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LW Politics & Music – Part 1: Ren Aldridge (Petrol Girls)

By Kris Smith

The media regularly bemoan a lack of politics in music, compared to a mythical 60s/70s/80s ‘good old days’ – only to salute as an exception the occasional gobby indie-boy band trying to kickstart their career with some token rebellious rhetoric. Meanwhile, every year there are more fiercely-politicised, intelligent and committed activists getting busy on the DIY feminist punk scene, far from the plaudits and pitfalls of the spotlight. In the first part of a new series of interviews, LOUD WOMEN meets them and asks them some of the questions that the music industry won’t.

#1 Ren Aldridge (Petrol Girls)
ren1

What made you decide to use your songwriting to express political viewpoints?

I don’t think it was a deliberate decision when I started doing it, it just made sense because music is what politicised me. Going to punk shows as a teenager introduced me to antifascist and anticapitalist politics. Then when I started Petrol Girls it was motivated by feeling like a feminist politics wasn’t really present in the scene I was part of. Turns out there was shitloads of other DIY feminist punk happening in other scenes but I didn’t find most of it until we started gigging.

Now my reasons for continuing to express politics through music are more deliberate. I see ideas like the gender binary and nationalism as being continually produced and maintained by culture so culture makes sense to me as a battleground, as a point where these dominant ideologies might be destabilised. I think words are important – so many of the (shit) ideas our lives are organised around are just stories in the end  and writing and ‘expressing’ words is something I can do.

Do you use songs as tools to put across prefigured messages – or is it more that you self-express in general through music, with politics just one aspect of that?

It’s probably a mixture. I pretty much see everything as political. Like, if you’re not challenging dominant power structures then you’re just reinforcing them. I don’t really see this neutral ground a lot of people––mostly white dudes––claim to stand on. It suggests a level playing field that frankly doesn’t exist.

Most of our songs come from a place of anger, and that tends to be political if you search for its roots. Some songs, like ‘Touch Me Again’, have literally grown from a demo chant so I guess that’s pretty prefigured! Others, and most of what we write now, grow pretty organically, and I find political aspects of a song as it takes shape, which then continue shaping it.

Is the function of politics in music to affirm views within a reciprocal social group, or convert – or at least converse with – a wider public?

I think this question is one of the reasons I’m back at uni this year. Punk can be very ‘preaching to the converted’. Political voices are necessary within it because it can be a self-congratulatory hypocritical pile of wank sometimes. There is always work to do within music. But I don’t think music is going to bring down the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy alone. It’s certainly not going to solve climate change.

‘Converting’ is an interesting word, and an idea I’m wary of. I went to a workshop at the Refugee and Migrant conference out in Hamburg a couple of winters ago on how to ‘support’ those kind of struggles as a European. One of the points that came across was how deeply a Christian missionary kind of attitude permeates a lot of charitable efforts. Maybe the idea of ‘converting’ fits in with that. We talked a lot about the difference between solidarity and charity. I think it’s more about seeing how other people’s struggles connect with our own and building bridges, than like, ‘showing someone the light’ (vomit).

There are various ways that a performer’s politics might not communicate to an audience, but you make a point of speaking between songs to reinforce the message. Did that come naturally, in terms of the confidence needed? Is it to break the ice, to break down barriers with a crowd, or to clarify – or all of those?  

Young women with strong political convictions tend to be ignored, patronised, or dismissed as a bit mental, or at least that was my experience. Suddenly once you’re holding a mic, people take you seriously (which is one of the most laughable aspects of the political music community). I felt that difference in reception, and took every chance I got to speak about the things I think are important from a position where its much harder for men to shout me down. From the stage is a pretty weird place to speak about emancipatory politics, though. I guess it’s also about keeping a present tense connection with what the songs are about. Repetition can numb things sometimes. Songs can grow and change in relevance if you keep up an active relationship to them.

The success of someone like Billy Bragg – approachably media-friendly, active in campaigns  (albeit mild, non-threatening ones) – might suggest that in terms of politics-in-music, the music can actually be of secondary importance. Is music just one aspect of what you do?

I don’t really like answering this kind of stuff because I don’t want Petrol Girls to benefit from other things that band members do politically, but then I also believe in using that platform, but not if the benefit to us outweighs the benefit to the cause – I’m not sure about it to be honest. I do think we all have the potential to use music networks in some very practical ways to support causes – using touring vans to shift donations and supplies to refugee camps, for example. In fairness, I’ve not been very active lately because of some other heavy shit I have going on at the moment, and pretty badly burn out.

Is there a pressure that comes with being known as a political musician? And is there a balance to strike between work on the one hand, and fun and self-care on the other?

