“People didn’t understand why a Kuwaiti woman was mixing hip-hop for a living, and it often made me second-guess my career choice”, says 32-year-old Farah Bishara, who quit her corporate six years ago to take up DJing full time.
Bishara (known as DJ Bonita) is aware of the restrictions women working in music face, but she’s living proof that it’s possible. And she isn’t afraid to be vocal about it. “No matter how difficult it can be for people to understand why I’m doing it, the fact is, I am doing it”, she continues.
Bishara has built a strong reputation in her home country, thanks to her heavily 90s hip-hop sets, which has led her to spin for a myriad of brands like Chopard, Monki, Tory Burch, and Kenzo. “When I first got the e-mail from Kenzo, I freaked out and called all my friend”, she exclaims.
Not only is she killing it in a traditionally male-dominated scene, she is also the person behind Vinyl Destination, Kuwait’s first online record shop.
“The response has been amazing! Our little community includes seasoned vinyl collectors, a new generation of kids that think vinyl is cool, and people who have no idea how to operate a record player – all races and ages. Some of the people that come to the pop-ups will buy records and tell me that they don’t even own a record player”, she says.
Bishara notably focuses on 90s hip-hop but also integrates reggae, jazz and latino music that she gets from worldwide distributors. “Vinyl was always an integral part of hip-hop and DJing in the 70’s, and I felt a connection to it before I could fully understand it. I didn’t know how to properly collect; I was just buying my favourite albums until I realised that it’s more than just owning cool albums. It’s a continuous process of discovery”, she explains.
Having now spent the last six years amassing a personal collection of 500 records (she cites N*E*R*D’s ‘Fly Or Die’ as her favourite), she wants to show young Kuwaitis who want to chose an “unconventional” path that you can find and build a community, and most importantly, that turning your passion project into a fully fledged career is infinitely possible.