CE’s Top 10 Female Commercial Producers
Countless lists that circulate annually have sought to prop up the women who are leaving their marks on the music industry. From C-level business executives to top musical creatives of every genre, reputable outlets like Billboard Dance and DJane Mag have named their female power players and tastemakers of electronic dance music time and again.
Without a doubt, we’re living in a rapidly changing world. A mass consciousness shift is taking place as multiple forms of inequity are being exposed once again. More and more, women are rising into the spotlight in ways never seen before. Still, there is much more to be done. The DJ Mag Top 100 is still dominated by males, with only one female duo (NERVO) cracking the Top 20, while women still only made up 10% of the list. Women are also severely underrepresented in the music industry at large.
Despite the music industry facing long-standing critiques for its lack of diversity, the gender divide in music still sees men making up to 70 percent of its professionals. Women executives get paid 30 percent less than men, according to Forbes. A recent study from USC’s Annenberg Foundation, which examined three creative roles in music, found that women comprise only 22% of artists, 12% of songwriters, and a mere 2.1% of producers.
Despite these vast disparities, it’s a problem that keeps getting talked about but is slow to see any actual change. Is it because industry women have yet to shatter the proverbial glass ceiling? Is it that females just aren’t socialized into business or technical engineering? Or is there something more sinister going on as this giant inequity persists? Given how power is like a chameleon that disguises, shapeshifts, and molds itself to fit into the dominant status quo, how can we even begin to locate and expose it? Through discourse, we say.
For Women’s Rights Month 2021, CE joins the critical conversation surrounding gender inequality in the music industry via celebrating the females that are truly making a difference. Over the next four weeks, expect to see our top staff picks for Top Commercial and Top Underground DJs, Top Industry Powerplayers, and Top Female Vocalists in EDM.
We carefully named females only in our nomination, voting, and selection process. This is not to infer that there aren’t plenty of strong female players in male-female duos, but CE chooses to celebrate the full extent of GRL POWER this month. In a male-dominated music industry, every other month celebrates men at the top. March is the month intended for 100 percent female empowerment.
Without further ado, here are CE‘s Top Ten Female Artists who’ve cracked the commercial ceiling.
Table of Contents
Russian producer Nina Kraviz is a multi-talented artist whose travels make her as well-rounded as her electronic artform. Her life adventures include growing up in a Siberian city, studying dentistry in Moscow, traveling to learn music theory in Australia. Somewhere along the way, Kraviz became one of the most sought out Techno producers in Europe.
The city of Irkutsk, in Eastern Russia, is as remote as it sounds. It was from here that the future world-renowned musician emerged to pursue a career as a dentist and so moved to Moscow to study in 2000. It was the exposure to not only the culture of Moscow but also the nightlife however that actually motivated Nina, and she found her interests being captivated by the music being produced in the venues of the night scene.
As she pursued these interests, she found herself captivated by Acid Techno more than other branches of the genre due to the unpredictable and original sounds and motifs introduced into the beat. After pursuing a more formal education in music production, in Australia, after not being able to get a US visa to study in Seattle, she found her edge and voice musically, a process she admits took years. By the end of the 2000s, she was a resident DJ at the hottest of Moscow nightclubs. Her self-titled album was released in 2012, and she also manages her own label called Trip. Since then, Nina Kraviz has had a place setting at all the best tables in major European nightclubs and festivals.
This past year, Nina Kraviz not only entered the mainstream through her music but also through acting out a role chosen for her in Cyperpunk2077! The popular video game was released in November of 2020 and features 5 tracks from Nina Kraviz that can be found on the in-game radio. Additionally, however, she was also given a major supporting role in the game itself where she plays a plastic surgeon of sorts, adding specialized body parts to give players a tactical advantage. In an interview with Billboard Dance, she discusses how she drew on her experience in dentistry to portray the role and also used both English and Russian to fill out the role’s character. The music she created for the game she hopes captures the grittiness and atmosphere presented in the game.
Nina Kraviz inspires through her ability to reach and fulfill her dreams. Never one to give up, she has shown repeatedly that when one has a will to fulfill goals, the universe has a way of working with you to find the path towards that objective. For her, music is timeless and has the ability to connect ideas, people, and the energies of creation that are embedded in the union of all three.