OK, I have been writing myself around in circles trying to work out how honestly I want to answer this question. Firstly, I’m really lucky to have had incredible support from other women in political bands who, just, get it. And I think, because of conversations I’ve had with a few of them lately, and the pressure they’ve felt, I’d like to be pretty open about it. Most of them have even more heavy shit going on and you’d never even know. What people present on stage and the internet is never the full story. I’m becoming an increasingly private person and I don’t feel like sharing everything I go through with the internet (which is absolutely not to say that is an invalid way of dealing with stuff, it just isn’t my way). I also think I give off a very different impression of myself on stage to who I really am … but basically I’m not coping with the pressure at all, and I haven’t for a long time. I also don’t want pity – I hate feeling pitied and that’s a big reason why I’m hesitating.

ren2I was ready to give up by the end of the summer, but then we went on tour with Dream Nails and I learnt so much, just in that one week, about ways that I might actually be able to make touring as a political band sustainable. Petrol Girls are on a semi-break whilst I’m back at uni for a year and I’m determined to use that time to sort my shit out. I am grumpily coming round to the point that self-care is necessary to sustain political activism and touring in a political band. And that it isn’t––to quote Dream Nails actually––all about bubble baths. So the two things I’m working on are boundaries and resilience.

I chat with people about sexual violence and mental health after pretty much every single show and I kind of feel a bit like a garbage facility trying to process all the scene and wider society’s disgusting violent shit.

So many people are going through, or have been through, such horrendous shit. And I want to help, I really really do, but I don’t think I can help in that way anymore. I end up in these states where just replying to a message feels like more than I can bare, and I’ve lost touch with a lot of friends from being on tour so much and not having the energy to just reply. I don’t think I can have those conversations anymore. But I also don’t want to leave a hole – make people feel stuff with our music then not follow that up with some kind of support; that would feel like just capitalising on these struggles. So I’m working out what can be done there before we start touring again, what we can signpost, etc. Then resilience I guess is what I prefer to think about instead of self-care. Janey Dream Nails taught me about the four principles (lol we sound like a cult, FEMINIST PUNK IS A CULT *mad cackling*): adaptability, confidence, purpose, community. I need to build resilience because I reached a point where I felt unable to deal with any kind of criticism; completely brittle. I need to get my bounce back to be able to be meaningfully reflective and accountable, not just shattered (in every sense) when someone points out I’m doing something wrong.

So that’s what I’m working on my end, but there is stuff I’d appreciate from other people as well. I thought it was just me being oversensitive and useless but I’ve spoken to others in a similar position, and now actually I do think the expectations placed on us are unfair. I want to research this more, but from the conversations I’ve had, I see a totally disproportionate amount of emotional labour expected of women/queer/‘feminine’ people compared with men in political bands. Men get applauded for managing to not be creeps, or for the one time they called out another creep, whereas this is just expected and often demanded of feminists in bands. It’s nobodies fault and I’m not saying that applause or those demands are wrong in and of themselves, I just think its worth pointing out, because its part of a society-wide labour imbalance in terms of emotional work. But then, as I said, I do think it’s important to be held accountable, especially when claiming terms like feminist. I was actually thinking about dropping ‘feminist’ as a label because I don’t think I can live up to everyone’s expectations of what a feminist band should be. I guess what I’m asking, is for feminists in bands to be treated with a little more empathy and understanding from our community, and as humans who will make mistakes, and who are trying, in the context of a patriarchal world and music scene thats hurting us as well. I can only speak for myself, but I make the music that I need to hear, because I’m not doing too great either!

I want touring to be fun again, and I’m not going to feel guilty about wanting that anymore. I want to get myself back in a head space where I can enjoy meeting people, staying up all night talking and having mad adventures. I miss that version of myself.

Can we make any distinction between big-P and small-P politics – e.g. perhaps state Austerity cf. intersectionality – or is it inseparable, on the principle that the personal is political?

I guess even if you just consider that example, state Austerity disproportionately affects the people who experience intersecting forms of oppression so, ultimately, no. But, something I am scared of, but trying to, write about is an idea of looking both ways. I think identity politics are hugely important. I don’t think they are everything, especially for someone like me who only really experiences oppression as a woman, and privilege in every other aspect of my life. I find the way the term intersectionality is used sometimes defensive and inward looking to the point of not seeing past ourselves as individuals. I think intersectionality is vital, as a way of positioning ourselves within wider struggles, and understanding other’s positions; appreciating why some people react with more emotion to a political conversation because they are actually living what to you might be more of an abstract concept. But yeah, to answer your question, no, everything is so interconnected.

What are the primary political issues we face, now, in the UK and globally?

