DJ workshop returns to Montreal to encourage more diversity in what's still a 'boys club'

Intersessions is a workshop aiming to teach DJ skills to women, LGBTQ and non-binary people and include them in an industry where they've historically been shut out.

Montreal's 4th edition of Intersessions teaches DJ skills to women, LGBTQ, non-binary people

Intersessions, a DJ workshop in Montreal, is encouraging more diversity in an industry that has been typically seen as a 'boys club.' (Kevin Winzeler/The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas/Flickr)

A workshop in Montreal is encouraging women and people in the LGBTQ community to hone their DJ skills.

The workshop, called Intersessions, aims to bring more diversity into the world of DJing, an industry that is often thought of as a "boys club."

"Historically, women have not been given spaces where they can shape a technical practice, and DJing involves a certain amount of technicality," said Leticia Trandafir, one of the workshop's organizers and the music director at Never Apart, a non-profit organization in Montreal that seeks to use cultural programming to bring about social change.

There is not a lot of space if you are a woman, and you're not fully formed and perfect at the art form.- Never Apart music director Leticia Trandafir

"Electronic music historically has been a male-dominated scene," said Trandafir. "There is not a lot of space if you are a woman and you're not fully formed and perfect at the art form."

She said it's important to have spaces where women, non-binary and LGBTQ people can feel comfortable learning if they aren't experts.

Never Apart is collaborating with Slut Island, a music and arts festival reserved for marginalized people, and the creators of Intersessions to put on the workshop.

Intersessions was created several years ago by Vancouver's Chhavi Nanda, also known as Chippy Nonstop, and fellow artist Rhiannon Blossom. They wanted to create a space where women could learn DJ skills without judgment.

It's the fourth time Intersessions has come to Montreal since 2016, and it's become so popular, all the spots are already gone.

The workshop has also been offered in Vancouver, Toronto, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, as well as in cities in Europe.

Trandafir, who also works as a DJ in Montreal, said female DJs still face discrimination. 

Leticia Trandafir, music director for Never Apart, said workshops like Intersessions are important in order to encourage diversity in the DJ industry. (Leticia Trandafir)

"You see it on social media: women get a lot less slack, and you know you kind of have to be perfect at your art form.... Appearance will get commented on way more often than it does with male DJs, " she said.

Trandafir said she's experienced first-hand getting scrutinized on the job. 

She said men in the audience have fiddled with her DJ equipment while she was working, taking it upon themselves to adjust the music levels for her.

Trandafir said despite moments like those, the industry is starting to change, and people are more conscious about diversity.

"There is definitely an interest now, I think, especially in Montreal. There are a lot of lineups in Montreal that feature at least one female DJ, or non-binary or LGBT DJ, and even lineups that are strictly women and non-binary folk," said Trandafir.

Part of that change can be attributed to workshops like Intersessions.

"These kinds of workshops are popping up everywhere, and this is one of many. It's really a kind of a movement worldwide to change that bias," she said.

The workshop will teach people how to use a variety of DJing technology like vinyl, CDJ, computer and software programs. It will also go over the basics, like how to start collecting music. 

Trandafir said access to DJ equipment can be very expensive, which is another hurdle for people who want to get into the business, but the workshop encourages people to use whatever medium they enjoy most.

A new Montreal workshop is encouraging women and LGBTQ folks to get into an industry that is heavily male dominated... DJing. It's a collaboration between Never Apart and Slut Island Festival. We hear from a local DJ who is helping to organize the workshop. 9:09