Raising The Vibration with Wanita Music’s DJ Jawa Jones

DJ Jawa Jones

DJ Jawa Jones is vinyl DJ, radio host ,and founder of Wanita Music. Originally from the island of Java (or Jawa as it’s known in Indonesian) she moved to London in 2002. There she began immersing herself in London’s legendary nightlife. Jawa Jones frequented clubs like Rhythm Factory and The Lady Luck Club. These experiences helped influence her growing affinity to diverse styles of music. Things changed in 2017 when she was invited to spin records for a holiday party in Munich, Germany. This performance hooked Jawa Jones on being behind the decks and spinning the music she loved.

In 2018, Jawa Jones established her own night called Wanita (which means woman in Indonesian). She began building a platform for supporting female artists, musicians and DJs. After Jawa Jones moved from Munich to London she expanded the club night into the Wanita’s radio program on BarrelHouse Radio. There she welcomed the collaboration of female DJs from across the world. On her program her guests play and celebrate all female fronted artists while drawing upon music from the 1950’s throughout the 1980’s. Genres included in the broadcast are rock n’ roll, country, garage rock, yeye, soul, rhythm and blues, punk, post punk and new wave.

Now with a successful broadcast, Jawa Jones has set her sights to more ways to promote women in music. These ideas includes the Gold Digger Series, upcoming DJ nights and Raise The Vibration, which will be live-streamed via Mixcloud on February 13, 2022. To learn more, I caught up with Jawa Jones and asked her about Wanita, djing, and her future endeavors.

NixBeat: First a little about yourself. Where are you from and what got you into record collecting?

Jawa Jones: I am Jawa Jones, a vinyl DJ based in London, UK, radio host and founder of Wanita. I am half English & half Indonesian, born on the island of Java (Jawa in Indonesian) and moved to London in 2002. I started seriously record collecting when I began djing in 2017. 

NixBeat: In an interview on All To Back To Mine (published on January 25, 2022) you featured 7” records that held a special place for you. These included Kim and Grim’s “Lonely Weekend” and Ervinna & The Stylers “Get Ready.”  What other records do you hold dear and why are they important to you?

Jawa Jones: The records that are special to me are those that are gifted by friends. Keb Darge (BBE music) gave a stack of records of female Motown artists for my birthday last year. These included The Marvelettes “Here I am Baby” and “Keep Him” by Barbara Mason. Another friend Loggy gifted me a Czech version of “These Boots Are Made For Walking” ,by Nancy Sinatra, covered by 60s Czech pop singer Yvonne Prenosilová  — which I love! I often play these records at Wanita events and the Wanita Music radio show. 

NixBeat: Prior to moving to London in 2002, you grew up in Jakarta and then studied at University in Melbourne, Australia. After moving to London in 2002, you began frequenting DJ nights. What DJ nights did you attend and how did they influence your interest in music?

Jawa Jones: Moving to London in my early twenties was an exciting experience as back then there were so many great clubs and different culture groups running nights in small bars. It was nothing I had experienced before living in Jakarta and Melbourne. I was into techno and drum ’n’ bass in 2002. So I would go to Rhythm Factory in Whitechapel, Fabric on Thursday nights, and the Cross in King’s Cross. I would also go to indie and electro nights. I loved the Kill Em All sessions at Bar Fly with DJ sets by Olly Dixon and Tim Lawton of Eat Your Own Ears on Sundays at the Lock Tavern ,and Trash run by DJ and Producer Erol Alkan on Monday nights. I loved the mish mash of indie to electro and post-punk, no wave to garage rock at these events. I then stumbled into The Lady Luck Club which was a ’40s and ’50s vintage vinyl night and that blew my mind. I was dancing to jazz, rhythm and blues ,and rockabilly for the first time ,and that led to me discovering music I’ve never heard before.       

NixBeat:  In 2017 you got behind the decks with your first DJ set with Dr. Dr. Robert, and were hooked on the experience. What about DJing attracted you to this medium and how did it inspire you to start your own nights?

Jawa Jones: I’ve always loved dancing ,and love how the music played by DJs can take you on a journey. So to be behind the decks and immediately see how the music you play can affect a person’s mood and vibe of the room was a thrilling experience! The records I play are always the ones that I would enjoy dancing to myself, so I would apply this approach to the nights I run. I was listening to DJ Honey’s radio shows; Kiss! Kiss! Bang! Bang! and Girls in the Groove and she inspired me to start my own night: Wanita in Munich in March 2018. I was already collecting female- fronted soul, ’60s RnB and ’80s pop so I would play these records on the night.  

NixBeat: Having performed and sponsored numerous nights as a DJ, you have brought out all kinds of records for your sets. What kind of music do you spin for your nights and do you have a preferred style that you spin?

Jawa Jones: At Wanita I would play female- fronted ’60s soul and rhythm and blues, girl groups, yeye, ’60s garage. As the night progressed to the wee hours I would drop some no wave and ’80s pop like Madonna, B52s, Delta 5, Kate Bush, the Bangles…seeing people dancing and singing along to the music I play makes me smile. I am also a massive fan of garage punk and rock n’ roll. So on Queens of Fuzz night —which is another night I run— and other events I get invited to spin, I would play 60s garage, psych and early 70s rock.

NixBeat: How important are DJ’s to your local music scene and within worldwide music community—and why do you think that is?

Jawa Jones:  DJs are important in entertaining and educating people through their music selections and also for building a community of like-minded people locally and internationally. I have always admired how Lady Kamikaze and DJ Nino would attract such a wide range of people to their night Lady Luck Club  — there you’ll see rockers, mods, transvestites and fetish folks all hanging out and dancing. It was a friendly atmosphere, there was no snobbery and everyone was there to enjoy the music.    

