When you hear the title DJ… what do you picture?
Most people envision a dude in a T-shirt bouncing his arm up and down to the stomps of an LED-soaked, sweat-drenched crowd. So when I encounter a female behind the controls, I sit up and pay attention.
With the Los Angeles-based DJ/Producer, WHITEHORSE, the surprises don’t stop there. While it’s not uncommon for artists to cultivate a deeper relationship with themselves in order to manifest more honest expression in their work, Whitehorse survives by walking the balance between the center, herself, and the audiences she connects with.
Whitehorse is Natalia Benson. A 28-year-old, bass-mixing, sample-loving, meditating phenomenon who makes tarot-reading a daily practice and a second business.
Sure, Whitehorse's personal life is not what you might picture behind the curtain, but her lifestyle and state of mind is more than just mystical brouhaha. Benson created this way of life as a means to express herself and escape from a darker period in her life where she dabbled with substance-abuse. Benson says addiction is “unexpressed energy” and Whitehorse provides her with the catharsis she needs that reconciles parts of her life that she still hasn’t gotten her head around.
Benson spent years in her chrysalis phase as a dancer, yoga instructor and jewelry designer before her metamorphosis into Whitehorse, an opportunity that she says pulled together all these things. But it’s not all crystals and prayer when it comes Whitehorse gigs. Benson looks at shows like a science experiment, where the amount of practice is her constant. Benson says, “The variable is technicalities, my equipment, weather.”
Her strength as a businesswoman shines when she talks about practicing sets as a religion and her stubbornness as a female in the electronic music scene. “I just don’t think of it that way,” Benson says of walking through the exceptionally male-dominated music industry. “People are people and this is what they’ve chosen to do and what I’ve chosen to do, regardless of gender.”
The numbers express a very different reality, despite Benson’s positive outlook and presence at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this year. According to Female Pressure, in 2015 females represent only 10 percent of acts in music festivals across the globe and a little more than 12 percent in the U.S. If you peruse the Billboard charts for a few seconds, you'll find that EDM specifically continues to be a boys club.
Benson recognizes that she has a headstrong personality, but her forward-looking, intentionally semi-blind-eyed approach to the gender aspect of her profession allows her to thrive. “You need the ignorance to think that there’s not anything against you and the confidence to love yourself and be like: this is what I’m doing and here I go.”
Watch the music video below of the premiere for Whitehorse’s first original single, “In Sky (Falls Together),” written and produced along with bass producer Vaski.
Additional live footage for Fuse First-Person by Stash Slionski and Duncan Abdelnour.