The primary battle that a lot of us are facing is just surviving, and sometimes holding to account the (mostly) men that have assaulted and/or abused us and/or our friends. I am livid about the amount of energy and life this has taken from me personally over the past ren2few years, and I wrote about that at the end of my chapter for Nasty Women, which is a brilliant collection of essay’s by women on their experiences of being a woman in the 21st century. Reading all the varied contributions in that book can give some insight into the immediate issues that women* have to navigate in their daily lives, which for many, intersect with other forms of oppression like racism.

Personally I would like to put more energy into migrant solidarity work and fighting this terrifying rise in fascism on both a street and governmental level. For example, the Austrian interior minister just openly spoke about wanting to ‘concentrate’ refugees in camps. I think this just makes plain what has been happening for a while. What scares me most is how little people seem to care, but as I just said, many people do, they just have so much of their own shit to cope with first.

And then beyond all of it, the fucking planet’s dying because of humans, specifically because of industrialised nations, particularly the west. Ultimately to me its clear that the entire way Western society is structured is not sustainable for the planet or for the majority of individual human lives, even those of us that mostly benefit from it, which I see as one of the reasons literally everyone I know has some kind of mental health issue. Capitalism is the root of so many of these problems, putting the creation of profit over the immeasurable value of living things. (Like, what the fuck is fracking?!) At the risk of sounding like a massive hippy/Jedi, I think we need to find balance again, and that isn’t a fixed position, that’s a way of being that responds meaningfully to the people, animals and environment around us. And no, of course I have no idea how to do that.

I think we need to move through pity to empathy, through charity to real solidarity and stay flexible and nuanced. I also think that, basically, whatever the fuck masculinity is under capitalism, is most of the problem.


 

Find Petrol Girls on Facebook and Bandcamp

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5 Scottish female duos who are totally badass

There’s some truly famazing music happening in Scotland’s thriving DIY scene right now, and for some reason female duos seem to be doing it best North of the border!

Ditching the role of bassist – or replacing the drummer with a machine – can sometimes mean a loss of groove, volume, or stage presence … but it needn’t be so. Duos have to work a hell of a lot harder, granted, and there’s no room for error on stage. But really skillfull musicians – which Scotland seems to be teeming with right now – know that two heads can be much better than four.

There’s lots to be said for being in bands who eschew the standard four- or five-member format. Rocking up to a gig, just you and your best girl, is top, easy-maintenance fun – fewer diaries to co-ordinate, fewer egos to navigate, less equipment to fit in the boot, and fewer way to split the venue’s beer tokens. All this makes for a happy band – and, of course, happy bands make awesome music!

Here’s some Scottish twosomes that LOUD WOMEN loves big time, in particular order:

  1. bratakusBratakus

    Bratakus are two sisters, Breagha and Onnagh Cuinn, from the Northestmost North of Scotland, making some of the most exciting new punk music we’ve heard in years! They play guitar and bass, accompanied by a drum machine. The pair travelled down to play for us at the Hope and Anchor, back in  2016, and we fell head over heels for them. Bratakus also contributed to our first compilation album LOUD WOMEN: Volume One. We want to see lots more Bratakus in 2018 please thank you. Find them on Facebook and YouTube.

  2. twistettesThe Twistettes

    The Twistettes were an absolute highlight of this year’s LOUD WOMEN Fest at DIY Space for London. The pair are also sisters, Jo and Nicky D’Arc from Glasgow, who play drums and bass – ditching the role of guitarist, which is highly controversial for a punk band! The combination works perfectly though, and the pair are enjoying international success – recently touring South Korea. Find them on Facebook and Bandcamp.

  3. deuxdeux furieuses

    deux furieuses are now based in London, but friends Ros and Vas are originally from Glasgow, and their celtic passion is very evident in their stunning rock music. They play guitar (Ros) and drums (Vas), with Ros singing nearly as much as Vas, while playing, like, a million drums like a thunderstorm. Find them on Facebook and their website.

  4. doubleDouble Pussy Clit Fuck

    Just, wow. Glasgow’s Rosana Cade and Eilidh MacAskill are “Your favourite queer performance art riot-grrrl-on-grrrl-on-boi-on-boi-band; bringing you anti-genre mega noise by big dykes on tiny instruments”. Who even knows. Find them on Facebook.

  5. noiseThe Noise and the Naive

    Yeah yeah, they’re from Newcastle and that’s not in Scotland, but fuck it – this pair are awesome and we loved hosting them at The Unicorn this autumn! Pauline and Anne are a French couple, and they play guitar (Pauline) and drums (Anne), with both singing. Their self-titled debut EP is beautiful – it enjoys regular play at LOUD WOMEN HQ! Find them on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Stop asking female musicians for their stories of sexism in the music industry

gaptooth 3by Hannah Lucy

In the wake of #metoo, the Harvey Weinstein scandal and many other disclosures of sexual harassment and assault committed by men in the entertainment industry, media, politics and basically everywhere, journalists have been asking female celebrities whether they, too, have experienced gendered abuse and violence.

