First Timers festival is back this year with online workshops teaching beginner-level lessons so you can start a new band as soon as we’re out of lockdown.
As part of this, our favourite super-talented jazz friend Jelly Cleaver is running a ‘hoards of chords’ workshop teaching all the chords you’d need to start playing your favourite songs or writing your own. She says,
“It’ll be really fun so sign up and check out some of the other workshops!”
We are proud to announce 12 more womxn-led bands on the LOUD WOMEN Fest 2021 line-up. Our message to all other festivals who insist on booking unequal lineups: your future headliners are right here!
The new additions to the LOUD WOMEN Fest 5 line-up are:
Hagar the Womb
The Empty Page
BANG BANG ROMEO are set to headline the event, having played a 24 date stadium tour with Pink across the UK & Europe in 2019, as well as selling out their own UK headliners last year. They also collaborated with DJ/Producer Example on their single ‘Love Yourself’. The band’s debut album is out now and reached number 4 in the iTunes chart.
Drumroll please as we can finally announce the full 22 track listing for the hotly-anticipated LOUD WOMEN Volume Two compilation album, which will be launched 14 September 2019 at LOUD WOMEN Fest 4!
The Lost One
The Girl From Clapham
The Menstrual Cramps
No Means No
Never Wanted This
My Body My Choice
The Baby Seals
It’s Not About the Money, Honey
Not Your Girl
Jemma Freeman & The Cosmic Something
Someone Else to Blame
Vaginas, What Else?
I Feel Lobe
Don’t Know Us
Let Loose Lucy
The CD is available to pre-order now for just £5 from our Bandcamp page – and as a thank you for pre-ordering, when the CD releases after 14 Sept we’ll also send you a copy of Volume One! So that’s 42 of the loudest of loud women, all for a cheeky fiver.
I might dig into my back catalogue and do one or two tunes from my album ‘Cure for an Existential Crisis’. I normally don’t plan my set though and leave it up to how the audience reacts, so it’s pretty much down to whoever comes to the gig!
2. If you could collaborate with someone – any musician/performer, living or dead – who would it be?
I always say I’d love to work with James Blake. I love his production and his voice, and I think together we could make the saddest song known to man.
3. What are your favourite songs in your set to perform?
I always like performing ‘Windrush’, a song I wrote in response to the Windrush protests. I produced the track and it has samples from some of the speeches outside Windrush square last year. The women doing the speech started singing ‘We Shall Overcome’, which was really touching for me because it was the song of the African-American civil rights movement in the 1960s. It’s sad that things haven’t progressed much and people of colour are still having to fight for their basic human rights, but hopefully our movement can learn a lot from the past. Plus in the song I have a long break to do a guitar solo which I always enjoy.
4. Which was your favourite gig you’ve a) played and b) watched?
A) Definitely my album launch at Windmill Brixton a few weeks ago. Even though I had glandular fever, I had the best night. I got to perform with an extended band of a full horn section and backing singer which really brought my tunes to life, and all my mates were there. We did the whole gig exactly as it is on the album which was pretty great to pull off. And because it was a few days before my birthday we all went back to mine after the gig for chocolate cake.
B) Oh, it’s definitely hard choosing that. I like to go to as many gigs as I can and I love it when I’m just able to loose myself in the moment and have a proper boogie. When it gets to that point they’re all my favourite gig!
5. Recommend a record that you think our readers might not have heard of.
Well, one of my all-time favourite albums is Jeff Buckley, Live at Sine. It’s an incredible live album of him at a tiny café in New York. It’s just voice and guitar. That album definitely had a massive effect on me growing up. I listened to it so much I can even recite the stage banter he does between songs. If you don’t know it do yourself a favour and put it on when you’re all alone.
6. What’s your best piece of advice for young musicians?
Oh lord, that’s a lot of pressure. I guess I’d just say try to enjoy the whole music making experience as much as possible, even the shit bits like admin. Try and keep some time for self-care. Try and really work on your craft so you’re confident on stage. Have faith in what you have to say with your music. It’s better to be authentic than to sound like everyone else. Trust your creative instincts. If you’re lucky enough to, find yourself a scene that acts like an extended family. Get together with your musical mates and help each other out. Music should be about community.
