Tag Archives: the potentials

UK riot grrrl: a second wave snapshot

Interview by Kris Smith
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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.

 

LOUD WOMEN album launch

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What a day, and what a night! Our LOUD WOMEN Volume One compilation album launch party was a massive success. Undeterred by a last-minute venue switch, 13 of our awesome CD contributors rocked the very awesome New River Studios, played to a (at times) full capacity crowd, and thoroughly launched what is looking set to be a hugely successful album.

Pre-sales and launch day sales of the album now mean that we just need to sell 4 more CDs to break even on the cost of manufacture, then after that all profits will be going to Women’s Aid!

If you missed out on the launch party, here’s a quick round-up of goings on …

Lilith Ai and her new band opened the show with a poppier new sound. It’s Lilith’s stunning vocals that still makes your ears prick up and your hair stand up, so we can’t wait to see her playing again solo on the bar stage at LOUD WOMEN Fest in September.

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Janine Booth gave a poetry set full of characteristic bite and warmth, opening with a brand new poem about the ‘Disaffected middle-aged woman’ which really hit home with this one! Janine is such an inspiration – travelling across London to give her time to our cause (for which she donated her fee to Women’s Aid), not complaining for a moment about her early slot in the line-up, and telling me moments before she went on stage that her boob was ‘still cooking’ from the course of radiotherapy she’d had that week. Massive love and solidarity with our shero Janine.

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Madame So played next, accompanied only by a drummer, giving a stunning and heartfelt performance. She then stuck around to enjoy the rest of the day’s music – an artist who knows the importance of supporting her fellow musicians. Awesome attitude.

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(Sorry Solange, I failed to get a photo of you – instead, here’s Bagel, the resident cat at New River Studios.)

Fightmilk joined us next, having stepped off another LOUD WOMEN stage only 16 hours previously! They’re always a joy to watch – they’re a rocking party and everyone’s invited. Top fun.

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GUTTFULL played next – my band! We were on great form, if I say so myself … our singer, Moe, is proving herself to be a total natural at the front of a stage. She left the audience  raised-up/chastened as appropriate, and also covered in ‘cum’ from her party cannon orgasm. Dead proud of my new band!

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The Tom Boys from Japan were a last-minute addition to the bill, as they happened to be over in the UK staying with friends of friends and were looking for a gig. What a treat! They gained a lot of new fans in London yesterday.

The Potentials hopped on next and, bouyed up by the Tom Boys’ awesomeness, decided to scrap their planned set list, and instead play all of their old favourites that they haven’t played for ages. They announced this as their “disaster set” … but it worked brilliantly!

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Nervous Twitch came all the way from Leeds, in the rain, with a dodgy windscreen wiper, to play a stonking set. I’m always blown away watching Erin playing bass and singing *so brilliantly*, such a hard thing to do and she makes it look easy.

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Little Fists played next, reminding us all why we love them so much. Alternating catchy tunes with fierce rock;  and alternating melodic vocals with visceral, well, shouting. They switch between instruments with ease (well, ease, apart from Soph falling off the drum stool a few times, but done so elegantly of course!)

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The Ethical Debating Society were introduced by Scene Queen Pearl Pelfrey, who rightly described them as her favourite London band. TEDS were on top form – possibly the best I’ve ever seen them play – and they debuted some very exciting brand new material.

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DOLLS joined us next with their storming pop-rock, catchy tunes, stunning vocals, infectious smiles, and perfect teeth. How are these two not playing stadiums yet? We’ll just make the most of getting to see them in small venues while we can because it seriously can’t be long before they go stratospheric.

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Argonaut were also on top form – playing as a full band for LOUD WOMEN for the first time in too long! Lorna wowed us with her powerful voice and tigger-like dance moves, and Abby won herself a LOUD WOMEN ‘multi-tasking’ badge by playing keyboard, guitar, singing, and shouting down a megaphone during their set. Top work.

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Gladiators Are You Ready? however, won the badge for most memorable live show. Jose and Ste entered wearing terrifying masks, and if that didn’t scare the shit out of us all enough, a bare-chested, kilted bagpiper entered from the far end of the hall, playing through the room and on to the stage, then piping in the entrance of ‘Vulvarine’, aka Hana, looking hot AF in an outfit that looked like she’d just rode in on some kind of winged fetish pony. She then produced a cape emblazoned with several pairs of pants, with letters on spelling out ‘TOO LOUD FOR TOOTING’. They could have just stopped at that, to be honest, they’d made their point. But they then played an awesome set of spectacular songs. Couldn’t really tell you what they’re about – between the masks, the bagpipes, and the corsetry, I was pleasantly distracted – but we all had a bloody good time dancing along to them. Must see these lovely mad bastards play again soon.

