Women’s month spotlight: Electronic Filipino women & queer DJs who are fighting the fundamental lack
With the recent restart of the capital’s nightlife, here are more talents on the sweatbox you need to know
The Philippine capital of Metro Manila is currently enjoying a nightlife renaissance. Since March, clubs, bars and event spaces no longer require restrictive capacity, and the last two weeks saw long-deprived clubbers sprawling across the metropolis.
In the wake of the scene’s recent boom, women and queer representation remain paramount — particularly in the underground electronic music scene.
The country is no stranger to the industry-wide discrepancy, with numerous events and club nights still hosting all-male lineups. While there’s no shortage of back-handed compliments, micromanagement and scepticism among non-male DJs, the list of torch-bearing women and queer talents behind the booth is growing — and here’s one more to add to your radar.
Often, a DJ's natural progression is to bump the BPM faster as the night unfolds—that’s why it’s always a delightful surprise to witness something a little different. Tisha’s off-tangent style is to maintain a pace that stretches out into her sets and keeps the clubbers on the floor. To trained and welcoming ears, her blend of house and tech house gives revellers plenty of room to groove, whether she plays for a couple of hours or all night long.
Usually toying with dark disco, house and EBM, Yela Renee’s chameleonic approach allows her to cater to just about any time slot. The DJ, who also moonlights as a writer, often caters to the pockets of crowd in popular nightlife haunt, Poblacion, bringing with her a boatload of dance selections — familiar or not — that are fail-proof floor pleasers.
Andi aka Baby Ikea is among, if not the youngest top-tier DJs who can carry a multi-faceted set. A resident of collective/record label, Transit Records, they often fill the floor with UK garage, breaks, house and bounce. Their spirited and uninhibited style makes them a standout, that one can’t help but look forward to catching them on the sweat box — and get excited to what else they have up their sleeve.
Since her earlier days of playing nu disco and indie dance, Mafia has further expanded her repertoire, playing sets brimmed with house and electro that are always a joy to catch. It’s also given her the opportunity to be billed with the likes of Jacques Greene, Classixx and during a touring Kitsuné club night. She can frame the evening with just the right amount of energy and flow, leaving the rest to the dancers she’s drawn to the floor.
Albeit new to Manila’s electronic scene, Tefi is gradually carving her own corner, often dishing out dark disco, techno and drum 'n' bass. After years of attending countless club nights and learning the ropes from some of the industry’s beloved artists, she’s since taken on the reins during the pandemic lull, dedicating a tremendous amount of time practising, and have now gone from being in front of the booth to behind it.
Tina aka Religionblack is a long-time mainstay in the local fashion scene, first gaining traction as a blogger and stylist, and now, steadily earning a reputation as the DJ with a hefty amount of house, disco and bounce tracks in her bag. Pre-pandemic, beyond playing a string of fashion launches, Religionblack was constantly booked in spots across the city center, and with an infallible guarantee of a good time.
Arguably one of the strongest newcomers in the scene, Sai aka Versailles does her homework, and does it exceptionally well. After going to various club nights in the Philippines then spending a bulk of her life in the UK, she has since made it back home with a mission to command and conquer. Hers are sets equipped with towering build ups, merciless sound and obliterating breaks. With frequent radio show guesting and staying in tune with the local pulse as a journalist, it’s looking like Versailles’ prolific hunger won’t be satiated anytime soon.
[Images via UNKNWN, XX XX, LUI PIMENTEL, RELIGIONBLACK & KAMPAI]