7. Your top 3 most beloved albums ever – go.
That’s so hard! I’d have to start with the great Joni Mitchell, ‘Court and Spark’. Then maybe I’d have to go with James Blake, ‘The Colour in Everything’. And maybe to finish off Hiatus Kaiyote, ‘Choose Your Weapon’. I’m sure I’m missing out someone but if I think about it any more I’ll come out with a short-list of about 30.
8. What are your musical goals?
To inspire change. I guess my activist message is a big driving force behind my music. It often feels like we’re under an onslaught of shit, from climate change to Brexit, and that we might as well all give up, but I’ve seen enough small victories from people who fought for positive change and won. I want people to know they can change the world, they can change their communities, they can change their attitude, they can change things for the better. If my music convinces anyone of that then I’m very happy. Plus if I get to rock out and do a cool guitar solo even better.
9. What’s the most important thing we need to know about your music right now?
I think maybe that it would be not to expect a genre from me. My first album would probably be classed as folk, my latest album as jazz fusion. But I’ve recorded a whole unreleased EP of experimental electronic music. I’ve written a few songs that might be called ‘indie”, and I’m currently working on a beat tape which is coming out old-school hip-hop. I love listening to all different types of music and I think that’s reflected in what comes out of me. When I’m performing live I tend to just adapt my set for who’s in the room, what kind of vibe they’d like me to create, going off their energy or the setting. I guess I’d like people to keep an open mind when they’re listening to me, you might eventually get something you like!
10. Give your top 5 contemporary bands/musicians.
I’ve got to give some shout outs to my mates. Check out Mermaid Chunky, two mad gals making incredible art tunes using plastic toys and saxophones. They’re shows are a complete spectacle, I’ve put them on a few times at nights I organise.
Also check out Stanlaey, they’re my mate Bethany Stenning’s band based out in Bristol but she’s such a creative force of nature, and if she’s playing a London show you should catch it. Her most recent album is a total audio-visual masterpiece, have a look at her videos on youtube.
And another Bristol-based band who gig in London quite a bit are Waldo’s Gift, the only way I can describe their music is face-melting. It’s all improvised and it’s such a journey watching them make music.
Another mate’s band is called Nihilism, they have such an energetic and immersive approach to jazz.
To top it off I might be cheeky and say my band [Tomorrow’s Warriors Female Frontline], just because all the other girls in my band are incredible creative energies and lead their own bands too – Roella Oloro, Katie Moberly, Loucin Moskofian, Beth Hopkins who leads Queen Colobus and Tash Keary who also plays with Shunaji and a few other very cool people. And all these bands are incredible people as well as being incredible musicians so please go and support them!
Jelly Cleaver is a firm favourite here at LOUD WOMEN HQ. An absurdly talented musician and songwriter, she’s also got lovability in spades – she’s friendly and self-effacing despite being A-list beautiful and having the voice of an angel (an angel who can also do loads of really clever stuff with a guitar). And she’s got bags of proper punkrock scene integrity – you’re as likely to see her working the door of a LOUD WOMEN gig as playing on stage*. But Jelly’s music isn’t punkrock, per se. Hold on to your hats: Jelly plays jazz.
There, I said it. Jelly plays jazz, and I really, really like it.
My simple punkrock ears aren’t accustomed to such complex sounds, so I asked music student and jazz musician MollyRider to give me her opinion of the album, and she said:
This album brings out the personal and political surroundings in every listener with drama and flair. The clever choices made create comfortable but engrossing tracks with full sounds and talent interweaved throughout. Its definitely one to give a listen if you’re a bit wary of the jazz scene – not too intense and never boring!”
A few stand-out tracks for me …
‘Ego’ crunches through a couple of minutes of rock guitar, before shimmering through the jazz curtain to deliver the by now more familiar sequences of complex melody, vocal harmony, and a squillion layers of instruments.
