Tell your favourite bands to get applying, here >> https://loudwomen.org/fest/
Tell your favourite bands to get applying, here >> https://loudwomen.org/fest/
In this series of interviews, LOUD WOMEN has interviewed a small cross-section of the many fiercely-politicised, committed activists on the DIY music scene, with an emphasis on lead singer-songwriters. We didn't get to speak to everyone that we wanted to, but we always intended to end the series with a bang by talking to new band on the feminist punk rock block, The Menstrual Cramps. LOUD WOMEN were first to book the 'Menstruals for a live show and first to review their debut album, so it seems fitting for us to be the first to publish a full interview with the group; and appropriate to their libertarian-socialist leanings, we've addressed the questions to all three band members equally. [At the time of interview they were still looking for a fourth member for drummer.]
What made you decide to use your songwriting to express political viewpoints?
Emilia: Growing up I wrote poetry as a way to express my political viewpoint and attended rallies and protests, so I think songwriting was just a natural progression from this. When we wrote our first song, ‘My Bush Ain’t Ur Business’, I lived with Cooper at the time, who was a full-time musician, and I was just ranting about the world and she just threw her lyric notepad at me and said write a song about it, so I wrote the lyrics while she wrote the music, then we recorded it on the spot and a couple of hours later The Menstrual Cramps was born and then I channelled my political writing into more songs than poetry.
Cooper: Well I’ve been playing and writing music since I was a kid and as I got older it was annoying to realise how meaningless the majority of popular music was in terms of message. When I met Emilia we just combined my love for writing catchy hooks and her love for shouting angrily about political stuff to create something meaningful!
Robyn: My mum used to write a lot of really great poetry and she influenced me a lot as a kid but I mostly used to write a lot of songs about love when I was younger, I didn’t really start getting political until I met Emilia and Coop, they definitely opened my eyes to more important issues in the world.
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?
Emilia: I think we’re just generally political people, we get angry about unjust things happening in the world and discuss and debate them. For us music is just a self-expression of how we’re feeling at that time, which most of the time is political and not happy with the status quo. And to be honest just living our lives as openly queer, outspoken, feminist women makes our daily existence political.
Cooper: I definitely self-express in general through music, I’m in a couple of bands and everything I do revolves around music. I write all kinds of stuff, but my interest in politics is a very large part of me so I find in one way another it comes out in the majority of songs I write.
Robyn: I’d say I’ve always expressed myself through music, it’s only after being in the band that I’ve started expressing myself politically.
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?
Emilia: I think it’s both. We love playing gigs with similar bands to us, and enjoy being part of such a supportive and inclusive scene. It helps with our self-care as activists, as women, as queer people, as feminists, which is super important. But I think our music also helps open up a conversation with people who may not be otherwise be subjected to our views or political standpoint. It’s important to challenge people through music and it’s also important to have a community where you know you are supported.
Cooper: Totes both!! What she said.
Robyn: Definitely both!
Explicit or ideological politics is a rarity in music, even most punk/DIY scenes: is that something you’re conscious of, and does it matter?
Emilia: Yes, I’m very conscious of it. A lot of people lead a privileged life wherein they have no need to talk about politics or get involved in activism or standing up for what is right or wrong in the world. Also, some artists and musicians may feel like they can’t voice their opinions due to their management, or record company, or fan base etc. I think it is extremely important that more artists and musicians stand up and speak up through their music. I think it’s especially disheartening when punk bands don’t explicitly discuss politics or current affairs or injustice in their work. Punk is about going against the grain, standing up against the hierarchy and trying to change things; anarchy should run through our punk veins, and it is a huge shame and discredit to the rest of the punk and DIY scene who are fighting and shouting every day.
Cooper: Aye I’m conscious of it, and like Mila said a lot of people in the big time aren’t actually technically allowed to be political, so I really respect the artists who voice their political stance to the public. Mila said it all really, woo anarchy!
Robyn: Yeah I’m conscious of it, I think it’s important for more musicians to voice their views on politics.
Do you see yourself as part of, and drawing influence from, a tradition of politicised music/art?
