Angels on decks

Feb 23, 2000 at 12:00 am

Sometimes, one must travel many miles and spend many a late night traversing I-94 (or pond-hopping across Lake Michigan) for a great idea to percolate to the surface and become a full-fledged reality. Just ask Motor booking agent Jon Ozias. The genesis of this weekend’s second installment of Motor’s "Halo: Angels on Vinyl" all-female DJ night springs from his treks back and forth to Chicago and the serendipitous discovery of house-with-vocals DJ Colette in the small room of a Windy City dance club.

"The real evolution of it all was that I kept jumping out of town on Thursdays, just to get out of town. And I’d always go to Karma. I kept finding myself drawn to their small room to see (DJs) Dayhota and Colette’s DJ-vocal mix."

Colette and Dayhota are two-thirds of the acclaimed Chicago DJ collective, Superjane (the other one-third is DJ Heather).

The "Halo" series kicked off last month and featured Superjane’s Heather, Detroit drum ’n’ bass artist Michelle "The Punisher" Herrman and a tag team techno-and-house set by WDET late-night jock Liz Copeland and Magda of Detroit’s Women on Wax collective. The night was so successful and brought on such an enthusiastic response, that the parties involved (no pun intended) started working on "Halo 2" immediately.

This time, "Halo" features both Colette and Dayhota rocking the decks to prove, once again, that the DJ booth ain’t just a boys-only clubhouse.

Despite what the electronic music scene’s democratic, one-people-under-the-influence-of-rhythm nature has taught us, it’s that, regardless of any utopian overtures to the contrary, there remain many of the same gender barriers that have plagued rock ’n’ roll. But, dance music’s on a faster track toward a sense of gender equity.

Detroit’s own female dance music collective Women on Wax (which counts among its members Magda and Minx) has been making waves on the Detroit scene for the past few years both by throwing estro-centric parties and performing and headlining parties that make no overt overtures to any gender association, but, appropriately, revel in dance music’s egalitarian attitude.

Indeed, according to Ozias, "Halo" is not just a she thing.

"Yes, it is (intended) to give respect to females who are DJs and to give them an equal showcase. But it’s not just about them being DJ and being female."

Ozias, a veteran promoter says the all-female angle was almost a byproduct of his approach to party planning.

"I usually find a single word and work from that aesthetically," he says of "Halo" (and most of his events, for that matter). "Beyond developing the catchphrase it was running through a rolodex of DJs in my head and figuring out who aesthetically or sonically fit."

But he won’t discount the gender politics of the dance world, either. He sees the "Halo" series (he’s already working on the third installment, by the way) as a valuable piece of the larger puzzle.

"This is one of the few absolute forums for female DJs, and (if you) take that away. ..."

As for the lineup, Ozias relies on intuition. "It’s almost like putting two records together and playing with the pitch until the beats match," he says.

And, in the future, cognizant beat consumers can expect an even more broad, inclusive presentation which will incorporate visual art, multimedia and, of course, the finest in dance floor sonic workouts.

Or, as Ozias puts it, "We’ll let it – pardon the pun – find it's wings."

Chris Handyside is a freelance writer for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]