where you put your headphones’”, she says, laughing out loud. Just as the job of a DJ is often associated with clichés of unprofessionalism, being a female DJ – and a good-looking one on top of that – comes with constantly being underestimated and having to prove one’s skill. Through her successes and the overwhelmingly positive response from her audience, Dominique has learned to not bat an eye at such interactions. Nevertheless, she still asks herself: “Really? Do you have to prove yourself as a woman?” Unfortunately, the answer seems to be yes. While powerful female DJs like Dominique, Australian DJ duo Nervo and Mattn, wife of Dimitri, have celebrated global success with sold out gigs and original releases, womxn remain under-represented within the EDM genre.
“You see it on smaller festivals. When you look at the line-up, there’s like, one female. One or two - and that’s it. Out of like 80 DJs, you have two. Something is definitely wrong here.”
Why? Dominique cannot quite put her finger on it yet. “It’s really funny that everyone is asking the same question. Even big managements, they ask why this isn’t working. And nobody really knows”, she explains. Most likely, it is a sense of omnipresent competition that prevents more music producing womxn in EDM to rise to the top. From her experience, Dominique tells us that it seems as though male DJs are slightly hesitant to accept strong womxn artists into the higher ranks of the music industry.“I watch others and their DJ sets to develop my skills. You get overwhelmed though, and then you try to call someone. And they’re not really open. They know something, but they don’t wanna tell you! It’s weird – I don’t know if it’s a male-female thing, but maybe they are scared that you’ll get to a point where you get better and better and you’ll be on the big path. That’s a bit of an issue. It’s like a boys club, yes it is – and it starts with a small circle that is not famous”, she reflects.
“Among women, there’s always this competition.”
From Dominique’s experience, it is mainly outside influences – rather than womxn themselves - that seem to paint a picture of competitiveness among and underestimation of female artists within EDM. The public image of DJs and electronic music producers surely does not help that. From the point of view of the mainstream media and casual listeners, a DJ is expected to be a male musician who attracts female fans, parties excessively and indulges in heavy nightlife-related habits. Dominique on the other hand is quite the opposite of that. She fine-tunes her musical skills for hours every day and does not advocate for alcohol or drugs. She showcases her long blonde hair and feminine style without relying on her looks. “At the end of the day, it’s a business. You walk up on stage and you try to give your best. You have to be focused and you cannot be drunk. People have this picture that a DJ has to be crazy and like a Rockstar, sort of. I’m really trying my best to be able to do my job and let people know that not all the DJs are crazy out there.”
“I really try to get rid of that picture that a DJ has to be a certain way.”
While defying industry standards and gender stereotypes, Dominique Jardin never loses sight of her mission to make people happy through music either. With the help of songwriters and vocalists, she creates original productions that reflect her own experiences with life and love. “I always try to come up with songs that have something to do with life, and that people can relate to”, Dominique boils her music down to its core. She tells us about inspiring one of her fans to start DJing themselves, despite being physically disabled. “Stuff like this makes me so happy. If it’s just one person, that’s enough to keep me going.”
As a woman in the EDM industry trying to refute clichés and prejudice DJs are often met with, Dominique Jardin sets herself apart by being an excellent role model for young aspiring electronic artists. Her advice for them is to keep perfecting their art and never give up: “whoever says something bad about you or does not take you seriously – do not take them seriously. One of my favorite sayings is: if it’s a no, you’re talking to the wrong person.” That mindset has gotten her far – and we are sure it will get her even further to the top.