By Bill Rah
Frankie Elyse is a BBC Journalist and DJ who also performs alongside her twin sister, Jozette in the DJ and Violin duo KINTRA.
The 26-year-old is a trailblazer as she pushes equality within Dundee club culture. The twins formed the Polka Dot Disco Club in Dundee, a women’s only DJ collective. “A series of workshops to encourage and support females looking to DJ.” They noticed similar initiatives were set up in Glasgow and Edinburgh, however, there was nothing similar in Dundee. They created it to “challenge the industry’s gender imbalance.”
The workshop serves as a platform to express their creativity through music and develop their technical skills. The Dundee University Student Association kindly allowed the twins to use their space for free. “It was important that the workshops were accessible to anyone regardless of their financial situation.” The twins did not get paid to teach. It was their choice. To enforce equality by bringing change to the disparity. Frankie noted it is intimidating forfemales to find their place in an industry which is disproportionately full of males.
She discovered how gratifying it is mentoring women and developing their skills under her tutelage. “Proud of how far our girls have come and love the bond that we have all formed as not only a collective but as friends.” She wants to empower the women under her wing. “We wanted to make it available for anyone no matter who you are or where you’re from.” The twins created an equal application process for females or female identifying people to apply.
The twins selected enthusiastic women who demonstrated passion but didn’t have the experience. They wanted to give opportunities to women who don’t get them enough. “I was struggling, it’s hard to break in especially for me trying to be pals with guys. It’s quite difficult to become pals with them. A lot of gigs in the underground scene it is pals booking pals. I didn’t have many and struggled to get booked in certain places.”
She recognised how daunting it is for women to make a dent in a male-dominated industry. “I felt If I had a group of girls, it would make more inclusivity.” Dundee lacked diversity according to Frankie as there are not enough female artists. Frankie understands how critical it is for young women to build confidence. “Once I got into the swing of things I loved it.”
For her, It was a strange sense of responsibility. She commented on how unfamiliar it initially felt, to teach six strangers. Young women that admired her andshared her flair. “I felt that I wanted to do well by the girls. I wanted to teach them well. I think I did, and I loved it.”
Frankie has a fondness for disco because it embodies the equality she pushes. “We wanted to provide the girls with a chance to inspire others, create a support network for women to share ideas and meet like-minded music lovers.” For four weeks, with 3-hour sessions, Frankie and her sister tutored young women in the art by developing their talent from scratch. During the first lesson, Frankie doubted herself. Jozette reassured her.
Despite the momentary lapse, Frankie managed to overcome her uncertainty. She knows how critical it is for women to build confidence. Throughout her final year studying Law with Spanish at The University of Edinburgh, she had her own radio show where she realized that she wanted to be a DJ and work in media.
After graduating, she travelled to Ibiza to do a DJ course. “It was great, the course was amazing. That gave me confidence.” Frankie recalled one instance they were performing, and Jozette whacked her with her bow. They received superstar treatment when they played in the Czech Republic. “The best way to stand out is to be unique. Stay true to yourself by doing what you enjoy.”
The twin’s collaboration is unparalleled, and they will be releasing their debut EP soon. They play melodic techno because it works in unison with the violin. As she laughed and reminisced, Frankie explained how amazing it was seeing the collective evolve.
“I’m grateful to the girls and Dundee Union.” She expressed gratitude throughout her moment of self reflection. “It was good seeing them start from nothing and improving. There is a few of them that weren’t sure of themselves but by the end, they were smashing out belters.” The Polka Dot Disco Club played their first set together right before the pandemic cratered through the industry. The concept was praised yet there was a minority on social media questioning her decision.
“I don’t think anyone has the balls to say it to my face.” The fact critics attacked her on social media reflects the issue at large. Men demeaning women by trying to bring them down. That won’t stop her from fighting. “I wish we didn’t need a collective, but we do because it’s not just about making a group to DJ together. It’s about giving women the confidence.”
Solving the gender imbalance within the industry is challenging yet she is doing an admirable job. Her message to men is to make women feel more comfortable and be more inclusive towards everyone. “The scene has improved immensely in the last two years.” It’s refreshing to see more women showcase their skill and sound. However, Scottish promoters have a long road ahead if true 50/50 equality is to be achieved.