Girl gangs and the “do-it-together” attitude in the DIY punk scene

Charmpit lie down on the floor surrounded by pink balloons.
Charmpit by Nina Pennick.

The patriarchy weaves a plethora of tall tales to keep its ego in check and the biggest of those is that women can’t stand each other. Even when we were pitted against each other by repugnant, morose men, we didn’t really want to tear each other’s eyes out.

In reality, you couldn’t find a better example of a deep bond than the one that exists in female friendships. Women are there for each other with a shoulder to cry on or a knowing piece of advice when you need it most. Nowhere is this seen more strikingly than in the music industry. We speak to some of the leading figures in the DIY U.K. punk scene to find out how their revolutionary girl gangs are tackling inequality in the scene and putting female friendships to the forefront of their work.

Read the full article at Alternative Press.

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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The Bands Taking British Punk Back to Its Multicultural Roots

It’s a sunny Friday in June, and I’m struggling to make my way across a heaving room in Peckham’s DIY Space for London. I’m shoulder-to-shoulder with a bustling throng of people – a kaleidoscope of melanated shades – and the 20 steps it takes to reach a vantage point from which to see band the playing in the southeast London community centre’s main room feel like a thousand. Reader, I haven’t taken any mishmash of time-altering drugs. I just can’t make it more than a couple of paces at a time without being practically smacked in the face by everyone’s visible joy.

A woman thanks me for putting on the festival; another person says they’ve never felt comfortable in a punk space until now; someone else decides they wanted to see similar festivals happening across the UK. By the time I make it to watch Sacred Paws, guitarist Rachel Aggs is asking for “people of colour to come to the front” – a rejig of Kathleen Hanna’s Bikini Kill-era “girls to the front” demand. This is Decolonise Fest, and it’s the future of UK punk.

Read the full article at Noisey.

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.

10 great documentaries about iconic musicians

Le Tigre sit on a kerb in front of a brick wall with bottles of water.

Lead singer in Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin, Kathleen Hanna was the central figure in riot grrrl, a feminist punk movement born in the US in the early 1990s. She’s also known for inspiring Kurt Cobain to write one of Nirvana’s most famous songs after spray painting “Kurt smells like teen spirit” on his apartment wall.

Travelling through Hanna’s life up to the present day, The Punk Singer shows Hanna struggling with her diagnosis of late-stage Lyme disease and the treatment she has to endure. While the film was made with Hanna’s fans in mind, treating them to unseen footage and candid interviews with contemporaries such as Kim Gordon and Lynn Breedlove, there’s an emotional honesty on display here that should prove affecting even to viewers with no understanding of Hanna’s work or influence. Sini Anderson’s film is a superb portrait of a once vibrant music icon looking back at her glory years with wonder.

Read the full article at BFI

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.

Why A Punk Fest Celebrating People Of Colour Is Needed In 2017

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As I write this the first ever UK punk festival created by and for people of colour looms on the horizon; Decolonise Fest is nearly here. Organised solely on the lofty dreams of forward-thinking punks and a whole lot of determination, the Decolonise Fest collective have created a festival that showcases the people of colour at the forefront of the UK DIY punk scene.

The idea for the festival came about when, enamoured with the creativity I saw sprouting in fellow punks of colour and frustrated with the DIY scene’s non-approach to tackling racism (punks can wax lyrical about veganism or anarchy but mention race and you can hear a pin drop), I posted on social media about potentially organising a festival by us and for us.

My post soon came to fruition and on 2nd to the 4th June at DIY Space for London, Decolonise Fest will showcase bands such as Divide and Dissolve, Sacred Paws and The Tuts alongside art exhibitions and workshops all weekend. After a year’s planning and a lifetime wondering why this event wasn’t already here for us to enjoy, the Decolonise Fest team is ecstatic to see our baby coming to life, but we know others may not feel the same way.

Read the full article at The Quietus.

 

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.

The Tuts: The Girl Gang Everyone Wants to Be In

thetuts-600

Since it became an institution of sorts, punk has become synonymous with grouchy coolness. Don’t wear the wrong uniform. Don’t say the wrong thing. Don’t like the wrong bands. The pretense can make bands seem unapproachable and bland. If they don’t look like they care about their own music, why should I care?

Thankfully, there are groups like West London girl gang The Tuts, the perfect antidote to this sometimes dreary (and terribly conservative!) side of the punk scene. The Tuts break all the rules; they love pop, wear matching outfits, and have big dreams for the band’s future. Discussing how open they are about their ambition, guitarist Nadia Javed says: “Other bands pretend like, ‘Oh, I’m just gonna do little farts of success and we’ll just see where it goes,’ but deep down they fucking want it. But they think it’s not cool to want it. We can’t be fucking bothered; we ain’t got time to look cool.”

Read the full article at Bandcamp.

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.

In conversation with Trash Kit’s Rachel Aggs

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Very few people have made such an impact on DIY punk music as guitarist and singer Rachel Aggs. She came to most people’s attention in 2009 as part of punk trio Trash Kit. Their sound is complex, channelling experiment bands like The Raincoats and Marnie Stern with melodic harmonies and polyrhythmic drum beats. She went on to form the ultimate post-punk party band Shopping whilst also playing in the pop duo Sacred Paws.

