Safe Gigs For Women Fundraiser Gig @ Gwidhw, Cardiff
"Zac had taken his top off and he does it at every single gig without a fail: he’s really comfortable in his body. At the time, I was wearing this velvet top and was really fucking hot so I was like you know what I’ll take it off and I felt absolutely liberated but it’s just my tits you know. If I see a bloke in a band take their top off and there’s a bit of a mosh pit I’ll do the same thing, particularly if I’ve got a good bra on."
"I’ve always had male band members, male tutors etc, but I’ve also been incredibly lucky cause I’ve learnt that in the music industry there is a very small percentage of women who are in anything, especially songwriters. I learnt that statistic when I was in uni and it was a man teaching it to me and he was like 'We’re here to change that' and he was really incredible with it."
"I hadn’t realised that as growing up I’d always had female teachers and female influences in my music. But I was really lucky cause I always had mentors growing up, people that just kinda said 'Hey you’re a good singer kid, I’ll show you what to do.' and it was women and that’s kind of how I got to where I am, because of what they did for me."
"I’ve been a part of the Welsh music scene since…I think I was about 14 when I started writing songs and getting gigs and things like that, so my profile has been building and obviously I think at the start it was a very male dominated scene. There was a lot of male bands and male producers and writers, and I’ve always kind of seen a lot of male producers when I’ve been going to sessions which is kind of difficult at times."
"I never thought of the term ‘female fronted’ as us [Charlie Says] or I never identified as it till we were described as it. But because we’re just a bunch of girls and gals, people, we don’t think of it. We’re kind of more like a message of empowerment for everyone I guess, and we want everyone to have a good time. Some of our songs are sad, some are happy – we just want you to know our feelings."
"Hey I'm a survivor of sexual assault and rape. It's coming up to 5 years since my assault and up to a year since I released my first E.P. Radical Softness about falling in love with my sexuality and body again after my trauma. That first initial period of my life was terrifying. I lost complete sight of who I was and what I wanted to make of myself and it took me years to get to the woman I am now. I am more hard working than I've ever been and I feel more powerful and comfortable in my skin than I have ever done. So for anyone who's reading this who has experienced the same but doesn't feel comfortable or safe to express, I want to say that YOU WILL GET THERE, I LOVE YOU, YOU ARE WORTHY AND YOU ARE IN MY HEART. THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER."
LADIES OF RAGE
In August 2018 when Liz Hunt from The Moon asked me to put on an event for her week-long Cardiff Music Women Exhibit I knew instantly what I was going to do. Cardiff has a thriving music scene, however over my 6 years living here I've noticed that scene is almost entirely band based music like rock and indie. So for the Cardiff Music Women Exhibit I knew I wanted to shine a light on what's described as 'urban' genres : hip hop, grime and r&b specifically. This led me to book London-based organisation Girls of Grime to come over and talk about their work promoting and developing women grime mc's from in and around their city. I knew these genres were wildly underrepresented in Cardiff, but then I thought if the men are barely being represented then surely there are women who are getting even less of the exposure they deserve. For the finale of the event I asked everybody I knew in Cardiff if they knew of ANY women that might rap and would like to do an all-woman cypher, I found three and at the end of the night they all got onstage with London MC Madders Tiff.
So a week after the event I sat down an created a Facebook group, I called it Ladies of Rage after legendary MC The Lady of Rage - who herself started a movement in hip hop to help push women MC's (FEM - Females Earning Money). I invited those three girls I'd invited to MC at the Cardiff Music Women event and from there it just grew - we're now about 150 women strong and the group keeps growing every day. I wanted to create a private group for women and non binary people in Cardiff who create or partake in hip hop, grime and electronic genres so they can meet new people, discuss issues, share their work and generally just have a positive and safe space to be themselves. From there I booked 3 monthly jam sessions at a local recording studio, and an event in the Moon for December. So on the last Friday of each month we've met at the studio with open decks and mic to cypher, share music, meet, chat and collaborate. The energy at these jam sessions has been incredible - the girls who already perform have just instantly settled in and encouraged the women who are less confident or experienced in performance (and that encompasses mixing, singing, rapping and spoken word poetry.)
