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She Rocks: a Celebration of South Asian Women and Sonic Joy

No matter the venue, these Toronto-based DJs and promoters are here to make it count. 

by Aurora Zboch

Photos by Gurveer

Sequins and glitter. A sundry of musical genres. A fabulous, all-femme lineup. She Rocks was a divine night celebrating South Asian culture in Toronto’s dance music scene. 

Roshanie, aka Sam Roshanie Dharmasena, is a DJ in Toronto via Brampton. Initially, Roshanie planned to spend the weekend hanging out and resting. “I was actually not trying to DJ that weekend,” she said. Then, upon seeing the lineup she changed her mind. 

In her Instagram post promoting this event’s theme, Roshanie reflects on the questions she gets about being a South Asian DJ. “My thoughts on that change day by day but playing alongside other Brown women is a top tier feeling,” she wrote. 

“Being on a lineup with all South Asian women and watching them perform and being alongside them on a stage feels good — and I try to do things that make me feel good,” Roshanie tells RANGE. She loves a bit of mystery as to what the other artists will bring to the atmosphere. Despite sharing an identity, the looks and sounds are diverse and surprising. For special gigs like this, she excitedly plans her sets to include more standout tracks from South Asian artists that the community will be familiar with. Roshanie’s party mixes lean on hip-hop and R&B stylings.

She Rocks most recently happened on the evening of Saturday Dec. 3 at Bar Cathedral, a venue in downtown Toronto with stained glass windows, a blessed lounge, and an intimate space for dancing. The crowd was extremely stylish, adorned in bold colours, glitter and sequins. The artist curation, fashion, and musical selections made it unlike any usual club or bar night even in a city like Toronto. Roshanie knows one thing for certain is the dedication of partiers in the Greater Toronto Area, and if they are coming a long way to make it downtown, she’s going to make it count. “Especially in the winter,” she adds.  

DJ Roshanie performing at She Rocks on Dec. 3 at Bar Cathedral in Toronto, ON.

DJ Roshanie performing at She Rocks on Dec. 3 at Bar Cathedral in Toronto, ON.

As the event’s producer, Jashima Wadehra, puts it, the night began with the audience feeling curious about genres and styles they haven’t been exposed to before and ended up with a vibrant, high energy dance floor.

“It’s also a massive win every time people discover a new artist they love and didn’t know about.” she said. “In addition to metrics like ticket sales, social media impressions… above all else however, I’m looking to teach audiences to come out for sonic joy, for spaces they feel represented in but not boxed in. Places where music is the priority and relying on notable acts isn’t what informs their desire to discover new music.”

The lineup featured Navz-47 (pictured at the top of this article), a vocalist, composer and rapper who seeks to nurture communal ties in a new generation of Toronto rap through powerful lyrics. And SuKha, who pairs R&B and trap sounds with heavy metal and hip-hop.  

DJ Angelphroot can often be found spreading her wings and high-spirited energy around underground raves. She plays fluorescent and fast sounds regularly at Toronto Hardcore events and is hard to miss on TikTok, amassing over 200,000 followers for her unique style content and party recaps. 

The MC for She Rocks was Eboshi, one half of the fiery rap duo Cartel Madras. Roshanie first crossed paths with SuKha and Eboshi at the music video shoot for the Cartel Madras single “DRIFT.” She Rocks provided the opportunity to solidify the previously online-only connections that Roshanie made with the other local Toronto talent. 

In an email after the event, Wadehra said she measures a party’s success by the quality of its performances — and every artist at She Rocks delivered.

SuKha performing at She Rocks on Dec. 3 at Bar Cathedral in Toronto, ON.

After a summer of playing weekly in Mississauga’s Celebration Square, Roshanie reflects on the unique opportunities she gets as a DJ. She loves parties in clubs and bars, but especially enjoys performing for the public and knows how to have a meaningful exchange with her audience through her selections. Roshanie compared her anticipation ahead of She Rocks as similar to earlier this year when she played another event focused on South Asian performers called Monsoon Sound

Roshanie can also be found streaming her mixing on Twitch, sitting in a cozy corner at home surrounded by plants and sipping tea. She is also the founder of Solidarity in Sound, an educational initiative for the advancement of gender equity in music. SIS regularly hosts a show with Roshanie and Cam Litchmore on ISO Radio. It’s important for her to connect with listeners beyond the borders of Toronto and share her love of music all around the world. 

Ode and Foreignerz regularly host events around the world and plan to bring more unique events to Toronto in the near future, Wadehra said. They’re grateful for organizations like DESIFEST, Canada’s Award-winning South Asian Urban music festival supporting new projects and ideas that “uplift artists in the South Asian diaspora, but also music workers like us behind the scenes,” she said. 

She said, “Anytime I’m mixing a variety of musical styles and audiences, I’m hopeful that the love for music discovery will be louder than the fear of the unknown, and it was.”