What happens when a filmmaker becomes best friends with an international touring DJ?
“Girl” is a documentary about female DJs, filmed mainly in the USA in the early 2000s.
“Girl” also tells a story about an outsider having her first experience of dance music culture. Kandeyce Jorden, director of “Girl”, was a complete newcomer to the scene when filming began, and this was not unusual in the USA at that time. Through spending time with Rebecca Sin, DJ Mea, DJ Colette, Lady D, DJ Rap, DJ Irene, and the film’s eventual leading lady Sandra Collins, Jorden finds herself on an unexpected personal journey. [Click link below to read more....]
Fifteen years ago, almost a decade before the commercial EDM boom, dance music in the USA was still very much an underground subculture. At that time, before the widespread use of CDJs and MP3s, it wasn’t easy to become a DJ. Vinyl mixing at its finest is an art form, and even at its most basic is a skill that takes time and patience to learn. Buying music also wasn’t easy, because record shops were intimidating places and vinyl was expensive.
Even today, we often hear the question, why aren’t there many female DJs? You can ask this same question about many careers, but the music industry in particular is still moving slowly on the gender equality front.
Today, although there’s still a disparity in numbers, not many people would think it unsuitable for a girl to pursue an interest in music. When Kandeyce Jorden, Sandra Collins et al were growing up, nice girls were definitely not supposed to be obsessed with music and stay up all night at parties. Girls were supposed to care, not be carefree.
With the working hours and travel requirements that come with the job, DJing as a career path is wildly at odds with that other opportunity that many women want to take up eventually - motherhood. “Girl” inevitably touches on this topic, especially when Jorden is considering the differences between her own life path and those of the women she films.
“Girl” is advertised with the tag line “You can’t spin forever”, but I don’t think the film necessarily proves that to be true. DJ Irene has a master’s degree and now teaches music, while still being an active professional DJ. Sandra Collins may have taken some parental leave but is still producing music and DJing all around the USA and beyond.
On the flip side however, Kandeyce Jorden, by her own admission, does find her life getting into a spin during her months on tour with Collins. Intoxicated by the extreme edge of a lifestyle so very far removed from her own, Jorden shows how easy it is to keep on chasing the next thrill, especially with Collins dropping ever more enticing invitations for Jorden to join her entourage.
Most scenes in “Girl” were filmed about fifteen years ago. DJs are mixing vinyl, in many scenes there’s not even a CDJ in sight, and the film quality sometimes also gives away the age of the footage. “Girl” is predominantly a film about one woman’s experiences, which also means that it’s not always a balanced portrayal of life in the dance music world. Having said that, scenes shot earlier in the project do capture a range of perspectives from women DJs, showing us not only the hard yards each woman has put in to build her career, but also the positive effect that music has had on their lives.
“Girl” is available now on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.
“Girl” has been screened at Amsterdam Dance Event and at film festivals around the world.
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Nicki Ranger is a freelance writer currently based in Perth, Western Australia.
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