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The mainstay of DJ collective Girls Don’t Sync is helping to lead the fight for a more representative club scene.
If you’ve eaten ice cream in a thunderstorm then you might know just how cold and electric DJ Hannah Lynch appears. Intrigued by her uniquely hypnotic lure, I walk straight past the bar and lead her to a seat in The Merchant’s garden. Sitting directly under the blazing sun, Hannah begins to tell me about her journey to becoming one of Liverpool’s most in-demand DJs.
“It’s so amazing to be a female DJ, but I just want it to be normal! I think it’s getting better, but when I tell people about my job, they’re so shocked!” Hannah laughs thinking about the fact that if she had a pound for every time someone said ‘you don’t look like a DJ’ then she wouldn’t need her weekly residencies at popular Liverpool nightclubs Boujee and INK. “You shouldn’t have to look like a DJ!” she exclaims with wide eyes.
I realise I’m so enticed that I forgot to offer her a drink, so I head off to take advantage of the 2-4-1 gins and trott back shortly with two sloshing grapefruit glasses adorned with sprigs of rosemary. After a sip we begin discussing Hannah’s father, the iconic DJ 2kind; member of early 90’s hip-hop group First in Command and founder of the L100 radio show, which features 100% local urban artists.
I was surprised to hear that Hannah can’t say she grew up DJing: “I’ve only been doing it since I was 21, and I’m 25 now. My dad’s been DJing since before I was born, and I’d never asked him if I could have a go.” It was only when Hannah was messing about on the decks for a laugh during a family BBQ that she discovered a passion for the turntable. “The next day I asked my Dad to teach me how to be a DJ right away.”
Hannah is a founding member of female DJ collective, GIRLS DON’T SYNC, a female-only collaboration founded by herself and Gaia (DJ GG3 as featured in issue 113) and includes Matty Chiabi and Sophia Violet. The group of best friends are making huge moves in the North West and are now anticipating one of their biggest events to date: Boiler Room’s Open Dancefloor UK Tour at the Invisible Wind Factory on the 7th of October.
Hannah’s year has seen nothing but success and, off the back of her previous DJ work for Harvey Nichols Liverpool, found her invited to play in-store at the exclusive launch of Maya Jama’s MIJ masks. With being constantly in demand, Hannah decided to go freelance – a decision she feels to be the best she’s ever made. However, building this type of CV can make for a hectic schedule and it’s the physical body that can suffer.
“Sometimes you don’t want to say no, but you’ve got to look after your body. Health is everything and I’ve learnt my lesson.” Hannah recently collapsed on-stage during a set and has realised that having a schedule and keeping snacks to hand is an essential part of the job. “It was the fact that I wasn’t eating or sleeping properly. I’d finish work at 5pm, come in, take my uniform off and start teaching straight away. It was sending me under.”
Hannah’s lessons involve teaching aspiring young female DJs, helping to ensure they secure work while under her wing by almost acting as a booker in creating networks. It’s still a major portion of her freelance work: “I’m trying to build a little army of female DJs and that’s what I’m passionate about at the moment,” she says, smiling assertively. However, some of the teachings for her budding protégés are shaped by her experiences within the entertainment industry, sadly relating to the normalisation of a male-dominated industry.
What’s worse is the callous sexualisation. “It sounds mad but as a female DJ you’ve got to turn gangster sometimes. I’ve had guys videoing me head to toe and it’s intimidating. You do have to be prepared for it because that’s just the way it is but hopefully it changes.” In an unchecked environment, deep to the core with male chauvinism, some DJs can be patronising toward females, with some even asking to take over their set. “It’s so frustrating because it’s basically them saying to you that men can do a better job and to get off the decks, but they haven’t been booked so no, absolutely not.”
Pure condescension is probably why she’s set her visions on the goal of building this sorority of sister jockeys, yet at the same time, she is quick to acknowledge that lots of local male DJs have helped her. Another aspect that carries poignancy is the fact that many listeners assume Black DJs want to play R&B sets. “I’m not just an R&B DJ,” Hannah declares. “I did a course on the origins of house with Blackfest and it opened my eyes so much.” She continues to tell me with vigour about how some of the biggest house tracks have evolved from black culture. “When I’m able to do what I like at an event, I get on there and I shell house and funky mixes.”
Finishing up on our gins, we begin to head off with the mutual agreement that aside from these challenging issues, it feels like support for females in entertainment is growing rapidly and such organisations are being pushed to the front. Waving her off, I see Hannah’s journey towards her goals smoothening out and expanding beyond the city limits.