For our return of our Frequent Players Guest Mix Series, we enlisted the help of all female DJ collective, Girls Don’t Sync. Having come together over the last 12 months or so, Girls Don’t Sync is the creation of four friends, Matty Chiabi, G33, Sophia Violet and Hannah Lynch. Together, they’ve been hosting their own events and parties that have seen them thrown into the limelight and they’re taking it by storm.
Cleverly curating nights out that heavily focuses on a blend of dancehall, afrobeats and UK garage, Girls Don’t Sync have are here to stay!
We recently sat down with them to discuss how they all found each other and how they’re enjoying this rise! Check out the interview below as well as checking out Guest Mix 29!
Footpatrol: Welcome, welcome! It’s so good to finally meet you all face to face, how has everyones day been?
G33: A little bit chaotic because we just played at Somerset house and had a bit of a rush this morning but that is basically the epitome of how we move constantly – always in a rush. We try not to rush but we are just trying to do as many things as possible, we are at a stage now where we say yes to pretty much everything and just enjoying it! Late nights, very early mornings, like we were saying to you before we started this interview we wouldn’t want to have it any other way.
FP: Starting from the beginning then. Could you each give a little intro on yourselves and who Girls Don’t Sync are?
Hannah Lynch: My name is Hannah Lynch (DJ Hannah Lynch), I am a resident club DJ in Liverpool, teach from my home studio in the week and then DJ throughout the weekend.
G33: I’m Gaia, I am originally from Brixton like Matty. I went to uni in Liverpool and just stayed. From there my work mainly consists around community work, youth work and also for a club/music venue. I try to bring all these things together, it’s something that as a collective we feel is really important trying to champion young upcoming talent, especially women. Matty does some similar stuff in her work too, it’s something we find really transcends with what we do as a collective. Our work and exposure it’s primarily club focused but the connection with people, especially young people, teaching them is something that is very integral.
Sophia: I’m Sophia but my DJ name is Sophia Violet. I am from the South West but I go to uni in Liverpool which is how I met everyone and became part of the collective. I am currently studying Law right now, so hoping to take that somewhere but at the same time hoping I can do the same with DJing!
Matty: My name is Matty Chiabi. I am a radio presenter and DJ. Born and bred in Brixton went to school with Gaia. She begged me at a party in year 9 and ended up going to the same 6th Form! We have been friends ever since. I went to uni in Manchester and with Gaia going to Liverpool, there was a lot of back forth between the 2 cities. I am always in Liverpool! That’s where I got to meet Sophia and Hannah, which of course led to the creation of Girls Don’t Sync. On the side, I work for a Brixton based creative arts and music charity for young people and also teach a DJ course for women!
FP: It’s nice to hear that you guys do more than DJ and see a much larger picture with how you can support others. Has that always been the initial goal when you came together as a collective?
Gaia: It just is!
Hannah: Having the 4 of us together is almost like a safety net.
Matty: We all started somewhere as well. I picked up DJing in lockdown and that was really hard. There was a lot of thought put into how you get these opportunities and what is going to happen when the world reopens. I didn’t really have that safety net and wasn’t sure who to go to find these opportunities. We want to make sure that other women have that support to help them.
Sophia: Yeah exactly. If it wasn’t for people like Gaia, Hannah and Matty who gave me a lot of confidence I wouldn’t have got to where I am.
Hannah: When I started DJing 5 years ago there was no other DJ I could go to.
G33: Especially in Liverpool. Our love for the North is very deep rooted for all of us! Liverpool was the first place we played together as a 4, we have a base there. London and Manchester as well, hugely important to us. Manchester is interesting to play in as a city musically, I feel like our sets are different according to the city we are in. We never want to play the same set twice, if you have a listen to our sets which you have! We have a set of go to tracks which make our sound as a collective. For me though, being a good DJ is also about crowd consciousness and exposing them to new music. There is no better feeling than having someone walk up to you and being like – what was that track? What Genre is this? I think that’s what makes it so nice!
Sophia: I feel like as there are 4 of us, there is so much new music we can show, we can adapt ourselves according to the crowd.