Emilia: I think in our band’s case we are literally just singing and shouting about what fucks us off, what we think needs to change and what we want to comment and open a conversation about. Of course we draw influence from the original punk and riot grrrl music/art scenes, and we are proud to do so, however we aren’t interested in looking so much back into the past but rather how the new punk and DIY scene can push forward and change things for the better.
Cooper: I think Mila was definitely more into some sorta scene than I ever was. I listened to punk music quite a bit when I was younger, but if it was political it went right over my head. She was the person that introduced me to Pussy Riot and other bands that have made political impact and as I got older and started to get involved with politics that’s when punk music really lit a fire in my tum. I dunno why I never thought of writing music to fit alongside my political views but I just never did, until suddenly we were doing it, and now I can’t write love.
Robyn: Emilia and Coop are a lot more political than I am, I’ve always felt strongly about politics but I guess I just never thought about writing music about those kind of things.
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?
Emilia: We didn’t plan to be in a band or plan to gig, so whatever happens on stage is really not rehearsed at all, and we like to keep it that way, we like being honest and raw. Honestly whatever comes in my brain on the night will just fall out my mouth! A lot of songs are about particular topics that we debate and discuss between ourselves and our peers anyway so we have a lot to say about them. I see talking as just as important as the songs we play at a gig, they both are a different way of telling the story or narrative or opinion we have. And to be honest I love ranting about things that I’m passionate about, I could happily fill a 30min set with just me ranting, but I’m sure the people who come to see us for the music wouldn’t be very impressed LOL! I feel completely myself on stage, I don’t get nervous at all, I love performing to people and opening up discussions and getting people angry about what we’re angry about! Also I think that being part of this incredible, inclusive and supportive DIY scene is amazing, I love talking to all the other bands and organisers and audience members, on or off stage!
Cooper: We rehearse for 3 hours before a gig then just get up and hope that people enjoy us! One song we wrote called ‘Lying Cheating Fucking Scumbag’ we knew we were gonna say something before just because it was written about a specific person, but the rest of it I suppose Mila just runs her mouth, it’s amazing. I guess it depends on the crowd too, it’s easier to interact with an interactive loud crowd.
Robyn: I think Emilia just goes with how she’s feeling on the night, she’s pretty good with crowds, it definitely breaks the ice to have a laugh with our audience, we don’t like to take things too seriously when it comes to performing.
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?
Emilia: Yeah for sure, I’m not a good singer, I basically shout all my lines and make noises, Cooper and Robyn are the ones who are actually musically talented in the band! But punk and riot grrrl, for us, is all about just giving it a go, being angry, having a voice and being part of a collective and a movement. The music side of what we do is important, we want people to enjoy our songs and listen to them, come see us play, but it’s also important they listen to the lyrics and what we say in our songs, on our social media, at gigs etc., get involved in campaigns and rallies and protests, get angry about things that are wrong in our world, get involved in politics, try to change the world, and also feel as if they have somewhere to go where they are valid and loved, no matter what.
Cooper: Playing with/writing for/mixing The Menstrual Cramps is the best musical thing I do. I love the fact that the music is not the main thing, I love that the mixes don’t have to be perfect, that I can write a messy track send it out and the girls are like ‘yes we love it’. It’s so refreshing when everything else I is do is the opposite. Music to me was always of first importance, and with every other thing I do it still is. When I’m playing with the girls or writing for the girls I am in a stress free, pressure free, expressive heaven and I can just really think about what the message we’re sending is and what I wanna try out on the next track, rather than how well the harmonies fit. Don’t get me wrong, a catchy chorus for me is still a must, while Emilia focuses on the lyrics and message, I always focus on writing a catchy hook – I guess we’re a good team!
Robyn: Emilia and Coop usually write most of the songs, I think I’ve only helped write Tinder Girl, which I think is our only non-political song, it’s also kind of a love song, which sums me up pretty well.
Is there a pressure that comes with being known as political musicians? And is there a balance to strike between work on the one hand, and fun and self-care on the other?
