An Interview With…Black Honey

Two of our lovely reps Alice and Georgia met up with Black Honey before their Manchester gig on their UK tour in October 2016. We talked feminism, their current and future plans and changes they want to see within the music industry:

What have you been up to over the summer? Any particular highlights?

All: Truck Festival!

Izzy: Japan. Japan was massive.

Tommy: I feel like we’ve been doing festivals for months and months and months, it’s been really fun. We’ve been to Japan for the first time.

Izzy: We did Vienna last week and that was wicked. We’ve had so many highlights so you can’t really pick one cause everything feels like a highlight, every shows there’s just like more and more kids coming and screaming along.

Does it feel good to be back touring the UK or do you prefer it overseas?

Chris: I like both.

Izzy: Yeah! It’s a good mixture. We’re at a time now where we’ve done so many festivals that we’re really excited to be doing our October tour.

Chris: I think it’s always really nice to play your own shows because you’re playing to your own fans and they’re way more intense, which is always good fun.

What do you guys have in store for 2017?

Izzy: We hope to get our heads down in an album in 2017. We haven’t got an official booked-in date or anything yet. We’ve got a lot more touring to do.

In terms of feminism, who do you look up to within the music industry?

Izzy: In terms of women in music, I really like St. Vincent. I think she’s a really good example of a woman that’s doing really interesting things at the moment.

Tommy: Courtney Barnett!

Izzy: Yeah, she’s really got something to say! ‘Give me all your money and I’ll make some origami honey’, so good! Patti Smith- classic, all-time hero; PJ Harvey, I’ve seen her twice this summer, I can’t get my head round her still, she blows my mind.

Is there anyone who you gets it right politically or morally within the music industry?

Tommy: It’s a tough one when bands get political. When it works for them it’s amazing but I find that it can be forced. What the Fat White’s do is pretty cool. We’ve played with so many different people over the summer and you know when you remember seeing loads of good stuff but it all sort of blurs into one?

Do you feel like as a band, fronted by a female, that you’ve ever experienced misogyny? Do you ever feel like you’ve been at a disadvantage or do you think its worked as a selling point for you?

Izzy: I don’t think it’s a disadvantage or a selling point. It’s sad that it’s seen as a selling point and we definitely don’t condone that as a thing. To us I’m the same as these guys. They don’t see me differently, I don’t see me differently. But I think I definitely feel I’ve seen misogyny but it’s not been anything that I can’t really handle yet. Everyone seems to have been quite respectable at the moment anyway. Obviously there’s been some funny ones; I’ve been kicked out of gigs before for not having my pass on because they thought I was a groupie.

We saw something you guys tweeted the other day and there were a lot of creepy men prying. A pair of underwear with a badge on it and they were like, ‘I’d love to see you in these’.

Izzy: Oh my god, yeah yeah!

Tommy: That was probably one of the worst things we’ve ever had actually.

Izzy: Then the next guy was like, ‘I’ll buy them after she wears them’ and we were like dude… We just got all our friends to tweet them and be like ‘Creepy!’

Chris: I think the Internet makes it harder in a way because people just write so much stupid shit. They can hide behind the Internet.

How do you think young girls and women in general can be encouraged to become involved to join indie-rock bands when the genre is and has been largely dominated by males?

Izzy: I don’t know, it’s a weird one cause I just feel like I got into music just cause I liked it. If people come and see us and they pick up guitars and want to write songs, whether they’re a boy or a girl, that is amazing. And our mosh pits, we’re really strict with it being a love only scenario so if it’s a circle pit you can run at someone but then go and hug them, like you can’t push each other, that’s not a thing. We’re sort of stressing on the non-violence and I think that makes it more welcoming for girls but we get loads of girls on the front row!

Chris: Mainly girls, isn’t it?

Tommy: I think, although it’s a bit of a cliché now, you’ve seen the festival posters where they cross out all the acts that don’t have women in. So I guess that’s a thing now.

Who do you think is to blame for that? Do you think it’s the festival bookers themselves or just the industry?

Chris: That’s the thing, it’s a weird circle isn’t it. Because you think it’s the festival bookers fault but then if there’s not enough women in music then it’s gonna be difficult.

Izzy: If there’s positive sexism, ‘Oh we’re just hiring that band because they’ve got girls in to even it out’, it’s like what? I know that when I was a kid, I definitely was very intimidated by the prospect of playing music with boys. And when I was really young I never thought I could be in a band with them because I thought they’d be like ‘Ha ha ha! Why do you wanna do it?’ I was brought up in a world where my mum was a massive tomboy, she was a sailor, and so I can imagine for young girls who are looking in and trying to get in to it, it must be pretty terrifying. For me it took some balls to be like ‘Hey do you wanna be in a band?’ when I was like 10 or 12. It should be less intimidating and we hope to sort of break that.

What other issues do you think there are in music? Not just related to feminism but any changes that you’d like to see.

Izzy: I think small bands should get payed more.

Tommy: Yeah there’s a weird like pay-gap, it sounds a bit weird, within music. But you get these superstar artists like Calvin Harris or whoever, who get paid millions and millions and it just gets ridiculous. Which is fair enough, nothing against him. Then you get bands who are like mid-level, like that band ‘Augustines’, they broke up because they couldn’t afford to do it anymore. And they were a pretty big band.

Izzy: Yeah like so many bands that would have done so well can’t because they don’t have the money and record labels don’t invest the time and energy into smaller bands that need the development because money is a big thing. We definitely have seen it, we all work jobs at the same time as doing this.

So the pay is based on genre?

Tommy: I mean obviously our experience is just within this kind of style but I think it’s probably something similar in every genre.

Izzy: I guess like dance music’s trendy at the moment so that’s in the Radio 1 Charts and that’s where people are buying records I guess.

Chris: Record labels are more into investing into dance music because they know it will sell.

Tommy: At the same time we could sit here for ages moaning about not getting paid enough and stuff but it’s just the way you do it.

Izzy: It’s a balancing act isn’t it. We’re quite lucky because we’re quite business-minded so we can just about keep ourselves afloat.

So when you started the band was it with the mind set that this is what you wanted to do or was it just as a hobby?

Izzy: Yeah we were quite determined from the start, whether the music matched our determination is another question but yeah we’ve always been quite driven.

Onto the subject of sexual assault at gigs, did you know about it before our campaign?

Izzy: No! Literally I had no idea what it was. An interviewer asked us about it and I was like I had no idea that it was even a thing that girls got sexually assaulted at gigs because I was quite like daring when I was a kid, I was quite fearless and I would just throw myself into any mosh pit. But I always found that if I got knocked over or whatever, I’d get picked up. Or if someone for whatever reason tried it on with me, they’d fucking know about it, like everyone around me would fucking know about it.

