by Marlyn Awadalla
“Writers by day and DJs by night, it’s like we’re living a double life,” says Jess Hatzis, 26, writer and founder of DJ duo Kolors. Jess and music writer Melinda Hall, 24, are part of a growing number of Australian female DJs who are changing the male dominated industry.
Jess and Melinda have been writing about the music industry in Melbourne for years and Kolors is their opportunity to participate in it. “We have both built a reputation, as well as our own identity through our own creative writing agencies Willow and Blake and The Library Bag – so we feed off that.
We’ve worked so hard to have a credible identity as writers and we would like to achieve the same thing as DJs. If we get to that stage then we won’t just be two girls playing at parties, we would have done our job,” Melinda says.
Shortly after Melinda joined Kolors in April, they were booked to play in Singapore to coincide with Singapore Fashion Week on May 5. With just a week to prepare, Kolors played in front of a crowd of 300 people at the stylish Filter Member’s Club. “We did our research and rehearsed but we also had to pick up on the vibe in the room. My confidence has increased and I’m learning that every situation is different,” Melinda says.
“I felt the crowd was made up of people who work hard and live a regimented life so it was good seeing them have a great time to our music. We had a couple of moments where people were dancing on their chairs and we were blown away by what was happening,” Jess says.
Kolors is signed to 360 Agency, the largest artist management company in Australia. Head booking agent Alex Boffa, 27, has been working with duo since 2011 and was instrumental in securing the Singapore opportunity. “The Asian market is always looking for female DJs because they are a rarity there. In light of Fashion Week organisers wanted to bring in some innovative guest DJs and Kolors were a great fit,” Alex says.
Alex has been involved in the DJ industry for several years and says Kolors is beginning to develop a strong presence. “They are a unique cross over between the indie and the commercial realm,” he says.
Jess and Melinda place great importance on the quality and the standard of their performances. “We are our own worst critics, we just want to be respected in the industry,” Jess says.
They believe that female DJs have lost credibility in the past because some have chosen to play mixed CDs instead performing live sets. “In any industry, you are going to have people who cut corners. Jess and I want to work really hard because we both come from a background of working with talented DJs and we understand the value of quality music,” Melinda says.
“There are a lot more women coming through the ranks. They still experience a hard time and have to fight for the floor to prove themselves more than the boys do,” Jess says. She says that although female DJs have worked hard to create a positive image within the industry, some have taken a more mainstream approach which still has its benefits. “There are mixed ideas about pop star DJs, but they have brought electronic music to people who may not have heard it before,” she says.
Music entrepreneur James Fava, 24, believes there is a gap in the industry which needs Kolors’ strong female presence. “Kolors have musical depth and a strong image,” he says.
A successful music producer, owner of music promotions company Love That Music and co-owner of night spot Mynt in Melbourne, James says Kolors has the potential to achieve longevity in the music industry. “They have credibility behind them and are serious about their music, Singapore proved that. I think the girls have a lot to look forward to.”
Kolors has secured a number of interstate and regional gigs for the coming months which will see the duo continue to build a female presence within the competitive industry. “Being viewed as female DJs can either work to our detriment or our advantage. We believe it’s an advantage. We’re two girls with something to prove and that motivates us,” Jess says.