Some reporters are even acting as though survivors somehow owe them their stories.

While the current level of publicity around this is new, the practice of expecting women to recite experiences of sexism for public consumption is not, and it’s one female bands and artists are familiar with. “Have you ever experienced sexism in the music industry?” has become almost a standard questions to female musicians in interviews, not to mention the many requests from editors to provide a quote or even write a piece about it for their publication.

Privately, many women grumble to each other about these requests. It’s not that there aren’t important conversations to be had about this subject. There is absolutely more to be said – especially about the experiences of women of colour, disabled women, queer women, trans women, working class women and others who experience intersecting oppressions. But sometimes these questions feel like yet another example of the problem they are supposedly trying to address. So I’ve put together a handy list of questions to ask yourself before you call on female musicians to recount their experiences of sexism in the music industry.

What are you trying to achieve?
Contrary to popular belief, women have been speaking up about their experiences of sexism for a long, long time. Often, it doesn’t seem to change anything – whether because people don’t believe us or just don’t care enough to change their behaviour. For some women, sharing their experiences can be part of the healing process, and we should absolutely support them in doing that, especially if it’s at their initiative [i.e.: not yours]. But if sharing our stories hasn’t ended sexism yet, will your blog containing yet more descriptions of abuses of power really bring about the changes we need?

Remember, when you ask about ‘sexism’, you’re asking about everything from casual comments or unconscious bias to physical and sexual violence. Sharing these stories can be exhausting, re-traumatising and put as at risk of retribution. So ask yourself, is it worth it? Instead of asking us to keep proving that there’s a problem, could you write a piece about what needs to be done to fix it, or about projects supporting women in music?

Do you see us as artists, or just as women?
One of the most depressing things about these requests is that sometimes it feels like journalists are more interested in publishing our tales of harassment to titillate their readers than they are in, y’know, writing about our art. Have you asked me about my songwriting process, my production techniques, what kind of guitar pedals I use? Or only about my gender?

What are you giving back?
What journalists often seem to forget is that you are in a position of power over us. If we want to get the word out about our music, we need you. Especially lesser-known artists. We want you to like us, and that puts pressure on us to try to meet your requests, even if they make us uncomfortable. Think about this before you ask your question. Acknowledge it. Then tell us, how will you use your power to help us? Are you paying us for our labour? Are you covering our work? Boosting it on social media? If you’re not offering anything in return, using your power to ask people to regurgitate experiences of oppression because you need #content might not be a great move.

Have we already had this conversation?
The chances are, many female bands or artists have already shared stories of sexism. Before you ask us to recount difficult and painful experiences, remember that Google is your friend and see whether there’s something already out there that you can quote. Jessica Hopper’s 2015 crowdsourcing of stories is a good place to start.


Have you got your own house in order?
Does your website/magazine/blog etc. give equal coverage to female bands and artists? Do you have female editors, writers, photographers, illustrators? Have you checked that your reviews don’t go on about a male collaborator when a woman did most of the work, or use patronising language about women? If you’re called out for sexist content on your site or social media, do you get defensive, quietly delete it or do you own it and state publicly how you will do better in future? What about your comments section – are you dealing quickly with misogyny and making it a welcoming place for female readers?

Really?
Seriously, you might not be calling us b*tches and c*nts, but sexism often comes in much more subtle and unconscious forms. If you’re not continually trying to improve your own work, your request for our stories might come across as expecting women to do the labour to make you appear ‘not sexist’. That, one might just argue, is a prime example of sexism in the music industry.

Hannah Lucy

@gaptoothmusic

www.gaptoothmusic.co.uk

 

The Menstrual Cramps scoop Hercury Prize for debut album

DIY newcomers The Menstrual Cramps have scooped the coveted LOUD WOMEN Hercury Music Prize for their debut album, ‘We’re Not Overyacting’.

 

The riot grrrl trio topped the shortlist, which included other much celebrated female artists such as Actual Crimes, Desperate Journalist, The Empty Page, Honeyblood, Nolay, Oh!Gunquit, Pet Crow, Petrol Girls, Sacred Paws, The Tuts, and The Wharves.

