DJ Samantha Ronson's Rule Breakers Set Was About Having Fun Amid The Fight
There are only a handful of female DJs who have had as long-lasting careers as Samantha Ronson. Bustle caught up with Ronson at Bustle's Rule Breakers event on Sept. 22, and the DJ claims that she doesn't consider herself a "pioneer" for female DJs. But she definitely fits into the "rule breaker" category, because, for Ronson, rules have never really applied. "I grew up in a household where there wasn’t like ‘boys do that, girls do that,'" Ronson says. "It was very much like, whatever you did was what you did. [Since] my brother [Mark Ronson] was a DJ, it never dawned on me that I couldn’t be a DJ because I was a girl."
Ronson played two different sets during Rule Breakers, and she brought perfectly supplied upbeat tunes that set a fun tone for the event. She tells Bustle that her greatest goal for her music right now is to give people the chance to let loose. "At this point as entertainers, I think you want people thinking about the world... but I think a lot of time giving people an escape to just decompress for a second and have a good time and just wild out [is a worthy goal]," she explains. That's exactly what Rule Breakers allowed people to do, as the entire event served as a celebration for the people who embrace their individuality.
Ronson tells Bustle she feels lucky because she always had a community that made her feel like she could do anything she wanted. "I grew up going to all girls’ private school on the Upper East Side, and because it was all girls ... girls played sports, girls were the head of the student government," she says. Ronson continues, saying, "I think I’m just really lucky that I got to grow up in a world where women did the same thing."
That doesn't mean that Ronson didn't face discrimination as a woman in the DJ world. "There weren’t really any [women] when I started," she says. That's changed, though. "I've seen more women do what I do [over time]... I just think there's more DJs in general because it got more accessible because of the internet," Ronson says.
Even if the advances in technology have provided more women access to DJing, there's no denying that Ronson helped pave the way for many of them when she started spinning in 2002 and landed a deal with Jay-Z’s Roc-a-Fella Records. She didn't necessarily set out to be a rule breaking role model inspiration for other women, though. "When I was younger I was just living my life. You’re just selfish and you don’t even think about those things," Ronson explains. Now, though, when she sees that women are still fighting things like for equal pay, she says she's "more aware I’m more aware of the importance of being that example."
Ronson tells Bustle that she thinks its "rad" that she could have potentially inspired other women go for their dreams. "I think that’s just everybody’s jobs, just to be an example," she says. Then, Ronson continues, "It was never really do as I say, it was ‘do as I do,’ and it was always cool to get messages on social media or whatever that are like ‘because of you I thought hey I could do that too.'"
Ronson tells Bustle that she's inspired by a lot of women these days who choose to speak out against various injustices. In addition to Rule Breakers headliner Janelle Monáe, Ronson says she's inspired by her friends Rashida Jones, Lena Waithe, and Debra Messing. The DJ says, "Debra is just such an inspiration because she just has such a loud voice and an unapologetic voice ... in fighting this administration [even though she] could just shut up and be on TV and just take the check and not rock the boat. I think anybody who has as much to lose as she does that still speaks out [is] incredible."
As important as it is to fight like hell for what one believes in, Ronson also believes in taking a break when the fight is wearing you down — and hopes her music can be that escape for her fans. "Maybe tomorrow they’re back at it fighting a good fight — but just having a moment to pretend that everything’s OK, that’s all I want," she says. "It’s to just give someone a smile and an escape for a couple minutes." At Rule Breakers she did just that.