Charlotte de Witte
As one of only ten females to show up on DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs, Charlotte de Witte only recently discussed the significance of ditching the male DJ alias she used at the start of career. Sitting down with DJ Mag in 2018, de Witte explained the reason why she felt the need to “pass” as male was because she was living and working in male-dominated industry.
When she started to become more popular and pursue electronic music full-time is when she decided to ditch the “male alter ego.”
Early on in her career, people launched Facebook hate groups against her, claiming she was sleeping with her manager, or that she landed her bookings only because she’s a woman. Now that she’s become one of the most sought-after DJs in the world, de Witte is recognized as a global techno and house icon. She’s played in Russia, Italy, Germany, Spain, Serbia, Switzerland, Mexico, Japan, Poland, Canada, Peru, Ecuador, the UK, Holland, and across America to Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, and Denver.
Honey Dijon is a house music legend, a fashion maven, and a powerful trans activist. Entrancing audiences with her disco and house tunes along with expert track selection and mesmerizing stage presence, Honey Dijon is one of the most iconic names in house music today.
Chicago born Honey Dijon is an internationally renowned phenomenon, commanding crowds with her infectious disco sound and hypnotizing live performances for over 20 years. Her first performances date back to the 1990’s where she began her journey into the music scene as a young dj, trying her hand at producing just a few years later.
Merging her love of music with fashion, she moved to New York City and brought her techno roots with her, playing DJ sets at fashion shows along with warehouse parties. Honey Dijon released her debut album The Best of Both Worlds in 2017, a disco laden 12 piece compilation of her signature sound with her sophomore offering Xtra following a year later.
It is absolutely no secret that we owe the creation and continued evolution of house and techno (and all electronic music for that matter) to black queer communities, without the talent and influence of artists like Honey Dijon we would not have the music we know and love today.
Outside of DJing and producing she is a largely vocal activist for trans rights, using her personal experience as a black trans woman in music to bring awareness and visibility to the industry and shine a light on the long term issues that plague the scene. Notably she led a round table discussion at the MOMA in New York City on the safety she and others have found in New York club communities. There is nothing more important today in the world of electronic music than acknowledging the roots of the music we love, and the artists that created it.
Honey Dijon is a force to be reckoned with in all areas of life, and her importance far exceeds her presence in the electronic scene. Merging her love of fashion with her passion for techno, and bringing awareness to the feats of those that created this scene, she has created an expansive and long lasting legacy that we celebrate today.
The fashion-designer and producer known as Mija has been on Conscious Electronic’s radar for some time now. Her creative nature both as a producer and lead designer of her own fashion brand, Made by Mija, proves that she is an artist through and through and solidifies her name on this list. While Amber Giles, stage name Mija, certainly likes to explore many artistic avenues, the one she is best known for is her skills as an electronic music producer.
Getting her start in the industry as a promoter, Mija has always had a foot in the music scene. In fact, she even booked Skrillex for a show before he hit mainstream success. A couple of years later, after he did achieve mainstream success, Skrillex was driving around Bonnaroo at 6 AM when he happened across the Burning Man art car Kaliope where Mija was about to play a sunrise set. The two ended up playing a B2B set that became widely popular and introduced Mija to a whole new audience. What amounted was the beginning of a fruitful relationship between herself and Skrillex’s OWSLA music label which she went on to collaborate and release multiple records with.
In 2020, Giles released her first full length album titled, Desert Trash, which strayed from her previous sound in new and exploratory ways. With songs that varied from ambient to drum and bass, Mija showed off her versatility behind the decks while still staying true to those angelic vocals she is known for. Giles explained that she needed to “step outside of [her] comfort zone” and that the album was written “with the intention of stripping down all the excess and focusing on what truly matters to [her]; self-expression, realness, and the story.”
Although Mija remains unsigned, she has worked with a number of labels including OWSLA, Fool’s Gold, and on her last album, Never B Alone. Despite her independent status, the Phoenix native shows no sign of slowing down, already releasing two singles and a music video within the first two months of 2021. Fans should expect nothing but fireworks coming from Mija in the coming months, especially as we anticipate the return to live music.
Lucii (real name Emily Rose) is a new addition to the scene, but she’s already turning heads in the bass community with her masterful mixing and colorful aesthetic. The 23-year-old producer was recruited for releases by the legendary Wakaan label as their first female artist not long after dropping her inaugural single, “Abduction,” in 2018. Now, her talents are coming out strong in the form of modernized melodic dubstep melodies, ethereal songwriting, and unreal space bass as she hones her craft.
