DJ trio Attagirl! turns 2 with big party tomorrow

Attagirl! strive to bring women together through art and music and to move away from stereotypes

DJ collective, Attagirl! comprise (from far left) Syaheedah Iskandar, Amanda Keisha Ang and Serene-Rene Ong.
DJ collective, Attagirl! comprise (from far left) Syaheedah Iskandar, Amanda Keisha Ang and Serene-Rene Ong. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

All-girl events collective Attagirl! are throwing a big party to celebrate their second anniversary.

After meeting at an all- female DJ bootcamp in 2012, the DJ trio of Amanda Keisha Ang, 30, Serene-Rene Ong, 28, and Syaheedah Iskandar, 25, have been performing together.

Since last July, they have been spinning regularly at Zouk Winebar and just last Friday, they opened for German electronic duo, Chicks on Speed, at Art After Dark held in Gillman Barracks.

The trio are commonly referred to as a DJ collective, but actually identify more as a community initiative striving to bring women together through art and music.

They hope to hold more art-related activities, starting with the anniversary party tomorrow, which will feature nine DJs, three musicians and nine visual artists - all women. The line-up includes veteran performers such as radio deejay Vanessa Fernandez, aka Vandetta, and DJ Reiki from record label Datdatdat.

Profits from the event, to be held at BluJaz cafe, will be donated to the Autism Association of Singapore.

Syaheedah says: "When we started planning for this event, we didn't have any expectations. It's been great to experience how supportive the female community is."

Agreeing, Ang adds: "Vandetta and Reiki are veterans in the industry. Having them on the line-up is a testament to their support, which is nice, especially because the event is non-profit.

"When we told the girls that this was going to be a pro-bono project, they all replied, 'No problem, let's do this'."

Attagirl! first got a sense of this female camaraderie during their time at the FFF DJ bootcamp, which was held annually from 2008 to 2012.

Ang recalls: "When we graduated from the camp, we thought, 'Okay, now what?' It was daunting because this is an industry with a lot of men. As a woman just starting out, you don't really know what to do.

"Our bootcamp mentors helped us out a lot. They taught us how to book venues and give quotations. We want to provide other women with the same kind of support."

The trio are part-time DJs who hold day jobs. Ang works in digital marketing, Syaheedah is a curatorial assistant at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art and Ong is a personal assistant.

Syaheedah says there seems to be a tendency for women to be pitted against one another, which is something Attagirl! strive to subvert.

She adds: "Our intention has never been to separate ourselves from everyone else. We want to unite all female artists, across labels and collectives."

For this reason, the party will feature representatives from a wide selection of collectives including record label Phyla Digital, punk band No Pantz, and Malaysian dubstep crew BudCulture.

The trio are also using the opportunity to introduce fresh faces such as 17-year- old student Nat Cmiel. The Singaporean musician has done only small gigs in Tokyo and has never played live here.

Attagirl! say their gigs tend to feature underground sounds because they want to create a wider platform for female artists to express themselves.

Ang says: "People think of female DJs as playing electronic dance music and popping champagne. We want to move away from this stereotype. Women can play drums, bass and bass house too."

Syaheedah adds that a "femme-powered" party provides a safer environment for the women who attend.

"When guys watch us spin and respect what we do, it creates an atmosphere where women, in general, are respected."

The trio say they have received a lot of support from their male counterparts. For example, the recycled skateboard decks used by the nine artists as their canvas were donated by Hosni Zulimran of Triad Skateboards.

Ang says: "When I approached him for a collaboration, he was more than willing to get involved. Actually, a lot of people who are helping us out are guys. They have really been cheering us on."

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