In future we're looking to develop workshops and a mentoring scheme for women, and young girls who are interested in any aspect of the music industry be it performance, production or promotion. We're also looking to run workshops on self-care and self defence.
Sexism is rife in the music industry and with stats like only 5% of sound engineers being women it's high time we do something to correct the balance in the industry. If we can send women out there feeling confident, skilled and knowledgeable but also with the ability to mentor and teach another - hopefully we're developing a self sustaining scene of women supporting women to express themselves creatively. 'Each one teach one' is a phrase that's quoted in the hip hop scene regularly - i think over time we can do this in more ways than one: the next collaboration the collective are discussing is a hip hop track about consent from their experiences of being grabbed and touched inappropriately at music events, speaking out to men about why this needs to end and expressing how it makes them feel.
"I've written lyrics since I was a teenager but never shared them with anyone. About a year ago I shared my first piece as part of the Tactile Bosch 'Lost Vegas Hotel' with Rufus Mufasa. Rufus gave me the confidence to write more and more, and to share, share, share! Ladies of Rage has come at a perfect time for me, so I can continue that support and sharing with other women, but also develop my own skills and confidence. I also DJ, and it's great to be around so many other women who are into music."
"Ladies of Rage has enabled me to do something I've always wanted to do. I've written poetry and lyrics for as long as I remember and its only through the support and encouragement of this collective have I been able to share my words for the first time.
I was abused by my father as a child and by other men at different stages of my life, when people ask me why we need women only spaces its because of this, I can't be myself as much in mixed spaces. This is not because I hate men - I'm happily married - it's because I have a deep somatic reaction in male dominated spaces from childhood trauma relating to men.
It's hard to explain, but the point is I shouldn't have to. This group has changed my life and with 1 in 5 women (at least) being affected by some kind of violence at the hands of men, it's necessary on all levels."
PHOTO: ANNA WINSTONE
"I think being a female gig photographer, or female photographer in general, I feel like we have to build a brand for ourselves and work so much harder than men, to be respected and taken seriously. I feel like the industry has almost pitted women against each other in a way, so like if you’ve got success in any way you try and like guard that and protect it even if it means being rude towards other women."
"Current popular accounts of mens problems, particularly with reference to women, speak to a gender polarity of fixed notions of masculinity and femininity, in which gender identity is seen as an attribute of the individual."
"Through socialisation, sex role theorists argue, males and females are conditioned into appropriate roles of behaviour."
"According to Pleck (1981), living up to a gender role is more problematic for boys because of the level of social expectations that males experience. In particular, expectations of strength, power and sexual competence form the basis of male roles."
IDLES are a five-piece rock band from Bristol, England. Following six years of gigging in relative anonymity their fortunes changed in 2017 with the release of their debut album Brutalism, which won plaudits for its combination of hard-edged punk and raw, progressive lyricism. This year they released a follow-up, Joy as an Act of Resistance, an album which has catapulted them to mainstream attention, eventually climbing to number five in the UK album charts. Yet alongside the critical acclaim and sold-out shows, between the wild Jools Holland appearance and the Charlie Brooker endorsement, something else has been happening. IDLES have found themselves the unlikely centre of a movement.
IDLES’ recent success comes at the tail-end of a difficult few years for the singer. Following his mother’s stroke when he was 16, and the subsequent death of his step-father, Joe became her primary carer. It was a situation that left him cut off, trapped in a cycle of “savage behaviour”, substance abuse and unhealthy relationships. She died while the band were recording 2017’s Brutalism, an event that shaped the album in all senses, from the lead track Mother to her photo on the LP’s cover. It marked the beginning of a period of reflection for Joe, setting him on a path towards counselling and ultimately sobriety.
"People are saying: I want someone who believes in something on the radio. I want broken men on stage.”
The band put a halt on proceedings and decided to talk. The conversation started about music but soon became one about mindfulness and changing their lives for the better. Inspired by Grayson Perry’s The Descent of Man, Joe found himself thinking about masculinity, compounded by revelations he was making about himself during counselling. “That’s where Joy… came from,” he says. “It’s a step forward in terms of being more aware of your surroundings.”
