From the pioneers of musique concrete to the stars of 21st century clubbing, Qobuz is celebrating eight women who have left their own distinct marks on electronic music over the past fifty years.

It’s not easy to make a name for yourself in the world of electronic music when you’re a woman. It’s easy to get tied up in every stereotype imaginable: women don’t know how to mix; women need men to compose for them; a woman can’t manage as many buttons on a mixer/synthesiser/computer; they’re only popular because they’re pretty… take your pick. However, the artists we present here have shown, sometimes in the face of great adversity, that they more than deserve their place in an industry that’s finally lifted the blinkers and soft bias that’s gripped it over the past decade. These women had to work twice as hard as men to prove they were worthy of bagging that spot on stage, that record deal, that media coverage, that place in the history books. It was no easy feat to narrow this list to just eight female pioneers… there are many other honourable mentions: Wendy Carlos, master of the Moog and creator of the acclaimed album Switched-on Bach in 1968; Eliane Radigue, an expert in drone music and field recording; Laurie Spiegel, computer engineer and creator of the music composition software Music Mouse; Delia Derbyshire, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop boss and co-composer of Dr. Who’s theme music; Bebe Barron, co-author of history’s first fully electronic film soundtrack (Forbidden Planet in 1956); or Clara Rockmore, a theremin virtuoso, the first great electronic instrument. These trailblazing artists have paved the way for a new generation of musicians, producers and DJs who can now explore everything the genre has to offer with increased ease.

Suzanne Ciani

An Italian-born American, Suzanne Ciani found fame in the 1970s as a master of the Buchla, a modular synthesiser which works without a keyboard (unlike Moog, the other popular synth of the time). This piece of audio equipment was designed by pioneer Donald Buchla (1937-2016). After meeting in 1969, Ciani worked with Buchla in his Californian workshop, where he still made everything by hand. She then moved to New York on the east coast, where she founded her production company Ciani/Musica in 1974, which allowed her to launch a career as an ad jingle composer. One of her most notable creations was Coca-Cola’s famous “pop and pour” tune. This career path happened almost naturally since, at the time, no record-company wanted to sign a woman. Plus, and perhaps most importantly, not many people understood the music she was creating: “Sometimes I felt very alone, because nobody understood this music. Especially not record houses. When I played on stage, people wondered where the sound came from, and when I responded: ‘out of the machine’, they wouldn’t believe me: ‘No, no, that’s not possible.’” She went on to release her first album Seven Waves after working on it during the weekends between 1979 and 1981. This record, which is a true example of electronic witchcraft, was released on Turkish producer Ilhan Mimaroglu’s Finnadar Records and would become an essential part of the New Age movement. Her second release, The Velocity of Love (1986), was self-produced. Eventually, Private Music (the label founded by Peter Baumann from Tangerine Dream) signed her for five albums. In recent years, Suzanne Ciani has returned to the scene with her Buchla, honouring her nickname “The Diva of the Diodes.”

Pauline Oliveros

Director of the San Francisco Tape Music Centre, a renowned club which hosts pioneers of electronic music, Pauline Oliveros has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Terry Riley, Ramon Sender, Steve Reich and Morton Subotnick. She started out simply playing the accordion at rodeos as a teenager. After attending Moores School of Music at the University of Houston, she decided to leave for California in 1952. Little did she know, this decision would change her life forever. Whilst enrolled at San Francisco State College, she took classes and learnt from her mentor Robert Erickson, an American pioneer in musique concrete. It was here that she also went on to meet the avant-garde composers with whom she founded the Tape Music Centre in 1962, which aimed to “develop music using magnetic tapes”. In the same decade, Pauline Oliveros created two pieces of musique concrete that attained a lot of fame, namely: Bye Bye Butterfly and I of IV. Both of these featured on the prominent LP New Sounds in Electronic Music with Steve Reich and Richard Maxfield. After witnessing the shocking assassination of Bob Kennedy in 1968 and the start of the Vietnam War, Oliveros retreated to her home in San Diego. She dedicated almost a whole year to working on her music here, playing long pieces on her accordion. In 1988, after descending 14ft into the Dan Harpole underground cistern in Port Townsend WA for recording purposes, she went on to develop the “deep listening” theory. Oliveros later formed a band of the same name, The Deep Listening Band, alongside Stuart Dempster and Panaiotis. This concept was derived from her famous “Sonic Meditations”, which aimed to develop consciousness and heal the body. Her goal was both political and therapeutic. She explained in 1999 that it’s important to “create an atmosphere of openness so that everyone can be heard, to understand that listening means caring.”