‘Angela’ appears through a 1970s haze of rhodes organ, muted brass and wahwah guitar, before crashing us up-to-date with a big fat distorted guitar solo.
With ‘Yarls Wood’ Jelly shows her feminist activist credentials, with an accompanying video of her own footage taken at protests at the racist UK detention centre.
The album has been a huge labour of love for Jelly, and it shows. She’s collaborated with a whole heap of musicians on the London jazz scene, met via Tomorrow’s Warriors, including RoellaOloro, IsobellaBurnam, LoucinMoskofian, LorenzOkeno–Osengor and KaidiAkinnibi. It also features spoken word from activists like Renny (Renny’s Poem) who was a hunger striker at Yarl’s Wood detention centre.
Live review by Louise Goodger – Jelly Cleaver at The Canteen, Bristol, 22/03/19
In 2016, Erin Wehr, feminist and
author of ‘Understanding
the experiences of women in jazz: A suggested model’, put to paper a model
underlining the issues all too many women face in collective musical
environments and the music industry as a whole. When placed in a mixed group,
music women enter into a constant battle with tokenism, the fear of confirming
negative stereotypes and resulting swipes at their self-efficacy and -worth; in
all-female groups, a battle against ingrained competition. While addressing the
issues faced by women in jazz, this is by no means exclusive.
I think we can all agree there is
still a long, long way to come. Nonetheless, you can feel change in the air.
Through listening to each other, our stories and those of our musical
predecessors, nurturing each other in supportive environments and simply
gritting our teeth and pushing like hell to break the cycle, the resulting
power is tangible.
Last Friday I witnessed a performance in which this power was palpable, a positivity and optimism for the future of female performance mingling with the absurdly complex strings of chords. Performing at The Canteen, Bristol, in light of the release of her critically acclaimed single ‘VI II V’ and in anticipation of her upcoming album, the charismatic JellyCleaver joined forces with some of the brightest new faces behind the London Jazz scene. Accompanied by the multi-instrumental and -skilled Kapurna on the bass, the sublime Berlklee-attendee RoellaOrlo on keys and Tomorrow’s Warriors’ TashaKeery on drums, Jelly Cleaver brought into being an hour of not merely the highest musical standard but a reverberating positivity.
For a band’s first outing, they
were unbelievably slick, transitioning seamlessly between gems from her
upcoming album, her unconventional
reharms of classic jazz standards and her mic-dropping ‘VI II V’. Consistently
communicating with and applauding their fellow band members and allowing
freedom of expression, trial and error on the stage not only created a stage
environment in which the musicians and their talents positive self-efficacy are
nurtured but one that drew The Canteen’s lively Friday crowd into the group
themselves. All the while, Jelly’s endearing charm and gently political musings
were lapped up even by those leaning by the loos at the back.
Especially during the dire days of British politics we keep finding ourselves in, it’s an exciting thing to feel the hairs on the back of your neck tingle with a little hope. While aiming to assist our understanding of the issues music women face in a male-dominated environment, Wehr’s model projects the building-blocks by which we can nurture each other and use the power gender wields to drive performances and each other. Just five minutes of Jelly Cleaver is enough to keep a little faith.
Our video of the day is Jelly Cleaver’s new single, VI II V – a piece of art in equal parts strange and beautiful. Honey-sweet vocals over a panorama of jazz guitar, orchestral sweeps and oh my word that organ – I honestly don’t what this all is, but I know that I love it.
The lyrics for ‘VI II V’ were written several years ago as a stream-of-conscious poem, and it touches upon themes of Buddhism and Existentialist philosophy. Working with director Jasmin Selen Heinz, Jelly tried to bring these themes out in the music video. The imagery was heavily influenced by artists like Gustav Klimt, Odilon Redon and Salvador Dali, as reflected in the surrealist symbols, the masked birds and the use of mirrors. The sad clowns in the playground represent the message of the song, which is ambiguously hopeful. The video also features many musicians on both the jazz and DIY scenes in London, including members of Nihilism, MermaidChunky, IRNBrunette and Leatherhead.
