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Malta: LOUD WOMEN scene report

Janelle Borg
Janelle Borg

Janelle Borg (of Maltese punk band Cryptic Street) reports on the women at the forefront of the Maltese music scene, exclusively for LOUD WOMEN

I have been raised by the Maltese music scene. From when I started getting involved in bands and musical projects at the tender age of thirteen, my life involved gigs, rehearsals, studio sessions, organizing events, seeing venues in Malta open and close, hanging out in iconic bars and cafes popular with the local scene, and the like. For a country with a grand total of 475,700 inhabitants, Malta’s underground scene has flourished in spite of a lot of obstacles. Being a woman in this scene, it felt natural to continue this series by interviewing some game-changing players in my homeland’s underground scene, that are helping to break the glass-ceiling and promote women’s involvement in music.

Presenting:

Alison Galea – an alternative music pioneer and chameleon who, along the years, has been vital in establishing a couple of Malta’s most innovative musical projects.






Leona Farrugia – a young artiste and arts apasionado experimenting in music and photography.





Yasmin Kuymizakis a.k.a Yews – An electronic musician, sound artist and sound designer. Additionally, she’s the co-founder of Malta Sound Women Network, which aims to connect, support, mentor, promote and educate women and girls in electronic music and sound.

Beangrowers: Love, You Can Never Give Up

1. >>Can you introduce yourself and your involvement in music?

Alison: My main roles in music are being a part of Beangrowers, formed in the 90s, The Shh, a duo side-project, and Etnika, Malta’s first and most-known Maltese “tripfolk” bands. Over the years I have also participated in other projects, including Phillip Boa and the Voodooclub (Germany) and French jazz band, Festen.

Etnika: Maddalena
Leona Farrugia – Photo by Jon Mo

Leona: Generally, I try not to label anything, so I don’t really categorize myself as a ‘musician’. I try to be creative every day, so for me personally, it’s more of a creative thing and a way how to express my thoughts, creating something thanks to these thoughts. I started out with Cryptic Street. Together with the original members, the band started in secondary school as a school project. The girls really believed in what I can offer, and I continued to work after that.

Cryptic Street: Let’s Go Suki

Yasmin: I have my one-woman electronic act called YEWS, plus I am one of the founders of the Malta Sound Women Network which is an organisation affiliated with the Yorkshire Sound Women Network (UK). We aim to bring like-minded women together; to share knowledge and skills in music and sound technology, sonic arts, production, audio-electronics…and anything to do with using a kit to create sound.

Yews: Start Making Up Your Mind

2. >>How would you describe the Maltese music scene?

A: The Maltese music scene is very rich in genres and has grown so much in recent years, but it’s comparable to a goldfish in a bowl. It lacks the freedom to be more explorative because alternative artists are not really understood by most. It is also restrictive in terms of performance spaces and audiences.

Jess and Yasmin – founders of Malta Sound Women Network

Y: For a tiny island, we have a lot of talent. We have some good popular music from bands such as The New Victorians, but I’m more familiar and involved in the underground scene in which there’s a pretty good variety of music. For example, some hip hop from 215 Collective, industrial techno from Llimbs, electro/house from Jupiter Jax, classical and experimental from Jess Rymer and Tricia Dawn Williams, quirky lo-fi hits from Bark Bark Disco, and I can’t leave out Malta’s alternative gods: Brodu, Beangrowers and Brikkuni… just to mention a few!

L: It has a lot of potential, and I’m not just saying that because I’m Maltese and I’m in a band….but there aren’t a lot of people who try to go beyond Malta and break internationally. It is easy to get comfortable in Malta.  But seeing it from another perspective, Maltese people have a lot of things to offer and it’s such a shame that they just get too comfortable sometimes.

3. >>What is your most memorable music-related moment in Malta?

Alison Galea with Beangrowers – Photo by Oliver Degabriele

A: My most memorable music-related moment in Malta was when I got to perform “The Priest” with Beangrowers at the European Film Awards party to Wim Wenders. He danced and sang along to all the words. It was a proud moment for us as a band and for me as a lyricist, because he not only invited us to form part of his film’s soundtrack but he actually really knew and liked the song.