Matty: We all like different things too. Yes there are tracks we all like but for example, Gaia is gonna bring some Punjabi Garage, Sophia is gonna bring some madness, Hannah is gonna bring some Bassline and I may throw in some Afrobeats. It just works, we kind of cater to everyone because we represent everyone. We are all so different but when we come together it’s just like, wow. We are 4 individuals but together just make sense. I think that’s why people are attracted to us.
G33: The support we’ve had has been amazing, even at Somerset House! Sorry to sound like a broken record but, women coming up to us and being like WOW! Even after a set when we walk around and talk to people, there is just a warmth in the room that we get. With there being a decline of female DJs in Liverpool it’s really nice to see how much support we get.
Sophia: The crowd has such an amazing energy that makes you want to just be yourself. I think that is different to anything I have ever experienced before with crowds, just becoming one. That’s also one of the things that makes being a 4 so good, as one of us DJs the others are interacting with the crowd.
FP: That’s a really nice touch to bring into everything!
Sophia: I think the first time we really noticed that was Baltic Weekender, we were all dancing on stage.
G33: Inviting people up to dance!
Matty: Pouring gin in peoples mouths!
Hannah: Every time we do a DJ set we want it to feel like a party!
G33: My mum always says where do you get this energy from, I feel with all us putting that energy out it’s then reciprocated by the crowd and we get it back. We just have fun whilst we do it! It works. When it comes to respect and payment, as 4 women within this industry, navigating that and having those conversations to make sure we are being treated with respect.
FP: And getting your due dividend.
G33: Sometimes we feel people just see 4 girls jumping around on stage but we are dedicated to this and it is important to us.
Matty: On top of that though…. We can actually DJ! When we first started there was a lot of ‘mmm can they DJ though?’ We can mix and blend! When you see the Insta highlights of us jumping around and doing cartwheels, just know there is always one of us taking care of the blend!
FP: When people see you guys obviously they notice you’re a team of 4. What’s it like doing a b2b2b2b every show, it must be chaotic at times?
Hannah: We keep things to 2 tracks each to make it a bit less stressful.
Sophia: It just feels natural a lot of the time.
FP: What was the first show like?
Matty: The first show was ‘Return to Rave’.
G33: Which was the first time the clubs reopened on ‘Freedom Day’ on the 19th July. Baring in mind we formed together during the height of covid during lockdown. We already had done some sit down events for people. Going from that to a rave type setting.
Sophia: It was the first time I played to a crowd that was standing up!
Matty: It was my first time too! Return to Rave was the first one and it just felt natural. People always ask if it’s hard? Do you know what each other is going to play before? The answer to all that is no! We don’t know what’s coming next, even when I play I don’t know what it is I am going to be playing!
Hannah: There’s no rehearsals, everything is just go!
G33: We all have different schedules in life too, our timetables are crazy! So when we do get to play together there is a sense of relaxation.
Sophia: If we do make any mistakes it makes it easier having everyone around you too.
G33: Mistakes are going to happen, sometimes the decks don’t do what you want them to do.
Matty: Sometimes you just get too waved and the beats don’t seem to want to match up hahaha! We have fun though and everyone picks each other up!
G33: At Keep Hush I even pressed play on the wrong deck and all the music stopped! I think I turned around and my lip just quivered haha! If I was by myself it would have got to me a lot more but having everyone put me at ease.
FP: Well I can tell you from our side that the Keep Hush was class! Human error is a natural thing and not something worth worrying about.
G33: We want to be creative in the way we mix, loop and chop. I am going to take risks during my set to push myself and try new things.
Matty: I don’t think we play it safe, we try to get creative. I want to master the technique, whether that be loops, chops, effects it doesn’t matter. We are always watching and learning from each other also when we perform! It just means that when we next perform, I want to try that new technique.
Sophia: The best place to try new things out is live with the crowd!
FP: I guess it’s the only way you are going to get a reception and real feel from people.
Sophia: Exactly it’s one thing practicing on your own at home but it’s another story live.
G33: That’s what I mean about crowd consciousness. There is no better feeling than playing a song that people know, when I am out and it happens to me I can’t help myself but to sing along! Playing things that are nostalgic that have been spun into different edits it just gets people going.
Hannah: It’s a case bringing familiar sounds together in one place.
