Strong women centre-stage

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The Grace Jones after-party will be all about girl power.

Natalia Sheppard, known as Tali, nearly cried and Aroha Harawira was stoked when the promoter of the sold-out Queenstown Grace Jones concert asked them to play the after-party.

“He was like ‘I want strong women playing ’cos she’s [Grace Jones] a strong female’,” Tali says.

“I’ve idolised Grace Jones since I was eight years old, she’s like my hero, my idol — so the fact that I get to go to her gig and play her after-party is sick.”

Together the duo play house-tech music, with Aroha DJ’ing and Tali MC’ing.

They reckon audiences should “expect the unexpected”.

Individually the ladies have been conquering the music industry for quite some time.

Tali has dropped six studio albums over the years, won three Drum & Bass Awards, had a top 40 hit in the United Kingdom and was a cover girl for DJ Mag International.

Aroha is also an accomplished DJ, winning the reader-voted ‘Best of Kiwi — Best Club DJ’ award for Rip It Up magazine in 2013.

She was a flagship host for George FM for eight years and has played support for some massive acts including Diplo and Disclosure.

The pair only came together about three years ago at an album launch party for Kiwi Grammy Award winner Kimbra.

“Aroha knew that I could MC over lots of different genres, and I knew that Aroha was a mean-as DJ — we just played this gig and it went off and it was really awesome.”

These days they’re best friends.

Tali says she’s the more outspoken of the pair when it comes to talking about women in the music industry, especially when it comes to electronic music.

“I’m just like balls to the wall — I will say exactly what I think on the matter and people can deal with that.”

She’s got a little advice for any budding young female acts.

“Don’t listen to people who try and tell you that there isn’t a place for you.

“There is a place for everybody and there is room in the music industry — concentrate on supporting your fellow sisters.”

It’s a hard slog, but it’ll be worth it in the long run, she says.

“Be prepared for the fact that people will try and tear you down about all matters that are unrelated to music — you know, like, the way you look or who you’re dating or crap like that.

“None of that matters at the end of the day . . . never ever give up if you want to do it.”– Mandy Cooper

MC Tali and DJ Aroha play The Sherwood tomorrow at the Grace Jones after-party, 11.30pm, R18, tickets available on Eventfinda for $25

mandy.cooper@scene.co.nz