Emilia: I think sometimes I feel a pressure that I always get asked my opinion on everything, some topics I may not be the best person to discuss, some topics I may not have enough knowledge in etc. We’re all learning and becoming more educated every day when surrounding yourselves in politics, so I’m always open to discussion and admitting when I’m wrong or unsure about a particular issue, we’re all here to grow as individuals and as a collective, strong movement that supports each other. Sometimes I struggle with work/life/fun balance, I think anyone involved in politics or activism will do. It’s extremely important to take time out for yourself. I’m still at university so when it’s exam season I have to take time off band stuff and political stuff, especially cus my course is pretty political as well, so sometimes it can all become too much and I need to do some self-care and take some time to recuperate. We have lots of fun being in the band together, we’re three best mates just hanging out, ranting about things we talk about anyway, making music videos and songs which are fun and we get to have a laugh with our best mates whilst being productive! We have a strong network of friends around us who support us everyday, pick us up when we’re down, help us out when we need them, look after our mental health and make sure we’re not overdoing it. So we’re incredibly grateful to have them in our life and that makes the balance of work/life/self-care/fun a little easier!
Cooper: I definitely feel pressure when it comes to my other music stuff. Not everyone is politically outspoken or wants their views out in the open, which I’ve gotta respect and so other than The Menstrual Cramps I am ‘politically neutral’ in all my other projects. I don’t feel like I’m cheating myself though because The Menstrual Cramps are outspoken and I’m obviously a part of that so if people wanted to know my political views it’s still easy to find them!! I also still write all my other music about politics, it’s just very subtle so shhh don’t tell them! In terms of fun and self-care, I have a small friends group and these two gals make up a little under half of it! So I’m always surrounded by the most fun, like-minded people. I do go through trying times with my mental health, and in those times I do have to take a step back from everyday world politics, but I’ve always got time for these girls and the band.
Robyn: There is a lot of pressure that comes with having such strong views but at the end of the day you gotta stand for what you believe in! I do get nervous sometimes because of where I work and what I do when I’m not with the band, which is probably why I’m the more reserved quiet one out of all of us, but I’ll always be there supporting my girls, I got their backs.
As with most traditions, what we think of as political or “protest” music has previously been white/male dominated. Have things changed?
Emilia: I think in the mainstream media not much has changed, they continue to only have the rhetoric of white/male bands and musicians speaking up (often quite mildly as well). However, we’ve found being involved in the DIY and punk scene that a lot more women, queer people, and people of colour are at the forefront of the underground movement. I think these political or protest music voices need to be heard on a more mainstream level, and also given a fair hearing in the press/media. I feel when I watch interviews with political musicians, who aren’t white males, the presenter often attacks them or questions them or puts them into a corner and presents their music and views as ‘out there’, ‘radical’, ‘extreme’ etc.
Cooper: It may have changed the tiniest bit, but hardly. Mila’s right about non-white, non-males being attacked with dumb questions, it’s ridiculous. ‘Wait you’re ALL girls and you’re ALL queer’…. apparently that’s an extreme concept! But the point is there is loaaaaddds of POC/ female/queer bands but like Mila said they’re not in the mainstream so when people come across them it’s like a crazy concept.
Robyn: I think we always think things have changed more than they have, I think it’s getting there slowly though.
One interesting aspect of your politics is that they encompass an attack on the Tories and on Austerity-as-class-war. In contrast it can appear that class and ideology are missing from the worldview of contemporary musicians. Are people wary of speaking overtly on the subject, or are we going through a period of reaction to Left politics being all about class to the detriment of anything else?
Emilia: I think a lot of musicians don’t want to speak overtly about class war, austerity and left-leaning political ideology. It can stop you gaining radio play, interviews, can stop your music from getting out there in the public sphere. For example the BBC would never play our songs because we swear so much in them and because they’re all inherently and explicitly political, the BBC have to be unbiased and I’m pretty sure they would receive a few complaints if they ever aired us on radio or interviewed us on TV for example.