NixBeat: Now based in London, England what kind of challenges and successes have you found compared to when you were in Munich, Germany?

Jawa Jones: Finding the right venue with a decent sound system is the biggest challenge in London. A lot of bars and clubs have shut due to rent increase and culture groups dispersing. I was really lucky in Munich as I ran my monthly night at a great local dive bar round the corner from where I lived. The owners of the bar were supportive of me and the DJs that played at their nights. They also invested in a good sound system because they care about the sound quality.

NixBeat:  Wanita— which Is Indonesian for woman—started as a club night in Munich, Germany in early 2018—and then later moved to London, England. In November 2020 Wanita branched out as a radio broadcast via Barrelhouse Radio. What influenced you to start Wanita and how has it grown over the last several years?

Jawa Jones:  I founded Wanita because I wasn’t seeing many female DJs in the vintage vinyl music scene and I wanted to offer a safe space for DJs to spin their favourite records. As I mentioned before, DJ Honey also played a large role in focusing my night to playing female-fronted music. Her radio shows are about empowering women and celebrating female artists. So I thought playing music by female artists would be a great fit with the concept behind Wanita. The idea of getting female DJs across the globe involved in Wanita came about in 2019. I started asking friends and vinyl DJs I met through the Wanita community to make a 60 minute mix of music by their favourite female artists across different genres. I wanted to use the Wanita platform to promote local and international female DJs and to expand the community and my knowledge of music by female artists. Then in March 2020 I was asked by my friend Ricky to host his Mono Loco Mix Tape radio show at Soho Radio and that started my foray into radio and led me to hosting the Wanita Music Show at Barrelhouse Radio in November 2020.     

NixBeat:  Wanita features female DJ’s from across the world. Who have been some of your favorite guests and why?

Jawa Jones: All the DJs and guests I invite to contribute to Wanita are my favourite kind of people! They are people I admire and respect for their work, may it be through the music they create, mixes they put out, festivals and/or club nights they run or the radio shows they host.      

NixBeat: You also sponsor The Gold Digger series on Instagram which features female record collectors from around the world. What prompted this series and what criteria are you looking for with collectors you feature? 

Jawa Jones: I started the photo series to highlight the passionate and knowledgeable DJs I have met through the Wanita community. It was also another opportunity to promote the fantastic ladies involved in the music scene so people can learn more about them and the work they do. I am working my way to asking all the women who have contributed to Wanita either through making Wanita mixes or were guests on the Wanita Music Show. That’s the criteria at the moment, but I am planning to open it up to other DJs and female record collectors in the future. 

NixBeat: In an interview with All Back To Mine you pointed out some challenges facing female DJ’s include being harassed by creepy men, discounted as an artist, or in other instances being shorted on intentions and compensation. In the same interview you’ve also stated how male counterparts, like DJ’s Diddy Wah and Fritz Buzzsaw, have been able to do their part in supporting female DJs in the music community. What are some specific ways you would like men in the music community to show support to their fellow female artists?

Jawa Jones: By actively being allies to women who are working in the music industry and supporting their work either by buying their music, attending their events or gigs. Don’t be a bystander — if you see a guy harassing a woman in a venue or behaving in a manner that is making a woman feel uncomfortable, approach the woman and ask if they are ok or inform the security staff.   

NixBeat: Are there other female DJ groups/collectives you have collaborated with and if so, why do you support them?

Jawa Jones: I have collaborated with Toronto Soul Club (Toronto, Canada) and Los Rulos Vinyl Club a vinyl DJs collective based in Bogota, Colombia  — both of these collectives are run by women who support female DJs in their local community. I tend to work with DJs and collectives who share similar values as Wanita and that is to support women and raise each other up while sharing joy through music and having fun!    

NixBeat: On February 13, 2022 you are promoting the Raise The Vibration event. It’s a live-stream fundraising event to end gender-based violence. How did you get involved with this fundraiser, who is involved and how can readers contribute to it?

Jawa Jones: I first became involved with Raise the Vibration in 2021 through discovering V-Day, which is a global activist movement founded by V (formerly Eve Ensler) who is an activist and author of the The Vagina Monologues. The purpose of the movement is to raise awareness and end violence against all women (cisgender, transgender, and those who hold fluid identities that are subject to gender-based violence), girls and the planet by combining art and activism to transform systems and change culture. This year we have 18 female DJs from 8 countries doing 30-minute sets playing female-fronted music on mixcloud.com/wanitamusic from 12:15 – 21:30 GMT. Collectively we are raising awareness and money for local charities/groups who are doing work to tackle gender-based violence. Each DJ taking part will select a charity or group in their local community who are doing anti-violence work. Readers can contribute by donating to the charities. Information about the charities and the DJs can be found in the Wanita Raise the Vibration 2022 Facebook event page, the Wanita instagram account and will be posted on Mixcloud.com/wanitamusic on the day of the event.

NixBeat: What are some other charitable events you have or would like to support?

Jawa Jones: So far, Raise the Vibration is the only charitable event I have organised and taken part in. However, I would support charities who actively do work in ending gender-based violence.

NixBeat: What does the future hold for Wanita and where do you want to see it go from here?

Jawa Jones:  I would love to start running Wanita club night in London again ,and this will happen when I find a suitable venue with a good sound system! I would also love to have live bands (female-fronted of course) at the Wanita night…and who knows perhaps a Wanita Weekender! 🙂   



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