Tommy: I never really noticed it specifically but if you think about it happens everywhere else so…

Izzy: And, just like a word out there, if we ever ever see anything like that or anyone at our gigs ever sees anything like that just tell us and we’ll get them taken out the gig. It really deeply upsets us that this is a thing. I can’t imagine what it must be like for these girls. Cause we can do more than bouncers. We’ll just yeah, fucking knock them out.

What would you say to the victims of sexual assault at gigs?

Izzy: I’d say don’t be afraid and don’t be scared to report it. It should be reported.

Tommy: Don’t be afraid to talk about it.

Izzy: Yeah, talk about it and tell us and vocalize it because I know that a lot of people get so scared about it and they don’t want to confront the issue. Because it’s so complex and intricate that these girls go through these things, like they don’t want to be in court and have to look at that person again or whatever. It needs to be spoken about definitely and if we ever see anything like that…

Chris: Yeah, as a band we fully 100% support what you’re doing.

And what would you say to the perpetrators?

Izzy: Just fucking grow up! Get out of here! Fuck off, get out of our gig!

 

Interview by Alice and Georgia

An Interview With…Dream Wife (a Halloween Special)

Bella, Rakel and Alice of Dream Wife list the beautiful, powerful and fucked up women of David Lynch movies and drag culture as influence, and they notably have apowerful magic to their stage presence. This time you can really see them in their element as they’re throwing a Halloween Graveyard Party at London’s Moth Club.

Just as it is for modern day witches, DIY culture and feminist/LGBTQ communities have been playing a great part in the life of Dream Wife. Started out as a performance piece at art school and recorded tracks in Alice’s bedroom, the group has now gone further than they’ve ever expected. They’ve quickly become a significant part of London’s thriving creative community through collaboration with photographers such as Maisie Cousins and writers such as Polyester’s Ione Gamble amongst others. After the wild success of their ‘EP01’ earlier this year the trio finally signed to Lucky Number, started recording their debut album and
introduced us to some of our favourite music videos of the year.

 

The latest one, ‘Lolita’, is probably their most empowering (and spookiest) one yet. Directed by Sam Boullier and Eleanor Hardwick, the video shows them playing both victims and villains, paying respect to movies such as The Blair Witch Project or The Shining while representing the horror genre with a feminist twist. Basically the perfect video to watch when you want to put your headphones on and dance alone in the dark to some angry music at 2AM. I hope you’re doing it right now. If not, then just read our interview with them as we asked them about all things creepy as a warm up for their Halloween party.

 

In a famous Halloween episode of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer everyone was under a spell and turned into their respective persona, so became real ghosts and real monsters and, of course, total chaos erupted. What if I told you this Halloween everyone’s going to turn into whatever they’re wearing for one night only? What would you wear?

Rakel: I’m not really sure what I’m going to be on Halloween… I only really wanted to be an evil fairy, because we watched documentaries about fairies in
Iceland and wanted to know more about it. So yeah, an Evil Fairy from Iceland!
That sounds like myself in a way.

Alice: I might go as Alice Cooper! So I can be Alice Cooper for one night only!

Alice to Bella: You’d be a really cute ghost!

Bella: You’ve been dressing me up as a ghost as long as you’ve known me! … I don’t know, maybe like a Panther…

Is there any costume that one should never ever wear?

Alice: There are so many lazy costumes, maybe people should be just creative
with it. Lazy costumes are just the worst, like, why bother?

Rakel: I don’t like when people dress up as sports hooligans because that’s a totally different thing.

Bella: Also you don’t have to be offensive to be scary. I don’t want to see
any ‘black face’. People do have to think about how their costume affect other
people and respect those boundaries.

If you could only watch one horror movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Alice: Inland Empire, which is this really, really long David Lynch movie,  which is just really fucked up! Every time I’ve gone to watch that I’ve never watched it in one go, I could watch that for the rest of my life and still never see it.

Bella: Probably The Shining for me. It’s just perfect.

Rakel: I don’t like horror films a lot but I would probably watch The Nightmare Before Christmas, but that’s because it’s really cute… and a bit scary. I’m afraid of the dark.

Is there any particular cemetery where you like to hang?

Bella: Oh we love cemeteries! Nunhead Cemetery, Alice and I moved to Nunhead to be close to the cemetery.

Rakel: That’s why it’s called ‘The Graveyard Party’ [their Halloween party]. It’s a very personal thing. My favourite one is the oldest cemetery in Reykjavik, it’s really beautiful because it’s got so many trees everywhere and Reykjavik doesn’t really have a lot of trees. It’s special in a way as it’s easy for trees to grow there. [People believe] when someone dies you’d plant a tree so that their spirit would live on in the tree, continue on growing. So your human remains would be a part of the soil for the tree to live. I often go with my grandma to visit her parents and she would always tell me the story and
tell me how big their trees are, and how big their spirits are living in the
tree.

Rakel: Graveyards can definitely be scary at some point but I think sometimes really beautiful and you can have really amazing conversations [there]. Especially in London there are just so many wild graveyards, they just let the trees grow and the stones brake and they become almost like the jungles of London, nature is taking over. Every single meter in London is used for some construction and then there’s the graveyard, very peaceful. Great place for dates.

If you could talk to a famous ghost who would you talk to?

Alice: David Bowie.

Rakel to Alice: Really recent ghost.

Alice: Baby ghost.

Bella to Alice: Bowie wouldn’t have much to say about the afterlife yet, would he?

Alice: I just want to speak to him, I never got to when he was alive so I gotta get it when I can.

Bella: Maybe someone who died under mysterious circumstances.

Alice: The Black Dahlia.

Bella: Yeah, I would speak to her.

Rakel: I would probably want to speak to a witch from Salem. I would really want to know what was happening [to them] at the time, if it was because they were using herbal medicine so they were competition, or if it was because of
some incident. I’d really want to know their side … The Salem witch trials, I’m
really curious about that.

Bella: [It] was about fear of things existing outside the patriarchy. People being persecuted because they did things that didn’t make sense within their
constructs. But even then, some of them weren’t even practising witches.

What are you most excited about this Halloween?

 Alice: Having a great party with our friends!

Bella: We’ve curated the line-up, got lots of friends playing and DJing…

Rakel: We’ve curated every single minute! And it’s all friends of ours so it’s just gonna be a huge party with a lot of really good people and musicians. And I’m also excited about Alice Cooper!

On collaborating with friends:

Bella: It’s about building things together and at the end of the day what can be more fun than making great stuff with your friends?

Alice: We’ve collaborated with a lot of people and they’ve always been friends or people we’ve completely respected. We’re just really lucky to know a lot of
people in decent artist groups and it kind of just happens quite naturally.

Rakel: I think there’s a level of respect for each other’s art form. We’re
quite excited about our next collaboration, which is going to come out soon-ish, and that’s with an Icelandic rapper, Vigdís. That’ll be pretty epic, once
that comes out. I don’t think you would have necessarily linked us to that collaboration so I’m really excited to see people’s reaction.

