By Paul Rodgers
CALGARY – In January, Leigh-Anne Hazard released a new photography book that showcases 63 self-identified female DJs in Calgary which celebrates the history and triumphs of the women in this city’s DJ scene. Entitled The Ten Percent, its forward, written by local DJ, producer and event planner Isis Graham (Esette) begins by acknowledging that while there have been big changes in the electronic music industry, there is still a stark divide that separates men from women.
Citing research from Women in Music Professional Association of Canada, Graham writes that less than 10 per cent of the top music executives in Canada are women, the wage gap throughout almost all levels of the industry are well above 10 per cent and that many festival lineups contain less than 10 per cent female talent, despite the “rising awareness of inequality within our community.”
The project represents a mammoth amount of work that took place over more than three years from concept to physical copy.
“This whole project was a labour of love,” says Hazard. “It wasn’t done for any other reason but that.”
The photos were first displayed during the Alberta Electronic Music Conference, and at first, Hazard had no intention of putting them in the book.
“The purpose of the book was to put the photos somewhere as a keepsake for each DJ in the book. That was it. I wasn’t doing it to sell a book, by any means, because I’ve never even printed a photograph. I’ve never been able to print a photograph of mine and hang it on the wall, I’ve never been able to commit to that.”
The execution of the project is indeed a stunning accomplishment, both in its content and the amount of foresight, coordination and dedication required to bring it to fruition. The idea began a few years ago when Hazard, who was then beginning her foray into both DJing and photography, thought it would be a great project to get Calgary’s female DJs into a room together, get their nails and hair done up and have vogue, black-and-white photos taken of them.
“But when I really thought about it I wasn’t quite ready to do it — I didn’t think I had the photography skills, and I also only knew a handful of female DJs and so I kind of left it.”
Then local DJ Molly Fi, who has run the Girls on Decks events for a decade, “lit a fire under her bum” and encouraged her to follow through with it.
The project was not easy by any means. Not only was it challenging compiling the list of all female Calgarian DJs, but then to convince some of the more hesitant subjects, and incorporate them all, even the ones who had moved away from Calgary, was a remarkable achievemen. Now complete, she has said that it has led to community building, drawing these women together, creating new relationships, business partners and support networks.
The Ten Percent book release took place at the McHugh house on January 27 with limited copies available. Visit www.leighannehazard.com for more information.
Alberta Electronic Music Conference, Book, DJ, DJ Molly Fi, McHugh House, The Ten Percent, The Ten Percent book