Here’s a little playlist I collated back in January for the Noods Radio mob, a smattering of tunes that fall outside the chilly tundra of Glaciers and generally where my head woz at back a few months ago. Hope you dig! 📺 👁 👌
The eyes rolled so hard at the recent Bristol Sounds line-up the actual eyeballs nearly did a full 360 and revealed its’s ocular veins in true horror fatigue. With another doctored Reading Festival line-up revealing a yellow wasteland when erasing the male artists on the bill, and Slowthai’s confidently lecherous conduct on live TV clearly shows a disappointing amount of work still needing to be done within the music community regarding equity and representation.
To quote Cheshire’s Hell Hath No Fury Records, ”…stop making fucking excuses because they are BULLSHIT!” The only difficult part of compiling this years IWD playlist was to boil down all the womxn/womxn fronted artists which have soundtracked my previous 12 months to just 25 acts, such is the ocean of brilliant and vibrant music being made outside of the standard male and pale.
It’s a pleasure to present to you a real heady brew of tunes. Throat shredding surf punk fury from Grandma’s House, murky dystopic EBM courtesy of Club Music, Harrga‘s poltically charged sonic provocation, and the exquisite soul of Nilüfer Yanya. I hope you dig as much as I did!
There’s a myriad of ways we can ensure our practice and conduct as artists/promoters/journalists etc. help in the dismantling of male focused obstructions to diverse art. The work that still needs to be done is expressed beautifully by Bristol’s Slagheap. Slagheap are a post-spunk quartet of joyous avant-funk ESG groove which bristle with an air of spontaneity and razor sharp humour who have quickly become one of my fave acts in the city. Here’s what they have to say:
Womxn, start a band and do it badly!
Try something totally from scratch. Something that you think it would be absurd to try. Almost more importantly than doing it, give yourself permission to do it badly, sloppily, wrong. Be bad and messy and loud. Be loose, shloopy and instinctive. Don’t even think about the outcome. Just focus on doing it.
It doesn’t have to be expensive or long or even that involved but carve yourself a little sliver of space. And once your sliver is sorted, help someone else carve theirs. Invite other womxn to be loud with you. Share knowledge and resources and grant yourself and each other permission.
The less privilege you hold, the less space you have to get it wrong. Getting it wrong in a safe space is such a great way to personal and creative liberation and innovation. It doesn’t have to be public. Ever. If you don’t want it to be. But it could be? Or it might take you to something you feel like sharing. Or maybe not. That’s cool.
The ability to make art of any kind is becoming increasing hard for anyone bar those already holding the most privilege. This is why it’s even more important for all womxn to have space to be creative. We need to work to democratise the arts and creative outlets both personal and professional even more so in the face of the current upwards syphoning of all resources and opportunity.
Men (and womxn with lots of privilege)
Think about ways you could make some space for womxn to be creative. Got a guitar you never play? Lend it to a mate. Are you a promoter? Share some contacts with a budding colleague. Don’t put bands and artists on a bill together purely because they share a gender (or facet thereof), programme diverse and cohesive bills. Don’t use venues who don’t commit to safe space policies. Understand, consider and communicate accessibility of venues you use or frequent. Be intentional with your search for new music and make sure you buy, share and support music made by womxn.
Please don’t continue vomiting up pernicious rubbish like the bunch of gammons at the head of Transmit or Bristol Sounds or whatever other mediocre festivals and events braying on defensively about the lack of options of female artists. It shows them to be incredibly poorly informed and bad at their jobs. And if possible, donate some cold hard cash or time to grass roots organisations promoting and supporting womxn and marginalised people in music e.g. Eat Up!/Eat up for starters (Bristol), Saffron (Bristol), Young woman’s music project (Oxford), Decolonise fest (London), DIY Space for London/First Timers, Slut Drop (Leeds), Sister Shack (Newcastle), Women’s Work (Belfast) etc…
Last but not least, don’t only think and talk about this today. Make some fucking space 365 days of the year.
Make sure you tune in to Bristol’s 1020 Radio for their IWD special, a full day dedicated to shows from all their womxn residents!