Cooper: We’ve actually tried to keep swear words out of a couple of our tracks on our new album because of what Mila just said, it was hard. The ‘lefties’ are getting branded with a bad brush by the mainstream media for sure. I think that people with left politics, views and morals are 100% more wary about speaking up about their views now, especially online, because they don’t want to be painted with this brush. I’ve seen it with the term feminist a lot recently, people say things like ‘I’m not a feminist now, or at least I am but the ‘old term’ of feminism’. They’ll say they like Jeremy Corbyn and vote for Labour/Green but they won’t say they support all left wing politics fully. I think people are just scared of the online backlash and trolls, they’re scared of being branded as a millennial (which has become a term that means lazy, entitled, selfish), or a ‘snowflake’ and I still have no idea what that means but we’ve been called it a lot, it’s really sad to see.
Robyn: People are very wary when it comes to these things, which is understandable.
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?
Emilia: The personal is definitely political. I don’t think we can really separate political issues as they intertwine so much, for example when talking about austerity you have to talk about feminism, because women are at the brunt of the majority of cuts, austerity disproportionately affects women, and even further disproportionately affects women of colour. We can talk in general about how sexual misconduct is a huge issue parliament needs to address right now, but that conversation will also fall into power at play, how society views men and women, the proportion of women CEOs compared to men named John, etc. Every political issue is multi-dimensional and needs to be discussed on a basic level and then further on a specific level. The whole system we live in needs to change, not just individual policies that are wrong or unjust.
Cooper: I agree that its inseparable, it’s a cause and effect thing, I also believe strongly that fixing the ‘smaller’ problems will begin to fix the larger ones.
Robyn: Like Emilia said we can’t really separate the two, and like Coop said by fixing small issues the larger ones will fall into place with them.
How do you view the contemporary music industry as a whole?
Emilia: To be honest I’m not really interested in the industry side of contemporary music, all I know is that I’m part of a great DIY scene, where we all help each other out, share our skills and knowledge, and just have fun and put on great nights. I don’t think it’s the same vibe in the contemporary music INDUSTRY, so wouldn’t really be something we would be interested in finding out haha!
Cooper: Well nowadays, like everything else, it’s all controlled by a few big companies and its alot harder for anyone to get anywhere in it. Bands used to be able to get picked up by A&R’s at gigs and indie labels would have a bit of money behind them, whereas now everything’s being bought out by the few big daddy labels who now control almost all the mainstream charts. More bands are going independent now because of this, and to do that it’s all about having a social following and letting the fans pay for your projects. It’s sad but all the contemporary music scene is nowadays is just about profit and any of the people I’ve met or spoke to in the industry don’t seem to have too much of a passion for music at all, or have told me their passion has died because it’s not enough to just believe in an artist’s work anymore it’s about how many sales they can make. For us, it’s important to stay independent, we don’t want to be a part of that scene, and we don’t want to ever be in a place where we are guided or directed or even told how our stuff should be written or presented. I think it’s also in our political interests to never feed into a corrupt system like that.
Robyn: I think it’s fake and probably controlled by the Illuminati or something…
What are the primary political issues we face, now, in the UK and globally?
Emilia: So many! We need a complete rehaul of the systems we live in to be honest! Capitalism is not the answer to a successful world, we need to fight for a new, more socialist, way of living and thinking, that would improve some things. A huge issue at the moment is of course the issue of sexual harassment, misconduct, abuse etc. I’m glad the western media are listening to the victims/survivors of this and are finally reporting on this huge issue we have always had, but I feel as if they may use certain figureheads as bad examples for a few months and then everything will be swept under the rug and the status quo will return. We need proper policies in place to deal with sexual harassment, we need politicians who don’t sexually harass their staff or other members of the public (I mean seriously is that too much to ask for?!), and people need to be held accountable for their actions. We need more education surrounding sexual health and consent, and basically for society to change its perceptions on women, and how we should be treated. There’s so many huge political issues we face at the moment, in the UK and globally. I think ousting world leaders such as Donald Trump, Theresa May, Vladimir Putin etc. would be a great (if slightly impossible) start…
Cooper: Well Mila covered a lot, but hey there’s a million so I’ll add a few! For me personally, I’ve tried to educate myself over the past couple years on black issues and I feel globally it’s a massive problem. White people need to so do much better in recognising their privilege and understanding the realities of today, which is still very much that black people are marginalised and oppressed. Gender has obviously been a huge talking point recently and I feel strongly that we all need to be fighting for equal rights in regards to this. Transgender issues as well – to think that just last year there was that whole thing with Trump trying to ban trans people from the military ….. it just shows how although the topic is more talked about there is still a huge threat. The housing crisis, employment crisis, the stigma and lack of help for people with mental health issues, the nhs crisis, the list goes on! But like I said in the answer a couple questions ago I think fighting for what most people would say were ‘smaller political problems’ will be the answer to solving the larger global crisis we’re in. Don’t wanna sound like a millennial leftie snowflake, but if we started listening to each other’s experiences & respecting each other then there’s more than enough of us to take down them cunts at the top!