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Then Deux Furieuses played their headline set and showed us all how it’s really done – a stunning set by two women with awesome talent, energy, and passion for their music. They were the perfect end to a perfect day’s gigging.

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Special thanks too to the awesome Alice of the Glitter Girls, who came along to paint glittery shit all over our faces, in aid of refugee charities. Glitter makes everything better, even these beauts!

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International Women’s Day fun

by Cassie Fox

Our #IWD gig on Weds, co-hosted with Who Run The World, was SUCH a great night! Finally I get chance to sit down and say a few words about it, for those who couldn’t make it …

First of all, The Menstrual Cramps played their first gig, sounding as tight and confident as if they’d been playing together for years. They reminded me a lot of DREAM NAILS – heartfelt rage channelled through their music, and bloody catchy songs. Keep finding myself singing “Let My Bush Be Free” on the school run, oopsie.

mentrual cramps

Next up were our Buffycore BFFs The Potentials, who once again proved themselves to be DIY ‘scene not scenery’ to the max – they turned up early, brought a load of drum gizmos, and Zach also provided £££s worth of brand new DVDs he’d swiped from work. Then they played a blinding set! LOUD WOMEN hearts this band big time. Catch them again next weekend – LOUD WOMEN volume 1: album launch party

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The Baby Seals returned to play their second LOUD WOMEN gig, and reminded us all why, at their first LW gig, several members of the audience were debating forming a record label right there on the spot in order to sign them. These chicks rule – the songs are strong and dancey and perfectly executed, and the lyrics make you howl with laughter. I had such fun dancing at the front with loads of great babes around me yelling along “He’s going to cum on her FACE!” It was like the best woke hen party ever. Love those seals.

Personal highlight of my own evening, as ever, was getting to do the raffle for the first time in ages. Don’t know why I love that so much but I really do! There were some excellent DVD + chutney prize combos won by lots of happy campers, and we helped top up the donations to Women’s Aid 

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Best raffle ever!

A post shared by LOUD WOMEN (@loudwomen) on

Then finally, megababes Charmpit played their first headline show, and kicked the ass out of it! Spandex bikini-clad, they got everyone dancing with their infectious energy and humour. Their message at the end of the set was perfectly aligned with LOUD WOMEN’s core ethos: making music is fun and powerful, and *you can do it too* Hurray for Charmpit!

We’re still counting up the total raised on the night, as gremlins/the patriarchy seem to have crept in to Beth’s systems, but so far there’s £186 raised for Women’s Aid! I’ll update the total once we know more from WRTW.

8 March: The Baby Seals, Charmpit, The Menstrual Cramps & The Potentials

080317To celebrate International Women’s Day, a sisterly partnership between LOUD WOMEN and Who Run the World promotions.

All profits to Women’s Aid.

Doors 8pm
Tickets £6 online (no fees!) | £8 OTD

Featuring:

THE BABY SEALS
https://www.facebook.com/thebabyseals/

CHARMPIT
https://www.facebook.com/charmpit/

THE MENSTRUAL CRAMPS
https://www.facebook.com/TheMenstrualCramps/

THE POTENTIALS
www.facebook.com/buffcore

LOUD WOMEN: Volume One compilation CD available to pre-order NOW!


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LOUD WOMEN – Volume One will be released on CD on 18 March 2017, featuring tracks by 21 of the UK’s most hotly-tipped female artists:

  • Dream Nails: DIY04-dream-nails
  • Bratakus: Pollution Evolution
  • Petrol Girls: Touch Me Again
  • Dolls: Audrey
  • The Empty Page: Deeply Unlovable
  • The Ethical Debating Society: Poor Liam
  • Gladiators Are You Ready?: I Want to Love You
  • deux furieuses: Out of My System
  • Fight Rosa Fight!: Sick of You
  • GUTTFULL: Keyboard Warrior
  • Little Fists: Tyler is Not a Feminist
  • The Potentials: Moloch14188231_1107551255999096_1587132143501267403_o
  • Nervous Twitch: Something Wrong With Me
  • IDestroy: IDestroy
  • Madame So: Black is Beautiful
  • Fightmilk: Chaperone
  • Bugeye: Hey You
  • Argonaut: Not Rich
  • The Wimmins’ Institute: Nando’s
  • Lilith Ai: Riot
  • Janine Booth: Real Rape

All artists have played at the LOUD WOMEN monthly live music nights or the annual festival.
Organiser and musician Cassie Fox says: “It’s 2017 and women are still struggling to get their voices heard in all arenas. LOUD WOMEN is about putting women centre-stage and turning up the volume. There are hoardes of massively talented female artists out there, hopefully this CD can bring a few of them to a wider audience.”