L:  I think, for me personally, it’s when I supported The Hives with my other band nosnow/noalps. I mean, meeting them backstage and eating pizza with them is quite a thing….definitely a highlight!

nosnow/noalps: Kaleidoscopes

Y: My most memorable moment must be performing at the yearly Xmas event Pudina in 2016. This party is organised by another extremely talented Maltese musician, Danjeli, and has been going strong for over ten years now. When Danjeli asked me to perform, I was nervous as my music was too mellow for a club setting. So I wrote and produced a completely new set specifically to suit the space. And wow! Did that go well! I got a lot of support and encouragement from that gig. It was a beautiful night.

4. >>Do you think that women and non-binary folk are well-represented in Malta’s underground music scene?

A: I am happy to see more female musicians these days because they express a sense of freedom in the way they perform which is way better than a decade or more ago. However, there are still too few women making music out there than I would like to see/hear. Till now, Malta’s underground music scene still remains a very male-dominated scene. I want to see more Maltese women kicking ass on stage!

L:  Maybe? I think it’s a yes…but the thing is I really hate these labels. After all, we’re a bunch of musicians…a bunch of creatives. Personally, I support everyone, whoever you are, and whatever you label yourself as.

Malta Sound Women Network Board Meeting

Y: Malta’s underground music scene, like everywhere else, is very much male-dominated. In the past, I have noticed festival line-ups and events with not one single woman/non-binary on the bill. However, things are changing, slowly, but they definitely keep getting better. Organisations like Electronic Music Malta, for example, organise events that promote women in electronic music and are very supportive to the Malta Sound Women Network. Moreover, more women are joining the underground music scene and performing on a regular basis. I can mention bands like Fuzzhoneys and Cryptic Street, and electronic artists such as Hearts Beating in Time, Sunta and Princess Wonderful.

5. Any future plans for you and your projects?

A: Working on releasing a new album with Beangrowers in 2019 and also hoping to release another video for one our new tracks. One day I would like to create my own solo project comprising of songs I have written in different phases of my life.

L: There’s definitely something cooking. With Cryptic Street we’ve just recorded some material. As a creative, I’m trying to involve myself in different projects. I’m also trying to get more into studying different disciplines in order to have more ‘solid’ work. I think that the job of an artist is not to focus on one specific, boring thing, but to constantly experiment and challenge yourself.

Y: As Yews, I am working on an EP at the moment. With MSWN, we are working on making things more official and becoming a Voluntary Organisation. We have plenty of ideas for workshops. On the 13th of February, we have an event in collaboration with EMM (Electronic Music Malta). We have a screening of the documentary ’Raw Chicks. Berlin’ with an introduction by Jess Rymer and I (founders of MSWN) and a performance by Juliane Wolf.

Yews performing at Pudina 2016

Three Fierce Feminist Factions

Review by Jas Robinson (from The Baby Seals)

With the Christmas party season firmly behind us, it’s safe to say that January is a difficult month to get right. Resolutions are at risk of being broken and that person you promised yourself you’d become hasn’t yet materialised. But, you know what? Fuck that. Use these three compilation albums to reassert yourself, KonMari the hell out of your music collection, remind yourself how to say ‘no’, and make you want to start (another) band.

With a change in how we consume music, compilation albums can revive that feeling of buying a CD, rinsing the fuck out of it, listening to songs you know and finding new gems. Like: when I bought ‘Now 34’ from a shop in Sunderland just so I could listen to The Spice Girls, but then discovered Bon Jovi and Belinda Carlisle.

So, yeah, just like that, but it’s 2019, and I’m kicking off with Hell Hath No Fury Vol 2 by Hell Hath No Fury Records. El Knight has compiled 18 bangers for our aural delight. Available now from Bandcamp for £4, of which 50% of proceeds will go to Future Festival 2019, a three-dayer close to Bristol with music and performances by trans and enby artists plus practical and political workshops and more! The album compliments perfectly. Tracks selected from artists such as Wolfgirl, Gender Chores, Colour Me Wednesday, Dream Nails, Big Joanie, Charmpit are definitely at the more political end of the spectrum. Listen carefully, and use these as your inspiration for 2019, create your own manifesto and don’t take any bullshit. Turn Big Joanie’s No Scrubs up to eleven and crack open your bullet journal during Dream Nails’ DIY.

