Harrga

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!

Harrga ‘Héroïques Animaux de la Misère’

Europe’s most fortified border lies in North Africa. Separating the contested autonomous city Melilla from Morocco, the Spanish imposed border fence, with it’s motion sensors and watchtowers, has, along with the Calais Jungle, come to symbolise the human catastrophe and moral failure that is the migration crisis. When the fair comes to town every September, unaccompanied minors try to stow away in the disassembled attractions, hoping to escape in the cover of night. They call it ‘making risky’.

Harrga (meaning ‘a burn’ in the Darija tongue) comprises of Bristol sound artists Miguel Prado and Dali De Saint Paul from Nzʉmbe and EP/64 respectively. Initially conceived as a project free of any particular political agenda, the drama unfolding across the Mediterranean grew too great to ignore, and the need to pay tribute to ‘those who burn the borders’ and face hostility from the west which build walls and turn backs.

Héroïques Animaux de la Misère, the third release from cryptic sonic provocateurs Avon Terror Corps, takes a meditative yet visceral approach to the refugee plight with uncompromising soundscapes and collages, hearkening to the experimental roots of British industrial like Nurse With Wound or Throbbing Gristle. The cacophonous wail of human desperation that opens the album on ‘Melilla’ seizes your jugular, declaring it’s moral and political position with the forced witness of the claustrophobic horror of border repression. The volatility bleeds into second track ‘Artaud’, drums of war and metallic shards of dissonance scrape and grate against De Saint Paul’s vocal bile, reaching Anneliese Michel levels of inhuman seethe.

Sonic violence is interrupted with moments of eerie harmony. ‘Phone Recording’ is an impressive showcase of De Saint Paul’s commanding and powerful vocals, with Prado’s hypnotic keys giving an air of incantation, whereas ‘War’ briefly detours into the more cavernous and murky end of Autechre, merciless beats drill with pounding ferocity.

In a world growing coarser and pitiless, Harrga tell us with furious compassion that human life, liberty, and opportunity does indeed have value, and must be fought for. Héroïques Animaux de la Misère is a searing and defiant statement of solidarity and utmost humanity.