Get your tickets for the freakiest graveyard party on Dice and dress to impress!

Interview by Dora Pocsai

An Interview With…Sundara Karma

The sun was shining, we had just finished our exams, and Sundara Karma were playing the 6th night of their UK Loveblood tour in Glasgow – as you can imagine, everyone was in a pretty excellent mood. This interview was quite unlike any we’ve done before. As soon as we sat down with Oscar Pollock (lead) and Haydn Evans (guitar), an extremely insightful and interesting conversation opened up about feminism, gender roles and misogyny.
Frustratingly, half-way in we realised it would have been a good idea to record
what had been said. Despite this, Oscar and Haydn engaged in a conversation
which is often difficult to get band members to open up about – not only this,
but it was passionate and knowledgeable.

We firstly discussed the pressure women face, just because they’re women – namely the issue that women face of the constant fear of assault, whether it be at a gig or walking home alone. We discussed our own experiences as women, and how often we’ve had to supress them, without us even realising we’ve done so.

Oscar:
“It’s really fucked up. Anything you supress is gonna come out, somehow, and it’ll be really ugly. That’s why it’s good to talk about it..”

We then mentioned how worried we often feel for ourselves as women, and the women close to us in our lives, and how we receive a lack of respect when we try to speak about it.

Oscar:There shouldn’t be a worry though. We’re in the 21st century, it should not happen.”  

Haydn: That’s the worry for me, for my little sister. As a guy I don’t need to worry but as you say, it affects everyone.”

Oscar: “How do you police something like this? The person who’s assaulting must be under the impression that it’s okay to do – but where does that stem from?”

This idea of men feeling they have entitlement over women’s bodies, of course, comes from images that we’re shown e.g in advertising, where women are often shown as tables and being overly sexualised, and particularly in high fashion. Music, too, is an extremely beneficial tool for misogynists to place ideas into people’s minds – mostly, as it became apparent, mainstream music.

Oscar: “It’s kind of that whole gangster-rap then, and the misogyny that goes on, but that’s kind of what mainstream music is. I used to hate when I was 16 and we snuck into shit clubs in Reading like Lola Loh’s or Rev’s and it’s just the amount of awful, misogynistic lyrics that you almost grow accustomed to. It’s just so popular.” Of course, we all had one song in our minds – Blurred Lines.

We then asked if we think anything akin to that would ever come about in the indie scene, and if they’d ever come across any bands with misogynistic or laddish lyrics.

Oscar: “(Lad culture) was a craze, a kind of fad, that ‘lad indie’. Although I mean I guess it kind of still goes on.”

The conversation moved onto bands who obviously know that sexual assault occurs, and that the campaign exists, but yet choose not to be involved with us *not naming any names*. We ourselves emphasised that of course bands don’t have an absolute obligation to support us, but Oscar and Haydn wholeheartedly disagreed.

Haydn: “I don’t see why they wouldn’t wanna support it anyway.”

Oscar: “Fucking use your voice! For me, it’s my favourite part of music, I think – how it can affect lives in a really profound way.”

And then we moved onto the actual interview questions we had, rather than passionate feminist chit-chat.

What do you think of Glasgow?

Oscar:Love it.”

Haydn:It looks even better in the sun.”

Oscar: “Red wine in hand as well – decent!”

Judging by your music videos and style, you don’t really seem to feel pressurised to conform to traditional gender roles. Do you think music has let you feel like that, or have you always been like that?

Oscar: “Yeah, I think so. I’ve been wearing eyeliner and clothing that would be considered not normal for a long time, and that I guess stems from when we were emos!” *cue the moment of mutual bonding where Anna and Oscar fist-bump over their emo past*

Speaking of Glasgow, do you know where Four Corners is?!

Both:No?”

We then explained the pride of Glasgow – Four Corners, where the emos of our city hang out and visit the alternative club Cathouse.

Oscar: “We might have to go!”

Back to the original question…

Oscar: “So yeah, it came from that; My Chemical Romance were the gateway. And Robert Smith, the original goth.”

How much do you think that masculinity and conforming to that stereotype affects the way that bands in general present themselves?

Oscar: “I’ve been watching this thing that Grayson Perry’s doing at the moment called All Man – it’s on Channel 4 – he’s a wicked artist and he basically focused on cage fighting, the bankers and the police force and crime.”

Haydn: “And how these are like considered really masculine jobs, and you don’t get a lot of female stock broker bankers and stuff and he touched upon the pressure to be ‘manly’ affects individuals in their jobs.”

Oscar: “What he found was that there’s an incredible amount of insecurity amongst all of them and I think you can’t really tackle this subject just by saying ‘how do people in bands feel?’ because they’re just people doing their job. Just like most jobs, masculinity comes into play big time and I think is someone feels they can’t be sensitive or they can’t be effeminate and that they have to be stern or provide, I think that’s really gonna take its toll and luckily I’ve never felt that I’ve had to be that quintessential male figure. Maybe because of the acceptance of my parents; luckily I’ve been able to paint my nails and dress up in god-knows what. Maybe if you are looking at it from a band perspective, maybe that’s one of the good things about being in a band – it gives you that self-expression.

How much/often do you think other social issues are discussed in the music industry, e.g classism in the UK and racism?

Haydn: “I don’t know about other social issues – maybe politics are discussed a lot within band culture because that’s just how it is but I don’t know.”

Would you say that they need to be discussed more?

Oscar:Perhaps it should.”

There’s been discussion about bands being too apolitical, do you have any opinions on that?

Oscar: “It can almost become gimmicky, especially if you don’t really believe the stuff you’re saying. I think you should only talk about things if you really, really feel passionate about them.”

We mentioned that often, support bands may say something vaguely poltical to get the crowd to like them, for example ‘fuck the Tories!’.

Oscar:
“That’s so true. I’ve noticed that at loads of gigs. I guess it’s very easy to hop on bandwagons *pun intended*.”

Haydn:
“We’re especially big on politics. And ‘fuck the Tories’ is such an easy dig, isn’t it?”

Both:
“But yeah, fuck the Tories.”

As active participants in the music industry, how much do you think feminism and the industry’s treatment of women is discussed?

Oscar:
“I mean, just from looking at festival line-ups you can clearly see that it’s not a true reflection of what’s actually out there. I saw this interview with Nicki Minaj and it was about her saying if she acts authoritatively, she’s a bitch, and if a man does he’s a boss, he’s a player, and that’s so true! You hear people saying that all the time. I think you can always talk about (feminism) more. I don’t think we’ve even hit the surface yet. It’s kind of like global warming, how a lot of people talk about it (but nothing gets done) unless serious action is taken –
because it’s a fucking mindset thing, it’s a complete social conditioning. It
needs to be dealt with from the roots, they need to be taken out.”