HERESY by Ankara-based community, Chaos, I Am Your Mistress (CIAYM), opens with Secondhand Underpants single ‘Your Little Bitch’. If Barbara Stanwyck started a band, this is what it would sound like. This dark and head-banging opening track is bound to annoy neighbours, so make sure to play it LOUD and LATE. The digital album is available on Bandcamp for the devilish price of €6.66. Proceeds go towards supporting women and other marginalized genders in underground music. The album also features tracks from REVULVA, Cryptic Street and Twin Pigs. It’s worth emailing the address on the BC to request the CD, because then you get two extra tracks from GUTTFULL (The Power and That’s What He Said)!

Last, but not least, get your chops around Birds Of A Feather Vol 2 by Anthrax (UK). And before you ask, no, it’s not an album of duets by Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson with Lesley Joseph on the lute. Rather, it’s of the classic punk, head-banging-greatness variety. But, it’s loud, proud and inspiring, with tracks from Zombie Met Girl, Kiss Me, Killer, Bratakus, and loads more! Such a great offering from Anthrax (uk) on Grow Your Own Records, it’s out now on Bandcamp, as a digital album or CD. Don’t forget to hold it, embrace the joy and kiss it before putting it back neatly into its jacket.

So, there you have it. There’s enough here to keep you going for a few months. Go forth, find new favourites, enjoy the tracks you know and don’t forget smash the patriarchy.”


Read more by Jaz over at Halopygian Music.

Madrid: LOUD WOMEN scene report

Janelle Borg (of Maltese punk band Cryptic Street) reports on the women at the forefront of the Madrid’s thriving music scene, exclusively for LOUD WOMEN

Janelle Borg
Janelle Borg

From the first time I landed in Madrid, its music and its people captivated me so much that the city left a permanent imprint on me, and a constant yearning to hop on a plane and go there again. The area of Malasaña, with its colourful aesthetic, picturesque cafes and rowdy crowd at night, encapsulates the essence of the Madrid underground scene. With the meteoric rise to fame of bands like Hinds, I couldn’t help but wonder: who are the women driving Madrid’s scene and what is their story? To explore this, I approached three artists from this thriving scene, and this is their side of the story:

  • Elena Nieto – a young multi-instrumentalist who’s a member of the Madrid-based Yawners and Estrogenuinas
  • Hickeys – a glitter-punk band whose latest release is called ‘Diamond Munch’.
  • Mad Girls – a collective of badass women who run Mad Girls Magazine, in addition to promoting and hosting events in Madrid.

>>Can you introduce yourselves and your involvement in music?

Elena Nieto
Elena Nieto

Elena: I started playing the guitar when I was 10 or 11. Finally, after constantly pleading for it, my dad got me my first electric guitar when I was 14 or 15. I started playing and recording myself non-stop since I couldn’t find anyone to play with. I founded my first band when I was in my second year at university… playing drums in that band. I never stopped playing and experimenting with different instruments in several bands at the same time ever since. Now I’m focused on my main project, Yawners, while also playing the drums for the punk band Estrogenuinas. I also work at the record label and booking agency, La Castanya, so my life pretty much revolves around music!

Yawners: Seaweed
Hickeys

Hickeys: We are basically a group of friends who started playing music while drinking beer at Marta’s two years ago. We know each other from university; all of us had dreamed about the possibility of being in a band, but it wasn’t until the four of us started playing together that we saw that this dream could turn into a reality.

Mad Girls

Mad Girls: Currently, we’re Mimí, Virginia and Ana. We also have an occasional collaborator, Celia, with a foodie column. It all started about two and a half years ago when Mími and Elvira (the other founding member) were too broke to get into concerts, and so, they decided to start a gig photo blog. Virginia joined some time after, with Ana being the most recent addition to the team. We immediately had a lot of very positive feedback and Mad Girls organically evolved into what it is now.