Robyn: Just trying to think of something the guys haven’t covered! One that really springs to mind for me is gay rights, because we’re all queer in the band and have all been affected by this ongoing equality issue.
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and of course catch them live at show of the year, LOUD WOMEN FEST – 15 Sept at The Dome!
LOUD WOMEN Fest is back in 2018 – bigger and louder than ever! Building on the massive success of our last two Festivals, we’re expanding to two much larger venues: The Dome, Tufnell Park, and Boston Music Room
Line-up so far:
You Want Fox
The Menstrual Cramps
SAM AMANT MUSIC PAGE
The Baby Seals
Art Trip and the Static Sound
Jemma Freeman and The Cosmic Something
This year, we’re taking over The Dome, Tufnell Park and Boston Music Room. Using these two amazing, world-class neighbouring venues we can keep the music constant throughout the day, and make our Fest bigger and better than ever!
* Stalls with zines and goodies.
* The best damn day/night out of the year.
Applications from stallholders and zine sellers, other kinds of performers that we haven’t even thought of yet, and any other enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s the news we’ve been dying to tell you … we can finally announce the first of the acts confirmed to play this year’s LOUD WOMEN Fest on 15 Sept at The Dome and Boston Music Room. Drumroll please!
Outspoken non-binary alt popstar from Blackpool.
Swedish-British indie-rock. “In-your-face and awesome” – DIVA.
4 x UK Beatbox Champion.
Jesus & his Judgemental Father
Queer punx from Leeds.
Scottish sister duo: “DIY, punk, riot grrrl, real-deal indie with a touch of psychobilly”.
All girl punk band from Brighton. “Pure uncensored female rage.”
A post-punk pop party pack from Yorkshire.
“Powerful, Feminist, Brilliant, Goddess-like with raging guitars & tribal drums!” – BBC Asian Network
GET YOUR £15 TICKET NOW!
Noisy, spectral art-rock with a pop heart.
The Menstrual Cramps
The band that made Oi cry! Winners of the 2017 LOUD WOMEN Hercury Prize.
Noisy pop four-piece based in South London who write about sexuality, gender and anxiety.
Brilliant, bold, controversial, French one-woman hurricane.
The Baby Seals
Our favourite empowerpop trio from Cambridge.
Art Trip & the Static Sound
Stunning London powerpunx led by the famazing Melodie Holliday.
Jemma Freeman & the Cosmic Something
Expect high energy performances and compositions of cosmic content.
PLUS DJs including MAMMORY TAPES and more bands TBA!
Keep an eye on your inbox for a full ezine coming soon, with news of a whole heap of new regular gigs at the Hope & Anchor. In the meantime, if you want to get in touch drop us a line on email@example.com, like our FB page or join our FB group.
Well, that was a hell of a lot of FUN! I’ve finally emerged from my bed to come and say a massive thank you to everyone who came along to LOUD WOMEN Fest last night – it was the best ever and we can’t wait to do it all again!
Thank you first of all to all the awesome bands who came and played for us, namely:
Jelly Cleaver – a stunning performance from a very talented singer with a new album out – check out ‘Cure for An Existential Crisis’ on Spotify
Beverley Kills (band) – huge fun, want to see these again soon! I loved their cover of Straight Up ❤
Lea Andrews Music – what a voice! A rare treat.
Grace Savage – possibly my highlight of the Fest, Grace is a stunningly talented beatboxer who mesmerised the room. Really hope she’ll come back and make amazing face noises for us really soon!
Velodrome Music – never the same performance twice, we all thoroughly enjoyed their beautiful crazyfun set.