We then mention just how huge an issue feminism is, and how Girls Against as a campaign isn’t in for the short run, it’s extremely long haul. As well as this, we discuss that even when we as a campaign are going to interview bands, we often aren’t taken seriously because we’re young and female  – we’re often simply considered groupies, even if we’re carrying equipment and are there with a purpose.

Oscar:
“That’s awful, I can imagine that feeling like shit. Like we’re saying, you have to look at the bigger picture, and their presumption of who you are comes from a whole load of social conditioning – what his TV is telling him, what his parents are telling him, the ‘right way of thinking’, which is obviously incorrect. That’s the beast that we all need to look at. Mainstream media, basically; as Jim Morrison says, whoever controls the media controls the mind, which is very true.”

Focusing more on the campaign, have you been aware of sexual assault occurring in crowds at gigs before Girls Against?

Oscar:
“Not before at all. My friends who are girls said they had experienced it at clubs, but never at a gig, which is crazy isn’t it, because there’s obviously loads of it going on.”

If you were to see it happen, would you speak to security? What do you think the band’s responsibility is?

Oscar:
“You have to stop it straight away. I think if you don’t, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Haydn:
“Especially if you have a chance to stop it. You can speak to the entire crowd. It’s doing the right thing, for yourself – not saying it’s selfish, but you’re doing the right thing for yourself to stop that, as a decent person. You’d naturally feel (like stopping it).”

Oscar:
“I mean, being a guy talking about feminism, I can never fully understand what it feels like for you girls. But I’m gonna do my fucking best, and we all are, to make sure that there is more equality, that’s what’s needed. Compassion, tolerance.”

We mentioned how society becomes much more tolerant of things the more exposed to it it is, for example women’s bodies in the media.

Oscar:
“But I’m a massive optimist, and I think we’re at a really important time, and there’s a lot of stuff being talked about that hasn’t been talked about in the past. There’s a lot of young people wanting to make the changes.”

Hann then mentions the lack of respect the received from adults when telling them about how she meets bands – namely them assuming she’s a groupie and spends all her time on Twitter – and how in actual fact, our generation is so much more socially aware and actively political then the past generations.

Referring to you guys, the new single Loveblood and video is great!

Oscar:
“(referring to video) We love it! It’s our favourite video that we’ve ever done; it’s like a step up. We just need to find something to follow it up now!”

What was the process like – direction, the concept, etc?

Oscar:
“So we got a few treatments sent in and Michael, who ended up directing it, his treatment was this two-page treatment – normally they’re about ten pages long – and it was just like ‘red’ on one page and we were like ‘yeah we’ve got the one!’ Less is very much more. It was also one of those things that came out exactly how we envisioned it in our heads and that’s quite a rare thing when it comes to art.”

It must feel quite special?

Oscar:
“That’s the perfect word for it – it’s that visual representation.”

What are your plans for the rest of 2016?

Oscar:
“An album. We should probably mention the album, Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect, we’ll plug that!”

After asking them what they were doing that night, we somehow got onto the discussion of cocktails…

What’s your favourite?

Hayden:
“Mine’s a mojitio…”

Oscar:
“Yeah a mojito. Or a Long Island ice tea!”

Excellent choices, boys. Catch Sundara Karma on their September UK tour here.

An Interview With…Greta Kline (Frankie Cosmos)

‘I think most women are aware of it from a young age as soon as they go to a show and feel unsafe.’

After saying this, Greta Kline [Frankie Cosmos] gives a short laugh in an attempt to alleviate the tension that’s now been evoked. We each take a moment to consider the gravity of what’s just been said – the fact that women can go to a concert, a place which is meant offer the brilliant experience of hearing music you love played live by the musicians who wrote it, and it can become a threatening and dangerous place within seconds, simply due to the immoral intentions of others. As we both think, Kline points out our mutual conclusion.

‘I don’t think it should be anybody’s job to try and stop it. People should just not be like that.’

It’s a sad reality we all have to face up to. In a world where 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year, and just weeks ago 26 women reported sexual assault at a German festival, it’s no longer an issue that can be dealt with through simply wishing people could have a better moral compass. As Kline says, ‘If only the good people ended up having kids and raising the next generation of people. Maybe those kids would end up in a world where this stuff doesn’t happen’. It’s a nice, idealistic perspective of the future, but we both realize it’s impossible. We instead turn our attention to the more pressing matter: what can, and should, be done?

When I first meet Greta Kline, I’ve been sat in a pub in Hackney for the past twenty minutes, working myself up into a nervous wreck over the fact I’ll be meeting and interviewing an artist I greatly admire. But when her tour manager arrives and introduces himself, I barely even notice Kline appear behind him.

There’s no fanfare; no air of self importance that announces her presence into the room. She gives me a friendly smile and introduces herself before inviting us to sit down. As the interview progresses, she is casual in her speech, insightful and hopeful in her ideas, and apologetic when she feels she’s not properly articulating what it is she’s trying to say. In short, Kline is perhaps the
most unassuming artist I’ve ever met, despite the fact she has every reason to
be the opposite.

Kline fronts, and is the beating heart and mind of, the band Frankie Cosmos. She’s recently put out her sophomore ‘proper’ album, Next Thing,
receiving the same acclaim her debut ‘proper’ album Zentropy received. These two albums fall alongside nearly 50 other releases, the majority of which are recorded using just an acoustic guitar, her voice, and the speakers on her laptop. From this, Kline has worked up enough of a fan base to be touring both Europe and America multiple times throughout 2016. But, most importantly, that fan base is a heavily committed one: the people who like Frankie Cosmos don’t just enjoy her music – they love it. Whilst it’s not to everyone’s taste, those who get it well and truly fall in love with the personal snapshots Kline provides in her music.

Our discussion begins here, with me pressing her for her favourite of the lo-fi
albums she released before her ‘proper’ albums. After hesitating, citing the
fact the albums are all so different and representative of very different times
in her life, she decides on 2012’s Much Ado About Fucking (also due an award for best album title of all time). ‘I wrote it when I was really starting to fall in love and date my boyfriend,’ she explains, ‘so it’s like a really special time capsule for me.’ Kline’s ability to capture moments in time and frame them with melody is the reason so many people are drawn to her music, but the intensely personal nature of her songs does come at a consequence on her conscience.

‘As a person writing really personal songs, I worry about people hearing them and taking it the wrong way. It’s terrifying thinking someone might think it’s cool to get drunk underage through listening to a song of mine. I don’t want to have a negative effect on someone.’

Kline is very much aware that a lot more people are now paying attention to her music and that this will attract a wider, more diverse audience. Consequently, when our topic of conversation turns to sexual assault at gigs, she takes a very mature and well informed approach to what should be said to the perpetrators.

