E B U

International Womxn’s Day 2020

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.

FURTHER SOLIDARITY:

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!

Check out Riot Diet on Boogaloo Radio and Radio Chonk on 1020 Radio, two monthly shows dedicated to shows about and for womxn!

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 tierneyred@hotmail.co.uk 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!

Heads on Sticks end of decade 2010’s playlist!!

”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. ‘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)

Heads on Sticks 2019

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

Glaciers Noods Radio #5

The fifth Glaciers show hit Noods Radio again, the longing for the L.A. sun replaced with blue UV light in Denial’s subversive take on 60s classic ‘California Dreaming’, and other minimal-synth gems ❄️ 🎹 👌

E B U ‘Hinge’

To see E B U live is to step into a universe of synthetic simulacrum, where the sensory tactility of the human experience is broken down and reinterpreted with lights and liquid electronics, fronted by the mechanic theatrics of the clockwork lover from Fellini’s Casanova. All the computer wants is to know what goosebumps feel like….

E B U, the moniker of Bristol’s Ella Paine, has fast become a key artist in the city’s vibrant music roster, offering an utterly distinct and striking voice in the crowded electronic scene. Describing her sound as ‘swamp pop’, E B U’s debut album Hinge is an invitation to spend a moment in an ersatz womb, Paul Lansky sonics float like follicles past garbled chatter, a thrilling exploration of the machinations of imagination.

Lead single ‘Falling’ is a tale of infatuation turned inside out. Paine’s vocals warp and squeal like Karin Dreijer mixed with the signal intrusion of the Max Headroom incident, dripping synths rippling in the analogue soup while a skewed pop sensibility wriggles to the surface. Echoes of Laurie Anderson’s ‘O Superman’ imbue ‘Light Show’, a delicate sparsity enveloping the playful voices warning of lights and their puckish mischievousness, before ending with Kid A aural ascendancy.

The buoyant, digital beauty of ‘By & By’ foams and fizzes with Fairlight CMI sounding waltz amid reverberating string plucks and rumbles, while subtle menace rears its head on interludes ‘Arcade’ and ‘Plague’, brief moments of discord for your corrupted data/memory. Album closer ‘Holy Guardian’ reaches ecclesiastical heights, organs swirl against glitchy palpitations and vocoder flutters against the awe of E B U’s uncanny alter.

Hinge is a fascinating and utterly original contribution to electronic music, made with keyboards and software yet as natural as electricity, a masterful work of soothing disquiet.