Review | Girls: Meet Your Punk Foremothers

Image courtesy of BBC.
Image courtesy of BBC.

When it comes to documentaries on women in punk, the topic is usually given a brief five minute recap. A few token women are name-checked in between various dog-toothed male veterans discussing whether Lydon or Strummer influenced them the most. So when I see The Culture Show has a special half hour feature on women in punk I immediately sit down to see what it is all about.

In Girls Will be Girls, presenter Miranda Sawyer documents the history of women in punk during the early era of 1976/77 when it was limited to squats and small shows across London. Focusing on the stories of veterans Viv Albertine, guitarist in The Slits, and Chrissie Hynde, Sawyer inquisitively asks whether the female punk spirit still survives today. The answer is obviously yes, but let’s move on.

Read the full article at The F-Word. 

I don’t always get paid for my work, so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.

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No I Won’t Get Your Tea On: Self Care in the Punk Scene

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Here we go. The not all men brigade strikes again. Legend has it the army has soldier posted near every woman, primed and ready for the moment she questions any part of the patriarchal nature of our society.

In the firing line this time is noise pop group, Joanna Gruesome’s singer Alanna McArdle who in an interview with Drowned in Sound made a few observations on misogyny in music. The article was posted on Drowned in Sound’s facebook page and in response readers wrote varying degrees of offensive comments such as “There’s nothing like blaming your own lack of success on imaginary things”, “Get over yourself, love” or the ever faithful “Now get my tea on”. No matter what your saying about misogyny it always boils down to ‘that’ comment in the end. Like an ever faithful dog that always returns to shit on your carpet, some form of the “get my tea” line will be repeated till the end of time.

Originally published at The F Word. Read more here.

I don’t always get paid for my work, so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.

Retrospective | Lady Bo

lady bo

I’ve spent the last few days researching my black female guitar foremothers in an almighty playlist that I’ll share with you all soon. In the process I discovered Lady Bo, lead guitarist in Bo Diddley’s band from 1957-1961. Lady Bo, real name Peggy Jones, was the first female guitarist to be hired by a major act and was a huge influence on Diddley and his sound.

Jones’ life was changed after a chance encounter with Bo Diddley before a gig at the Apollo Theatre. She was carrying her guitar with her; Diddley who was so stunned to see a beautiful woman with a guitar invited her to the dressing room as Jones recounts in an interview with Lea Gilmore:

After a while he opened his guitar, asked me to grab mine and play something. When I opened my case he laughed louder than anyone I’d heard before. I wanted to know what’s funny? Hysterically he said what is that? He had never seen a Supro guitar. I said, “Now that’s a dumb question! First you probably never saw a girl carrying a guitar down the street before and want to know if I played it, did you think that was funny?” He said, “No!” I continued, “then you insult my ax and I listen to Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and Charlie Parker and I think I’’ve heard of you! Do you think that’s funny?” He said, “No, but I like your attitude, let’s play something.” I said OK and the rest is history.

Although Jones had only been playing guitar for two years she had shown a talent for music from a young age. Growing up in the Sugar Hill district of Manhattan she enjoyed tap dancing at an early age and studied opera and learnt the ukulele at age 9.  She graduated from New York’s High School for Performing Arts studying dance, drama and music theory.

Read the rest of this post over at Don’t Dance Her Down Boys.

We Need to Talk About Racism in Punk

black punk

I recently wrote an article about my experiences in a white majority punk scene and culture and why we need to talk about racism in the punk scene.

The initial article was posted on Collapse Board and received a lot of coverage and comments.

I wrote a follow up article on my music blog, Don’t Dance Her Down Boys, responding to some of the comments I received from the first article.

It is an issue that I feel strongly about and aim to write more about in the near future.

I don’t always get paid for my work, so if you’ve liked my pieces and want me to write more you can donate a couple pennies to keep me going in between paid work.

Review | Skinny Girl Diet / The Ethical Debating Society Split Single

SGD  TEDS single

Originally published at The Girls Are

Skinny Girl Diet/Ethical Debating SocietySplit 7″ EP, HHBTM Records

When exactly did riot grrrl die again? Someone said it was in 1994, when it got too big and disillusioned. Some say it was when Bikini Kill broke up. Some say it was as soon as it began; a star too bright it obviously had to fade away. Why do things have to die? Can’t they rise and fall, hibernate for a few years and then re-emerge in a new form ready to fit into the time, culture and political landscape they find themselves in. In an age where Pussy Riot proudly declare themselves riot grrrls and the 90′s – and everything that came along with it including terrible comedy rap songs –  is cool again, it is safe to say that riot grrrl is alive, fierce and focused on the road ahead.

Click here to read more.

Sounds of my Life | Riot Grrrl & Me

 

Originally posted at Serious as part of the ‘Sounds of my Life’ series.