The album will be officially launched on 18 March with a special all-day gig at the Sound Lounge in Tooting, featuring live performances from 12 of the artists on the CD.

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interview: The Potentials

by Beth White of Who Run the World

The Potentials: Shanaz, Holly and Zak

Can you describe your music in a few short words? 

Holly: Buffy the Vampire Slayer themed queer diy pop
Shahnaz: chaotic, catchy funtimes for all
Zak: It’s queer, feminist pop punk. It’s all based in the Buffyverse but as with the show, everything is just an analogy for everything we experience in our daily life. Except maybe ‘Moloch’, that ones kinda specific to the show/90’s TV in general. (sorry that’s not a few or short words).

How did you all meet & decide to form The Potentials?
Holly
We met at a support group for people that can’t get over the 90s and decided we’d enable our Buffy obsession in a healthy way.
Shahnaz: It all began as an attempt to play the Buffy RPG, it turned out that was really hard because you’ve got to have a good DM and follow rules and stuff, so we instead we decided to channel our love of Buffy into some songs, and became the very band you see before you.
Zak: We all knew each other and ended up talking about Buffy awkwardly at parties, and then, as Shahnaz said, the RPG was too hard so we decided to try being a band! Worked out alright didn’t it!

Who are your influences?
Holly:
 Bruce SpringsteenTeam DreschMy Chemical Romance on repeat forever and ever.
Shahnaz: Az from ice shack in Manchester, and some bands.
Zak:

  • “Fags and dykes and queers and grrrls and wimmin and punx and all the weirdos.”

Keep being weird. (And The Spice Girls).

What exciting things did you get up to in the last year?
Holly:
 We recorded a new EP, made a pop video, went on tour, had a birthday party, had a spring fling, had our second annual Slayerfest, made a charity single, and rewatched all of Angel. It was bananas!
Zak: As above, so below PLUS we are an inordinate amount of hash browns.

What have we got to look forward to from The Potentials this year?
Holly:
 More songs, more tours, more hash browns for breakfast.
Shahnaz: A really good t-shirt with a cute animal on it!
Zak: PARAHOY (please Hayley?) plus loads of shows and feelings and new music!

(Assuming you are!) Why are you particularly looking forward to playing the Who Run the World/LOUD WOMEN show on 8th March for International Women’s Day? 
Holly: One word: Charmpit.
Zak: All of it. Plus more Charmpit with everything please. LOUD WOMEN and Who Run The World have both been so supportive of us and so many good bands, so honestly, it’s gonna be the party to end all parties.

What is your take on the state of women’s representation in music right now?
Shahnaz: In the DIY scene women are properly doing it for themselves, I see oodles and caboodles of female bands making a start and making good. Unfortunately that doesn’t crossover into mainstream music, the handful of bands I see getting signed and getting representation still maintain the status quo in that they are mainly all male, and usually all white.
Zak: As a cis-but-sissy gay guy I won’t take up much space here except to say that all the women in the scene at the moment are REALLY FUCKING NAILING IT!!! Lots of pricks to continue to fight but you babes have been absolutely slaying (bad pun intended)

Where can people listen to your music & buy merch?
https://www.facebook.com/buffcore
https://thepotentialsuk.bandcamp.com/

 

Beth White’s interview was originally published on the Who Run the World tumblr here

18 March – LOUD WOMEN album launch party

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LOUD WOMEN are holdling a party to celebrate the launch of a new compilation album, with all profits going to Women’s Aid.

Tickets £6 in advance (£8 on the door) from https://www.wegottickets.com/event/386676

Under 18s free – please obtain a child ticket so we can monitor numbers https://www.wegottickets.com/event/386677

Live performances from some of the 21 acts featured on the album, including:

Argonaut
Bugeye
Deux Furieuses
Dolls
Fightmilk
Gladiators Are You Ready?
GUTTFULL
Janine Booth
Little Fists
Madame So
Nervous Twitch
The Ethical Debating Society
The Potentials