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Jawa Jones | DJ & Radio Host, Founder of Wanita Music

One of the most recommended people we’ve received requests to feature is the sweet Jawa Jones, and for good reason, so we’re thrilled to finally have made it happen.  Jawa is a London-based vinyl DJ, radio host, and founder of ‘Wanita Music’.  Wanita, meaning ‘woman’ in Indonesian, is a platform dedicated to spotlighting female vinyl DJs, music artists and women working in the music industry. On the first Friday of every month, she hosts the Wanita Music Show at Radio X Frankfurt where women in the music business share their stories and play their favorite records. Occasionally, she also runs a Wanita club night where she invites female DJs to play records by female artists.

When not behind the turntables, Jawa is a big fan of hot yoga ” I do it three times a week as it helps in maintaining back strength and flexibility. Carrying those heavy bags of 45s can hurt your back so this is a wonderful way to take care of your body.”

How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?

I started DJing in 2017 shortly after I moved to Munich, Germany and was fortunate to have been offered an opportunity to run a night at a local dive bar. I started Wanita as a monthly night in early 2018. Wanita is woman in Indonesian and I created Wanita to offer a safe space for women to spin their favourite female records. The night focuses on music from the 1950s to the 1980s across a range of genres.

What is a day in the life like?

I work as a freelance researcher during the day so if I am not working on a research project, I will start the day by listening to music either digitally on my desktop or I play a record on my turntable while I am eating my breakfast. I then go to Discogs and check if any records from my want list have popped up. I tend to spend a couple of hours in the morning exploring different sites for interesting music, researching artists, watching DJ sets on YouTube and reading music blogs. This is the kind of ‘inspiration route’ that helps me put together my upcoming radio shows and DJ sets. I pre-record the Wanita Music Show at home and every other month I interview a female guest so a part of my day would entail putting together the interview questions tailored to the guest and this includes researching their work.

Another part of the Wanita Music Show is promoting current female artists so I explore Bandcamp, Spotify and Instagram for music that would be suitable for the show. If I have a DJ set coming up I would spend time sorting out my records and playing them on my decks to check there is a good flow between the songs – I tend to mix my sets and not play the same records all the time to avoid boredom.

In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?

The most fulfilling thing I have worked on would be the Wanita Raise the Vibration, a DJ live-stream fundraiser event I organised in 2021 and 2022 with 20 female DJs across 10 countries. Collectively we raised awareness and money for charities that are doing work to tackle violence against girls, women, cisgender & transgender. Each DJ who took part selected a charity in their local community who are doing anti-violence work. Both events were part of the @one_billion_rising movement launched by @vdayorg. I spent time with each DJ prior to the event and trained them on how to use OBS so they feel comfortable using the software on the day. I also created a training video to help DJs who want to live-stream their sets at future events. The love and support we got during both events were mind-blowing! People tuned in from around the world and there was a wonderful bond between all of us as we were cheering each other on during the sets. You can view the DJ sets and training video on www.youtube.com/wanitamusic

The coolest thing I have done was DJing at the Gambeat festival in Barcelona and doing a closing set with around 300 people dancing in the room. One guy stripped down to his Y-fronts on stage during my set and was dancing with a whip. It’s fun to see my tune selection has that kind of effect ha…ha…ha!

What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?

Getting event organisers and club promoters to book more female DJs. I still see events, particularly in the vintage vinyl community where there is one token female DJ on the bill or none at all. Unfortunately, it is still a boys club and it is frustrating when there are so many amazing female DJs out there who have an incredible record collection and who can get a crowd dancing. I am trying to change this through the work I do in Wanita Music. The purpose of Wanita Music is to put female DJs on people’s radar and I do this by asking women to either play at the Wanita night, take part in the Wanita Gold Diggers photo series or make a Wanita Mixcloud mix so people can listen to their record collection, follow them on social media and book them in their events.

I’d love to see more equality in the DJ line-up and I believe if we collectively work together, and champion each other we can shift change and create more space for women in the vinyl Djing world.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?

Attend DJ nights and support your local DJs, these nights are a useful way to research different DJing styles, and the music selections people love to dance to. It is also a great opportunity to introduce yourself to the DJs and promoters.

Putting yourself out there and doing something you love and believe in, may ruffle some feathers and that’s ok. There will always be a few who dislike what you do but there are also a lot more people who love and support you. Focus your energy on the people who get you, work hard and big up fellow female DJs.

Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?

I am and I mainly collect 45s because it’s a lot easier and lighter to carry when I DJ. I started collecting vinyl in 2015 but it soon escalated into an addiction ha…ha…ha! To me digging vinyl is like digging for treasure in an Aladin’s cave and that cave can be the internet or a record store or a market stall – you never know what you will find! The highlight of digging vinyl is the people you meet and the weird and wonderful conversations you share about a certain artist or genre.

One of my favourite memories of digging was in Jakarta, Indonesia in the basement of a shopping mall, one of the sellers who I became friendly with through the many visits would have snacks, coffee and cigarettes always on offer. I would sit on a little plastic stool and go through plastic bags of 45s and he would tell me about the artists as I play the records on his record player. I cherish those moments.

What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.

I am excited to see that there is a growing number of female-run vinyl nights and womxn DJ collectives who are championing female DJs; such as Sweet & Rowdy in Copenhagen, 45 Degrees in Hamburg, Wayward Girls Soul Club in Portland, M3dusa in Lisbon, Eve’s Drop in the UK, Queen Bee Collective in Sydney, Los Rulos Vinyl Club in Bogotá.

It is also awesome to see online communities that support women DJs and advocate gender equality in music through programs and information resources such as Women in Vinyl, Flatcola, Women in CTRL and Amplify Her Voice.

Who has been influential to you and your growth as a professional in this industry?

DJ Honey inspired me to start Wanita Music. She is an advocate for equality and women’s rights and she promotes this message through her two radio shows; Kiss! Kiss! Bang! Bang! and Girls on the Groove. DJ Honey gave me lots fo useful advice and support when I first started DJing and has become a dear friend. The wonderful women in the Wanita Music community has also been a positive influence – they inspire me through the work they do in running their own nights, creating music mixes and sharing ideas. I am always learning from them and I am forever grateful.

Anything else you’d like to add; if not tell us what you’re listening to: 

My current favourite band is The Linda Lindas and I am totally digging their new album Growing Up.

Find Jawa: 

Instagram: @wanitamusic


Website: www.mixcloud.com/wanitamusic

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