On episode number 31 of the Metal & High Heels Podcast (temporarily unavailable), Steffi and I talked to a Metal DJane from Aachen, Germany on our episode on Women in Metal DJ Booths. We also invited Metal DJane Kris Walker from the famous Blackout! party in Dortmund (where I live) to join us in the podcast recording, but she was only able to do a written interview. Her stories are so interesting, however, that I decided to give the interview the whole article it deserves.
A woman of many hats, Kris is a full-time architect, moonlights as a DJane at several parties of the Metal scene in the Ruhr region and writes for the German printed magazine Deaf Forever – which arose four years ago from one of the most famous Metal magazines in Germany, Rock Hard Megazine, which is (fun fact!) where Pia and I met while doing internships in 2011, before founding Metal & High Heels. Kris is a notable figure in the local Metal scene and definitely one of many Women in Metal we want to shine some light on.
Metal & High Heels Interview with DJane Kris Walker from Dortmund:
M&H: Tell us about your background – was music important in your family? When did you start listening to Metal?
Music was indeed always somehow present in my family, but it was never a specific genre. I remember very well, the first Rock or Metal song that caught my interest was ‘Join Me‘ by HIM. Back then I was 13 or 14 years old and the song stuck with me. Shortly after, I discovered METALLICA and the other usual stuff, like AC/DC.
I have to point out, though, that around the year 2000 Metal was dead and teenagers tend to pick up whatever is currently relevant. So I, too, started listening to bands like LIMP BIZKIT. A few years later, I was in turn devoted to Death Metal until I started to develop an interest for more Classic Rock and Hard Rock bands, Adult Orientated Rock, New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, Hair Metal, and a few bluesy ones as well. Those genres have stayed with me until today, but I do listen to several Black Metal and Doom albums, as well as current “Post-” bands like BEASTMILK, GRAVE PLEASURES, TRIBULATION, among others.
M&H: How did you start working as a DJane?
The DJane thing developed coincidentally. In 2010 the Matrix in Bochum was looking for a new DJ and I just applied for the job, without any experience – it was only logical that they declined. I told this to a friend of mine, who used to deejay there back then and he offered me a deejaying job at another location he used to play in, the Helvete in Oberhausen. After an evening’s trial, I suddenly had my own party series at Helvete.
Sometime later another friend asked me to deejay at an even bigger Metal party. The music magazine Visions had started a monthly party at FZW in Dortmund and named it „Hellfire”. Every month at least 400 people would attend this event, which was quite decent for a Metal-only-party. After less than a year of „Hellfire” – and less than six months of me being part of it – the FZW-owners decided that it wasn’t lucrative enough and shut it down. However, the party was going so well that my friend Torsten and I decided to keep it alive by moving it to another location, and so we found the Weinkeller not very far away. We named it „Blackout!” after my favorite SCORPIONS-album (a band I adore). The Blackout!-party is still going strong, it takes place on the third Saturday of every month, in two floors with Torsten playing Death and Thrash Metal and me playing Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Heavy and Hair Metal – no longer with the support of Visions magazine. In January 2019, we’ll celebrate our 7th anniversary with the community we’ve built around the event.
Apart from that, I’ve been deejaying a bi-monthly party called “Glam+Rock” for almost five years at Turock in Essen, which is the best club our scene has, in my opinion. In the last few years, I have also played single parties everywhere in the Ruhr region, but those were more one-time-things.
M&H: What do you like best about being a DJane in the context of Metal?
It’s great to meet other music-enthusiasts and sometimes I really like to chat with the party-goers about unknown gems. But the bigger the event gets, the more people come, who only want to have fun and aren’t nearly as into the music as oneself. Sometimes one also has the chance to establish lesser-known bands or songs throughout a period of time.
M&H: And what do you like worst?
Oftentimes people want to listen to the same song over and over again. With time you understand, however, that you’re not creating a night just for yourself – the attendees should have a great night. In the beginning, I was way more stubborn and didn’t want to play the same old songs. Nowadays I deal with that more loosely, but there are still songs I just refuse to play on principle, haha.
What I’ve learned over time is that it’s not easy to make a couple hundred party-goers happy for the entire night and get them to dance and frolic around. And also: the fact someone can click on a few songs at a pub doesn’t make them a DJ. But I mostly get praised and I’m happy to hear that every single time. [The success of the parties] is also noticeable from seeing the many regulars we have at Blackout! and Glam+Rock.
M&H: Have you ever experienced sexism or other kinds of discrimination in the Metal scene?
Actually, no. The scene is admittedly by far not as tolerant as it pretends to be, but I think that it always comes down to the people you surround yourself with. I actually have no contact with extreme right-wingers, rather with some stubborn leftists. Concerning sexism, I have to put this into perspective: indeed it happens time after time that whenever there’s a man standing beside me, he will be approached because people just assume that he is the DJ. Away from the DJ-booth I have noticed that one is often reduced to being a woman or to how important you are in the scene – people often take an interest only when they think you have something to offer them – and that’s really sad.
M&H: Do you take requests while deejaying?
Song requests are always welcome, but sadly I can’t play everything, much less at peak hours. This is why I try to play special requests either at the beginning or at the end of a party night. Most of the party-goers know what I play by now, so their requests align with my scheme.
M&H: What are the most common requests? The classics are “Turbolover” by JUDAS PRIEST, “Kickstart My Heart” by MÖTLEY CRÜE or BON JOVI’s “Livin’ On A Prayer”.
M&H: What has been the most bizarre request?
Back at Blackout!’s predecessor Hellfire, I deejayed was on the same floor level as the dance floor and the bar and on several occasion people came to my DJ-booth asking for beer.
M&H: You also write for a Metal magazine – tell us about that!
On the side, I also write for the printed magazine Deaf Foverer, which is one of the biggest Metal magazines in Germany. We are a great team, consisting of really qualified maniacs, who put our hearts and souls into it – all of us are real music fans and do the work out of passion. Authenticity is what makes Deaf Forever different and the reason why I sacrifice my little free time for it.
Metal & High Heels supports Women in all areas of Metal:
After years of interviewing singers and frontwomen, we decided to shine some light onto the Women in Metal, who work behind the scenes and in other areas of the industry and the community. We started what will become a series of interviews talking to Heta Hyttinen, a promoter of Tuska Festival and manager of metal bands and with our Podcast episode about Metal DJanes. We have several other interviews in the works, with Women in Metal record labels, Women in Metal production, etc. so stay tuned!
Do you have a Metal party in your city? Do you know any DJanes in general? Write us a comment and share this article!