Some of her most notable sets this far include Bass Canyon, Liquid Stranger’s Infinity tour, Wakaan festival, and Ubbi Dubbi among others. Also known as Lucii the Alien, her real-life interest in space and aliens transfers to her music beautifully, and she can juxtapose heartfelt lyrics with crushing dubs. Growing up immersed in Orlando’s bass scene has certainly influenced both her music and her connections to the greater EDM world, lending her both natural ability and credibility as she rockets upward in the charts.
There is more to this enigmatic persona than just music, though, as she’s a positive, charming, and well-liked personality both on and off the stage. While she had the unfortunate luck of being sidelined by COVID just as her career was taking off, she’s stayed active by interacting with her fans and performing sporadically whenever possible. She’s also released some killer singles and her first EP, Wicked, in the last year to round out her discography. There’s no telling what’s next for this bass queen (after all, space is the limit) but it’s sure to be worth checking out.
ALSO CHECK OUT
South-African born and Swiss-based Daniela Di Lillo is Nora En Pure, globally renowned DJ and producer and colloquially known as the Queen of Deep House, with an expertise of uniting striking chord progressions, inventive piano chops, and an affinity for strings. Breaking onto the scene in 2013 with her smash hit “Come With Me”, and has captivated her fans all around the globe since with her radiant style and aura that is equal parts mysterious, unique and authentic.
Continuing her success with hit singles like “Morning Dew”, “Lake Arrowhead”, and “Tears In Your Eyes,” Nora En Pure quickly became a household name and indie dance music sensation.
Since, she has been featured on Pete Tong’s BBC Essential Mix, and acquired her very own show on Sirius XM’s Chill channel, “Purified”. Effortlessly spinning her signature organic, crisp sound style on anything she touches, Nora En Pure has been tapped for official remixes by the likes of dance music royalty Faithless, Eelke Kleijn and Sofi Tukker.
With an impressive record of stand-out sets at the likes of world-renowned festivals like Coachella, Burning Man, and Tomorrowland, as well as residencies at iconic dance music hotspots including Wynn Las Vegas and Privilege Ibiza, Nor En Pure is a true force of nature.
Adored for her cinematic soundscapes and ethereal performances, the enigmatic artist continues to impress the world with her indomitable work ethic and an eye for immaculate detail.
This multidimensional Los Angeles based producer (real name: Jennifer Lee) has been mastering her craft over the years as she paves the way for women everywhere. Her signature sounds lie somewhere between hip-hop instrumentalism, pop, R&B-SOUL, house, melodic, and psychedelic bass music as she helps define the sound of edm entirely.
TOKiMONSTA has received well deserved recognition – including Grammy nominations. In 2017, her 11-track masterpiece “Lune Rouge” was nominated for Best Electronic/Dance Album. The nomination within itself was huge. She was not only the first Asian-American artist to be considered for the award, but also the first woman.
She also starred in Underplayed recently, alongside REZZ, Nervo, Alison Wonderland, Anna Lunoe, Louisahhh, and others. Underplayed is an eye-opening feature-length documentary. Lee follows the artists as they attempt to navigate (and change) an industry riddled with toxic masculinity, female exploitation, and inflated egos that run rampant.
To make things even more mind-blowing, shortly before creating the album, TOKiMONSTA went through two major brain surgeries. This affected her ability to walk or talk for quite some time, as well as her ability to understand music. She opens up more about her experience with the rare brain disease prognosis in an episode of Netflix’s “Explained.”
She had to completely reteach herself how to make music and still came through with a Grammy worthy album. TOKiMONSTA is a true icon and inspiration to people everywhere.
As proof that sound is the domain of the nonphysical world, and that the strength and power of music originate from a well of ideas, diminutive REZZ has always let her sounds, and juicy drops, define her voice. Sometimes dark and suspenseful, other times powerful and moving, her originality in production has garnered her a loyal following that has come to call her “Space Mom” which was started after a fan suggested it, but then she retweeted in support. However, the name perhaps is more fitting because of the adoration of fans who see in her bass guidance — and her outer-worldly abilities to abduct the souls of listeners through music.
REZZ was born Isabelle Rezazadeh in Ukraine in 1995 but moved to Niagara Falls, Ontario as a child. By 16, she was DJing for friends at parties and sneaking into nightclubs underage to listen to EDM, but it was a deadmau5 concert that got her creative juices flowing and spurned her interest in creative production and finding her own voice.
