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The FFF Girl DJ Bootcamp 2011 | More Than Music…

The FFF Girl DJ Bootcamp 2011

Discussed over frozen margaritas, Debbie Chia approached both Cherry Chan and Natalie Tan aka Pixiedub after their residency at an alfresco bar in 2008 with an idea that (unknown to them) will change Singapore’s DJing landscape.

These three ladies were already holding their own back then. Debbie was a resident at KPO, was about to kick off a dance music event organization called the Midnight Shift on the same year, and was Asia’s first participant at the 2005 Red Bull Music Academy in Seatle.

Cherry has being going around pushing Intelligent Dance Music from London to Asia back then, started the first ever all-girls night PopMyCherry!, and was in the midst of building audio-visual collective Syndicate.

Having been DJing since 2001, Natalie is synonymous in nightlife circles having played at numerous parties including The Official After Party for rock band Muse and Stereophonics and at venues such as Stereolab, Hacienda, House, Blu Jaz Cafe, and Home Club. Her eclectic taste for music and her knack for picking out discerning niches have also seen her successfully shaped events from Art Stage Singapore VIP Opening to Singapore Writers Festival and Singfest 2008.

Three years on and the ladies have gained a wealth of experiences from their respective endeavours. And as lecturers of the FFF Girl DJ Bootcamp, they have grown on their own through the basis they wish to impart to future female DJs. The basis of the bootcamp is simple: educate women about electronic dance music and DJing while creating a community of local female DJs.

Debbie Chia

Debbie however wants to dig deeper for local hidden gems. “It’s strange because we are getting more exposure, but I feel like we’re not tapping far or deep enough into the talent out there,” she says. “The number of applications has increased exponentially, but girls serious about electronic music are hard to find. I am always hoping for a techno fiend… Now we have interested girls from Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Japan and Slovakia, so all in all we’re getting more attention, which I am grateful for.”

And since it was founded, the concoction has been getting stronger and stronger having been given the accolade of “Best Contribution to the Scene 2010” from Juice magazine.

Giving added strength to the founding members this year is Pamm Hong, a graphic designer and illustrator with years of experience having worked in Zouk and projects with Singapore Press Holdings, Epson and the Esplanade. Now, all four of them are have their loving paws out, roaring to get the kitties in shape.

Bootcamp participants

Similar to the concept offered over the past few years, 10 lucky girls will be picked from a pool of applicants. In four successive Saturdays through October, the girls will be put through a gruelling 5-hour electronic dance music workout filled with lectures and demonstrations by guest lecturers. Optional master classes are also available for the girls to delve deeper into the craft.

Cherry gave us her take on why a girls-only bootcamp is relevant: “I think boys tend to be quite straight to the point and goal oriented when it comes to learning. It’s like: ‘Yes, let’s get to the point, what am I supposed to do?’ whereas girls tend to learn in an emotional context, they are more sensitive to the settings, and are attuned to multiples things (think of how girls browse make up and fashion!)”

Cherry Chan

She added that not only will the bootcamp offer an in-depth look on all aspects of DJing but will also allow the participants to do girly thing, “We also included in time for tea and socialising (with FFF cupcakes and jello thrown in) so that everyone will have a cosy time not just learning various music bits but also making new friends in the process.”

The girls will also loan a laptop courtesy of PC partners Lenovo with an installation of a trial DJing software on their first day. This will allow the girls to take their decks on a ride whenever and wherever they want to. Lee Chown How, Country General Manager, Singapore, Lenovo said: “We are very enthusiastic about working with the bootcamp. The main purpose of empowering and engaging female music-lovers to pursue their passion is in sync with our focus on Do-ers – people who believe in making dreams a reality – as well as the Lenovo Music Production Lab (EMP Lab) initiative launched in Southeast Asia.”

DJ Ginette Chittick

Helping the girls make their dreams a reality, 10 other lecturers will be in the ‘classroom’ to guide them through. Established female DJs Jean Reiki and Ginette Chittick will give the girls more exposure to the technicality of DJing and the dance music landscape from a female perspective. But it’s not just an all-girls lecturing team. Joining them will be some of the best DJs and producers on our shores including the likes of Syndicate’s co-founder Kiat and member Max Lane, turntabalist maestro KoFlow, Cosa Nostra duo Funk B*stard and Kaye, Zouk’s resident DJ Jeremy Boon, and Pushin’ On members Masterpiece and Tom Shellsuit. Finally the legendary local music producer and founder of upcoming duo Octover, Jason Tan will impart his wealth of knowledge and experience.

On the fourth day of their course, the girls will be given a one-on-one mentorship with these featured lecturers to get a comprehensive practical lesson on actual DJing equipment.

Following traditions, a special international guest lecturer will be flown in. Last year, DJ and producer Tokimonsta from Los Angeles was on hand to give the girls an added global perspective on dance music. This year, French techno heavyweight Jennifer Cardini from Kompakt’s stable of DJs and producers will guest lecture in a special Q & A session.

Special guest lecturer, Jennifer Cardini

Ms Wong Mei Wai, Head of Marketing at Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore gave her opinion on the bootcamp, “We’ve been very supportive of the Girl DJ Bootcamp for the past two years because of its dedication to developing a new breed of musicians in Singapore.”

Three years ago, participant Jiaxian Seow was one of the few lucky girls that were given a chance to take part in the bootcamp. Explaining that she was in search not only for education in DJing but also finding out sources of dance music, Jiaxian was particularly attracted to the fact that it would be an all-girls affair. “The girl bit was important because honestly, all the equipment a DJ uses looks pretty intimidating to me. So being guided and learning alongside girls was extremely comforting,” and was quick to add that she could ask bimbotic questions about knobs and sliders without being judged.

Participant, Jiaxian Seow

Natalie spoke within the same vein as her student, “[The bootcamp] provides girls with a very open opportunity to put their money where their interest is and learn in a very open environment. Most of us had to find the courage to seek out a teacher, tolerate some funny circumstances and learn the hard way.”

Natalie Tan

With the depth of dance music education being imparted, the girls will come out paws itching on the decks as they are showcased on a special graduation bash on Oct 27 at Zouk’s Wine Bar.

If there’s one thing the FFF Girl DJ Bootcamp is offering, it’s not only about understanding aspects of dance music, but particularly to empower the status of a woman in the industry. Pamm says it all in this aspect, “The venom here is when some girls give in to the marketable statuses of being a female DJ, they only become poster-worthy paragons.”

The cause to this effect is apparent as she adds, “Not only does that makes it clear to the (still) predominantly man’s world that girls are just here for fun, it also lowers credibility for real female DJs. This applies to any sort of profession. Honestly, it’s still big boys land. But I’m optimistic, for the amount of fresh producers and performers in the rap, grime and dance music milieu is filled with powerful ladies.”

Application for the FFF Girl DJ Bootcamp 2011 is now closed. Logon on their website or Facebook for more information. Look for more interviews with lecturers and the founders in the coming weeks.

– Zul Andra

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