Stephanie Phillips runs Don’t Dance Her Down Boys – a blog-shaped manifestation of her one woman mission to share a love of female musicians and female fronted bands with the world. She also contributes to various blogs we’ve previously featured here such as Black Feminists and The Girls Are, and below let’s us in on her life-defining discovery of Riot Grrrl.

I’ve always felt music hit me in a way that was different to other people. Certain songs can send chills along my spine and make me feel unsafe and uneasy. Others, from the first note, energise me and make me want to change the world before the song’s even ended. Even with my weird wiring for music, nothing has hit me as hard as when I first heard Bikini Kill way back when I was a chubby, unassuming teenager.

I am of the first generation that grew up with the internet and downloadable music so like most teenagers I spent most of my time searching for new music, desperately clicking on link after link hoping this song would be the one. That it would be the one to change my life. The song always comes around, you just never know when, fate’s not going to let you know in advance.

That song was I Like Fucking by Bikini Kill, an awesome title and even more awesome song. The song is a perfect, straight-to-the-point, two minute punk song that sees lead singer, Kathleen Hanna, sing about sex-positivity and how her love of pleasure does not make her less of a feminist. It’s fair to say that I was a tad taken aback by this. I wanted to know everything about this Bikini Kill, who they were, what they did and where they came from. This led me to Riot Grrrl.

Riot Grrrl is a feminist punk movement that started in the early nineties in the punk/indie scenes in Washington, DC in the US, moving to Portland and then very quickly to the rest of the states and various countries around the world. Bands such as Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, Huggy Bear and Bikini Kill were at the heart of Riot Grrrl. The movement started in reaction to the male-dominated punk scene as a way for the girls to create their own culture, call out sexism when they see it and express themselves. Mostly it gave young girls a voice. Not the timid, quiet one they were used to but a loud, strong, confident voice that told anyone that could hear, ’they were in control of their own lives’. As a teenager that had the same timid, quiet voice I was completely drawn into the idea that you could have this voice, that you could create your own culture, look however you wanted and, most importantly, be a feminist.

If I didn’t learn what feminism was through Riot Grrrl I would have never realised that I had actually been a feminist for years, I just didn’t know there was a name for it.  Feminism has influenced me my entire life and has led me to work on Ladyfest, the Riot Grrrl inspired grassroots music and arts festival, set up my own music blog about female musicians and start my own band.

I throw myself into the DIY ethos of ‘create not consume’ because I’ve grown beyond tired of the limp, stale offerings mainstream culture attempts to shove down our throats. If their culture doesn’t fit, throw it off and make a new one, that’s the Riot Grrrl way.

Introducing | Stealing Sheep

Originally published at The Girls Are.

Gloom pop darlings Stealing Sheep have been on the indie gig circuit for a few years, but after signing with Heavenly Recordings they are ready to release their debut album, Into the Diamond Sun. We first discovered the three-piece a few years ago when they organised an eco friendly bike tour across the north England – any band that wants to put the pedal to the metal and ride on two wheels is a band we want to know about.

Stealing Sheep’s songs are like the smoke from the camp fire we’re sure they gather around every night; they bend, twist change into new and wonderful shapes. Their songs evoke images of a lone marionette or a disused fairground ride; beautiful, mysterious and dark. Stealing Sheep chat to us about recording at the legendary Abbey Road studios, downloadable sheep and a potential boat tour.

Could you explain who’s in the band and what you do?
Becky plays synths, Emily plays electric guitar and Lucy plays drums. We all sing and write the songs together.

You’re getting ready to release new single ‘Shut Eye’ – what can you tell us about it?
We recorded this song in Liverpool as part of our debut album, it’s about people and getting people together to try and change things for the better. We gathered lots of friends to sing the chorus with us and try and capture that feeling of togetherness. The song has grown over time as we started playing it on our second UK tour with Emmy the Great last year. It’s evolved musically based on these shows and how the audience has reacted. We also played in live at Maida Vale for Rob Da Bank and also for Mark Riley in sessions and every time we’ve recorded it in different ways and discovered more about the song. We worked with an animator in New York over Skype to create the music video and get across its meaning to people in a visual way too.

Continue reading Introducing | Stealing Sheep

Introducing | Fear of Men

Originally posted at The Girls Are

The internet is a fickle mistress. It can make you or break you. A band could be the next best thing one minute and yesterday’s news the next. Fear of Men are one of the many bands that have become caught up in the fame-making machine, proving a mixtape and discussion favourite among many bloggers. Determined not to be labelled as another ‘buzz band’ the group have set their own path, releasing singles on labels such as Italian Beach Babes and Sex is Disgusting.

the girls are caught up with vocalist / guitarist Jess to discuss where art and music intertwine, the band’s popularity and unusual practice venues.

Continue reading Introducing | Fear of Men