Five Questions With DJ Anash
In terms of pioneers on the wheels of steel, the list is fiilled with the names of men, but there are a few women who have dared to challenge the statusquo and add their tender touch to the mix. These female disc jockeys have been overlooked and were sometimes told it was not a field for their playing, yet they continue to make history by going head-to-head with any and everyone. With Reggae Month Celebrations in motion, take a turn in Five Questions to see how female DJs are levelling the play field, paying their dues, and contributing to the breaking-down of barriers in reggae and dancehall.
Edgy, artistic, open-minded and reserved. These four characteristics set DJ Anash apart from others in the field, along with her overall style. She started out writing music and learning to play instruments, specifically the keyboard, as a pre-teen, and from there, her interests broadened into the world of production. Raised in Lacovia, St Elizabeth, the disc jockey describes her upbringing as “easy-going”, and she spent a lot of her childhood years singing in the church choir and performing in high school competitions. “I fell in love with music from an early age,” DJ Anash told Five Questions.
She moved to Kingston to study theatre at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and soon discovered her knowledge and scope of music genres were unavoidable. At the request of her peers, she would select music within their space, which evolved into her playing for private gatherings and, eventually, saw her standing behind the control tower with headphones around her neck more often. The disc jockey said, “I started doing my research after [and] the more I researched, the more I became interested. I then became a bedroom selector, but I used the time and practised so hard because I wanted to be ready for my first gig. After two years of practising, I got my first gig, and then my DJing dreams began.”
DJ Anash, given name Shoshana Brown, segues smoothly between her preferred genres of electronic dance music (EDM) and house music — transporting listeners through the different layers — to Afrohouse and old school and new-age reggae, which have all helped the 30-year-old, make a name for herself on the local music circuit.
“EDM feels like it’s taking me on a journey, meanwhile Afrohouse music, the combination of the drums, the bass, the build-up, it’s the suspense that gets the crowd moving, and of course, I love the music of my home, reggae, the old and new I’ve listened to over the years, it’s the sweetest thing. I just love good music that makes me feel good,” she shared.
DJ Anash is one of the youngest and boldest in the field, seeking to collaborate with music practitioners of her generation as a means to break down more barriers. She speaks of some of the obstacles she has faced, how she kicked them down and what she is looking for around town in this week’s Five Questions.
Who is your favourite female reggae icon and/or disc jockey role model, and why?
One of the first female artistes’ whose music I discovered was Etana — she is definitely my favourite. I always love the message in her music, and her music always resonates with me. Let’s not forget she’s an amazing singer. As it relates to disc jockeys, it’s mostly males …I am inspired by South African DJ Black Coffee and DJ Puffy [from Barbados]. Black Coffee does a thing with instruments and sounds, and whatever he produces always touches my soul. DJ Puffy is just great at his craft, and I admire his work ethic and how motivated he is. Him being from the Caribbean makes it a plus. I also like Skrillex, Marshmello, and Steve Aiko, who are global disc jockeys and music producers.
What barriers have you faced, or still face, as a female disc jockey?
In the early stages of my career, there were difficulties to get bookings, but I suppose no one knew me, plus being a female on top of that. There are some male disc jockeys who have tried to be the bully when my time came to play, but those barriers have since been broken. And I am here to break down some more barriers as I push out into the EDM world. It’s really about pushing yourself and being yourself and not giving up. If you believe in yourself, you will get there.
What would you say to your 16-year-old self about being a woman in music … what to expect, the difficulties, how to overcome them?
‘Hey girl, believe in your gifts. Don’t ever lower your self-esteem, especially in this business. You first have to see it and know that you are great. Also, trust the process, [and] have an open mind. Research for yourself, ask questions if you don’t understand something.’
What is one childhood memory you wish you could go back in time and record on camera?
That would be moments with my dad — when he and I cooked rice and peas together on Sundays. He passed away over a year ago, and it was then that I noticed we didn’t have much photographs together. It made me realise how important it is to record moments with your loved ones because it helps when you miss them.
What’s one thing you would like to see happen during the Reggae Month celebrations?
I’d like to see more live stage shows where there is a collaboration between disc jockeys, artistes and live bands for a full comprehensive performance on one stage. During this month going onwards, I am also improving on my own skills so I can give persons a unique experience when they come to hear me play. So, I am observing others at the events and seeing the way I can refine my remixes and scratching technique.