‘I’d obviously say “you should just respect everyone equally”, but I’d also say “I really think there’s the possibility to learn from your actions and change. Instead of removing yourself from a scene because you’re not in-mind politically, be more open and learning from the people around you. Try and change.”’

Whilst this call on the perpetrators of sexual assault to change is inspiring, Kline’s main concern is, of course, with the victims, and how the performer themselves can make a difference. She mentions the fact that Speedy Ortiz have set up a hotline to provide support for those who feel unsafe at shows, where the victim need only text a number, and the issue will be immediately relayed to the security (later that week, I see Modern Baseball have done a similar thing). Kline has also seen friends stop mid song to call out people fighting in the audience and ‘remind people this is supposed to be fun’. She also reminds the victims of sexual assault, in any situation, the importance of self-care.

‘Everyone’s different, but in my experience, attitude and opinion, I think it’s really helpful to try and not make it a part of your identity, to try and escape from it and not let it define your life. Stuff like that is just awful, and it can really mess you up and ruin your life for a while. I’m not saying you should ignore it, but do whatever you can to get past stuff like that. Whatever process you need to go through, including speaking out about it. Just don’t let that person or that situation affect your life as a whole. Don’t let your life lose value to you because of it. Be strong!

Here, Kline takes another pause. I can see she looks worried, and the reason behind this is something I would never have guessed. ‘I’m worried what I’m saying sounds like “get over it”, and that’s not what I mean at all’. It’s clear that her concern for the victims goes beyond that of just a passing worry – she genuinely cares about the safety and mental well being of her fans, and the last thing she wants is for her words of support to be misconstrued.  ‘There’s such a horrible stigma, it seems so dated to me, but so many people think it’s the person’s own fault. They’ll say “oh, you shouldn’t have been wearing that!” or “oh, you shouldn’t have been drinking!” It’s so stupid.’ This victim blaming is what Kline was worried she was insinuating, and she insists that this is far from the case, as she knows, from personal experience, how awful that is.

‘There was this guy that was basically attacking me outside of a show once. I was saying to him that I didn’t want to shake his hand because I was really sick… He grabbed me and tried to hug me. I ran away and I was crying. It was a really minor thing but it was still super scary. Then when I told my mom afterwards she was just like “oh, he was just drunk”. I was just like, “why are you defending this asshole?” If someone behaves like that when they get drunk, then they shouldn’t get drunk. Just don’t be a dick!’

Kline points out that this victim blaming might be a generational influence, which she hopes will fade over the next few decades of political change. ‘I hope that whatever makes a group of people a minority – be it your gender, race, sexuality – all the stuff people are targeted for will just disappear’.

It’s here that we begin to address the fact that sexual assault at shows may be representative of a wider issue: namely the place of women in music. Kline occasionally tackles this issue in her music – the opening song on her album Affirms Glinting, ‘shmuck in the room’, refers to how ‘the weird sound guy would never touch a man that way’. On the EP Fit Me In, the song ‘Young’
brings up the non-musical criticisms Kline receives on her music: her age, her
parents and the fact ‘it’s cute that I try’, comments a man would likely never
receive. Both of these songs address the difficulties, stereotypes and irrelevant factors of perception that women face in just trying to make music,
and it’s clear that Kline has dealt with these personally. So, upon being asked
what she would most like to change about these issues, she immediately has a
stock of answers.

‘There should be more accessibility in learning how to make music and put on shows. I think that’s one of the things that’s really hard for people who don’t grow up in a place where there’s a music scene or an easy, accessible way of learning an instrument or making a band. Stuff like the Girl’s Rock Camp seems like a really cool thing. Stuff like that – more access for young people to get into making music.’

What Kline does not mention is how her music itself also provides a large access for young people to get into making music. As previously mentioned, Kline’s bandcamp has nearly 50 albums that she just recorded in her bedroom, using just the sound of her voice and an acoustic guitar. The majority of the songs released on these albums are beautifully simplistic, comprising of a few barre chords that are repeated under a sweet melody. Kline’s topics range through a variety of emotions and situations, but, despite the personal aspect of her songwriting, she occasionally reflects the simplicity of her music with her lyrics. Songs such as ‘pov of toothbrush’, written about exactly that, ‘little debbies cosmic brownies’, written about being too stoned to buy brownies, or even an entire album entitled skinned elbow = now you’re cool (with picture to match), show that music does not need to be complex or well refined. This is a brilliant encouragement for young people, especially women, to simply make music for the sake of making music.

Earlier in the interview, I asked Kline if there were any musicians that she looked up to in terms of feminism. She said that, whilst she definitely focused on the music, she thinks the ways in which women carry themselves in interviews is important. ‘I love reading interviews with Joanna Newsom – she’s not directly talking about feminism, but I really like how she respects her own thing and doesn’t let people push her in interviews. I think in a way that’s a political thing since that’s so difficult to do as a woman.’ Kline achieved this easily in our interview: she brought up many thought provoking issues that spanned a wide range of topics, making it so difficult to try and manage that into an article. Overall, we both agreed that there was one message to be taken from it, a five word quote from Kline that should essentially be everyone’s life mantra:

“Just don’t be a dick.”

You can listen to and purchase the music of Frankie Cosmos on BandCamp

For more
information on Frankie Cosmos, check out their
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Interview by Mark Fenton

An Interview With…Milk Teeth

On 7th May 2016, Bristolian punks Milk Teeth played a monumental headline show at Rainbow in Birmingham, UK. Ahead of the show, I spoke to the band’s Becky Blomfield (bass/vocals) and Chris Webb (guitar)…

On…HEADLINING

Chris: “I’m always worried that nobody’s gonna show up. We haven’t headlined in a long time. We’ve been doing supports, which I like because there’s no pressure – if you make a new fan then you’re winning.”

Becky: “It’s been nice to play some stuff – we haven’t played some of the tracks since we recorded them for the album [Vile Child]. And because we’ve been touring so much we had literally one day to rehearse for this tour so WE HOPE IT’S OKAY.”

On…TOURING AMERICA

Becky: “I only got a passport about a year ago, so it was like SHIT. BIG WORLD. It kicked off the travel bug in me – I want to see more now, because some of the things we saw you couldn’t really believe. The Grand Canyon, it looks like a backdrop, like a painted set.”

On…TOURING WITH TONIGHT ALIVE

Becky: “It was nice to have a fellow female-fronted band. And they were cool people, so nice to hang out with.”

Chris: “They’re lovely. They were really nice, buying us food…”

Becky: “It was also really good for us to go to play to big crowds, with our album having just come out. That tour brought in a lot of new fans. It was an honour really to be a part of it.”

On…ATTITUDES TOWARDS WOMEN IN MUSIC

Becky: “There’s definitely a pressure from industry people to sexualise [women in bands] in some way or make them an attraction feature. We’ve really resisted that. I think there’s also a bit of the whole ‘girls can’t play guitar’ thing. I have had sound guys at some venues assume that I don’t know how to work all of my own gear.

