The Women of D&B
Largely excluded from the documented history of the drum and bass genre, the foundation and continued success of D&B music is largely due to the contributions and innovations from women: DJs, producers, promoters, and engineers. Women and female-identifying people continue to push forth the genre by founding inclusive labels, establishing mentorship programs, and hosting podcasts and radio shows.
Here are some of the women building and reimagining the D&B landscape in incredible ways.
Santa Monica’s Play Me Records founder and A&R Reid Speed is a D&B luminary and multi-genre phenom. Consistently recognized as one of the US’ top DJs, Reid Speed is revered for her innovative productions and live performances, often seamlessly blending styles and genres behind the decks.
Originally from New York, the talented producer was one of the only female DJs playing speed garage and 2-step at popular NYC clubs in the late 90s. The D&B tastemaker now resides in Los Angeles, periodically touring, releasing new records, and working as an A&R for her Play Me Records imprint.
A DJ, radio producer, podcaster, and mentor, Flight is one D&B artist to know. The Play:Musik label founder was the first woman to host a national Drum & Bass show, “The Next Chapter” on BBC Radio1Xtra, and has held multiple residencies at Metalheadz and Swerve.
In 2018, Flight co-founded EQ50, a women’s collective that directly addresses inequality in dance music and advocates for representation. Two years ago, EQ50 initiated a D&B mentorship program for women and non-binary people. Flight is a pioneering talent—inspiring women and peers in the genre to continue pushing for more opportunities and mentorship programs.
Label boss of Propa and Impropa Talent, DJ Rap, is a multi-platinum artist and venerated powerhouse in the world of Drum and Bass. A classically trained pianist and songwriter, DJ Rap has produced compositions for seven major films and music for some of the world’s biggest brands, including Playstation and Wii.
The innovator was the first D&B artist to set up a Patreon, entertaining fans and sharing her D&B knowledge on the platform. The label founder is also an educator. Her exclusive Ableton course, licensed to a myriad of music schools internationally, teaches students production, shares helpful tips, and dives deep into the intricacies of navigating the software and producing dynamic music.
Seattle’s powerhouse Iris is no novice to the D&B scene. She is most known for her fresh, rolling mixes and proliferating discography, released on revered labels like Ninja Tune, CIA, Dispatch Recordings, Commercial Suicide, Renegade Hardware, Avantgarde, Intrigue, and so many more.
Her journey has taken her from UK hard house to trance and progressive but now focuses on a deep style of drum and bass with elements of techno. Iris and husband Quadrant recently announced their latest plans for a mainstage takeover; the pair will be playing D&B festival Locus in Tulum, Mexico, on April 10.
Manchester-based musician Jenna G is a world-class performer, having graced stages internationally with her emotive vocals for over two decades. Recognized for her energizing showmanship and powerful songwriting, the UK talent continues to produce acclaimed dance floor cuts. She's collaborated on fierce flor fillers with Chase n Status, Goldie, Camo & Crooked, Netsky, and so many more. Jenna has released rollers on Metalheadz, Hospital Records, Circus, Liquid V, Ninja Tune, and Warner UK.
At the forefront of the push for a new generation of Jungle and D&B enthusiasts is London-born Radio 1 resident Sherelle. A star in her own right, Sherelle is also a prominent label boss, running two culturally acclaimed labels—HOOVERSOUND and BEAUTIFUL—with a mission to uplift and amplify international Black & LGBTQI+ music and promote inclusivity and community. The trailblazer’s latest collaborative work is a groovy remix of English producer Lone’s “Visited by Astronauts,” available to stream now on all major music platforms everywhere.
The energetic DJ has produced music under the Sweetpea alias for over a decade, playing underground shows and radio stations like Origin FM, Rude FM, RINSE, and BBC Radio 1. She’s released music on Hospital Records, Dispatch, and Sofa Sound. In 2021 the EQ50 co-founder released her debut EP, Undercover, received positively by fans and peers alike. Today, she can be found behind the decks at clubs in the UK, Prague, and New York. Keep your eye on this D&B star. There’s no sign she’s slowing down.
Bristol-based producer and DJ Kiana Li is one of the youngest talents currently dominating the drum and bass scene. With a discography that boasts plenty of frenetic energy, melodic ambience, and innovative compositions, the Hong Kong-born composer is a mainstage must-see. Gyrofield recently made her debut on Critical Music—check out her double single “Retinues / Urgency” out now.
Hailing from Bath, UK, vocalist-songwriter turned producer Emma Cannon's production style is versatile—think D&B meets dance-pop. The young D&B artist’s rolling discography has seen support from BBC Radio 1 (Introducing Dance) and Kiss FM. She recently lent vocals to an introspective collaborative mix made on the UK’s NCS with BBC’s Victoria Jane and rapper-wordsmith, Saidu. Watch the mixtape’s creation on Youtube.