Rough Trade Bristol are hosting a free workshop for all women, people of colour, non-binary and queer individuals from sound engineer Fiona Riches in the beginnings of live sound for gigs. You’ll learn the basics of putting a show together, and have free entry to the Porridge Radio show directly after the workshop.
Check out Eat Up For Starters, a project of events and workshops promoting greater diversity in the music industry. They’re hosting a Queer Zine library at Bristol’s Exchange, come along and read zines focusing on LGBT+ issues and even submit your own!
The Grape Bath in Bath are hosting the International Women’s Day Gig, a day of female led music, spoken word poetry and warrior women movies!
That International Women’s Day Thing at The Jam Jar will be where the parties at on Sunday, including sets from Lucy Stoner, Jameela, Lady Lox, and Miss Kendal.
Dr. Sketchy’s is a fun and alternative life-drawing class that focuses on drag queens, divas, and circus performers as drawing subjects, complete with music and beer! Head to To The Moon for their IWD session!
Ann-Marie Tierney (better known by her blogger name Molly Tie) is a regular contributor to Loud Women and is currently writing a book on the experiences of women in the music industry, and asking for any anecdotes or thoughts anyone may have. Email her at email@example.com if you’d like to help!
Join the International Women’s Strike at 12pm from Bristol’s cenotaph, a chance to take a break from traditional ‘female work’ and highlight the invisible labour which goes unacknowledged and unrewarded.
Keep yourself up to date with Hell Hath No Fury, a DIY punk label based in Cheshire dedicated to providing a platform for womxn, non-binary and queer punksters!
”And some people say it’s just rock and roll,
Oh but it gets you right down to your soul”Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, ‘Push the Sky Away’, 2013
Music has been my greatest companion. My favourtite drug, a rubber ring in emergency, a tool for surgical introspection. Anyone who loves their music will often struggle to summarise their decade without listing a string of albums or gigs before detailing actual events. The cathartic properties of music are forever intertwined with the narrative of our lives, from our deepest most private battles to the socio-political turmoil stared down by the nation. What this decade means to me is overwhelmingly represented in just 100 songs.
I entered the 2010’s in a fog of uncertainty, as did the country. The financial crisis seemed to coarsen people, the New Labour consensus lay dying, and an emerging appetite for punitive politics reared its head. For many young people, the student protests of 2010 were the seeds of their political awakening. Having had to endure the gleeful relish at further debt for simply wanting an education from pissheads at a bar I worked part-time at, I was well aware that my Media Practice and Film-Making degree would gather scant respect in a new climate of bitter division, and was sure that economic precarity was to follow due to the recession at the time of my graduation.
Right toward the end of my studies, I got hit by the ‘lightning bolt’. One of the greatest experiences is the hit of a fantastic tune when you discover an artist so brilliant it terrifies you that life could have carried on without their songs in your system. As a deep admirer of the original wave of synth artists (Cabaret Voltaire, Kraftwerk, early Human League etc.) I was dissatisfied with the way the synthesizer was being used as a mere indie-toy as opposed to the mysterious beast it was capable of. Stumbling around on YouTube late at night I was exposed to a song called ‘Vigils‘ by Xeno & Oaklander and it was exactly what I wanted to hear. Deep, cold, and analogue, it seized me with its glacial grip and before the song had finished I knew I had heard one of the best electronic acts there had ever been. They opened a door to a plethora of related acts I was totally oblivious to (Sixth June, Daybed, Automelodi) in addition to Veronica Vasicka’s excellent minimal-synth archival project/label Minimal Wave.
The dull, grey thud of intermittent unemployment and bullshit jobs plagued me and many of my friends from the summer of 2011. Despite the camaraderie which comes with living in a house full of struggling artists on the dole and not knowing what the fuck they were doing, anger and disillusionment were never too far from the skint revelry. Cccandy and Youth Code were on repeat during this period, perfectly matching the corrosive effects of austerity breakdown with their volatile and abrasive synth-punk pummel. When we finally got our shit together around 2013 and found some stability and money in our pockets the pop around us seemed brighter and effervescent. Mø‘s ‘Pilgrim’ and Arcade Fire‘s ‘Reflektor’ were my ‘songs of the summer’, whenever I hear them now I’m taken over with a sense of sunny renewal.