Mad Girls II Aniversario: Prom Party

>> What do you think makes the Madrid music scene different from other scenes out there?

E: I think the guitar bands scene in Madrid is huge right now. I’ve lived in different cities and countries and I can tell that what is happening here is special. The local scene is very strong as there are many well-established bands that sell big venues, but also a never-ending flow of newer bands. There is a solid scene of local bands – not only in Madrid but everywhere in Spain – that is touring the country and playing in festivals.

Estrogenuinas: Miss Antropa

H: We don’t know any international scenes directly and in-depth but, in relation to the Spanish ones, we are noticing fresh sounds coming out of the different neighbourhoods, a variety of genres and very young artists that have a lot to say. Madrid is a great city where people from other parts of Spain come to make a living and that makes it a perfect cradle for creativity and fusion.

Hickeys: Is Lawrence Dead?

>>What attracted Mad Girls to get involved in Madrid’s music scene?

M: We have always been connected to the music scene in Madrid. Most of our friends are musicians so we spent most of our free time attending concerts or jamming at someone’s place. We wanted to have an active role in the music scene, and after some of our best friends performed at our first-anniversary party, it encouraged us to start promoting musical events.

>>Describe your perfect night out in Madrid.

E: It always starts with a show for me. Lately, I’ve been going to Tempo bar (Malasaña). It’s a sketchy but really cool old cocktail bar run by classic-style bartenders … you really wouldn’t expect to find them in such a place! You get a weird bowl of peanuts mixed with gummy bears with every drink.

Also, if the weather is nice, there’s a big chance that I end up hanging outside drinking beer. If you’re around Malasaña, that’d probably be in Plaza del Dos de Mayo.

Hickeys and friends out and about in Madrid

H: Fortunately, there isn’t one specific type of a perfect night. It can sound cliche but we don’t really care about where to go or what to do. In the end, the magic happens when we are with a group of people who are in the same mood, are open-minded, and you can talk and dance with them without being judged. One of the feelings we like the most takes place at the end of a night out when we walk down the streets of Madrid in the early morning during those hours when the city is still quiet and peaceful.

M: Our perfect night out would definitely have a lot of music involved. First stop would be a place to eat tasty food and gather all together to drink and chat…most likely at the delicious Italian restaurant Menomale. Then a concert, of course! You can often find us at Siroco or Costello – small venues where upcoming bands often start their careers. Then we would most likely stop at Lucy in the Sky where we occasionally DJ, and where the underground music scene gathers. We’d probably end up dancing to rock ‘n’ roll and 60’s beats at FunHouse Music Bar. At the end of it all, we’d grab some churros ‘con chocolate’ while watching the stunning Madrilenian sunrise.

>>Do you feel that women and non-binary folk are well-represented in Madrid’s underground scene?

Elena Nieto crowdsurfing at Sala El Sol Madrid.
Photographer: Adrián YR

E: I believe that in Madrid’s underground and punk scenes, women have been well-represented and supported for a long time. Also, at the moment, there are quite a lot of active female-fronted bands in the local scene such as Las Odio, Repion, Hickeys, Hinds, Estrogenuinas, Lady Banana, Pelícana, Cariño, Yawners…to name but a few. In the urban music scene, female artists such as La Zowi are being acknowledged for their work. Another good example is Clara Te Canta: she creates internet pop, sings openly about ‘taboo’ topics, and speaks up for women in general… she’s fun!

Hinds: British Mind

H: We have seen an increase in female presence in the underground scene, and also in different bands and musical ensembles. In the past, women were usually cast as the singers in a band, as opposed to playing an instrument. We think (or want to think) that little by little prejudices are being destroyed and that is being reflected on the stage too. Nevertheless, being perceived as a woman performing in a woman’s body in this patriarchal context is still coupled with some comments and judgements relating to our body/face/movements that wouldn’t be commented upon if we were male musicians. We are progressively conquering this field with our presence but, at the same time, we are still referred to as a Girl-Band when a “Boy-band” is an obsolete term that died with Backstreet Boys era.