Chris: “Guitar shops as well.”

Becky: “A guy genuinely was like ‘oh you bought pink leads, because you’re a girl’ and I was like ‘no they were the cheapest leads!’”

Chris: “I also bought pink leads the same day!”

On…BEING COMPARED TO PARAMORE

Chris: “We get compared to Paramore a lot and we don’t sound anything like them. It’s just because there’s a woman in the band. I love Paramore, but I don’t think we sound anything like them. People don’t compare us to stuff that I think we sound like – to me, we sound like a lot of 90s punk, but people are like ‘oh yeah, Paramore’.”

Becky: “They’re so quick to compare you to the nearest band that has a female in it, because there is a lack of that [representation]. People don’t think outside the box.”

image

Milk Teeth in Birmingham, taken by Andy Watson

On…FEMINISM

Chris: “People don’t understand the definition of the word. It’s just about people being equal. A lot of people are afraid of the word, but I feel like they just need to understand the word and then they’ll understand the point of view.”

On…FEMINIST HEROES

Becky: “From a feminist point of view, Brody Dalle is a huge icon. She’s one of the reasons I felt like less of a weirdo for learning guitar when I was a teenager, because I saw her and was like ‘wow, this chick is fucking amazing and she’s doing everything that I want to do and she’s respected for what she does’.”

Chris: “Bikini Kill and all the riot grrrl bands are cool.”

On…RACISM IN ROCK

Becky: “We’ve had issues at some of our shows where people who aren’t white have come up to us and said ‘I really had to think about coming tonight, because I receive shit because of the colour of my skin, for coming to a rock show’. That really infuriates us. If you’re a woman, that’s hard enough. If you’re a black woman coming to a show…”

Chris: “A young black girl came up to us at a show in America, and said she doesn’t feel welcome at shows. That’s not right. If you like the music, then you’re welcome.”

On…SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT SHOWS

Chris: “We played Carlisle and this guy was drunk – it was the Frank Carter tour so there was a lot of older drunk guys. He was stood in front of Becky making really inappropriate gestures.”

Becky: “I had to be escorted out of the building with all the boys around me just so he didn’t come anywhere near me. That’s terrifying! You’d never think the boys would have to be escorted to safety.”

Chris: “Yeah, we’re not the Beatles!”

Becky: “When we were in Europe, a guy asked if he could take a picture of me and I said okay because it’s a normal question. But then he proceeded to point the camera at my chest. It’s behaviour like that which ruins it for people that are genuine, because when that happens to me, it makes me question taking pictures with people! If there are creeps who are gonna just take pictures of my tits at merch or if I’m waiting to meet fans, it fucks with your head and it puts you off.”

Chris: “Even right now, Becky is wearing a pair of our merch guy’s boxers under her skirts, because camera guys can be creeps.”

Becky: “I can’t just wear my underwear. I have to question ‘can I wear this without anybody being gross?’ I’m bending down on stage a lot, setting up my gear…So it’s like ‘boys, can I borrow a pair of boxers?’ just so there isn’t some creepy guy looking up my skirt.”

Chris: “You shouldn’t have to make decisions just because they’re assholes. You’re amending your life because some guys are creeps. It fills me with rage.”

On…VENUE SECURITY

Becky: “I’ve had a lot of run-ins with security where they’ve talked down to me because I’m a woman, and I think if the problem is even with the people who work at the venue, then how is safety being encouraged? They often don’t take [harassment] seriously – they just see it as two kids flirting or think ‘oh, she wants it’, or ‘they’re drunk’. That really hacks me off.”

On…THE PERPETRATORS

Chris: “GET FUCKED. GET THE FUCK OUT. What gives you the right to come to a show and harass people? Just be nice to everybody. If you come to a show, come for the music. If you’ve come for anything else, then just stay out. If you’re going to be a prick, we don’t want you.”

Becky: “Yeah, we don’t want you to be a part of it. People shouldn’t have to second guess [going to shows] or go with something in the back of their head that wonders what could happen. It’s fucked up.”

On…SPEAKING OUT

Chris: “I would encourage anyone it happens to – tell someone. Tell security. If they don’t take it seriously, tell fucking everybody. Tweet the venue, tweet the band, tell anyone, tell everybody.

Becky: “If anything happens at one of our shows, tell us. That is not okay, and we will call it out.”

Chris: “If I saw anyone – it’s quite hard for us to see, but – do anything at our show, they’d have to get the fuck out.”

Becky: “I know it’s not easy, it does take a lot to say ‘this happened to me’.”

Chris: “There should be no guilt and no shame. It’s the asshole’s fault.”

Becky: “Be brave. If you can.”

You can catch Milk Teeth at a bunch of festivals this Summer, including Reading & Leeds, Y Not, Bestival, and 2000 Trees. You can get their wicked debut album Vile Child here, and watch the video for their song Swear  Jar (again) here.

Interview by Sophia Simon-Bashall

An Interview With…Pretty Vicious

Welsh fourpiece, Pretty Vicious, who rose to fame after headlining the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury last year, chatted to us backstage at Handmade Festival in Leicester. The band who formed in 2014 over a campfire, spoke to Girls Against about their new EP as well as their views on feminism and sexual assault at gigs. [You can watch the accompanying video here]

Brad, the lead singer and guitarist told me that their new EP, Cave Song, was doing “really good” with Elliott the drummer adding “awesome yeah, we’re currently higher than Justin Bieber in the iTunes charts which is our personal record.” He went on to say that they will be attending “festivals like Truck Festival, and we’ve got Y Not lined up. We’re off to Amsterdam tomorrow to play a show over there for Pinguin Radio. But this year we’re more sort of like recording & stuff as opposed to like gigging and playing festivals. So next year, we’re going to be doing the entire circuit proper again so that’ll be cool but this year is just a quieter year in terms of gigging.”

As a band, Pretty Vicious want “more chances for real music. ” They say that “it’s a lot easier to get your music out there if you’re a solo artist; if you’re a band, it takes a bit longer like we got signed and stuff but it takes longer to perfect your craft and get all the songs ready. I’m not saying it’s easy or anything but when you’re on your own, it’s only you and you don’t have to work with other people.” Brad also stated that he’d like to see “more platforms for unknown bands as well.”

Within feminism, I asked who the group looked up to and after thinking for a moment they recalled “an artist called Girly” who they’d previously played  gig with. “She was a proper feminist; she was cool.” Elliott and bass player Jarvis both agreed that sexual assault is an issue at gigs starting “yeah” in unison with Elliott asking “do you wanna go?” and Jarvis replying “no, I’m just agreeing,” telling us that Elliott “does all the talking.” Elliott continued “as I said, we saw the the interview with Slaves as well and there’s lots of reports of stuff happening like that. You don’t go to a gig for that sort of s**t.” Brad chipped in stating that “it is wrong.” Proceeding,  Elliott concluded that “you go to a gig to enjoy yourself, [not] to get touched by random strangers and what not.”

