Co-founder Jessie Maryon Davies from Girls Rock London talks to Minni Moody about their latest mentorship programme of making the London music scene more inclusive.

Girls Rock London has a clear agenda.

“Girls Rock London is a space where marginalised genders get to feel free to take up space and make music in a non-judgemental supportive environment”, says co-founder Jessie Maryon Davies.

Girls Rock London has brought music education and spaces for females, non-binary and trans people for quite some time now. It all started back in 2015 when a group of musicians met at the Women of the World Festival at Southbank Centre. Wanting to share a similar space with others, GRL was born, Davies reveals

“Since then we have grown beyond at a rate which we didn’t ever really imagine, thanks to a community of musicians that give so much time and energy to what we do now.”

GRL is part of a bigger movement, the global The Girls Rock Camp Alliance (GRCA), founded in 2001 in Oregon, US. Currently member associations are active at least in 22 countries, according to GRCA website.

What are the numbers?

Several statistics show that the gender gap in music still exists. What are the facts?

Some number crunching; University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative published 2022 a ten-year study on the representation of females in the American music industry. 

The study, “Inclusion in the Recording Studio?”, analysed American Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart between 2012-2021.

According to study, in 2021 76.7% of artists were men and 23.3% were women. In the study, no artists identified as gender non-conforming or non-binary in 2021.

When it comes to songwriters, the research revealed even lower numbers. In ten years, amongst 4,796 songwriters, the percentage of male songwriters was 87.3%. The rest, 12.7%, were women, claimed the study.

In the UK, a report produced by BBC Radio DJ Jaguar Bingham discovered the following: in UK’s dance festival line-ups between 2018-2022 the number of female and non-binary acts rose from 14% (2018) to 28% (2022). 

“Work has been done on festival line-ups, and there have been great initiatives to see more 50/50. The industry is talking about making the change, but is it really happening? Are we sure that it is not tokenistic and outward facing, rather than real change?”, Davies challenges.

New album initiative

To play their part in the revolution, Girl Rock London (GRL) designed a 6-month programme for 20 early-stage musicians to support participants to gain more confidence and experience in music. The programme offered tools to songwriting, production, performance, and recording, as well as helped participants to meet likeminded people.

“Some people have been in bands for 30 years and have had experience in the recording studio, some have just learned the basics of an instrument, and this is their first time in a collaborative environment”, Davies says. 

“When we are in different groups we can learn from each other. That gives us the power of building each other up. This kind of idea of “X Factor world” where musicians are against each other, it doesn’t have to be like that. Seeing other people at different stages in their journey is really important at GRL.”

New bold voices

As a result of the programme, seven bands were formed in the process:

Full Pelt, Hypersonic Owls, The D@W$, Cascade, The Confusion Dilemma, WITCH FARM and Creatrix Twins. 

During the programme the participants worked towards making and recording their own tracks. Seven different acts performed in the showcase in East London on the 25th of February.

“The tunes these bands have been writing are banging and different. We’ve got a two-piece electronic band, amazingly powerful, humorous lyrics about owning your body, and then we’ve got a really ‘dreamscape guitar effects-ey’ band with electric cello that takes you to another world”, Davies describes the musical range.

The ‘GRL – Compilation #1’ is available on BandCamp: 

Girls Rock London short film on the album launch is available below.
Filming & production: Minni Moody