Las Odio: Yo Lo Vi Primero

M: In the past few years there has been more attention drawn to women and non-binary musicians. Nevertheless, we’ve still got a long way to go. We always try to promote bands with female/non-binary members in them. Also, we don’t only focus on the band members themselves…. For example, sometimes it may be an all-male band, but with a female manager. We like to give attention to the women behind-the-scenes who sustain the industry since it can be a very sexist sector. We can vouch personally for this.

Repion: Los Noventa

>>Any upcoming plans you’d like to tell the world about?

E: We’re releasing Yawners’ debut album in March 2019. I’ll be performing at SXSW, touring around Spain and doing festivals here. Hopefully, we’ll also have some dates in Europe and in the UK by the end of the year. Can’t wait!

H: Right now, we’re focusing on songwriting and not that much on performing live (even though we’re planning a couple of shows abroad in early 2019, mainly in the UK and the US). Three of us are going to finish their studies, so this is going to be a really exciting, twisted and spontaneous year because, in addition to the above, we are also preparing an LP! It seems as if 2019 is going to be full of surprises. A British record label, perhaps?

…and finally, Mad Girls, can you give your recommendations of some Madrilenian female musicians and artists that we should definitely check out?

M: Our favourite female musicians emerging from this scene include Rayo, Melenas, Hoax Fellows or Hickeys, amongst many others. As for other artists… photographer Sharon López!

Melenas: Cartel de Neon

A massive weekend for London’s DIY scene … #AccidentalFestival starts today!

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All those man-band promoters claim there’s not enough female musicians to play their festivals, yet we went and filled 4 days with awesome womxn-bands without even trying! #accidentalfestival starts today …

giheFriday 10 August:
Get in Her Ears at the Finsbury, with
*ARXX*

*Nervous Twitch*
*Scrounge*


110818_smallerSaturday 11 August:

LOUD WOMEN at the Hope & Anchor, with
*Cryptic Street*

*Vertigo Violet*
*The Muffin Heads*

36948349_2141995476066720_6100335890972803072_oSunday 12 August:
Who Run the World celebrates their 3rd birthday at the Mill Hill Music Complex with a Sunday afternoon open mic jam – get involved!

blueMonday 13 August:
Blue Monday celebrate their founder MIRI’s birthday at the Booglaoo, with
*MIRI*
*Minnie Birch*
*Tom Craven*

*Izzie Yardley*
*Chloe Hawes*

Awesome events also happening this weekend in the DIY capital …

shhFriday 10 August:
Bent Fest and Decolonize Fest at the DIY Space for London, with
*Shh…Diam!* (Malaysia)
*Screaming Toenail*
*GUTTFULL*
*Irn Brunette*

 

queerMonday 13 August:
Oxjam Camden at the Lock Tavern, with

*T-Bitch*
*Anarchistwood*
*Jemma Freeman ATCS*
*GUTTFULL*

 

No excuse for staying home!

A weekend of badass London gigs!

Wondering what to do in the big smoke this weekend? The musical madams at Loud Women and Who Run the World have got you sorted!

110818_smallerSaturday 11 August – the Hope & Anchor, Islington

Loud Women present a night of awesome music, with performances from:
Cryptic Street (Malta)
Maltese 4-piece punx currently taking over the world – so excited to bring these awesome girls to London! They’ve just released their album ‘Titty Monster’ and it’s fawesome. Do not miss this.
Vertigo Violet
Birmingham’s finest garage punks, led by powerhouse Charly.
The Muffin Heads – https://www.facebook.com/themuffinheads/
Essex grunge trio
*PLUS*
As it’s an extra special night, we’ve got LOUD WOMEN DJs til midnight, so bring your dance pants and expect a lot of 80s bangers!
Doors 8pm, Tickets £6 in advance, £8 on the door.

36948349_2141995476066720_6100335890972803072_oSunday 12 August – Mill Hill Music Complex

Our friends Who Run the World turns 3 this weekend, and they’re holding a Sunday afternoon jam (11am to 4pm) to celebrate!

The jam is for women, trans, non-binary and queer folk, though all are welcome to attend so long as your attendance is respectful.

Contributions can be made at https://www.paypal.me/wrtwuk which will be split 20:80 for studio hire and a donation to Action for Trans Health.