Each year brought more and more fantastic music, and little did I know that I was living in the city which was at the forefront of the ‘new’. Wych Elm, New Haunts, Avon Terror Corps, E B U, Orryx all knocked me sideways and enthused me so much that I finally plucked the courage to start Heads on Sticks. Any resulting success I’ve had I owe to the mosaic of artists, labels, promoters, and radio stations that make up the Bristol music monster invigorating me to want to get stuck in.
There’s an ocean of songs to sift through but I’ve settled for 100, ten per year. 100 good friends that have seen me through the tribulations of the tumultuous decade. No hierarchy, no objective ‘best of’, just simply the story of my 2010’s, and pretty much my twenties.
I approach the 2020’s with uncertainty once again. The devastating defeat of what felt like a once in a lifetime chance of national healing has left me fearing for the future of our country. I take great comfort in knowing that I enter the new decade in a total golden age of challenging, unique, exquisite and fiercely creative music and performing art.
Thanks for the music,
Tom (a fan)
When writing ‘end of year’ anythings, it’s hard to avoid the cliché line of ‘this year was better than the last’, but it honestly feels true. It never ceases to amaze me how cutting-edge, transformative and exciting music is right now, both in my hometown of Bristol and across the world.
After spending an agonising hour trying to write something profound about the year, I instead decided to save the yakkin’ for the upcoming end of decade playlist and instead let the music do the talkin’!
Shout-outs go to Wych Elm for their cracking E.P., Grace Ive’s bedroom brilliance on 2nd, the synth punk renaissance from bands like Isotope Soap, U-Bahn and Dress Forms, and the cutting edge output of the Avon Terror Corps gang.
I hope you dig as much as I did x
Bristol’s 1020 Radio kindly let me curate the fourth entry in their residents Spotify playlist series!
There’s no theme, no agenda, just 25 tracks that were in my gut at the moment of collation. Old loves, new hits, and artists covered in recent HoS posts, ranging from femme punk, goth-pop, Kubrick soundtracks, and Germanic EBM!
Sink yer teeth in! 👌
2019 is a year of many milestones for The Cure. It’s the big mans sixtieth, 40th anniversary of their debut album Three Imaginary Boys and 30 years since their smoggy masterpiece Disintegration, a winning headliner slot at Glastonbury Festival and whispers of a new album has got me dunking my head in their rich and extensive back catalogue.
Here it all is, from the sunny singalong of ‘Friday I’m in Love’, to the Gothic dread of ‘Pornography’, via ‘The Walk’ synth-pop and drugged up, strung out psychedelia of ‘Wailing Wall’. Every album track, B-side, soundtrack oddity, strange Depeche Mode cover, all lovingly collated and presented in comprehensive and chronological order.
Sink yer teeth in!
Music right now is colourful, biting, stirring, and so cutting edge you feel lucky to be in the middle of it all. A significant part of this progressive wave, both musically and politically, are the amazing women seizing music away from the tired hands of the male, pale and stale, and smashing the patriarchal rock clichés with vigour.
There’s such an ocean of brilliant women creating pioneering music, how does one do that justice by a mere 25 song playlist? This is simply the tip of the iceberg, and the artists that have sound tracked my last few years, an entirely subjective collation, for whatever my opinion is worth.
Here we have a gamut of all manner of musical awe: The icy soundscapes of Void Vision, Pleasure Venom taking a tiki torch to MAGA SS red caps, the digital venom hurled at male entitlement by Girl Pusher, the cavernous mysticism of Iona Fortune, and the kaleidoscopic alien visitation that is Spellling. I hope you enjoy as much as I did!
International Women’s Day is more than just a day, and your solidarity should consist of more than compiling a playlist. Support your local female artists, let’s ensure our venues and musical spaces are safe and free for everyone, and let’s be vigilant at removing the social hurdles and obstructions that stifle great art.