She Makes War – what a class act. Laura made a lot of new fans yesterday, playing to a packed room in the afternoon. Welcome back any time!
Baby Arms – effortlessly cool, a brilliant pop band. Jennifer had to borrow my guitar half way through after a string crisis – she carried on like a pro, and my guitar has certainly never been played so well before 🙂
Party Fears – our new BFFs! Enormous fun all the way from Berlin. If they don’t come back soon we’re just gonna have to go over there for more of that good stuff.
Gaptooth – pure awesome, catchy-as-hell pop songs. Hannah embodies everything LOUD WOME
N is all about – when she wasn’t on stage, she had rolled her sleeves up, put on a high vis jacket and helped us steward the event. She also created the gorgeous drawings on our event poster. We love her big time!
Thunder On The Left – injected some powerful big-stage rock onto our little stage
Lilith Ai – a beautiful performance from an awesome woman set on a path for stardom – what a treat to hear that bone-shaking voice up close. (And she made me a delicious tarty-cakey-pie. I mean, seriously, delicious. The entire Fox family thanks you for our ‘Lilith Pai’!)
The Baby Seals – superb! We can’t wait for them to hurry up and get famous so we can tell people we loved their early stuff.
Sink Ya Teeth – storming performance to a jam-packed room. Come back soon!
LIINES – we finally got to see LIINES! And they lived up to all our hopes – a barnstorming performance, loved em.
GUTTFULL – I may be a little bit biased, but I think it’s fair to say that was GUTTFULL’s best performance ever. And the room pretty much exploded, in a really good way, and I’m getting teary again even just thinking about Moe’s brother’s haka … just so much love. Best band ever.
DREAM NAILS – ‘nailed it! All their touring has really consolidated their live performance. Really enjoyed the new groove injected by their brand new bassist – sounded like they’d been listening to some Fire Party. And their messages are totally aligned with the positive spirit of feminism that LOUD WOMEN is all about: supporting your sisters, and lending them strength in the face of patriarchal bullshit. Girls to the fucking front 💋
Janine Booth – as ever, Janine’s poetry charmed, wowed and inspired a packed venue. I’m always amazed how she gains and holds the attention of an audience who’ve come to watch loud music, and immediately turns them into fans. Love her to bits.
The Twistettes – another new favourite band, awesome punk brilliance. Welcome back anytime.
Petrol Girls – performance of the night. Fresh off the ferry from the their European tour with Dream Nails, they put on an incendiary show which, again, consolidated the festival’s spirit of raising up the sisterhood. Ren is an awe-inspiring frontwoman.
Hands Off Gretel – And another powerful Lauren leading this band. No doubt they’re going on to much greater things!
PUSSYLIQUOR – the perfect grrrl punk band – my absolute favourite favourite new band of the day! They must come back and play again very soon please.
Enormous thanks and my eternal gratitude to Team LOUD WOMEN for putting in a very long day and night of hard work to make sure everything ran so smo
othly: thank you Lucy Morgan Gemma Gompertz Phil WhaiteAbby Werth Lorna Argonaut Jo Smith Hannah Wright Charley Stone Ris Kaand last but *most* Kate Whaite who skilfully managed the door, compered the bar stage, sold merch, stewarded … and
entertained a room with jokes to fill a potentially awkward string-breaking pause. Absolute superstars, all of you. ❤
Huge thanks to the amazing team of volunteers at DIY Space for London – it’s such a fantastic venue, making events like this possible. Thank you Colette Rosa and Tommy and Vanessa and Anne Marie Sanguigni and everyone else at this brilliant venue.
Special thanks to Mark Estall from Marketstall Recording for keeping everything sounding perfect, and keeping things running smoothly. Brilliant too to be joined by two interns – Melissa and Lizzie – from Soundgirls.orgwho came and helped Mark and Vanessa. Hope to see them working in sound again soon!
Finally thank you to Gonul and 1001Anatoliandelights for preparing a delicious Turkishfeast for us at short notice – such delicious food!