Jelly Cleaver is a hugely talented singer-songwriter from London. We first met her by chance at a politic benefit in Tottenham, and since then she’s become one our favourite artists to work with – as well as now a lynchpin member of Team LOUD WOMEN. She wowed us on the Dome stage at last year’s LOUD WOMEN Fest, and we are hugely excited that she’ll be playing at the first of our new acoustic nights, LOUD WOMEN Unplugged, on 19 June.
In the meantime, follow Jelly Cleaver on Facebook.
Last night was TOP FUN! Thanks so much everyone who came and celebrated with us! Huge thanks to stars of the show Young Romanceand Sit Down, and I, Doris we’re on particularly awesome form too if I do say so myself 😍 a lovely night filled with lovely music and people – hurray! If you missed it, do check out the bands’ pages and show them some love – we only book the very best you know!
Special thanks to the multitalented and ever generous Jelly Cleaverwho rushed over after band rehearsal and came and sold merch to help us raise funds for the night. People like Jelly keep the DIY scene going ❤️ check out Jelly’s music page while you’re at it too!
Right then. That’s LOUD WOMEN done for the year! Next stop … New York!! 2019 is gonna be a very exciting year for us – thanks to all our amazing friends and supporters for coming along on the ride. Lots of festive love to you all ❤️💋❤️💋❤️💋
Review by Kate Whaite Jelly Cleaver — Cure for an Existential Crisis Out now on Bandcamp and Spotify
Currently based in London, Jelly Cleaverdescribes herself as a “singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, bringer of good vibes and cosmic truths”, and that’s the closest you could get to her in so few words. If you find the phrase “cosmic truths” a little scary, don’t worry. There are plenty of down-to-earth truths, too. When I saw Jelly Cleaver play at this year’s LOUD WOMEN Fest, I knew I was seeing something special. With just her voice and her guitar she charmed a whole room. With this album, Jelly Cleaver might charm a whole world.
Jelly’s debut album ‘Cure for an Existential Crisis: Four Suites and One Song Exploring the Crisis of Living and the Fear of Death’ is not for the faint-hearted. The title alone ought to tell you that, but just in case that wasn’t clear, I’m telling you, too. This is not an album you pop on and forget you are listening to. This is an album to listen to on a grey day when the world is troubling and you want to get to know yourself a little better. It reminds me a lot of early Laura Marling in that it’s like being taken on a trip that shows the everyday to you afresh, revealing the hidden passions we usually let our gaze skip over.
The music is stirring and spiritual, and a genuine pleasure to listen to. At the centre are Jelly’s vocals (delivered with care and nuance and stretching gorgeously both high and low) and her guitar (ranging from a soft acoustic instrument to an electric force that builds tension and rhythm). But the two are surrounded and lifted up by a swell of music. Jelly herself plays 10 instruments on this record, but she also drafted in an orchestra. On her Bandcamp page it’s described as symphonic folk, and that’s just right.
The whole album is stunning, and filled with lovely lyrics about sophisticated topics. See ‘Secret Pt. 2’:
I wonder what you think happiness is.
We are bounded by the boundaries of our understanding.
If you understood the world ,you would not stand for half of these things.
‘The Migrant’ somehow manages to be topically political, sensitive, heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time, and ‘I Was Thinking’ is pretty and philosophical in a way very few things are. But my favourite stretch of the album is Suite Two: Songs to Lost Love. ‘Caged Bird’ makes its own lovely niche, despite calling to my mind both Maya Angelou and Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Green Finch and Linnet Bird’. ‘The Holy Father’ sounds like a folk song I’ve forgotten and suddenly remembered, with soaring vocals and even a little tambourine, I think. ‘Southwark Cathedral’ is all desire and longing and mystery. This is an album you listen to with your full attention, an album to listen to over and over, an album that asks you and makes you stop and just… listen.
Follow her on Facebook, buy the album, go see her when she plays. Treat yourself to something really good.
For all those who support putting women on stage, and turning up the volume