Amber Savage's been hooked on DJing ever since she peered over the decks aged 14 at her first rave party. It was love at first sight. "I just looked over and I was like 'what is that?! I have to learn how to do that!" she recounts excitedly.
She hijacked a friend's decks and started religiously going to Sydney's legendary dance club Sublime, which ignited her passion for the hard dance/hard trance genres that she still revels in today amongst her passion for tech house and electro. Savage made her Sydney debut after muscling her way into Kings Cross club Icebox. "I said 'let me play some tunes, it's Monday night - it's not going to hurt!"
Ever since, she's been blazing her own trail that's seen her hailed as Australia's 'Queen of Hard Dance'. "Everything I play is tough. I don't play the fluffy side of anything," she says with a wicked smile.
Well loved and respected around the country, she's ranked in Inthemix's Top 50 DJ poll every year since it started in 2003 and featured in the national Top 10 three times. She's released several singles and nine mix compilations (Peaktime Vol.3, Hardstyle Generation, Intoxicating Rhythm and Black Vol.2 just to name a few) in addition to touring overseas with a seven-week stint in Ibiza. Yet she says her most memorable highlight to date has to be playing Berlin Love Parade in 2006.
"I played on a float and there was 1.2 million people there that year," she beams. "I've never seen anything like it in my life. Every street you'd look down and see a sea of people. It was epic and I got to play the last song of the parade on the float looking over the Peace Angel statue."
But it hasn't always been highlights for Savage. Starting out 12 years ago, she faced the double discrimination of being female and playing harder styles of dance. "Some promoters never gave me the chance. It's like hard DJ - bam! They're not dealing with you," she reveals. "I don't know if I'll ever lose that stigma but that's part of what inspires me to break down these barriers of music styles. If you're a good DJ, you should be able to play good music and entertain a crowd."
That's what she's been doing regardless, with a six year reign as the only female resident at Home Nightclub, festival slots at Future Music Festival, Creamfields, Defqon1 and Magic City and a starring role at Transmission, Sydney's definitive trance event.
"DJing's something that I cannot get sick of," she says. "It's had a hold on me since the word go. Every time I do a mix, I learn something. Playing music for people is exactly where I belong, that's where I feel at home."