There’s still a way to go, in society, in the music scene and industry, and perhaps even IWD itself. My good friend, singer and musician Amber Watson, has this to say:
‘On the one hand I want to feel excited about IWD and celebrate my womanhood. But honestly I do that every day. It’s the parts of IWD which dosen’t see consistency throughout the year that troubles me the most, and therefore make me view the day as somewhat pointless. Promoters, bookers, venues, labels, radio managers and presenters… etc etc etc… they all hold responsibility to ensure more women are being placed on their line up, in their workforce or hosting their shows etc. Holding an annual day to say “oh look we’re on the band wagon too” isn’t enough to make change. The issues will never be fixed if we leave it to a yearly celebration and conversation. The music industry deserves diversity; creativity flourishes when you have more views and ideas added to the bucket, and shit well we all wanna hear new epic music right? Unfortunately I am not seeing huge movements in the stats across the board, and the industry is constantly disheartening to me. So IWD makes me cringe a little, yes, let’s celebrate, but how about in 2019 we ALL continue to keep that motion swinging and work towards equality like certain organisations and groups are persistent with. Don’t be a hypocrite, be a fully fledged, 24/7 ally, and reap the benefits through some fit as fuck tunes and shows.’
Head over to Noods Radio and discover all the women/female identifying residents and DJ’s being celebrated on their ‘Women of Noods’ feature series.
Check out Loud Women, a not-for-profit initiative dedicated to showcasing women artists and pushing women music journalists, with an option to submit your own editorial contributions too!
Bristol Women in Music is currently ‘under construction’ at the time of writing, but has a growing reputation of raising awareness of the issues faced by women when navigating the music industry. Also organises women focused DJ lessons!
Audiofemme is a NYC femme and non-binary run music and culture blog. Give it a follow!
Bristol’s Exchange is hosting the International Women’s Day Extravaganza, a jamboree across two days, full of live acts, drag kings and queens, and DJs til the early hours. Also screening the documentary So, Which Band is Your Boyfriend In? on the Saturday. Get a bundle ticket for £10, with proceeds going to Mind, to raise awareness of the mental health support for Women and those in the LGBTQ community.
If you miss the Saturday screening of So, Which Band is Your Boyfriend In?, here’s a list of all further screenings.
The Zion Community Art Space in Bedminster Down, Bristol, is hosting the International Women’s Day Gig Night, a roster of female acts with proceeds going to the breast feeding support group ‘Babes@Zion’. Includes Mexican food!
Come dance hard at Bristol’s Basement 45 with That Thing on International Women’s Day, an all nighter of all female DJs including NTS resident Fauzia. With a DJ called Misogyfist, you know its not to be missed.
Intervention Workshops provide free DJ lessons for women, people of colour, and queer/non-binary individuals.
Saffron Records is a record label and artist development platform challenging the current climate of the music industry.
Here are some interesting, and sobering, stats.
Give artist/singer and radio expert Amber Watson a follow. Not only did she kindly contribute to this post, but is also a talented reviewer at Tap the Feed. I had the great privilege of seeing her sing live, and her 5 minutes was the sincere highlight of the entire set.
Check out singer Annie Nash, a new and upcoming artist returning to the Bristol music scene after a hiatus. Follow her Instagram to keep updated on forthcoming releases!
The amount of fantastic music that made 2018 makes creating a playlist an arduous task. Originally totaling 50+ songs, the painful, gut-wrenching process of elimination to just 25 songs demonstrated just how many tracks there were I loved. This is no objective best of, but a purely subjective collation of the songs that sound tracked my year.
Honourable mentions include the power pop indie of Flasher, MAGA frat boys eaten alive by Pleasure Venom, vomit in your turn ups and piss stinking tales of broken Britain by Hotel Lux, Jarada tearing your face off with their brand of blistering Israeli hardcore, the haunted candle lit flickers of dungeon synth mage Old Tower, and the great return of industrial juggernaut Ministry, with AmeriKKKant being their best record since Animositisomina.
Here’s to the heroes of 2018, and here’s the songs which wooed me, wowed me, moved me, and smashed me in the face like a sledgehammer. Merry Christmas! 🎄