Words by Sam Taylor, photos by Georgia Penny
Gemma Edwards is a Southampton based photographer and DJ most known for her work photographing Suicide Girls, DJ’ing various alt nights in Southampton and being an all-round badass girl within the UK’s thriving alternative scene.
As a photographer for Suicide Girls, you know your stuff when it comes to working alongside women and the hardships faced by them in this industry, do you feel there is a close knit community of women in the alt scene?
There’s definitely a close-knit ‘family’ vibe between the women I know – you only have to look at things like the Suicide Girls Ballroom Blitz to see that. A club night run entirely by women, promoters, DJs and performers which is great. It does section off into separate ‘groups’ and the more the scene has expanded (as it has done in the past few years) there can’t help but be jealousy and insecurities causing divides but that’s definitely a minority and simply comes down to personality clashes like anywhere else.
When it comes to the hardships of the industry and issues women face in general, everyone has each other’s back at all times. We all know that lifting each other up is much more productive for the industry than tearing others down – empowered women, empower women!
You’re best known for your photography work with Suicide Girls, how did you make the jump from photography to DJ’ing? Do you think these two careers go hand in hand together and how easy is it to find a work/life balance?
I totally think they go hand in hand, it helps that I’m naturally more of a night-owl so even before I was DJing, my ‘work day’ would continue until 2am or later working on editing images. Particularly because both are so niche – my photography is a slightly controversial, alternative niche and I only DJ alternative events so I tend to be surrounded by people similar to me.
I’ve always been really into music and the only reason I got into photography was to shoot live bands… somehow that turned into naked women along the way but I’ve always enjoyed music as a hobby, listening or playing and studied it briefly in school and college.
A friend running an alternative clubnight offered to train me up to help them out when they were lacking in DJs that knew the genre and were reliable, two things I personally think are more important than technical ability. Since then it’s actually become something that’s keeping me quite busy!
You’ve DJ’d at some of the UK’s most famous alternative clubs such as Uprawr, what was your favourite place to DJ at and why?
Uprawr has probably been my favourite stand-out event to date, the atmosphere was just indescribable and to have such a tight-knit bunch of people running something that’s got so huge is amazing! I was so impressed I actually felt kind of emotional about it all the next day. It was also out of my comfort zone a little bit which made it feel like a big achievement – similar to when I DJ’d for the Invaders of the Future stage at Bestival last year, I get really nervous for big crowds like that.
I really love my regular spots closer to home at Detention and Pre-Bar though because everyone’s always so welcoming. I know loads of the regulars now and in Southampton they’ve even let me start my own night ‘Louder Now!‘ where once a month I get to play a whole night of throwback emo tracks from my youth mixed with some of my new favourites. Being handed the reigns for New Years Eve was a highlight too!
Being Southampton based and with your main resident DJ set being Pre-Bar’s rock night, what are your opinions on the Southampton alt scene?
I actually love the Southampton alt scene, it kind of bugs me that people complain so much because we are so lucky to have the high volume and variety of events we have. We have multiple alternative club nights, bars and pubs as well as some amazing live music venues – most notable, of course, is The Joiners.
I’ve DJ’d rock nights in Birmingham, Brighton, Bournemouth, London and Winchester but Southampton will always be the hardest to please even though I know them the best and I think it’s because we’re so spoiled for choice and always have been. Everyone’s expectations are so much higher here and although that can cause problems within the scene, little dramas and divides, I definitely don’t think it says anything negative about the actual scene itself – only that we need to appreciate it more.
You can check Gemma spinning the decks every Tuesday night at Pre-Bar Southampton, her next Louder Now event is on May 20th.
Check out Gemma’s awesome playlist of what she plays during her sets.
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