Emilia from The Menstrual Cramps issued the following statement on her Facebook page:

“WHO GIVES A FUCKKKK ABOUT THE MERCURY PRIZE WHEN WE HAVE JUST WON THE HERCURY PRIZE AWARD!!!! 🥇👸🏽👑🍾🥂🏆 THANKS SOOOOO MUCH TO CASSIE AND THE LOUD WOMEN TEAM, WHO BELIEVED IN US FROM DAY ONE, LET US PLAY OUR FIRST EVER GIG WITH THEM ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY EARLIER THIS YEAR AND HAVE CONTINUED TO BE OUR NUMBER ONE SUPPORTERS, WE FULLY LOVE AND RESPECT YOU AND EVERYTHING YOU DO FOR WOMEN IN MUSIC 💕 HUUUUGE CONGRATS TO ALL THE OTHER INCREDIBLE NOMINEES, YOU ALL FUCKING ROCK AND WE ADORE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU!!! KEEP ROCKING AND MAKING NOISE GALS 🔥🔥🔥🤘🏽🤘🏽🔥🔥🔥⭐️⚡️💥☄️💫 NOW LETS ALL GET DRUNKKKKK N CELEBRATE 🎉🎉😭😭😭💕

The prize was announced by LOUD WOMEN founder Cassie Fox, in a Facebook-Live ceremony co-hosted by her cat, Ernie. He’s 22, you know.

The Greatest Albums Made by Women (Part 1)

R-2124431-1345055178-9313by Kris Smith

An article on “The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women” was published last month. Despite describing itself as only “the start of a new conversation” and containing some brilliant music, any selection declaring itself “the greatest” is asking for trouble when it regurgitates so many tired old choices while leaving so much out. One response was this list: which brought the total up to 300 albums but this time with no explanations.

Not wishing to spend any more time in their musical middle-of-the-road, here’s our selection of 201 LOUD WOMEN-endorsed albums from the last 50+ years which aren’t on either aforementioned list (though some of the same artists reappear). One album only per artist (which makes for a tough choice with the likes of PJ Harvey) and of course this is still just a small part of the story, so look out for part 2 coming soon-ish!

Who and what have we missed? In future editions of the zine we’ll be running a LOUD WOMEN Classic Album feature in which musicians and fans nominate one of their fav albums by a female artist and tell us why. Want to contribute? Get in touch!


Nina Simone – Pastel Blues (1965)

Etta James – Tell Mama (1968)

Marva Whitney – It’s My Thing (1969)

Marlena Shaw – The Spice of Life (1969)

Nico – Desertshore (1970)

Staple Singers – Staple Swingers (1971)

Esther Phillips – From a Whisper to a Scream (1971)

Lyn Collins – Think (About It) (1972)

Betty Davis – Betty Davis (1973)

Yoko Ono – Approximately Infinite Universe (1973)

Labelle – Pressure Cookin’ (1973)

Ann Peebles – I Can’t Stand the Rain (1974)

Millie Jackson – Caught Up (1974)

Joni Mitchell – Court and Spark (1974)

Pointer Sisters – Steppin’ (1975)

Patti Smith Group – Radio Ethiopia (1976)

Lene Lovich – Stateless (1978)

Chaka Khan – Chaka (1978)

Essential Logic – Beat Rhythm News (1979)

Au Pairs – Playing With a Different Sex (1979)

Sister Sledge – We Are Family (1979)

Pauline Murray & the Invisible Girls (1980)

The Sequence – Sugarhill Presents The Sequence (1980)

Siouxie & the Banshees – Kaleidoscope (1980)

Mo-dettes – The Story So Far (1980)

Androids of Mu – Blood Robots (1980)

Pylon – Gyrate (1980)

The B52s – Wild Planet (1980)

Ludus – The Seduction (1981)

X – Wild Gift (1981)

Delta 5 – See the Whirl (1981)

Crass – Penis Envy (1981)

Y Pants – Beat It Down (1982)

Liliput – Liliput (1982)

Kate Bush – The Dreaming (1982)

The Dance – Soul Force (1982)

Yazoo – Upstairs At Eric’s (1982)

Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (1983)

Tappi Tikarass – Miranda (1983)

The Raincoats – Moving (1983)

The Gymslips – Rocking With the Renees (1983)

The Pandoras – It’s About Time (1984)

Delmonas – Dangerous Charms (1985)

Ut – Conviction (1985)

Shonen Knife – Pretty Little Baka Guy (1986)

Salt-n-Pepa – Hot, Cool and Vicious (1986)

Sinead O’Connor – The Lion and the Cobra (1987)

Danielle Dax – Inky Bloaters (1987)

Throwing Muses – House Tornado (1988)

Sugarcubes – Life’s Too Good (1988)

MC Lyte – Lyte As a Rock (1988)

Darling Buds – Pop Said (1988)

Blake Babies – Earwig (1989)

Roxanne Shante – Bad Sister (1989)

Scrawl – Smallmouth (1989)

Kirsty MacColl – Kite (1989)

Neneh Cherry – Raw Like Sushi (1989)

The Breeders – Pod (1990)