The lads, who are all aged under 20 said that this kind of sexual assault is more apparent within the late teens age group. Brad shares the view that “because of our age some people don’t realize the repercussions [and] might do stuff like that not realizing how offensive it can be.”

As a band they feel that “spreading awareness is a great thing to do” to help tackle sexual harassment and “doing interviews like this one now and what [Girls Against] do which is great. You know, just spreading awareness, making people aware that you can speak out and…” (Brad interjects “It’s not cool”)“…It’s not cool, it’s a serious thing.”

Brad questioned me when I asked if he thought there were any issues outside of the music industry regarding feminism, querying “sexism?” to the delight of his band members who mocked him saying “I don’t think he understands the question!” Tom, the guitarist, started “there’s a lot changed now” and Brad after thinking about it said “I think in this day and age you see a lot of women doing just as good, and better, in a lot of circumstances than men and vice versa so I think these days it’s a lot fairer” laughing as he added “with that subject like with them posh words. ” Elliot too agreed and feels that “it’s great to see females in rock bands because you don’t usually see [them]; widescale it’s usually, I’d say, about 80% [of bands] are fully male, in rock at least, it’s nice to see bands like Wolf Alice in the music industry now.”

To the victims of sexual assault, Elliott says “don’t be afraid to speak out. If something happens at a gig or something, try and get hold of the band, you know, don’t just keep quiet. It’s an important issue that needs to be addressed.” And to the perpetrators, their message is simple; “don’t do it,” “get out of our gigs” and “f**k off.”

Interview by Laura Cobham

An Interview With…Slaves

After the ongoing support Girls Against has received from punk duo Slaves, we thought it was time for a chat with Isaac and Laurie, who have helped us to gain such immense recognition over the past two months.

The boys played in London (14th Jan) at The Forum in Kentish Town and I (Bea) went down to the venue before their gig to be greeted by tour manager Neil. I was taken into their dressing room which, when I stated my approval of “wow this is fancy”, Isaac replied “Isn’t it just, best one yet!” The boys were friendly and chatty and showed a heart-warming level of concern towards the safety of their fans, and a huge level of support for the campaign itself. We sat down on a comfy leather sofa and, after being offered drinks, I asked the boys some questions.

image

How aware were you of groping at gigs before the campaign was launched?

Both Isaac and Laurie said they were “not aware at all” and expressed their shock at the fact that these events were even happening. “It’s not one of those things you think would happen you know” Isaac states. The boys also spoke of their surprise at the “sheer amount of fans who spoke out after one person”, acknowledging the confidence that one victim speaking out can give to those also suffering. Laurie also had a story. “I remember on a trip to Paris” he begins, “an old man harassing a young girl. It was horrific, she couldn’t move”.

What do you think your role is, as a band, in tackling the issue?

Although the band recognised that when on stage, they are limited in the effect that they can have on stopping these issues, they both agreed that “bringing awareness and speaking out is the best thing we can do”. We later got talking about some of the backlash we’ve received as a campaign, including that regarding our name being ‘Girls Against’ creating the deception that we’re only interested in the female gender. The band felt strongly about this, arguing that “you’ll never keep everyone happy” and that they were “shocked people would even question this. Men should be acknowledging that women are getting groped, not saying that men don’t but, there should be more tolerance towards females you know”.

How do you think venues, security companies and the music industry generally, can help end this?

“We have a procedure” Isaac begins. “We made a policy with our tour manager. Before shows there’s always gotta be a security briefing, to let them know how the show works and stuff.” The boys then go on to explain, “we always aim to have one female security member at our shows”, something that we, as Girls Against, are really targeting at the moment, as we feel this is a sure way to allow victims to feel more comfortable when speaking out. I mention this, and Laurie suggests “yeah we have heard of male members shrugging it off”. But he also addresses “you need to be nice to security as well though, they’re not gonna take you seriously if you’re swearing at them and shit, it’s not cool. That’s maybe why they shrug stuff off sometimes”.

What would you say to victims of sexual harassment/assault at gigs?

“It’s not their fault” Laurie states. However, an interesting discussion arose surrounding the intake of alcohol at shows. “Just don’t get drunk” Isaac suggests. “What’s the point in coming to our shows completely smashed off your face, it’s just putting you in a vulnerable position”. I mentioned that alcohol also acts as an excuse for perpetrators to grope, as it makes people aggressive and rowdy. I also mention that as a teenage girl of 5 ft 1, a Slaves gig seems particularly scary – to this Laurie jokes, “yeah it does look very intense.” I also comment on the fact that they were seen to call out a member of the crowd for groping at one of their shows earlier this week. “It’s more difficult for me, but Laurie’s always looking out into the crowd” Isaac explains, “we’ve stopped a gig almost every night on this tour so far I think, for fights and stuff, we’ll always call it out”. Laurie also remembers his experience at a Slipknot gig “you’d get pissed on and kicked and stuff there. I can’t believe it when people say our pits are as bad as that.” Isaac agrees, humorously, “yeah I’d definitely be scared to enter a (Slaves) pit”.

What would you say to perpetrators of sexual harassment/assault at gigs?

“Don’t come” they both state simultaneously. There’s a pause before Isaac asks, “do you think men actually come to our gigs with the intention to grope, like they don’t actually like the music and stuff.” Sadly, I have to admit that, although rare, yes, some do. They both seem concerned by this, expressed by Laurie sighing, and Isaac rubbing his forehead.

“We just wish we could do more” the boys finish by saying. We talk about the issues in Japan and the same sex train carriages due to the big sexual harassment issues there (read more on this here). Laurie seems engaged with the topic stating “it must be so bad if they have to take that extreme.” But Isaac considers “once you do that it’s sort of separating females init, women deserve more respect”.

image

After the questions I thank them for their ongoing support. We hope to keep in touch and arrange to hopefully meet again next time they’re in Scotland. We take pictures with badges and hug goodbye, before leaving them to their busy duty and preparation for their gig in a few hours. As I leave I consider their affection towards me, and the campaign, and hope that their support and consideration for Girls Against can lead to great progress in the future.

Interview by Bea Bennister

An Interview With…Spector

On Tuesday (20th October) Anni caught up with Spector’s Fred Macpherson before the band’s Edinburgh show to discuss sexual harassment at gigs. Fred gave us a lot to think about and his input was highly appreciated. You can read what was said below.

Girls Against: Firstly, thanks for talking to us about the campaign.

Fred Macpherson: No worries! Thanks for the great idea.

GA: How’s tour going?