Matty: For me when I first started DJing, I wasn’t really into Electronic music. The stuff I play now, once upon a time I would have listened to and said no. Whereas now the harder the better! That’s one of the things I love about DJing, there is so much music out there. We want to expose people to that but also offer a bit of comfort at the same time, we will give you Destiny’s Child but we’re gonna make it jumpy!
G33: Even after the last 5 months just playing harsher Afrobeats or Punjabi Garage the world of music, is the world! There are so many producers that send us stuff as well which I think is such a nice relationship to have. That idea of playing stuff by people that you know to crowds and sending them videos showing them how much they loved it is something special. Sophia and I were producing in lockdown and Matty played one of Sophia’s edits recently!
Matty: I even had people coming up to me asking me who it was! I told them ‘That’s my giiiiirrrrllll!’
G33: That’s something as we progress I would like to get back into. You need to be in the mood to produce but it’s worth it. I am a perfectionist!
FP: Moving slightly away from you DJings then. Where did the name come from?
Matty: I am going to take full credit on this one! There was a situation where we had to change the name last minute, which we won’t get into. I was in the shower (where I get my best ideas) and thought, what can we call ourselves that’s smart? I ended up thinking about the sync button on the decks and next thing you know ‘Girls Don’t Sync’ came to mind!
G33: We were thinking about the stigmas behind women. There have been times where I performed in London at one of my first sets and they let me through a separate door because they thought I was working behind the bar. Another time I had a sound engineer walk me through on how to DJ, made me feel really patronised and undermined. It’s even happened to us as a 4 with attitudes towards us. When we are talking to people I feel like I really have to overcompensate, if we as women are seen to be too direct it will then create a negative stigma around female DJs but if a man is direct it seems to be fine. It was just a case figuring out how we can imbed these stigmas into our name.
FP: The things that we have already spoken about on the outreach and support side of things will also help break those negatives down further. It’s a mad thing to hear the way people can treat you when you have world class female DJs in the world. To think up and coming artists like yourselves aren’t seen in the same light is rubbish.
Matty: Yeah! It’s down to everything from gender all the way down to how we look. I may want to wear a dress and heels one day and then maybe be playing some heavy Bassline set the next, people just go off your appearance. If I do want to dress up or look a bit glam like our lovely Hannah Lynch who always does! You then don’t expect us to play certain types of music.
G33: It’s when people ask what you do, you tell them you’re a DJ and the response you get is ‘oh you don’t look like a DJ.’ You are then thinking what does a DJ look like? I was talking to a friend of mine because she was watching old videos of me and mentioned how I used to dress very boyish during my sets. The mad part about that was that subconsciously I was wearing t-shirts to my set because I didn’t want to be sexualised. Now that’s gone I wear what I want.
Matty: I thought the same, now I don’t care. How I look does not matter at the end of the day, it’s about the music. I like to think that once you meet us, we give off good energy. Unfortunately the industry has some questionable characters, at the end of the day we are trying to do some good. Like you said, the bigger picture is to help support other women. We want to start an ongoing thing where we can help pave the way for upcoming female DJs giving them the platform we didn’t have.
FP: Well that leads perfectly onto the next question, where do you see Girls Don’t Sync going?
G33: Getting out of the UK, we were supposed to be playing in Amsterdam last weekend! We would have been playing on the last day of the event and that would have given us time to enjoy the city and experience club culture out there. We want to bring that essence of connection and community to any place we go to.
Sophia: Like I was saying earlier our sets are more like parties and I would love to do that at a big festival! Loads of people, a whole new crowd!
FP: I have no doubts that is on the horizon for you all!
G33: Workshops as well! We all teach in our own ways and we would love to do that on a larger scale! Ideally we would like to make them free for people so would love to work with an organisation or something to run it.
FP: What got you all into DJing then individually?
Sophia: So my mum is a DJ. She stopped after having 4 of us but recently picked it back up again. I always wanted to learn and used lockdown as the opportunity to do so. I started on House but later discovered that UK Garage is my one true love! I started connecting with people from Liverpool online before I went back up and got involved with an event called Pinnacles of Garage where I am a resident and help organise the events. Being with Girls Don’t Sync has definitely broadened out what I play now though.
