The mainstreaming of dance music is a cultural tidal wave that has inspired enough talking points to suit its unfathomable scale. One of the most constantly lambasted aspects of it – and very rightfully so – is its suffocatingly masculine and bro-heavy essence. In Singapore, it’s been absolutely thrilling to behold a femme-centric alternative emerge from the underground. ATTAGIRL!, an all-girl club night and community initiative, is reinscribing the scene with a front-loaded, female-empowering spirit with sounds to boot. During its three-year run, the collective has done much to educate perceptions of what it means to be a female DJ in an ecosystem dominated by males. Having recently celebrated its third anniversary, we catch up with ATTAGIRL!’s AKA, DuriO, Jaydah, Fatim and Empyreal to find out more about their journey so far.
Congrats on three wonderful years! How has the journey been for you?
DuriO:It’s been an amazing journey; we’ve learnt so much along the way. This little love project of ours has grown into so much more. Although we’re still relatively new, we’ve been blessed to have worked with many amazing artists and have gotten so much positive feedback and support along the way. We have so many people to thank, so THANK YOU EVERYONE!
The collective has now expanded to include five people. How do you go about selecting who can join?
AKA:Well, we all started out as friends, first and foremost. I wouldn’t say there was a “selection process”, but rather we recognised each other’s talent and love for whatever we were doing. Amanda Tan aka Empyreal did our party visuals last year, and we saw her grow from strength to strength with her enthusiasm and hardworking ethic. And with Fatim, we became friends after we invited her to come by our shores to do our anniversary as well. We liked her music and felt it would be good to have someone out of Singapore to help forge more connections regionally. It was a pretty natural decision to get these two in if we wanted to expand our parties as well.
Would you say that there’s a musical philosophy that unites all of you?
Jaydah:All of us have different styles and tastes in music for sure, and even though it’s pretty evident that our selections are more driven towards bass music, we’re more attuned to promoting an underground sound. We’ve nothing against the mainstream EDM, but we have to be honest: it’s ridiculously tacky, and really bad for your brain.
Looking at the dance scene in Singapore, would you say that things are different for female DJs as compared to when you started three years ago?
Empyreal:I would say yes, just because there are so many more women actively pursuing music. Our ATTAGIRL! third anniversary party is evidence of that. New names and faces are emerging and this makes for a very exciting time for us. We are also seeing more female electronic producers, like Sofklo, Et Aliae and Yuele, who are all young and have a fresh sound. I think it’s about time for more original music with a female voice, and that time is now. Also, to me, this is the DEATH of the model DJ, and the birth of real-deal people.
Which artist or public figure has been the most inspirational – musically or otherwise – to you?
Fatim:One artist that always been an inspiration to me is Yuna. I love the way she carries herself and how she spreads positive vibes through her music. Looking at her achievements has taught me to always be proud of and stay true to my roots.
You opened for Chicks On Speed last year. What was that like?
Jaydah:It was a huge privilege for us, definitely. I don’t think we ever envisioned ourselves having such an opportunity. Even though, as groups, we both have different ways of approaching music, it was heartwarming to receive their support in our vision. It keeps us grounded in a way that it reminds us that we’re doing something right, and that people like them believe in us too.
“I believe [boys and girls] are on equal turf. Anyone who thinks otherwise can move to the left.” – Empyreal
How did the charity component of ATTAGIRL! come about?
AKA: ATTAGIRL! has always operated as a non-profit collective from the very beginning. This is a huge part of our manifesto, because we wanted to focus on building a proper community of women that can contribute and collaborate with one another without feeling that they are subject to some form of competition. We felt that from all the experience and opportunities we got as a crew, we needed to always give something back to the world. Working with a charity helps us achieve that.
What would you like to say to the male members of the dance community worldwide?
Empyreal: Hi boys! But no, really, I wouldn’t have anything different to say to the boys than the girls. I believe we are on equal turf. Anyone who thinks otherwise can move to the left.
Lastly, what are your hopes for ATTAGIRL! in the future?
DuriO: To reach out to more female artists, not just locally, but as far as we can and watch the network grow. We’ve secured bonds across the border now with Fatim from KL on our team, so our short-term goal would be to make more connections in region. In the long run, we’d definitely love to reach out of SEA, but we’re taking baby steps. So please don’t stop loving us!
Stay tuned for more ATTAGIRL! happenings at facebook.com/attagirlparty.