Joe demands their audience love themselves in spite of media standards of beauty, while Samaritans finds him tearing off the “mask of masculinity” that keeps men from crying. “Man up!/ Sit down!/ Chin up!/ Pipe down!,” he bellows against a chorus of wailing guitars. “I like that denaturalising of masculine tropes,” he later tells me, “because they don’t make any fucking sense.”
“We knew we needed to bring these people into one place, and that’s where the idea for the Facebook group started.” The AF Gang started with around 100 members. “I think people were just like: this is such a refreshing group of people,” Lindsays recalls. While it’s officially a fan community, in practice it functions as a support network. Between posts about the band, people detail how IDLES and the community have helped them overcome anxiety, relieve anger issues, or carried them through nervous breakdowns.
“People started becoming a lot more open, saying everything was really shit but that IDLES has made it better. They wanted to talk about their depression, their anxiety and how this is helping.”
At their centre Joe commands his audience completely – “All the women to the front,” he directed the crowd at a recent London show, only for rows of men to part like a shoal of fish. It’s unruly and inclusive: a safe space for complete release. “You could be in IDLES,” as he later puts it to me, “it’s easy, we're shit."
PHOTO, CHARLOTTE PATMORE & WORDS, ANGUS HARRISON
reba & trishna
"So there was a girl working at a music venue and a guy was flat out talking to her and I just thought they were friends. But because she’s on the door she cant escape, she cant go anywhere, he knows that she’s there for the rest of the night and he knows that he can talk to her whenever he wants to because that’s her job to be friendly to you on the door. He wouldn't leave her alone so I asked her if she was okay and she said, "I told him I had a boyfriend trying to be nice and that and then he had the cheek to give me shit that my boyfriend is white.’"
"He came back and I said she doesn’t want to talk to you, she’s busy working, so not only is this sexual harassment, its harassment in the workplace. He told me I was being rude and I just said, no you're in shock right now because no one has ever called you out like this have they? What if this was your mother, or your sister, or your aunt, or your niece? How would you feel? Or your girlfriend? How would you feel if this was you and there was a guy hitting on you and you said no thanks I’ve got a girlfriend leave me alone, how the fuck would you feel then?"
"One night I had a hip hop set and there were these boys there who asked me to play 50 cent, even know that wasn't the vibe I was after. I'd left a piece of paper for song requests on the side of the stage so people didn't come up to the booth and I got this not back, terrible grammar. I just thought, am I supposed to be flattered by that? So I wrote back, 'hope you would tell a boy DJ that too.' Then he literally scribbled it out, scribbled out what I had said, as if to be like don’t tell me off."
"If you try to talk to guys about it they just say you’re overthinking it and you're told to ‘stop being sensitive.’ I get that quite a lot with guys, because if I feel like there’s something wrong, I’ll ask them what they’re laughing at and instantly as soon as I address it: ‘why’re you being sensitive?’ ‘You on your period?’ I think its just the general attitude towards women that needs to shift."
"But women kick ass so we'll eventually get there!"
Photo by Soul Photography
"I’m doing this for the women that think that they need men, nah we don’t need men. So be pleased when you’re bleeding, we bring life to the world, that’s a whole different meaning."
"So girl don't stop cause you're gleaming, you're so hot that you're steaming. Don't hold on to your demons, you'll soon figure out we don't need men."
"When I go out to gigs, I’m always in heels and normally a dress. People say when I’m up on stage I’m asking for that kind of attention because of the way I'm dressed. Like if I turned up on stage with a pair of jeans, trainers and a t-shirt, would I be looked at differently? It is disgusting. Some of my lyrics can be quite provocative and a little bit on the naughty side and I like to dance a lot so people say that I could be asking for it then."
PHOTO: AIYUSH PACHNANDA
"I wanna be able to help people who have been through Ladies of Rage and don’t trust men or are too nervous and say to them that they can do it. It’s a bit like counselling really because I genuinely want to help these women get back on their feet and find their strength to shout their own voice again, where they’ve been knocked down so many times. Ladies of Rage gives these women a safe environment that they can go to jam, really speak their mind and say whatever they want. They wont have a male in the room to be intimidated by or nervous about."