Thank you thank you thank you everyone for supporting our scene, and helping these put these amazing women on stage. Let’s do it all again next year … but bigger, and louder 💋💥😘
LIINES are your new favourite post-punk trio from Manchester. With three storming singles released so far on Reckless Yes, and a debut album on the stove, all eyes are on this sharply-focussed all-woman band to see what’s next. Cassie Fox caught up with Zoe McVeigh (Vocals/Guitar) and Leila O’Sullivan (Drums) ahead of their main stage slot at LOUD WOMEN Fest on 2 Sept.
Cassie: I love finding out how bands get things done off-stage. How does LIINES work?
Zoe: I write the songs, or at least the shell of the songs. Come up with hooks and melodies, and take them to rehearsal, with a structure – or that’s something we work on together. I love watching new songs unfold. It’s so exciting when you feel you’re onto something special and you can’t wait to play it live! I write all the lyrics too. There’s no way I could put so much into someone else’s words.
Leila: It’s an exciting day when Zoe comes to rehearsal with something new to try out, especially as I know she’s strict with what she brings to us, so whatever she does bring is always going to have something worth trying out. I’m really excited by some of the later tracks we recorded for the album. It’s taken us in a slightly newer direction and so I can’t wait to start working on some new tracks for playing live later in the year.
And aside from being the one who has to lug the most gear around… I take on a lot of the admin-y stuff – gigs, travel arrangements as well as our website and social media stuff. Maybe the less glamorous side of being in a band, but there’s definitely a lot to do and it keeps me busy!
Who were your musical inspirations growing up? And what current artists are inspiring you right now?
Zoe: I was very much into stuff my dad played me. I grew up listening to really exciting music such as Siouxsie, Bowie, Iggy, Lou Reed, Alien Sex Fiend, Bauhaus. Lots of men in make up, lots of expression, lots of rule breaking and history making. I absolutely loved it. Some of the artists I’m loving at the moment are Bully, Daughter and Nelson Can. Also, earlier this year, we got a bit sick of turning up to ‘alternative’ bars and clubs and only hearing male artists – sometimes there was the odd female/band played, but rarely anything current or daring. So we started a Spotify playlist of music written and performed by female artists we love. It’s not that we don’t like, or aren’t influenced by male artists. It was just in response to these experiences, and we’re quite pleased with how it’s taken shape. We’ll be definitely adding some of the LOUD WOMEN Fest artists in the coming weeks!
Leila: I was into grunge/rock and britpop when I was younger, the likes of Nirvana, Hole, (early) Foo Fighters, Elastica, Pixies etc, and was going to gigs and festivals as soon as I could. I still love seeing bands live – though don’t get to as many gigs as I’d like – but we’ve been lucky to play with some ace bands recently including Pet Crow, Heavy Heart and Cherry Hex and the Dream Church. All three are very different but we really loved their sets and what they’ve released so far, so encourage people to check them out! More established artists that I’ve loved seeing live in the last six months that have been really exciting shows include Peaches, The xx and even Arcade Fire last month in Manchester. These are artists and bands who have been around a long time and come back to do live shows that have blown me way, many albums in – what an amazing place to be!
What are your goals as a band?
Leila: Our main goal over the last few years has been to get our album finished and OUT – and after a REALLY long time we’re very nearly ready! We’ve kind of been holding back a bit this year until the album was done, so we’ll be wanting to get out and about as much as well can off the back of the album release later this year and beyond. We’ve had some incredible experiences playing gigs and festivals across the UK. So I think a big goal for us is to open up new opportunities off the back of our album release, and see where it takes us!
One goal we’d had for a while was to get some support or mentoring in some way as it sometimes can feel quite difficult to know the right things to do (or not do) as a band. We were really fortunate that Reckless Yes (in the form of Sarah Lay and Pete Darrington) approached us early last year. They’ve been a really important part of our development over the last 12-18 months, two really experienced, passionate people who have our backs, and who we’re lucky enough have been willing to put our first 7” – and soon our debut album! We love the other bands they’ve been working with through Reckless Yes too, so we knew we were onto a good thing!
Zoe: We’re really lucky to have experienced travelling around and playing in Europe quite a bit, which have been some of our best times (in life!) ever, so we’d love to get back there to tour our new album!
We’re excited to hear that your debut album is coming soon – tell us more!
