Olivia Yoxall speaks to the fast rising DJ about high energy selections and the importance of youth radio.
Our call starts with sharing home remedies for period pain and talking about how much chocolate we’ve been eating lately. Connecting over Zoom for the first time with the explosive DJ and tune selector G33, aka Gaia Ahuja, it feels like we’ve somehow chatted before. Maybe we have, in a musical sense, through the language of bodily movement it initiates.
Radiantly confident, G33 greets me with less ego than most musicians. Having previously only seen her playing out, skanking and demanding the room’s attention, I was unsure who to expect when launching the Zoom meeting. Instead I’m met with an equally powerful woman, even without the decks in front of her.
G33 describes her style as “multi-genre”, playing anything “from garage, to bashment, drill, rap, grime, afrobeat”. Although living and working in Liverpool, Gaia grew up in Brixton, South London, and it’s the first marker for her influence and approach to DJing.
“I grew up with dancehall and rap,” she explains. “That’s had a massive influence over me growing up and what I play out.” Often high energy, G33’s sets are designed to get the crowd hyped. “I like to make people move,” she explains, rolling her shoulders to an imaginary beat and smiling. “I struggle concentrating, I’m a very erratic and fast-paced person, but when I’m playing I suddenly have so much control,” she adds. “I feel like when I’m playing I just get lost in my own world. It’s one of the only times I feel like I’m properly focused.”
Still new to the game, only beginning her music career at the end of 2019, G33 is headstrong and self-taught. “I’ve always just bantered and said I wanted to be a DJ,” she says. “And then last summer my friends got me a DJing class and then I literally just got the bug! I bought myself a little controller and then just started teaching myself.”
Her freshness to the scene makes G33 an exciting one to watch, her journey so far is already peppered with proud moments. “A few months ago I warmed up for DJ Q and I thought, ‘What a 360!’,” she says, letting out a little thrilled laugh. “I remember as a teenager lying to my dad about staying at a friend’s house, but I really went to go see DJ Q play.”
These highlights, including warming up for Conducta, kickstarting her own promotion Girls On Deck in association with Culture Deck, and playing on radio stations such as Rinse and BBC Radio 1Xtra are propelling Gaia into an exciting career. “I still get nervous,” she adds, “but I think it’s good to get nervous, I think it means you want to perform and do your job well.”
G33 is absorbed in music in the community, particularly encouraging young people to get involved with DJing. “Working with young people has always been important to me. I want to continue to work with Girls On Deck and Toxteth Community Radio and Toxteth TV.” She notes how a lack of youth-led radio stations stood out to her when arriving in Liverpool, but is working hard with a range of groups to see that change, “That’s one thing Liverpool lacks,” she admits. “Growing up in London there were so many youth-led radio stations and I feel Liverpool lacks youth-led community radio stations which host genres such as rap and grime. So, I’m excited to see what happens with Toxteth Community Radio. People don’t realise how important these spaces are for young people and emerging talent.”
Another important issue that arises throughout our conversation is the inequality of men and women within the music industry. “When you’re the only woman on a line-up it can be so much harder,” G33 says. “You feel like you have to work 10 times harder and prove something. Sometimes I feel people are already undermining me when I step up because I’m a woman,” she adds. “It is harder to be a DJ as a woman. I won’t sugar coat it. It is.”
My stomach tightens as we begin the grimly familiar part of bonding as women, sharing our experiences of being undermined and mistreated because of our gender. Although these chats always leave me with a freshly fuelled fury for the patriarchy, I am thrilled to see women like G33 stepping out and standing up against this misogyny. Her promotion, Girls On Deck, aims to empower and encourage female and non-binary DJs to take up space and make a noise. Constantly promoting the depth of talent coming from the women and non-binary folk in Liverpool’s DJ scene, G33 is empowering in her empowerment.
Nurturing her community, G33 is uplifting the people around her as she too grows into her career. Her passion for high-energy music is unwavering and her determination unbreaking. As our conversation ends, I feel I have spent the last hour with a ball of light. Feeling energised, not only from her quick-tempo mixes, but her positivity and strength, too, I sign off a little lighter than I started. It is warming to know there are people like G33 grafting at the roots of the music scene to make it as nourishing as it can be, for everyone to take a sweet slice.