Let’s face it—EDM can be a bit of a boys’ club. There’s practically a “No girls allowed!” sign hanging over the genre’s rafters. Think of EDM and a recurring image appears, that of a dudebro in a graffiti tee, hunched over his mixer. And while the Guettas, the Tiestos, and the Aokis have certainly sowed their oats, I have to wonder: Where my ladies at?
Women have always been present in EDM and electronic production, but for some reason (read: systemic sexism) their profiles have never been as elevated as their male counterparts. In 2015, Forbes rounded up the top paid EDM artists… and no women made the cut. Thankfully, the past few years have seen an increase in visibility for women DJs—acts like NERVO, Rebecca and Fiona, and Annie Mac are all well-known acts in the genre.
In what seems to have been the blink of an eye, Tigerlily’s name has been thrown into the mix. Born Dara Hayes, she has amassed a massive social media following over the past few years, the trajectory of her career including a handselected stint as Tiesto’s supporting act on his North American tour. Signed to Island Records Australia in 2015, the young artist, who earned the spot of #1 Female DJ for three years in a row via In The Mix, is very much focused on being a role model for young girls.
“Over anything else in the world, it makes me so happy when a young girl says she looks up to me,” Hayes shares. “There really aren’t enough positive role models in the media these days. I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means… I swear, I drink wine, and I love a good selfie, but I do try to be the most kind and positive human being possible. It’s all about the good vibes.” As for her role models, she gushes, “I look up to many women for different reasons. My grandmother for her strength, my mother for her love, Lady Gaga for her creativity, FKA Twigs for her attitude… The list is endless.”
The aqua-haired producer, who impressively earned her B.A. in Communication while touring and recording over the past few years, shares that while she initially wanted to be a pop star when she was a young girl, it was the works of David Guetta and Afrojack that first drew her to EDM. “I was lucky because I started DJing right at the time when dance music started coming onto the radio a little more, like ‘Take Over Control’ and ‘When Love Takes Over.’ However, I think Deadmau5 with his song ‘Strobe’ was my biggest inspiration and motivation to work in the dance music industry.”
Hayes, who adds that she once witnessed a couple having “gross sex” in the foam pit of another venue (ew!), reminisces about her very first gig at the Coogee Pavilion in Sydney: “I was playing super early, and had invited all my family and friends to come and watch. Naturally, I was ridiculously nervous and stopped the music a few times accidentally, as well as played a rather inappropriate set for my set time. But it can’t have been that bad because they asked me to come back!”
In 2016, the artist will release her debut EP, something she is immensely excited for. “Writing this EP has given me an opportunity to explore different sounds, and I’m even singing on a few tracks which is new for me,” the 24-year-old reveals. “I’m also moving to America this year, and trying to spend as much time as I can touring other parts of the world!” Another goal? Squashing the “boring” perception that women in EDM “all play pre-mixed CDs and use ghost producers.”
When asked about breaking down the gender barriers present in the industry, the artist muses on the challenges facing women in the field. “It can be difficult for women to be taken seriously and rise to the top, and this is clearly indicated by the number of female DJs and producers in polls, on festival lineups, and on main touring schedules around the world,” Hayes declares. “I challenge them, I suppose, by not giving a fuck about them. There comes a point where there is only so much talking we can do about ‘females in a male dominated industry’ until it really just relies on girls getting out there and kicking butt… I work my ass off and I absolutely love what I do, so at the end of the day, when you’re happy inside, criticism doesn’t seem to matter so much.” I couldn’t agree more.