Fred: It’s going really well. I think it’s one of my favourite tours we’ve ever done because we’ve got more material we can play for a longer time and we’re more adept at playing songs, so it seems like the quality of it is better and a bit more in the zone. Sometimes getting on a tour feels like jumping on a moving train and then jumping off in opportune moments. Whereas compared to that this is the orient express.

GA: Nice, that is a nice analogy. I liked that. Okay so, how aware were you of groping at gigs before the campaign generated the buzz it’s been getting?

Fred: It was something I was actually aware of. Even growing up, going back to when I first went to a gig around fourteen, I remember girls, female friends, getting touched inappropriately.  And I think it’s even happened to me. Like, right when I first started going to gigs, stuff that you don’t even necessarily realise at the time. ‘Cos you’re so young and it’s such a new experience, everything at a gig is such a new experience. And especially ‘cos it all can be so physical, especially when you’re in a really busy room. I think there are things, looking back, only now that I realise amongst me and friends, especially when we were younger, that were basically… pretty dodgy. So it’s something that I’ve kind of been sadly aware of.

I don’t think there’s been, in terms of our gigs, I haven’t heard of any isolated incidents but then, the more I’ve been reading on twitter recently, it seems like people are building a lot more confidence to call people out on it. And this year especially, I’ve seen it be talked about at Peace gigs, Swim Deep gigs, and so it clearly is starting to – maybe it’s not that it’s happening any more than it was, but maybe due to stuff like Twitter, there is a way that people can speak out about it. Fifteen years ago, there wasn’t such a place, ten years ago, to talk openly and have an honest discussion about it. But it was something I was aware of but hadn’t been engaged in [talking about] enough.

GA: Why do you think it has gone on for so long? I mean, it’s still happening. We’ve heard stories of it happening to band members’ mums…

Fred: Yeah, well my mum has told me stories about gigs back in like, the 70s, and so I’m sure – I hope it’s getting better over time, as security has improved, but obviously, sadly, this country and so many have a big history of sexual abuse and I think, I can only imagine that it happens at gigs more because sometimes it can be quite – you know, there’s lot of people so it’s harder for security to cover. And obviously, a lot of people are drinking anyway, and maybe engaging in slightly… taking the opportunity to have fun, rightfully so, but maybe it creates an atmosphere where people are under the influence and feel like they can cross the line between something that is fun and something that is inappropriate.

And also, you do have young people unattended by adults, especially at 14+ gigs; people don’t want to be coming in with their parents. It’s a bit embarrassing; I mean I remember being at that age and my mum suggesting that she came to a gig with me and I thought it was an absolutely preposterous idea. So I guess, when you mix all of that stuff and its dark, and just a lack of security, it creates the environment where I think people feel like they can get away with it. Also, especially at bigger venues where they’re so packed, people are pushed together so compactly, that I think even when people are the victims of it, or the instigators, it can be hard to know when something’s happened that is crossing the line, or not, and it’s good that people are being more aware of people taking advantage of those circumstances.

GA: Yeah, it seems to have become something that’s almost seen as the norm for gigs, because it has gone on for so long, people are almost beginning to accept that it is gonna happen, and that’s obviously what we are trying to conquer because we don’t think it’s acceptable. And when you’re in the situation, and when you feel that uncomfortable, it’s quite easy to tell in the moment whether something is malicious or not.

Fred: Yeah.

GA: What do you think your role is, as a band, in tackling the issue?

Fred: That’s a good question. I think at first it’s raising awareness, that’s the key thing. So that people are aware that it is something that goes on, because I imagine a lot of bands, especially bigger bands who don’t even get to see much of the audience – the stage is a good two metres away from the front row, and you can’t see everyone else, there’s thousands of people in the room. It’s to be aware that, no matter how big a venue is it’s made up of individuals and it only takes one person acting like a dick to ruin it for however many people. Not only ruining that night, but potentially ruining the whole experience of going to gigs forever or at least for a longer period of time.

So I think that the role of the band is to kind of promote discussion about it and also promote general equality between the sexes – which should be a given but sadly isn’t, throughout so many different things. And because indie music and rock music has been quite a male dominated thing in the past, and also something where there’s a sort of history of people taking sexual advantage in the world of it, I think it’s a change that needs to begin with the artists. It’s their responsibility to each other and their fans not to promote an atmosphere of any advantage being taken sexually. And so I think this is the exact sort of way to – this is how it starts, and I think it takes the bravery of people to be open about incidents when they happen.

GA: Do you think, as a male dominated genre, we need to encourage girls to partake in the genre? As maybe, due to the atmosphere of the gigs, female presence has previously felt unwelcome?

Fred: Like you say there has to be a mutual respect that’s created. I think one has to be careful towards how one approaches it, like it’s not just about the sexual balance. The individuals who think that this is appropriate behaviour need to completely realise that it isn’t, whether that be through security, the police, bands, everyone acting on it should be made to feel completely ashamed of it. It would be great to see more women at gigs in general, but I think it might be a bit patronising and sexist to actively encourage, if you’re doing it like “hey, we’d love to see more girls down at our gigs!” it’s sort of  an odd thing to phrase, although it would be great to see the balance. I think you have to be careful toward how you approach the idea of that because it could create sexism in reverse, but I think it would be nice to see, I don’t like the idea that gigs and live music are seen by anyone as a male thing. And I would hope that that’s something that has been reduced, rooted in tradition in the past, but doesn’t need to remain. In the same way that you go to a One Direction gig, and it’s 80% girls, I would hope that wouldn’t make me feel any less welcome – but then, maybe I have to check my privilege.

But I think what might encourage more girls is to know that if this [sexual harassment] is the sort of thing they’ve experienced at gigs, not just gigs but clubs, nightlife in general, I think the more this kind of discussion is had, security can be made aware and increase security where it needs to be. Maybe at a 5000 capacity gig, four security guards across the front aren’t enough. There should be people in the crowd, at the back, because there is only so much you can do from the front and generally they’re worried more about crowd surfers than anyone acting inappropriately. So I would hope that the culture, and the discussion, and hopefully an increased and continuing discussion between bands, promoters, fans and venues will make people realise that a gig should be somewhere that you go for a joyful experience outside your daily life, to break up the miserable day in day out, rather than create new horrific situations. You know? So I think you’re doing the exact thing that needs to be done, the discussion can continue and we will all help think of different ways as we think of them to make gigs better.

GA: We’re trying to make it a really loud discussion, so that you can’t get away from it until it’s addressed on a wider scale.

Fred: Absolutely, and I think that’s where the people with the biggest voices and the furthest reach have to speak up. Bands, and festivals because it’s something that happens a lot at festivals, even the more quite civilised festivals, there’s like horrible sexual abuse that goes on, which is something that doesn’t quite get brushed under the carpet, I mean it is discussed, but the discussion needs to continue, without a doubt because that’s not something which should be synonymous with music, it should be fun – because it is fun.

And anything you need from us, in terms of the continual support, we can give it to you.

Interview by Anni