MEETINGS

Louise Chen, DJ

Louise started Girls Girls Girls back in 2011 as a response to the male heavy nights she kept ending up at. Finding the night life scene in Paris lacking, she started her own night with a bunch of friends that turned into an art and design collective. Now a respected DJ in her right Louise plays gigs worldwide but is never more at home than in a small club in Paris.

Did you originally start Girls Girls Girls as a way to build up your own culture and your own community?

Originally we were thinking, “You know, none of those guys DJs are going to play what we want to dance to, we should just do it ourselves.” So we did and it grew from there. It was always the same girls bringing the party and the fun and so the collective grew out of that. I was also really lucky that all of the girls who came to the nights and who wanted to be part of the collective had a talent. My talent was to bring them all together and encourage them to do what they were good at even if they didn’t believe in themselves at the time.

How do you feel the definitions of beauty are changing in 2016?

I recently shaved my head and in the first few days it was definitely a revolution in perception for me. We’re taught from a very young age that boys are supposed to have short hair and girls are supposed to have long hair. If you don’t see the alternatives – men wearing their femininity like it’s not a big deal and women with short hair or whatever they want to wear then what are we teaching our children? We need to challenge those stereotypical perceptions. 

Do you feel more confident as you get a little older?

When we talk about redefining beauty and power, I’ve definitely felt stronger this year through exercise and being more confident in myself. I just felt the freedom to shave my hair off. Now I don’t wake up in the morning and struggle with how I look. For the first time I’m like, “This is how I’m meant to be.”  It’s much more of a reflection of how I am inside.

You’ve talked before about the abuse that female DJs get online when playing on platforms such as Boiler Room. How do you think could change? 

I don’t know if I would say it needs moderating per se, but I would say that men and women – whoever has a platform or a mic in their hand should definitely speak up and call it out. I don’t think that creating a female only platform similar to Boiler Room is a solution because the music industry is already hyper segmented into styles and genres so let’s not over complicate this even more. However, there could be more done around the conversation, you know host some honest debates between someone who posts misogynistic comments, a female DJ, a music platform and then have a really honest conversation.

With any aspect of gender inequality it's definitely a case of getting everyone involved - it can’t just be a one sided conversation.

Yes, we need to have a wider conversation with both genders, we need to work together. We’re not trying to build a women only island, that’s not interesting. No one is benefitting from that. What we want is to evolve in the same world as men and be considered equal human beings.

What are your thoughts on the heavily male orientated line ups within the music industry?

Again more people need to speak up when they see it happening. But, you know, I don’t want to be booked because I’m a girl. I want to be booked because I’m a good DJ however, if you’re not giving me a platform and allowing me to reach an audience, if you’re blocking me out because you keep booking the same guys then you’re creating a myopia that’s not a fair reflection of what’s going on in the real world.

But these tired line ups are also a reflection of how industry has shifted at that top level. Club culture used to be the hub on which a community was built and now a lot of clubs in a lot of cities are like huge concerts with expensive tickets. So now it’s turned the whole thing into a money making industry where of course there’s less room for risk taking, less experimentation and therefore less opportunities for discovery and for finding new acts. 

What is the club scene like in Paris at the minute?

Well I actually think it's going through a revolution and it’s the opposite to London where a lot of clubs are shutting down. Here, a lot of clubs are opening up everywhere.There is a new generation that is now taking control and initiative. This new model is a lot more horizontal so now we’re finding that more is more. Now there are a lot of clubs for a lot of different genres.

It used to be that the venues were a problem. They used to be small festivals but things are cyclical so now people are hungry for a more intimate setting and also the programmers want the freedom to take risks. After a while you were just seeing the same headliners three or four years in a row in a different order. It was getting boring. The audiences are bored, the bookers are bored, the artists are bored so now things are about to get exciting!