Women In Music: Interview With DJ Yuki

The in-demand and genre-blending DJ Yuki has been jet-setting around the globe to spin for Lewis Hamilton at the Monaco and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, playing at Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty launch, and doing an opening set at London Pride.

Tell us about your background, your upbringing, and your introduction into the world of music.

I’m from Tottenham, brought up in a pretty liberal home where my dad played everything from Fela Kuti to acid house. There was always music playing and my dad had a lot of vinyl. I take a lot of my musical inspiration from him. He has a super eclectic taste and encouraged me to listen to and explore different genres.

How did you get into music production, songwriting, and DJ performance? What are some of the highlights and artists you’ve worked with or performed for?

I always wanted to be involved in the performance side of music for as long as I can remember. I used to write poetry and got into singing and songwriting from a young age. I took an interest in the production side whilst recording vocals and started learning there. The more I was going to sessions, the more I was meeting producers who DJ’d and there was just something about the DJing side which really intrigued me. I signed up to a creative studios membership one summer and would literally go in to their DJ studios every day with my laptop and be on YouTube watching DJ tutorials and practicing. When I DJ’d my first festival last year, Sundown, it was such a surreal feeling just looking back at how it all started and then being there DJing, it is definitely one of my biggest career highlights to date.

I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible female artists, Hayley May, Abi Flynn and Laura Davie are just a few. I co-wrote my first single, Weekend Love, with Hayley May and Laura Davie recorded the final vocal, whilst Abi Flynn is the vocalist on my second single. They are women that I look up to and have so much respect for and not only that, they are hugely talented.

What were some of the barriers you experienced, or still do experience, as a ‘female producer/performer’?

At times it feels like there is a bit of a ‘boys club’, it can be very cliquey.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen over recent years in regards to the attitude towards being a songwriter, and a woman in music?

There has been more awareness and more of an active fight for gender balance. I hope that things continue to progress in this way and that we begin to see more representation across line-ups, on credits and in boardrooms.

Many producers I’ve spoken to have described ‘female producers’ as ninjas in the studio, just because they’ve had to work twice as hard to get recognition or be taken seriously = that’s true, right?

I love seeing all the amazing females coming through and I definitely think that’s true, we are ninjas! For me personally, I think it’s one thing being a woman but then being a black woman in the commercial dance scene, a scene which is pretty much entirely dominated by white men, I feel like I always have to work so much harder than my male counterparts. Although it shouldn’t be this way, as cheesy as it sounds, it ultimately just makes me stronger and better at what I do.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self about being a woman in music… what to expect, the difficulties, the excitements?

I would tell myself to just go for it and not to change for anyone. Don’t be afraid to take risks and to disappoint people. Embrace your differences. It’s going to be hard; people may not always understand you but it’s so worth it.

What can we look forward to hearing from you in the next few months / year from your creativity?

There will be a lot more new music and collaborations. I’ve been writing more, experimenting with different sounds and I’m so excited for everyone to hear it.

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