Fifth Column – All-Time Queen of the World (1990)

Ani DiFranco – Ani DiFranco (1990)

Monie Love – Down to Earth (1990)

Calamity Jane – Martha Jane Cannary (1991)

Queen Latifah – Nature of a Sista (1991)

Sister Souljah – 360 Degrees of Power (1992)

Silverfish – Organ Fan (1992)

Bratmobile – Pottymouth (1992)

The Gits – Frenching the Bully (1992)

Curve – Doppelganger (1992)

L7 – Bricks Are Heavy (1992)

Bjork – Debut (1993)

Huggy Bear – Our Troubled Youth (1993)

Spitboy – True Self Revealed (1993)  

Bikini Kill – Pussy Whipped (1994)

Heavens To Betsy – Calculated (1994)

7 Year Bitch – Viva Zapata (1994) 

Da Brat – Funkdafied (1994)

Mambo Taxi – In Love With (1994)

Tori Amos – Under the Pink (1994)

Skinned Teen – Bazooka Smooth (1994)

Slant 6 – Soda Pop Rip Off (1994)

Luscious Jackson – Natural Ingredients (1994)

Juliana Hatfield – Only Everything (1995)

Excuse 17 – Such Friends Are Dangerous (1995)

Elastica – Elastica (1995)

International Strike Force – Love Is (1995)

Emily’s Sassy Lime – Desperate, Scared but Not Social (1995)

PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love (1995)

Team Dresch – Captain My Captain (1996)

Stereolab – Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1996)

Witchknot – Squawk (1996)

Total – Total (1996)

Ruby – Salt Peter (1996)

702 – No Doubt (1996)

Kenickie – At the Club (1996)

Aaliyah – One in a Million (1996)

Fugees – The Score (1996)

Coping Saw – Outside, Now! (1997)

Red Monkey – Make the Moment (1997)

Bis – The New Transistor Heroes (1997)

Lungleg – Maid to Minx (1997)

Bangs – Tiger Beat (1998)

Julie Ruin – Julie Ruin (1998)

Hole – Celebrity Skin (1998)

The Rondelles – Fiction Romance, Fast Machines (1998)

Le Tigre – Le Tigre (1999)

Wack Cat – That’s What My Girlfriend Says (1999)

The Butchies – Population 1975 (1999)

Third Sex – Back to Go (1999)

Angie Stone – Black Diamond (1999)

Kelis – Kaleidoscope (1999)

Sleater–Kinney – All Hands on the Bad One (2000)

Peaches – The Teaches of Peaches (2000)

Rah Digga – Dirty Harriet (2000)

Linus – Good Listener (2000)

Erase Errata – Other Animals (2001)

Eve – Scorpion (2001)

Sahara Hotnights – Jennie Bomb (2001)

Ursula Rucker – Supa Sister (2001)

Life Without Buildings – Any Other City (2001)

Missy Elliott – Under Construction (2002)

The Donnas – Spend the Night (2002)

Chicks On Speed – 99 Cents (2003)

The Distillers – Coral Fang (2003)

Gertrude – Up the Wrong Tree (2003)

The Bellrays – The Red, White and Black (2003)

 Alicia Keys – The Diary Of (2003)

Cat Power – You Are Free (2003)

The Organ – Grab That Gun (2004)

Estelle – The 18th Day (2004)

Shystie – Diamond in the Dirt (2004)

Jill Scott – Beautifully Human (2004)

Electrelane – The Power Out (2004)

M.I.A. – Arular (2005)

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – Naturally (2005)

Scout Niblett – Kidnapped by Neptune (2005)

Gossip – Standing in the Way of Control (2006)

Partyline – Zombie Terrorist (2006)

CSS – Cansei de Ser Sexy (2006)

Shoplifting – Body Stories (2006)

Finally Punk – Finally Punk (2006)

Bettye Lavette – Scene of the Crime (2007)

Bat For Lashes – Fur and Gold (2007)

New Young Pony Club – Fantastic Playroom (2007)

Roisin Murphy – Overpowered (2007)

New Bloods – Secret Life (2008)

Love Is All – A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night (2008)

Those Dancing Days – In Our Space Hero Suits (2008)

Wetdog – Frauhaus (2009)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz (2009)

The Plastiscines – About Love (2009)

Pariah Piranha – People People (2009)

Brilliant Colors – Introducing (2009)

Spinnerette – Spinnerette (2009)

The Brownies – Our Knife Your Back (2009)

White Lung – It’s The Evil (2010)

Plug – Plug (2010)

Envy – Set Yourself On Fire (2010)

Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be (2010)

Screaming Females – Castle Talk (2010)

Ana Tijoux – 1977 (2010)

Warpaint – The Fool (2010)

Vivian Girls – Share the Joy (2010)

