In Conversation with Shifting Spheres
Originating from Manchester, Shifting Spheres are a DJ collective comprised of core DJ’s Roo and Mystique. The inspiration was to find balance in the music industry, through providing DJ training programs for women, transgender and non-binary folk. Since humble beginnings just over a year ago, they have built up their repertoire to include a mix series, podcasts, radio appearances and their debut compilation release.
First and foremost, Shifting Spheres are better known for holding DJ workshops for beginner womxn and non-binary DJ’s collaborating with the likes of Reform Radio, Cotton and DJ Black Betty across various Manchester venues. Workshops are set up to be fun, no-pressure safe spaces for learning and encouragement, prioritising places for minority groups.
“We wanted to create an environment that offered a solution to the gate-keeping bravado of the industry. In other words, if you have a passion or interest there is no reason why you cannot DJ, regardless of gender. We normally combine digital teaching with vinyl so that our participants are introduced to all elements. Vinyl itself can seem scary and even chauvinistic, so we try to ensure everyone leaves our session pleasantly surprised at how simple it all is.”
However, this hasn’t stopped Shifting Spheres from planning a production workshop set to take place in Spirit Studios during October. The workshop will be co-led by local producer SCAPA.
“It has always been an interest of ours to branch out to facilitating production workshops. The gender disparity statistics for women producers is shocking, estimated at 6% according to MPG. This doesn’t even take into account non-binary or transgender folk who make up an even smaller number. Production is so much fun once you get the gist of it, and again we want to show it’s not that hard. All we want to do is make some beats, learn together and have a sick day.”
The series on Mixcloud, is a platform for emerging DJs and Shifting Spheres contributors, with mixes from the likes of Not Bad for a Girl resident Kiana and RebeccaNeverBecky founder Mix-Stress. Shifting Spheres ‘The Podcast’ runs on both Soundcloud and Spotify, focusing on issues within the underground music scene.
“We started our podcast because we wanted to open an interesting dialogue, situated here in Manchester. So far, we have covered everything from gender representation with Not Bad for a Girl to the history of records with DJ Levi Love. Our podcast is a place to explore all issues and topics of change within the industry. It’s a place to learn and hopefully engage.”
During lockdown, eager to get something going, Shifting Spheres decided to release their debut charity VA Spheres of Sound: In Support of Roshni and UKBP, built entirely by womxn and non-binary artists.
“The initial idea for the VA was to give ourselves and other non-cisgender men a creative outlet and a well-deserved platform, whilst raising money for COVID-19 related issues. So turning ourselves into a label seemed an obvious next step. We chose charities Roshni (an incredible Birmingham based organisation, empowering BIPOC women to escape gender-related violence) and UK Black Pride (who fight for LGBTQ+ people of colour, through community outreach and hardship funds.)”
Whilst the world’s current climate may have thrown things in a spin, this hasn’t halted Shifting Spheres plans for the future. As well as a production workshop already in the works, Shifting Spheres plan to continue utilising their label for future releases and to eventually run extended DJ and production training programs.
“Running one-off workshops are great but we’ve always wanted to extend this to a 4 week or 8 week program, to give participants more to work with. So watch this space, more incoming.”