Little Hats is an Italian selector based in London, and is the creative lead for Sisu. Spinning tunes across UK and mainland Europe, she has a wealth of radio station appearances behind her and a love for planning and playing events. With a sound that varies from darker sets with heavy break-beat sounds, to lighter performances serving Italo disco and revisited Latin sounds, her love for melodic grooves and organic percussion shines through. Such sounds are often accompanied by euphoric boogieing behind the booth.
Committed to advancing gender equality in the scene, she has been a core member of Sisu for over three years and led on the Sisu Podcast series throughout lockdown. As clubs reopen she has been curating Sisu events.
Read on to find out more about the DJ, how London shaped her DJ career, and the problems Sisu solve.
So Little Hats - how did you get into DJing? Plus, we’d love to know more about the name!
Well, my DJ name is Little Hats, because my Italian name is Capellini, which means ‘Little Hats’. And I do wear many hats! Most of them are little and some of them are quite big.
But more on the DJing - who am I? I'm a DJ and I've been with Sisu for four years. I found Sisu when I first moved to London from Northern Italy.
Moving to London had a huge impact on me, as it was when I realised I didn’t just have to be a spectator in music. In Italy, I loved going to parties and organising them, but I never saw any female DJs behind the decks - which means I never saw myself behind the decks. My family are actually all techno DJs but I never had a role model for it. It was only when I moved to London that I started finding all of these opportunities for open decks where I could go to a pub on a Tuesday and play some really inappropriate 130 BPM music.
Did anyone inspire you particularly?
Yes, I started seeing people like Or:la play, who is a massive influence of mine, as well as DJs like Peach, Moxie, and Madame X. Slowly I began going to Red Bull Studios 'Normal Not Novelty' events and I found myself in this female space with lots of panels and workshops that were really supportive. Every time I had tried to DJ in the past, it was in such a male-dominated space with a lot of barriers up for people that didn't know the gear. It felt really intimidating and exclusive. It’s a hard space to penetrate because it can be so nerve-wracking starting out. All eyes are on you.
And how did you find Sisu?
I went to an event organised by a collective called Equaliser from Leeds and there were loads of female leads from Sisu there. After speaking to them so many really encouraged me to join Sisu and get involved.
When I started going to their workshops, I realised that it was exactly what I needed. Before, I felt I could become a DJ but just didn’t know how to approach it. Suddenly I had access to training and a community of people who could mentor me. I had access to gigs and opportunities in radio and clubs. It was an amazing feeling.
Once I started to feel more confident in what I was doing, I started getting behind decks. I bought a Numark Mixer that was really bad to use and basically a toaster! But I felt that If I could learn how to use that, I could learn to use anything.
What is the current situation of Gender Disparity like in the DJ world?
What’s interesting with female DJs is that we've achieved huge levels of success in the last five years - not just Sisu, but everyone who's doing work on it. But when you look at the statistics, only something like 14% of club bookings in Europe in 2019 were female DJs. This is ridiculously low and also shows in statistics for software like Ableton or Pioneer. It’s completely imbalanced.
Why is this an issue? What does Sisu do to solve this?
Because it’s not just a problem of boys booking boys, but it's also a problem of women not seeing themselves as DJs. And therefore not having opportunities to become those role models that are so critically needed. We need to create a bigger talent pool to solve this - and this is exactly what Sisu does.
We train DJs, and the more female DJs behind decks, the more people see that as a role models and they start DJing. And that's how we’ll fix it. We have achieved an insane amount of success and I think everyone's waking up to it. When I first came to London, it was really acceptable for somewhere like Fabric to have just male DJs, but now I think people talk about it and want it to change. I really think London is now ahead of the curve when it comes to opportunities and I’m hoping to bring some of this energy back to Italy. Men are really willing to also be allies on it and it’s been an incredible journey so far. My brother is a great example of this - he knows how to DJ and when I began taking it seriously he really acted like a mentor and supported my goals.
What’s your favourite thing about Sisu?
One of my favoruite things is that we have such experience, amazing DJs who are willing to help. I’ve seen new starters DJ next to them and I’ve never seen someone say, roll their eyes at a beginner or say they’re not very good. We know that everyone's on that journey and everyone's on a journey together. That's what's great about us. We have a real group mindset. There’s been a lot of talk about equalising the music industry and now when I approach venues or communities, I have the whole of Sisu behind me. It’s really enabled all of us to get a foot in the door of so many events and gigs and opportunities.
Favourite track of the moment?
Saoirse - she has a song that I can’t pronounce, but I love it! Her production is amazing, she’s an insane DJ and I love everything she’s doing.
Sisu is an international community acting to educate, inspire and showcase aspiring women and non-binary DJs and producers. They have a diverse roster of 34 artists for whom they create national and international opportunities, connections and pathways into the music industry. They are community-led, grassroots, and hold a collaborative and inclusive ethos