By 2015, at the ripe age of 20, Rezazadeh began creating her own music and publishing them to Soundcloud, garnering the attention of not only deadmau5, who eventually signed her to his label mau5trap, but also Skrillex, who followed her and also helped to promote her beats.
In the years that followed, the full-length studio records Mass Manipulation and Certain Kind of Magic were produced, the former winning a Juno Award in 2018. That same year, REZZ joined Alison Wonderland to make Coachella history as the highest billed female DJ at the festival. Since then, countless projects and appearances have occurred, including the EP, Beyond the Senses, fitting Halloween mixes, and collaborations with EDM mainstays.
While the circular expanding glasses she wears on stage are omnipresent and an interesting predictor for the emotional experience of a REZZ set, it is the power of her music that stands as the final word of her influence. Artists that impact often do so with the power of their voice, setting the conditions by which their art should be consumed. REZZ approaches this with enthusiasm and boundless energy, wanting to share the heights that music can take her and the audience — heights that might be interplanetary. Thanks, Space Mom!
Alexandra Sholler, known best under the Alison Wonderland moniker, has been on the rise for quite some time. With hit singles like “Church” and remixes to songs like Ariana Grande’s “God Is A Woman,” it’s no surprise that Sholler is selling out shows around the globe.
Hailing from Australia, this artist not only inspires younger women to follow their dreams, but also teaches them how, through a DJ tutorial series accessible to everyone free of cost right on YouTube. As one of the few females to crack DJ Mag‘s Top 100 DJs list, and a highest-billed female in Coachella history, Alison Wonderland’s career dates all the way back to 2012 when she was mainly making remixes to other’s top tracks. Flash forward to 2013 when she released her first single, “Get Ready.”
Alison Wonderland recently earned a much deserved headlining spot at the infamous Red Rocks, where she named the event “Temple of Wonderland.” The event inevitably was cancelled due to COVID-19 but will be taking place as soon as it is safe again.
Previously, she’d been doing a series of underground shows in countless countries as a part of the Wonderland Warehouse Project tour, as well as making it to major festivals across America such as BUKU, EDC, Dancefestopia, and more.
Known for using her platform to actively speak upon mental health, especially with her own experiences with anxiety, Sholler has undoubtedly helped many fans who have previously or currently struggle with things of a similar nature. The lyrics in many of her songs, specifically those off the Awake LP from early 2018, are known for their rawness and relatability.
French superstar CloZee is a mega talented producer and label head that has taken the industry by storm with her ethereal tribal infused take on bass music. From creating to curating, everything this one woman powerhouse touches turns to gold.
First putting herself on the map in 2015 with the smash single “Koto,” Toulouse based CloZee has since touched the ears and hearts of countless music lovers worldwide. With such an eclectic and distinct sound inspired by her global travels it only seems right the she has minted her own genre of music, “World Bass.” Her live performances match the cinematic quality of her music, captivating audiences from France to India and all across the USA with her enchanting stage presence. Making notable appearances at mega-events such as Lollapalooza and Coachella, to ethereal dusk sets at the likes of Okeechobee, all the way to Costa Rican gem Envision, there is no limit to the stages and events she can dominate.
Sitting on a treasure trove of releases, CloZee’s impressive discography spans nearly a decade of genre-bending masterpieces. Her first full-length offering is 2018 debut album Evasion, a 10 track sonic journey to every corner of the globe with each track taking the listener to another exotic destination. Outside of originals, CloZee has lent her expertise to a multitude of reworked tracks like the powerful “Majesty,” and the more low-key “Labyrinth.” Her latest album is Neon Jungle, a refreshing update on her sound that came in 2020 when fans needed it the most. Not to be confined to production alone, CloZee revealed the conception of her label Odyzey Music in late 2020. The label is home to an eclectic array of talent and releases, hand picked by the queen herself.
It is rare to come upon an artist who has created a sound completely unique to themselves, one that has never been heard before and cannot be duplicated. CloZee is one of those special artists, one that intoxicates you with her sound and ability to transport you to somewhere new every time you press play. Her power and expertise is an invaluable and deeply needed asset in a male dominated industry, and her influence will undoubtedly go on inspiring generations to come.
Information seeker. Dog dad. PhD drop out. Avid collector of pashminas, plants, and experiences. College professor by day, EDM photographer by night.