DJ Kiraz, Bringing Female DJs into the Spotlight

Despite electronic dance music’s quantum leap in popularity in recent years, success for female DJs in the male-dominated industry has been scarce. But Swedish-born DJ Elin Ekdahl, known to most of the world as DJ Kiraz, has successfully carved a niche for herself in the EDM “boys club.”

EDM DJ
DJ Kiraz shot by Andy Thien

DJ Kiraz has played some of the biggest venues in the world such as ageHa in Tokyo and Exchange LA in Los Angeles. Though she’s established herself in the business, the well-travelled DJ is not content with her male counterparts dominating the dance music scene.

“I love seeing other female DJs killing it on stage,” Kiraz said. “I think we need to stick together and support each other more. We need to show that we can, and that we want to, be a part of it, too.”

Music has been a part of DJ Kiraz’ life for as long as she can remember. EDM became her favorite style of music when she was 13-years-old; but it wasn’t until she saw a female DJ take the stage at Club Atom in Tokyo that she wanted to learn the craft and become a DJ as well.

“I was so excited, as it was the first female DJ I had seen there,” Kiraz said. “However, her music selection was completely different from the club format, and she seemed to have a guy helping her out in the DJ booth.”

The experience filled her with determination. She recalled, “That’s when I knew I wanted to prove that girls are equally capable of being great DJs.”

Kiraz went back to Europe to learn the art of the club DJ. She studied under some of the most successful European DJs such as Swedish DJs Mikey Mic and Havin Zagross, and U.K. DJs John Taylor and Graeme Lloyd. Two years later she was on stage at the biggest clubs in Japan including Warehouse702, Club Asia and ageHa.

The gig at ageHa, Japan’s largest nightclub, took Kiraz’ career to new heights. The club’s 2,500-people main stage had been previously played by world-renowned DJs such as Armin van Buuren and Paul van Dyk. DJ Kiraz stood in their footsteps and shined.

“It was nerve wracking, but so much fun,” Kiraz said.

Kiraz has played all kinds of EDM from deep house to hardstyle. But trance has been her true passion.

“Trance makes me happy,” Kiraz said. “It makes sad. It gives me goosebumps. It makes me feel something.”

The loyalty to her joy has clearly served Kiraz well since her move to the U.S. She’s played alongside internationally renowned DJs Simon Patterson, Sean Tyas and Headhunterz at Exchange LA in the heart of Downtown L.A.’s thriving club scene.

The similarities between L.A. and Tokyo took DJ Kiraz by surprise.

“I was told that it would be so different and that I would need to change my style of DJing,” Kiraz said. “But honestly, if we are talking electronic music crowds, I don’t think that they are all that different. They all dance, they all rage and they all have a true passion for the music.”

Kiraz’ ability to heat up the dance floor all over the world has earned her a loyal fan base, too.

“There aren’t enough female DJs out there that can play the way that Elin can,” fan Kelly Sandgren said. “She really knows how to bring great energy to a set and I haven’t seen many other DJs, male or female, who can do it as well as she can.”

But DJ Kiraz’ gender has been just a small part of her story. Her time in the genre as both a fan and DJ, and her love of and loyalty to trance has earned her spots at major league clubs on both sides of the Pacific.

“My style of music is unique, especially for a female DJ,” Kiraz said. “I have a lot of experience in the industry, and I have been able to closely observe the evolution of electronic music from three completely opposite sides of the world for the last decade.”

Outside the club, DJ Kiraz has hosted her bi-monthly podcast on SoundCloud since October, 2013 at www.soundcloud.com/kiraz-1.

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