Something Beginning With L – Beautiful Ground (2011)

Grace Petrie – Mark My Words (2011)

Maria and the Gay – Greatest Hits, Volume 1 (2011)

Le Butcherettes – Sin Sin Sin (2011)

Joy Formidable – The Big Roar (2011)

The Coathangers – Larceny and Old Lace (2011)

Las Kellies – Las Kellies (2011)

MEN – Talk About Body (2011)

Pettybone – From Desperate Times Comes Radical Minds (2011)

Hysterical Injury – Dead Wolf Situation (2012)

Shrag – Canines (2012)

Colour Me Wednesday – I Thought It Was Morning (2013)

Marnie Stern – The Chronicles of Marnia (2013)

St. Vincent – St. Vincent (2013)

Tunabunny – Genius Fatigue (2013)

Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum (2013)

Kitten Forever – Pressure (2013)

Halo Halo – Halo Halo (2013)

Lizzo – Lizzobangers (2013)

Lorde – Pure Heroine (2013)

Good Throb – Fuck Off (2014)

Trash Kit – Confidence (2014)

Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence (2014)

The Wharves – At Bay (2014)

Los Cripis – Long Play (2014)

NOTS – NOTS (2015)

Sharkmuffin – Chartreuse (2015)

The Stops – Nameless Faces (2015)

Junglepussy – Pregnant with Success (2015)

Downtown Boys – Full Communism (2015)

Ivy Sole – Eden (2016)

Deux Furieuses – Tracks Of Wire (2016)

Lithics – Borrowed Floors (2016)

Bleached – Welcome the Worms (2016)

Witching Waves – Crystal Cafe (2016)

Crumbs – Mind Yr Manners (2017)

Cherry Glazerrr – Apocalypstik (2017)

The Franklys – Are You Listening  (2017)

Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Navigator (2017)

 

UK riot grrrl: a second wave snapshot

Interview by Kris Smith
tar baby
Tar Baby

As an occasional feature we promise not to call ‘How I became a Loud Woman’, we interview musicians about their inspiration, beginnings and career in the DIY scene. Here, Sophie from Little Fists gives us a glimpse at a riot grrrl scene linked to much missed bands such as Candy Panic Attack and Actual Crimes, as well as current LOUD WOMEN: Bugeye, Ghum, Little Fists, The Ethical Debating Society and The Potentials!

It was weird being a teenage girl in the late 90s / early 2000s – feminism was apparently dead, grunge was dead too (and I was too young anyway), and all that seemed to be on offer was ladette culture and magazines like Kerrang! featuring female musicians as hot novelties. As a teenage feminist I felt like an oddity, but thanks to the serendipity of the internet, I discovered riot grrrl and suddenly a whole world blossomed in front of my eyes: women with guitars, contorting their voices into every sound imaginable, filled with rage and pain, singing about shit I cared about? This was so fucking REAL. I immersed myself in Bikini Kill, Babes in Toyland, Hole, Heavens to Betsy and every other riot grrrl record I could get my hands on. I discovered zines and the concept of riot grrrl chapters, and, well, that was it.

My first band Tar Baby (named after a lyric from a Breeders song) got together in 2000.

tar baby - 1st gig RedEye Ldn 8.4.01
Tar Baby – 1st gig on 8 April 2001

None of us could play our instruments, but we learnt as we played, writing songs about fucked up beauty standards, and battling misogynistic rehearsal studio bros along the way.

Later that year, I started a riot grrrl chapter in London with my bassist Clair and suddenly we were surrounded by like-minded people. It was an explosion of creativity: everyone was in a band or writing a zine, and zines led to pen pals, which led to more zines and a whole UK network of amazingness. There was something so vital about holding a zine in your hand, written by someone your own age, and being able to read about stuff you could actually relate to – sex, feminism, body image, relationships, mental health, just how it felt to be a fucking teenager in this bullshit world. I started my own zine – Antisocial Scarlet – in 2001, and I still have all the zines from that time: Sister Disco, Twinkle Eye Fizzy, The Hand That Cradles The Rock, Dead End Doll, She’s Not Even Pretty, Spilt Milkshake, Firefly, Pussy Star, as well as my chapter’s collective zines and so many more. Ink from teenage hearts/minds/souls, spilt onto paper, photocopied and preserved forever.

21729661_10159476386650151_467317679_oMy chapter, Riot Girl London, wasn’t really an activist group – as the Guardian wrote about us at the time: “they are not plotting to picket Spearmint Rhino” (as if we would have wanted to?). More importantly, what we did was meet regularly and created a space to, well, just be. To go from being bullied at college for being a feminist, to being surrounded by political, fierce, creative peers was invaluable. We had picnics, went to the pub and got together to see bands like Le Tigre and Sleater Kinney play. I think we may also have managed to put on a gig (which I can’t take any credit for!), which seemed almost insurmountably hard at the time – thank god some things are easier these days.

