According to Yessica Deira, Teamwork Is Dreamwork, Especially When It Comes To DJ Collectives

A sense of safety, community, and the desire for collaboration is contagious. That has especially proven itself to be the case with the Berlin-based collective, No Shade.

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No Shade can pride themselves on an important multi-purpose agenda. What they’re most known for is their club nights and a training program for female, non-binary and trans DJs and VJs, with the main aim being to offer and create supportive and educational spaces for their mentees and crew members. 

No Shade have made themselves a life-changing element for the recently graduated mentees and that has become apparent in both their skillsets and mindsets. Many ended feeling empowered, educated, and like they were part of something bigger than themselves. In a three-part series we have tried highlighting the mentees’ journey and what being part of the program has done for them on all aspects.

We caught up with them much earlier in the year on their graduation night, where emotions were high but the excitement was higher. For many of the mentees, it was also the night of their very first performance. One of the happy participants is Yessica Deira, who was one of the only to cross borders to be part of the No Shade program.

Tell us a bit about how you made your way from Rotterdam to No Shade?

I’ve been following No Shade since the beginning but because I live in Rotterdam I wasn’t expecting to join anytime soon. I was actually only here for an internship and then I saw that No Shade had posted about a new round in their program so I thought “okay, let’s do this”.

I only had four weeks left in Berlin at that point and I was writing my thesis at the same time. I didn’t mind if it meant me sleeping a bit less, it was just such an amazing opportunity!

What’s a remarkable difference for you from before you joined the program and now?

First of all, I feel way more comfortable behind the decks! Before I started the program I didn’t hear a lot of women playing the kind music of that I like to play which is breakbeats, a bit of hip hop, and a lot of bass. I didn’t even feel like I saw a lot of women behind the decks in general. So a lot of the win is in the community and No Shade really inspired me to do similar kinds of things and now I’ve also started my own DJ collective with four other girls in Rotterdam. 

So how do you see the difference in the music industry between Berlin and Rotterdam?

I think The Netherlands are still lacking these kinds of initiatives. Rotterdam has a lot of things happening, but a big difference from Berlin is that most people working with music are all from the same collectives, playing the same type of music. 

That’s also why we’ve started our own collective that we’ve called ‘Ampheminine’. We were just wondering why we always see the same faces, you know? It’s good that people are doing something when it comes to music but at some point, it just gets frustrating to always see the same groups out there. 

What is your dream scenario when it comes to the music collectives and groups you’re part of? 

I think for us to be accepted by the community. That’s the most important part. Some other girls from the collective have some bad experiences when people from parties have tried to book them. They’ve only wanted to [book them] because they want to check off having women behind the DJ booth. I mean it’s nice that they want to book you, but is it genuine or is it just because you want a woman on your lineup? 

This is super problematic and it’s hard to set boundaries because you want to have more women playing… 

What kind of effect do you I think it has when you see these female and people of color communities being inclusive? And how do you feel like it has affected you? 

I’ve always felt like this weird black girl who’s listening to different music from everyone else. And now I finally feel like my music taste is okay and people are enjoying it. When I was 15 I didn’t want people to hear what kind of music I was listening to. Not that I was ashamed, but I was also not putting it out there. And now I like that I can just play whatever I want and the reactions are good! 

We’re just stronger when we’re together. Definitely.

What kind of advice would you give to someone who has the same ideas going on, who are thinking, “maybe I should join the No Shade program” or “maybe I should start a music collective”. 

I would say just go for it! Simple. I really must say, when you’re a collective, it’s much easier. You can exchange thoughts and you work together. Because I know if you’re alone, it’s hard to figure out where to start. And I think if you can find people that have similar thoughts on music, DJing and culture I think you should come together and help each other out. Because with our collective we actually didn’t even really know each other before we began. 

I was already here in Berlin and two of these girls came to Berlin because one of their friends had to play a gig. So, we knew we were in the same city and we follow each other on Instagram but we weren’t really friends back then. So then we connected, talked, and realized that we have the same thoughts on the whole thing. We’re just stronger when we’re together. Definitely.

Thank you to Yessica and to her mad community creating skills.

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