Leila: As I said, our album has been a LONG time coming but we’re really glad we’ve taken the time to do it right – we’re so proud of where we’ve ended up with it. Like most bands, we’ve had to self-fund recording the album. This has taken a few years to be in the right place money-wise, as well as song-wise. Then getting everything in place to work on the tracks and record them has taken time around work and other commitments. So it’s been a slow process, but we finally got there.
Zoe: When we signed to Reckless Yes one of the first things they recommended was to work with producer Paul Tipler. He’s got such a big track record of working with bands we love – and love the sounds of – so we were bought in immediately. It’s been a completely new process working with Paul. Whilst some of the songs have been more straightforward recording-wise, we’ve loved the development of recording others, trying some new techniques or making the tracks a bit different to how we’d play them live. I think we, and Paul, are really pleased with how it’s turned out, so we’re really excited for people to hear it.
Leila: We’ve not quite got a release date yet, but we’ll be announcing one in the not too distant future, as well as some gigs! We’ll be announcing news of our album first to our mailing list, so sign-up!
You’ve had a brilliant run so far I’d say! What advice would you offer bands starting out?
Zoe: Haha, we’ve done ok! Obviously it’s always nerve-wracking when you’re releasing new music but we’ve been really pleased with the response so far… and now we’re nervous to see what people think about the album! In terms of advice, I would say go out any play as many gigs as you can. It’s the best way to really develop your songs and own style, as well as making friends and contacts along the way. Another thing is it’s important to be true to yourself. Write for yourself. I think it’s much better to watch an honest performance than watch someone acting on stage. I get so much more out of real emotions, when a performer has conviction.
Leila: Releasing music is obviously a big part of getting your music out there. LIINES had been around a while before we released anything – until then we only had an EP we were selling at gigs. We had a band meeting in a pub (the best meetings!) and it was one of the first times we’d taken a step back and made a plan – to release our first single, Never There. We set a release date, worked backwards to mark a few key dates and got going. We googled everything – from how to write a press release to what should be in a press kit, and trawled Facebook/Twitter and everywhere for good press contacts. And we contacted a lot of people who we knew or who had said nice things about us in the past. It was very hit and miss, but we also were really lucky with some of the support we got, and it worked better than we could have imagined – getting coverage on some big websites and even national airplay on Radio X. It really put us in a strong place going forwards to build on for future releases and opening up other opportunities. So sometimes it’s good to take a step back and make a plan! Might not be the most inspiring advice, but we’ve found it a really important step.
I’m delighted that you’ll be joining us this year at LOUD WOMEN Fest! Do you often play with other female musicians? What are you expecting/looking forward to at the Fest?
Leila: To be honest it varies a lot bill to bill whether we play with other female musicians. I don’t like to say it’s a pleasant surprise when we do, but often it is. We’ve played a few festivals that are focused around female artists – Ladyfests in Manchester and elsewhere, and now LOUD WOMEN Fest, and although they shouldn’t still be necessary, they clearly still are and they have been some of the most amazing atmospheres we’ve played in.
Zoe: The line-up looks so strong. I’m expecting to be completely blown way, to be honest. By the quality and energy of the music in the room, and by the people coming down to watch and dance. It sounds like LOUD WOMEN has got something really special going on, so we can’t wait to finally be a part of it. It looks mega!
Leila: We’ve heard amazing things about DIY Space for London too. Spaces like this are so important. We just played the opening of Partisan Collective in Manchester, another co-op space, and it was such a great night – actually one of our favourite gigs in a while. So we’re expecting a similar, electric atmosphere! It’s exciting to be playing so close to home for me – randomly doors down from where LIINES recorded our album, but also where I went to primary school and grew up!
Interview by Cassie Fox first published on Louder Than War.
SHE MAKES WAR – just confirmed as our final booking for LOUD WOMEN Fest! British ‘gloom pop’ artist, described as blending “the emotional resonance of Elliott Smith with the barbed vigour of Sleater-Kinney”.
Laura Kidd’s latest album “Direction Of Travel” includes guest appearances from Tanya Donelly (Belly, Throwing Muses) and Mark Chadwick (The Levellers).