Laurie Anderson

After being fascinated by her father’s storytelling from a young age, it’s no surprise that storytelling has become Laurie Anderson’s main aspiration. She appreciates a good story in all its forms, such as movies, performances and music, and she complements this appreciation with technology that was revolutionary for its time. It all began when she moved to New York in the 1960s, where her first performance art piece – a symphony played entirely on car horns – debuted in 1969. She recorded her first record with William Burroughs and John Giorno, but she really made her mark with O Superman, which was originally composed to illustrate one of her performances. The song was released as a single on One Ten Records, a label owned by B. George, the creator of The ARChive (a record library in New York boasting millions of sound recordings). The track caught the attention of the legendary John Peel, the renowned BBC Radio 1 presenter, who has catapulted a number of artists into stardom, including Bowie and Joy Division. “People would call me up and ask for a record, I’d write down the address and put the record in the post,” says Laurie Anderson. “Then one day I got an order from a DJ in England: he asked me for 20,000 by Friday and 20,000 by Monday.” The artist then signed with Warner and went on to release the albums Big Science and then United States Part One to Four (a six-hour performance filled with music, drawings, photos, films and cartoons about the United States). This subsequently led to her becoming one of the leading figures of the 80′s art rock/new wave scene. Later, she then worked with Brian Eno on the album Bright Red in 1984, and on Dokument #2 in 2020. She also worked with Peter Gabriel, Jean-Michel Jarre, Philip Glass, Dave Stewart, Ryūichi Sakamoto and of course Lou Reed, her husband between 1992 to 2013. Recently, in 2020, Anderson came to Paris to present her latest multimedia creation, The Art of Falling.

Kemistry & Storm

As is often the case in British electronic music history, it all began in 1988, during the Summer of Love that slingshotted an entire generation into one big rave. Both from Kettering, a small town in the British Midlands, Valerie “Kemi” Olusanya and Jayne ”Storm” Conneely reconnected in London whilst hanging out with the same group of partygoers. Together they shared their passion for the new sounds that were entering the collective imagination in Britain: “we became obsessed with the idea of going to raves and buying vinyls,” says Storm. Both women attended Fabio and Grooverider’s famous Rage party in London, where the foundations of jungle music were laid. It was during this night that Kemistry discovered the musical talents of future musician, producer and DJ, Goldie (before this point he was only known for his graffiti). With Goldie on board, the two “soul sisters” decided to found Metalheadz in 1994. Goldie looked after the production and artist development, whilst Kemistry and Storm mixed and represented what would become the most famous label in the history of Drum & Bass. This was much to the surprise of many club owners, who were shocked to see two girls in this male dominated environment. When they weren’t busy recording new dubplates (exclusive, single pressed records), they were busy dividing up the office work (Storm oversaw logistics, whilst Kemistry oversaw press releases). During one of their DJ sets, Stefan Struever from the !K7 label was impressed by the duo’s creativity. He decided to entrust them with the selection of the next DJ-Kicks, a series of compilations that would go on to become world-famous. In 1999, three months after the release of this mix (which is still considered to be the pinnacle of the DnB movement), Kemistry sadly died in a car accident. This was a tragedy that left Storm both shocked and alone. Despite this tragic event, Storm decided to go solo, take the reins and keep the spirit of her soul sister alive and kicking by mixing her own records alternately with Kemistry’s (taken from their highly documented collection). In Storm’s own words: “I miss her terribly. I still think I’m Kemistry & Storm when I mix, and that gives me comfort, as do all the female DJs who come up to me and tell me how much our duo has inspired them.”


By the time Miss Kittin revealed her talents to clubbers around the world in 2001, she’d already been composing Frank Sinatra with her partner The Hacker for four years. The track, re-released on their First Album, was originally released in 1997 on the EP Champagne!, on International Deejay Gigolo Records (the label belonging to famous German producer DJ Hell, who loved the track and promoted it in his DJ sets throughout Germany). Born in 1973 in Grenoble, Caroline Hervé grew up in a world fascinated by rave culture. She’s a die-hard fan of Autechre, Aphex Twin, and especially I-F and Dopplereffekt, the legends of electro style (referring to the specific genre of music, not the catch-all term used today to describe everything electronic). This genre of music is derived from the work of Kraftwerk, and applied by American artists such as Egyptian Lover, Drexciya, Juan Atkins, Aux 88… a genre less glamourous than house or techno, but one with a real grit. “I realised that electroclash was a bridge between techno, EBM, new wave, the rock scene, the gay scene; all the leftovers.” A new generation of fans and musicians helped reinvent the genre through their idolisation of Miss Kittin, who would go on to become a global star, and would even play Berlin’s Love Parade in front of a million people. Most importantly, Kittin (she later dropped the ‘Miss’ that had been attributed to her by a handful of sexist tour managers) wanted to bring lyrics back into electronic music. Her use of English lyrics served to highlight her cheeky French accent, which she used to bend the meaning of words and create an almost ironic distance between herself and what she was saying; a formula that worked a little too well perhaps, since Kittin and The Hacker, who were offered mountains of money for silly projects, decided to stop releasing music after just three years. However, they returned in 2009 with a new album, Two, now followed by their latest release, Third Album. These releases, free from the madness of the 00s, prove their love for electro is true and sincere.