Bring your own gear, or borrow what’s there. Come to jam and hang, to meet some new people and just have a musical chill in Mill Hill.

Full details here!

Next gig: Sat 11 August – Cryptic Street, Vertigo Violet, The Muffin Heads + disco at the Hope & Anchor, Islington

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LOUD WOMEN presents a night of awesome music, with performances from:

Cryptic Street (Malta)
Maltese 4-piece punx currently taking over the world – so excited to bring these awesome girls to London! They’ve just released their album ‘Titty Monster’ and it’s fawesome. Do not miss this.

Vertigo Violet
Birmingham’s finest garage punks, led by powerhouse Charly.

The Muffin Heads – https://www.facebook.com/themuffinheads/
Essex grunge trio

*PLUS*
As it’s an extra special night, we’ve got LOUD WOMEN DJs til midnight, so bring your dance pants and expect a lot of 80s bangers!

Tickets £6 in advance, £8 on the door.

Cryptic Street: 10 question interview

cryptic.jpg

Cryptic Street are coming all the way from Malta to play for us on 11 August and we can't wait to welcome them! We got to know them a bit better with 10 questions ...
  1. Who would you most like to cover one of your songs?

Anyone covering our songs would be the biggest honour! Though if I had to pick, Bass Drum of Death.

  1. If you could add one member to your band – any person, living or dead, musical or otherwise – who would it be, and what would they play?

That’s a tricky one, though I think having Zack De La Rocha (RATM) on vocals with Leona would be an interesting idea, to say the least.

  1. What was the last song you wrote, where were you when you came up with the idea, what inspired it, and how did it turn out?

The last complete song we wrote was ‘Las Niñas Locas’ – a song which we actually wrote in more than one country (Leona wrote the lyrics on a train in Madrid – as the name implies)! It pretty much started because we were in the mood for a fun track since at that point we were excited and looking forward to a handful of gigs overseas.

  1. Which was your favourite gig you’ve a) played and b) watched? 
  1. Either our album launch or our opening performance for Acid Mothers Temple in Glasgow. The former was the latest big milestone for our career, though the latter was equally great because getting to see the main band in the front having a blast while you play is honestly amazing.
  2. Hands down when I went to see Opeth in November 2016. Getting to see that band bringing their songs to life in person was just so beautifully surreal.

 

  1. Recommend a record you think our readers might not have heard of.

I assume that there’ll be some that know of this, but Fever the Ghost’s Zirconium Meconium is a quirky listen.

  1. What’s your best piece of advice for young musicians?

Listening, learning, and practicing to move forward is the most important thing. Always write and record ideas, go to gigs, talk and listen to other musicians. Learn the importance of moving forward with exposure without neglecting the importance of moving forward musically!

  1. Your top 3 most beloved albums ever – go.
    The Way of All Flesh – Gojira
    Watershed – Opeth
    Dormant Heart – Sylosis

 

  1. What are your musical goals?

My personal goals are to see what my musical voice can develop into – as well as to see how far it can reach.

  1. What’s the most important thing we need to know about you/your band right now?

We’re currently working on a bunch of new material that we really look forward to sharing with you!

  1. Give your top 5 contemporary bands/musicians
  1. Opeth – Their prog influenced metal just really resonates with my enjoyment of heavy music featuring fancy melody work.
  2. Gojira – My original ‘angry music with a cause’ inspiration – It’s the kind of stuff you could angrily kick down a door to, with a prominent and consistent message on environmental activism.
  3. Sylosis – Even though they’re sadly on indeterminate hiatus, this is a band that I’ve been well into for the past 5 years at the very least, their guitar melodies and drum work especially.
  4. Tesseract / Amos Williams (bass) – An amazing band all round, but Amos gets a special mention since he’s known from taking inspiration from the likes of Les Claypool and Victor Wooten and adapting their concepts into his own, vastly different genre.
  5. Nolly GetGood (ex-Periphery) – He gets a mention for having the most tightly written bass riffs and the killer tone I take inspiration from.

Catch Cryptic Street live in London on 11 August at LOUD WOMEN at the Hope & Anchor

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