The patriarchal society we live in makes it incredibly hard for women to stand up for their dreams and beliefs. As far back as time goes, societies have been teaching women that their role in life is limited to household chores. Every once in a while though, comes a woman who dares to step away from the societal norms to pursue their dreams. Despite being aware of such challenges, Aminath Fazleena Abbas – or better known as DJ Ngie, is among those few women who dared to stand up for what she believed in and what she wanted from life; being a professional DJ.
As someone who has always had a keen interest in music, her fascination with DJs and their work has today lead her to become the first female DJ in the Maldives. When her career was taking its baby steps, no one was there to guide her or to teach her the ropes of it. What’s worse was that she even lacked the equipment to start off in the first place – but after learning the basics in Sri Lanka and with continuous practice, she has today become one of the most renowned DJs in the Maldives.
Recalling her first resort gig, Ngie talked about how nervous she was during the first New Year show of Dusit Thani. Her anxiety used to get the best of her, even hours before departing for a gig – often wondering about why they ‘look’ at her instead of listening to the music she mixes. Fast forward to years in the industry, she has learnt to block it out and focus on doing her thing – fueled by the heartwarming compliments she receives. As she says, good feedback is her main motivation and the highlight of her week. When someone who appreciates the music comes up to her and discuss the tracks, it happens to be of great meaning to the DJ.
As a female working in the hospitality industry, Ngie has had to face some tough challenges. Jogging her memory back to the earlier days of her career, she revealed how she had experienced harassment from some resort staffs – which eventually had a negative toll on her health as she used to skip meals in order to avoid hearing the catcalls and the taunting.
“I used to skip meals at the resort gigs I played, and by the time I reach back home I would be completely drained. I couldn’t get myself to go and sit there to eat, because of the way they behaved. So I used to take Milo packets to the resorts”
Ngie believes that, the stronger you stand tall with your will and desire the more opportunities open up for you in time. Though her parents were against it initially, her dedication and determination even forced them to support her in her endeavors. Soon came a line of supporters, who appreciated and motivated her – and this would be the same for anyone who does the same, according to her.
While she faces numerous challenges in the society, the ones that meet her in the industry are no easier. As a local DJ – let alone a female one, it was rather difficult for her to find work initially. A majority of the resorts don’t even give local artists the chance to showcase their talent, as they bring about foreign DJs to play gigs. While the work of local DJs are undervalued, it’s even a greater hassle to find the required equipment in the Maldives.
The DJ who aspires to produce her own track – and is currently working towards that goal – thinks that her music library is her biggest asset. Having to go through hundreds of songs to find that couple of good ones, her music library is indeed diverse and one of the things that distinguish her from others.
Though she has overcome and pulled through all of the challenges that has come her way, that one thing that she is yet to beat is the difficulty with equipment. Yes, she’s got her system – but no backup in the event of it breaking down. This has even lead to her losing some gigs, as she was unable to get hold of another in time. Apart from the system, the lack of speakers in some resorts is yet another difficulty as rentals require their staff to go and set it up. But despite it all, Ngie is seen rising as a DJ in the Maldives.
Perhaps unaware of the fact, but Ngie has today played a vital role in abolishing the gender roles engraved in our society for females, to a certain extent. As a female who had dared to stand for her beliefs, she has shown an example to both men and women alike that you should do what you love. Though she didn’t begin her career with the aim of such a thing, she believes that you should go for what you want to do. In her words, life itself is filled with hurdles and magic, it’s all part of the package. She seems to have overcome all of those, and fought her way to become who she is today – and she thanks her Mentors, Dad, Mum, Boy, Iyya, Chippi, Yammu, Husnbey, Nava, Tom, Aysha, Loabbe and the rest of her family and friends who had been a constant support throughout her journey.
“Often times, society has misconceptions about DJs and what we do. Basically a DJ mixes music of particular or various genres to suit the atmosphere. The atmosphere could vary drastically, from a chilled out afternoon on a sunny beach, to a stomping party on a full moon night,” – DJ Ngie.