Celebrating Female DJs who Pump Up the Dance Floor: The Dust Bunnies

Women’s History Month 2019

By Sebastian Fortino

As part of ProudTimes’ coverage of Women’s History Month, we are speaking to DJ’s who are serving up hot beats on the dance floor. They are all fierce queer women, who are changing the tracks through empowerment, and progressive change. Today, we bring you Portland residents, The Dust Bunnies.

ProudTimes: How long have you been DJing? When did you decide you were going to get out there and spin?

The Dust Bunnies, Local Heroes PDX. Photo credit: Chazz Gold

The Dust Bunnies: We, are “The Dust Bunnies” comprised of me, Dakota, and my fiance Gen. We have been DJ’ing for for about a year and a half. What started as what was supposed to just be a hobby quickly turned into being asked to DJ for small house parties, and more. Our passion for house music turned into a burning desire to spin for more people.

PT: Was this something you wanted to do, or have experimented with doing, from an early age?

DB: Gen is from New York, Dakota from the San Francisco Bay Area. We both did our fair share of clubbing in our respective cities, drawn to it by our mutual love of house music, dancing, and mostly the community and friends we would see on a regular basis. Neither of us had actually considered we would actually become DJs–but definitely respected the creativity, skills, and vibes that each DJ would bring to each event.

PT: Do you think the industry is difficult for women to break into? Is it something of a “boys club?”

DB: Honestly, if you have the drive and passion for anything, you can achieve anything. In the electronica scene, a lot of world-class techno DJ’s are women, Nina Kravitz, Deborah DeLuca, Amelie Lens, and more. There are a few other notables in each genre but yes, it’s a pretty male-dominated, that is for sure. Whether that’s because women in general aren’t drawn to the craft or other issues, we’re not sure. We have discovered a lot of support here in Portland from many people who want to see us succeed. The Rose City Underground has been a huge support for us. They are our local “family” which we are proud to be a part of.

PT: What kind of music do you spin–how would you describe your DJ style?

DB: We love to spin an interesting combination of OG house music combined with UK-style tech house. Because we are a DJ-duo we provide a unique blending of tracks we like individually and as a collective. Gen loves throwing down some soulful vocal mixes with some good beats and Dakota enjoys creative latitude in mixing songs that invoke that first time you ever went to a rave.

PT: Are there any venues, events, audiences, types of shows which you really prefer to make music at over others?

DB: We don’t really have a favorite venue, but our dream is to spin at beach party in Ibiza, or an outdoor festival or event. We love an audience that loves to dance, so whenever we see a sea of bodies moving and people screaming and shouting…lost in the moment, that is what it’s about. Spreading love through house music.

The Dust Bunnies, ClubFlock at Local Lounge. Photo credit: Rachel Puma

PT: I know there are less and less venues specifically catering to queer women. When you get the opportunity to perform for a primarily lesbian or female audience, does that add any excitement to your approach?

DB: Absolutely! We are proud to be part of Club Flock headed by promoter/DJ Jen Roberton. House music has never really been part of the lesbian club scene and it is sooooo refreshing to be able to be part of this groundbreaking group of female DJ’s alongside Jen Roberton, Missing Mei and Jules Juke. As resident DJs, we get the opportunity to spin monthly at Portland’s Local Lounge, and see more and more people literally flocking to this event. It really has been exhilarating seeing this party take off!

PT: Do you have any influences, whether from DJs or musicians, that inspire your sound or attitude when you’re playing?

DB: This is a great question. There are a lot of influences that come from DJs that we have admired from our past and present (like DJ Tracy (Bleeke) and Charlotte the Baroness from SF) on Dakota’s side and (Danny Teneglia, Jonathan Peters, and the Martinez Brothers, NYC) on Gen’s side. Currently, a few of our favorites are Prok and Fitch, Chus and Ceballos, The DeepShakerz and Dale Howard.

PT: How do you best promote yourself, your events, or parties while still keeping your identity intact? Meaning: to get noticed, some artists scale back in the hopes of attracting more fans. Do you find yourself trying to appease any standards?

DB: To promote ourselves we go to a lot of events in support of other DJs and to see the DJ’s that inspire us! We find it easy to keep our identity intact by just being true to ourselves from our musical choices down to the way we dress! Just as in life and love, we want people to be drawn to us just because there’s a natural attraction coming from our vibe and music. Once in a while, we may do a gig where we don’t entirely play “our kind-of-music” to help support the community for special LGBT events.

PT: What are you working on right now–in terms of events, gigs, collaborations etc.?

DB: Right now we do spin a wide range of parties –  like the monthly Flock at Local Lounge and are planning a Portland Pride Party working with our Flock crew that will literally knock the socks off of anything anyone has seen for our lesbian community. We also are very excited about opening up for Wolfgang Gartner this month at Whiskey Bar and our debut at Proper Sound to be held at the Tube on the first Thursday of April. We are collaborating with Val Verra, immersed Music to put on a day party with 7 DJs in the summer half of which will be women! There’s much more on our list as far as gigs. Stand by for more by following us on Instagram @thedustbunniesworldwide. What’s even more exciting is that we will have our first produced track coming up in June!

PT: Female DJs are getting more and more prominent in our cultural landscape–especially in the LGBTQ community–what would you tell younger DJs out there, especially young women, who are interested in getting into the industry?

DB: We would tell anyone who is interested in becoming a DJ to talk to any of us. There’s a lot we wished we knew before we went out and bought equipment, or started to learn how to use it. We are constantly learning and growing. We learn from everything from watching other DJs, to YouTube, to even making mistakes and taking risks. If you have the passion and desire to become a DJ, the sky’s the limit, go for it!

PT: We are celebrating Women’s History Month. What does this mean to you? What are you fighting for in 2019 and beyond?

DB: It’s nice to have a month where women are honored and recognized. We believe not only in women’s equality, but equality for all. We are all created equal and should be seen as humans beings regardless of gender, religion, sexual preference or anything else.

The Dust Bunnies, Local Heroes PDX. Photos credit: Chazz Gold

If you know any DJs, musicians, or artists who you think ProudTimes should celebrate email sebastian@proudtimes.com and we’ll see what we can do!