The bands I remember most from that time are Hooker, Valerie, Bugeye (guitarist Angela came to chapter meetings) and Linus (whose guitarist Andy Roberts was also a member of RGL, but sadly passed away in 2005). I’m not sure if I ever saw any of these bands play live – surely I must have?? (anxiety and vodka do weird things to one’s memory). But I do vividly remember giving a member of the band Angelica one of Riot Girl London’s flyers and her being most unimpressed… ouch. Some of the RGL bands were The Cherry Bombers and Witches of Oz, who Tar Baby played our first ever gig with (along with The Lollies and The Blue Minkies) in April 2001. This gig introduced me to the fact that being in a band is mostly about extreme nerves, waiting around for hours and drinking tequila, but seeing Witches of Oz play made me forget about all of that; they were fierce and intense and seeing their drummer Vicki beat the shit out of the drums was utterly inspiring. Women can’t drum? Yeah right, fuckers.

Like so many bands, Tar Baby didn’t last – we split up right before we were meant to play Ladyfest Glasgow along with The Gossip (which I am obviously not bitter about at all, 16 years later), but it did lead to more bands and more connections…

I ended up in an early incarnation of Candy Panic Attack, which led to the short-lived Emily’s Values, whose singer was of course the amazing Tegan – now in possibly the best band ever, The Ethical Debating Society. Aaron from my riot grrrl chapter ended up in a band with Vicki, whose bands (both together and apart) include Left Leg, Actual Crimes, Ghum, Ex People and Jane Doe Ensemble.

After a 7 year gap of not playing music, I joined My Therapist Says Hot Damn, which broke me out of terrified monotony and into a world of screaming, crying, guitar smashing, amps-on-fire chaos and joy….which finally led me to Little Fists. And in another twist of fate and serendipity, a few years ago I ended up on a night out with Holly Casio – the writer of much-loved early 2000s zine Angel Food – who now plays in the awesome Buffycore band The Potentials. It feels so heartening that 17 years later I am still surrounded by the people who created this second wave riot grrrl culture in the UK, and to know that even though the world is still fucked, we’re part of this huge community of musicians, writers and activists, trying to create a small space where things don’t feel so bad.

 

Photographers at LOUD WOMEN gigs

The-Pit-headerLOUD WOMEN is getting bigger. Our events are getting more popular. And more people want to see the bands we’re putting on. All of this is very awesome, and the photographers who come to our gigs to capture and share the fun beyond those four walls play a really important part in our success. So we love photographers very much!

Bigger audiences means more photographers wanting to be part of the action, and we’re keen to keep a happy balance between:

  • helping the photographers to work comfortably and get great shots of the night
  • supporting the band on stage to give their best possible performance
  • creating a safe and fun environment for the audience to enjoy the gig in.

The vast majority of the photographers coming to LOUD WOMEN gigs work in a really respectful and considerate way, but difficulty can arise for everyone concerned when there are too many photographers jostling for the same spot, blocking the view particularly for the ‘shorties’ like me! It’s also off-putting to be on stage with a thick row of cameras pointing at you when you’re trying to rock out … worse still if flashes start going off in your face.

After the gig, the issues of courtesy continue … it’s so disappointing for musicians to know that plenty of photos were being taken of their epic performance, but they can’t for the life of them track them down on the internet! Photographers are rightly keen to protect their copyrighted images, and too many people share photos unthinkingly, without giving proper credit to the person who has put in a lot of time and skill to create that image, so perhaps this is why photos are sometimes never shared on social media after the event?

Another issue that has been raised is whether audience members captured in photographs should be given the opportunity to ‘opt out’ of having their image shared. There are plenty of reasons why someone might not want to see their face in a photo that could end up anywhere. Again, a tricky issue to balance between audience comfort, and allowing the photographer creative freedom.

As a first step towards addressing this balance, Team LOUD WOMEN has come up with a set of guidelines which (after a bit of polishing) we’ll offer to photographers attending our events. Have a read and let us know what you think …

Taking photos at LOUD WOMEN events

Photographers are politely requested to keep in mind the following guidelines:

1. 3 songs and out
Please do not stand at the front of the crowd to take photos for longer than 3 songs

2. No flash photography
None whatsoever. Even if the band have said ‘yes’, we say ‘no’.

3. Sharing is caring
Everyone wants to see the results of your hard work – please share and tag LOUD WOMEN so we can make sure the bands and fans get to see your images.

Twitter – @loudwomenclub
Facebook – www.facebook.com/loudwomen
Instagram – @loudwomen