British Columbia

DJ Paisley Eva on the industry, gatekeepers and supporting women

Paisley Nahanee, also known as DJ Paisley Eva of Dame Music Society, is paving the way for other young DJs who identify as women, non-binary and trans.

Paisley Nahanee trains would-be DJs who identify as women, and gives them access to equipment and a studio

"In my culture, everything is shared… it's rooted in indigenous culture and practice," says Nahanee. (Waschuk Photography)

At age 22, Paisley Nahanee, also known as DJ Paisley Eva of Dame Music Society, is paving the way for other young DJs who identify as women, non-binary and trans.

Nahanee started DJing three years ago at the Fox Cabaret. At the time, she had no experience, and asked the owners if she could play in their projection room on Tuesday nights.

They said yes, and she began cultivating her DJ skills there every week. 

"There was never very many people there, but at least I got access to equipment," she said.

She says the industry was male-dominated and less inclusive back then.

"It felt very isolating for sure. But I really wanted to do it, so I just kept showing up and getting gigs."

Soon after she believed she was skilled enough, she started an artist incubator called Dame Music Society, in response to the struggles she faced early in her music career.

Nahanee trains would-be DJs who identify as women, gives them access to equipment, a studio, and organizes events to promote them.

"We give them anything they want to kind of propel their DJ career."

Indigenous identity

She says the Dame Society is rooted in her Indigenous identity.

"I think it's personal… when I started DJing, there was a lot of gatekeepers holding the skills to themselves ... In my culture, everything is shared … it's rooted in Indigenous culture and practice." 

Many of her mixes showcase the diversity of Indigenous music. 

"I think that a lot of people think Indigenous art [is] more traditional, like drumming and singing, which is such beautiful stuff .. but there are so many young contemporary Indigenous artists that are making Indigenous art," she said.

Nahanee is performing July 6 at the Imperial as part of the Indian Summer Festival.

Stephen Quinn speaks with DJ Paisley Eva. 6:48

With files from The Early Edition