photo by Miqayel Petrosyan

Arusik Mkrtchyan – more popular as DJ Vakcina – is one of the most famous, most stylish and bravest woman DJ in Armenia. In cooperation with world famous DJs, she organized massive club and open-air events both in Armenia and abroad. But apart from her main activities she is also engaged in active public life. She launched the campaigns “No Drugs No Cigarettes” in cooperation with “The Laboratory” in 2009 and in December of the same year – the campaign “No AIDS”. DJ Vakcina is a regional representative of the group “Red Ribbon”, and in 2011 Advocacy Group on AIDS gave her the award of HIV/AIDS advocate 2011 as a cultural figure concerned about problem. She has been engaged in encouraging blood donation to support people sick with leukemia in recent years. She is also implementing charity projects aimed at solving orphanage children’s and cancer patients’ problems

– In what conditions and atmosphere did you develop as an individual?

-My family had a tremendous role in my development. As my father is a biologist (physicist, astronomer, and philosopher) and my mother is an artist I grew up in a quite liberal and civil environment. But my childhood passed during the hard years of cold and darkness as a result of which my struggling soul was fortified. It might be the synthesis of those contradictions that formed my slightly categorical but complementary worldview.

– How and why DJ Vakcina? Let’s talk about the choice of your path and difficulties in realization.

– The choice of DJism happened to be very crucial. At the age of 12-13 I prowled into a club with friends for the first time. At the sight of the DJ playing the music I instantly fell in love with that job. My first debut took place when I was 16. But I have performed as DJ Vakcina since 2006 when I was presenting my author program “Club Time” – one of the top radio programs.

I digged out the term “vaccine” from my English dictionary of biology. I saw it and immediately realized that it was the best variant to me as I vaccinate good music against blue mood.

photo by Gago Petrosyan – “Giraffe Photostudio”

– What’s the difference between DJ Vakcina and Arusik Mkrtchyan?

– There are no ideological and radical differences between my two types. Arusik is simply milder, familial, is fond of self-education. Whereas DJ Vakcina who takes about 85 % of my time is more aggressive in the positive sense, cheerful; that’s my main type.

– Being a prominent woman in a sphere which is regarded as “masculine” in our country, have you ever come across discriminatory attitude?

– Initially it was very hard for me as many of the men working in this sphere are ready to extinguish, stifle, criticize and compromise you at any suitable moment. They think that if you are a woman you are weak and will give up easier. Initially I spent all my energy struggling against them. But then I realized that it’s just a standstill. You should pay no attention to them and engage in self-improvement. You know, people don’t like the strong, yet they respect and accept me.

– How do you imagine the characters of A WOMAN” and an “ARMENIAN WOMAN?” Are they different characters to you?

– To my mind the basic difference between these two characters is rights protection level. Unlike the western women, the Armenian one is an opressed character, is afraid to express her views, should always be obeying, cannot self-realize, is restricted in her decisions and receives discriminatory treatment. But this doesn’t refer to everybody as lots of women struggle for their rights nowadays and the situation changes to the better. For instance, I don’t expect wonders, I cultivate my happiness myself.

photo by “Diadoro”

– Who or what do you think is the reason for discriminatory attitude towards women?

– I think the reason is crusted norms and stereotypical patriarchal approaches. Certainly this issue exists not only in our country. In many countries men mostly misappreciate women, treat them as inferior creatures. Of course, each one has their own role but there should be mutual respect.

– Due to you what is missing in our society? What would you change and what would you add?

– Respect and tolerance especially towards people with disabilities, people living with HIV, sexual minorities and other vulnerable groups is missing. I would definitely add these. I would eliminate indifference, evil, mockery and selfishness.

– Speaking about public topics I can’t help touching upon your civil activities and your cooperation with the civil society, including UNAIDS and PINK Armenia. Tell a bit about that cooperation. Was it successful?

– The first NGO I cooperated with was PINK Armenia. I am very happy for that as a new ? will continue the way you start it. I have learned from PINK that cooperation and unity provide more opportunities for raising social problems; this is not 1+1=2, this is 1+1=3; 4 and more.

2 years ago we jointly organized the event “No AIDS” and in 2012 with the support of PINK Armenia we held a party dedicated to the World AIDS Day in “Kami” club.

I would definitely regard our cooperation as positive and fertile. I think that it will continue.

It was through PINK that I got into contact with the regional group of UNAIDS in 2011. I was elected as the regional representative of the group “Red Ribbon” and took part in the events held in Kiev where Armenia was the most active and the most creative participant. Inspired by all this, I returned and together with UNAIDS and 19 celebrities organized the photo competition “AIDS is each and every one’s problem.”

I think such steps impact young people and are efficient. Yet this approach alone is not sufficient as we don’t have state support over this issue.

photo by “Negative Studio”

– Back to women; to your mind, what is happiness through a woman’s eyes?

– For me, happiness is absolute for a woman when she has the opportunity for self-realization, when she is free in her decisions and in the expression of her feelings, when she is treated as an equal.

– Do you have any final wish or advice to women?

– I wish each woman to find her own formula of happiness, apply that formula in life and achieve absolute harmony.

Kamo Davtyan