It’s an understatement to say that Peaches’ arrival on the scene in 2000 caused a stir. With her album, The Teaches of Peaches (released on Kitty-Yo, a label specialising in quirky techno), the Berlin-based Canadian began a musical, cultural and sexual revolution. Musically, her style is a blend of electroclash and punk, and it smatters vibrant colours anywhere that looks too pristine. On stage, she’s accompanied by her trusty Roland MC-505, a simple machine to use (a bit of a punk relic some might say) which perfectly captures the very essence of rave music. This electronic musician went on to open for Marilyn Manson and Queens Of The Stone Age, changing public perception of her work and giving her a solid reputation as a musical provocateur. With excessive make-up, neon hotpants and shaved or bleached blond hair, Peaches uses every show as an opportunity to blur the lines between sexual identities and liberate the individual. In fact, she appears on the cover of her next album, Fatherfucker, with a beard. In 2000, the Canadian addressed issues that only the MeToo movement has managed to bring to the forefront so far: hetero-male privilege, non-binarism, the empowerment of the female body... “For me, it’s important to be reactive,” she says. “It helps me to see where people are at in relation to their body and their person. People will either love it or hate it.” Peaches has provided us with so much more than music, having become an icon for an entire generation of artists who were never sure where they belonged.

Ellen Allien

Ellen Allien is one of the key figures to emerge from Berlin’s electronic scene of the 90s. Following the fall of the Berlin wall, this era is characterised by its total freedom, and saw clubs like Tresor welcome the first wave of Detroit’s techno DJs, such as Jeff Mills and Underground Resistance. However, it wasn’t until a trip to London in 1988, during the height of the Summer of Love, that Ellen Allien discovered the wonders of acid house. Back in Germany, she worked in a record shop and hosted a radio show called Braincandy, before becoming a resident DJ in the two of the era’s most legendary clubs: the E-werk and Tresor. In 1995, she released her first EP (and first hit), Get the Groove Goin. Four years later, in 1999, she founded the label that would see her become one of the trailblazers of German techno, Bpitch Control. She went on to produce records for well-known artists within the city’s club circuits (who would go on to become global stars), such as Modeselektor, Kiki, Sascha Funke, Ben Klock, Paul Kalkbrenner and Apparat. She also made waves in the scene with her solo work, particularly her first album Stadtkind, a tribute to her hometown, and Berlinette, an album which was less geared towards the dancefloor and revealed a more sensitive side to her artistry. In 2007, she became one of the curators for the famous compilation series, Fabric, before releasing Dust in 2010. This album features one of her biggest hits, ‘Sun the Rain’, a track with an undeniable electronica sound. Nonetheless, the Berlin native never strays too far from techno, as she proved in 2019 when she released one of her best albums yet, Alientronic. This featured the hit ‘MDMA’, which is sure to go down in history thanks to the mind-blowing remix by Milton Bradley (alias Alien Rain). No matter where her music is playing, Ellen Allien always lights up the room.

Nina Kraviz

Originally from Eastern Siberia, you wouldn’t have imagined Nina Kraviz would achieve the levels of techno greatness she has today. Her journey began in Melbourne in 2006, where she was invited to the Red Bull Music Academy, which brings together young electronic talent from around the world. After releasing her first EP with the Underground Quality label, run by Jus-Ed (a pioneer of New York’s new deep house generation), she connected with Matt Edwards (alias Radioslave), a DJ, producer and trendsetter who founded the British label Rekids. This was a real turning point in her music career. In 2011, she released the song ‘Ghetto Kraviz which contrasted with her early deep house productions. This track paid tribute to the ghetto-house genre promoted by the legendary label Dance Mania in the 90′s. “I really believe that you don’t need much to make a good track. The most important thing is the ideas and passion you put into it.” The track was a real hit and generated massive sales for her debut album Nina Kraviz, released in 2012. This catapulted the Russian into the big leagues, which were largely dominated by male DJs, though she dodged all the sexist stereotypes with ease and with grace. She established herself as one of the decade’s biggest stars thanks to her extensive musical repertoire and cutting-edge sets that mix techno, house and acid with formidable efficiency (not to mention her stage presence: she has every single spectator under her spell each and every time). In 2014, she launched her own label, трип (Trip). She released uncompromising records under this label, whilst simultaneously revealing musical gems like Iceland’s Bjarki, who garnered fame with his hit ‘I Wanna Go Bang’. Later, she curated two compilations reserved for highly rated artists, Fabric and DJ Kicks, allowing her to further establish her status as one of the leading DJs of the 21st century. We’ve a lot to thank Nina Kraviz for when it comes to making space for female stars in the world of techno.