Matty: Same as Sophia really, I started in lockdown after I lost my job. My older brother is also a DJ so it runs in the family! Going back to the party element of Girls Don’t Sync, we have all been so into the party side of things. When we were younger we would just watch DJs thinking wow this is interesting! Gaia only got into DJing over the summer.
G33: Because of a DJ course they got me for my birthday! The day after I had that course, I loved it so much that I went out and bought a controller that same day!
Hannah: I didn’t know that! That’s so cute!
G33: This was the mad bit. Before I even met Hannah there were literally no other female DJs in Liverpool, so I messaged her asking if I would be allowed to shadow her and became friends after that! We used to do DJ workshops at our local community centre in Liverpool so we would meet up to plan what we were going to teach the kids that day!
*Hannah starts crying*
Matty: I can’t believe you’re crying!
FP: This just shows how close you are.
G33: We were saying the same thing. You hear about us as a collective or as a group but people don’t see the other side to it. When we aren’t working we are all going out, we are really good friends. We spend a lot of time together. I feel that separates us from a lot of people. The love we have for each other really resonates.
Hannah: My dads a DJ so music has always been in my household. I started DJing when I was 20 and I’m 26 now. So 6 years! I always had the equipment in my home but never got into it. We had a family party once and I started messing about on the deck and after that I was like yeah this is what I want to do.
G33: There is this girl called Jade who is from Liverpool and comes to pretty much all our sets. She even came up to us and said – stuff it I am buying a controller and now DJing! Posting things on her IG and all sorts!
FP: How would you go about getting sets when you start out?
Matty: It’s just a case of putting yourself out there on instagram or whatever and having fun whilst doing it! Good things will follow, trust me!
Sophia: People ask this quite a lot! You need to put the effort out there, Instagram is great for that. You need to post and also support other DJs, putting effort into going to other people’s events showing love. More than anything though it’s a case of not caring what you look like and just doing it.
G33: Use Instagram as a CV!
Matty: And bigging up other people, if you got something going on we want to be able to share that.
FP: It is a community at the end of the day so that makes sense. Gotta show the love to those who need it.
Matty: Exactly! Even when we organise our own events, we try to get people involved and show support to both men and women.
G33: Protecting our extended team (our friends) is something that’s really important to us too. We all work together, they are just as much part of GDS! Phoebe shoots all of our shows, Nas will do our admin bits, Kolade will dance as part of our set. Also protecting and celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community will always be something we fight for, we’ve got 0 tolerance to anyone who threatens that. We did have one incident though that he was subject to some nasty homophobia, Matty had to even get on the mic and say something, we refused to play until it was resolved. Security were refusing to remove the person from the crowd, they wouldn’t even let Kolade come on stage with us even though he was part of our entourage. Some people aren’t safe in these crowds and we wanted our friends on stage so that they can be safe and freely express themselves. He is an incredible dancer! The fact Matty had to get on the mic was silly, we refused to press play until this person was gone. We don’t tolerate behaviour like this and we will call it out live if we see it happening, it’s hugely important to us that everyone feels safe and free in our space.
Matty: If you think we are being divas then that’s your issue. We are here to fight for people to be treated equally.
G33: We refuse to play at any venue that doesn’t follow that same idea…… Hanger 34.
Sophia: We are now barred there. They said that we kicked up a fuss and we weren’t welcome back all because we tried to make sure our friend wasn’t going to get abused.
G33: Fortunately enough after posting about that a lot of promoters in Liverpool have said they aren’t going to work with them anymore because of it.
Matty: There are a handful of people within this industry that have really supported us since day one – shout out Conducta! He listens to everything we say, he supports and gives us the time of day.
G33: We aren’t afraid to call something out! To have other promoters stand with us and listen to what we have to say really does make a difference.
FP: Before we let you go we like to ask all of the people we get to interview if there is anything that they would like to share with the Footpatrol community to get them excited or could even be a message of positivity?
All: Support others around you and you will be supported, that’s what we live by and be yourself! It’s so easy to think that you need to be someone else but you just need to be the most authentic version of yourself. You will flourish because there is no one else like you! Your individuality and sexuality is your superpower!