Loved by music nerds, punks and pop fans alike, she’s an under appreciated staple on the DIY punk scene and as a musician her melodic guitar has become as recognisable as her sung-spoken vocals and tumultuous hair do that always covers her face ever so slightly. Her fame is slowly starting to rise though; Aggs was recently named by i newspaper as one of the unsung heroes of British indie music and has gone on tour after tour with Shopping, the hardest working band in punk.

Read the full article at Gal-Dem.

I don’t always get paid for writing 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.

In conversation with Mangoseed

mangoseed-for-gyaldem

My parents always used to say that there’s no song that wouldn’t sound better as a reggae song. Now that could have been their overwhelming sense of Jamaican importance (we always think we are the biggest island in the Caribbean) influencing their pride in reggae music but it’s hard to deny the brilliance of Jamaica’s most well-travelled genre. That’s why it’s always powerful to hear new bands who take the best elements of reggae and recreate it for today.

Mangoseed collect strains of roots music from around the world to create their multi-faceted south London sound. Formed in 2008, their gigs are always a stage show of well-coordinated moves, frantic guitars and steady, cautious bass lines. The band released their debut album Basquiat, a nod to American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, in 2014 and have high hopes for the future. gal-dem spoke to Mangoseed to find out more about the band and their original sound.

Read the full article at gal-dem.

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.

Twenty Years or More From Stardom

20ft-stardom

I want to play a game. Close your eyes, relax your mind and trust me. There’s a star onstage. A rebellious star, a captivating star, a rock star. When your eyes meet, you’re so breath taken by their presence that it feels like a weight has been dropped on you from above.

They make you move, they make you want to be them and they make you want to be with them. A well of creativity and a fountain of unending charm; they have the life experience of being downtrodden and disrespected to draw their art on.

Open your eyes. Now if you didn’t visualise a proud defiant black woman on stage then you and I are clearly reading from widely different history books. Don’t be too hard on yourself though. It’s an easy conclusion to reach considering we rarely hear about the accomplishments and influence of black women in any area. We only recently found out that the scientists that helped get America to the moon were black women. Who knows which other sisters’ names have been forgotten or falsely remembered?

Read the full article at Media Diversified.

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.

Are all-male bands who use female names alienating women in music?

SingleMothers
Single Mothers

With the likes of Single Mothers, Black Girls and Asian Babes using gendered terms to mask their masculinity, Stephanie Phillips investigates the effect it is having on women in music.

There’s an unspoken problem that all male bands face; how to stand out from the billion and one other all male bands. When you think about it can you really tell one bunch of sad looking guys in a shoegaze band from another? Aren’t Alt-J just Foals with a different haircut? Why do Thom Yorke and Chris Martin have the same interchangeably dull looking face?

Let’s face it, men are dry and said dryness has led to a trend amongst the more progressive end of indie and punk that involves finding new ways to be more than just ‘white men’. Some bands seek out female members to make them look diverse, some try on a different culture or style; blending in a half-arsed attempt at bhangra after a particularly enthralling trip to India. There are many ways to not come across as too stale, male and pale while still enjoying the benefits of said maleness and paleness.

Recently, all male bands have solved this problem by feminising their band names. Each year, music fans have the unenviable job of deciphering the reasons bands chose name such as Single Mothers, Black Girls andAsian Babes (Asian Babes actually do have one female member but we included them because it’s still such an awful name).

Read the full article on Getintothis

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.

Article in Intersectional Politics For Punx Zine

international punx of colour

You can order the first issue of Intersection Politics for Punx zine which features my article. The first issue focuses on race and racism in the UK DIY punk scene.

I wrote about growing up listening to pop punk as a teenager in the Midlands and the unintentional violence of white femininity.

The zine was edited and compiled by Cassie Agbehenu, bassist in Fight Rosa Fight, who says that she was “sick of being the only person of colour at shows when she knew of punx of colour sitting at home and not feeling welcome. We’ve got so much work to do and so many conversations to start.”

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.

Beatles Covers That Are Better Than The Originals

I like to think of myself as a bit of a music nerd with an encyclopedic knowledge of everything from Nicki Minaj to Archie Bronson Outfit but there’s one band I’ve been neglecting about all these years. I’m ashamed to say it but, my name is Stephanie Phillips, I am 23 and until a few months ago I had never properly listened to a Beatles record.

Now, that’s quite a feat you must be thinking, considering how many Beatles records are embedded into popular culture, on shopping centre soundtracks and used as background music in adverts (and there are a lot of Beatles records on adverts when you look for them).

I’m the kind of person who needs to be listening to music in the right way for it to make a real impact on me. I need to be detached from the reminder of adverts I’d heard it on or the recommendations of friends, colleagues or casual acquaintances that on hearing my Beatles tragedy feel I’m deranged and won’t be normal until I just listen to a teensy bit of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. If not then I can never fully connect with the song or artist making it better if I had never listened to it in the first place.

So I put myself to work a few months ago to correct this irregularity and forced myself to listen to a few Beatles tracks. What was the obvious outcome of this? Well, I loved them. Not all of them obviously. I think it was Kim Deal that said most of the Beatles records were just advert jingles, which is quite true. Songs like ‘She Loves You’, ‘Drive My Car’ and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, while catchy and enjoyable, still feel like they have something missing to me.

I loved songs like ‘I Am The Walrus’, ‘Dig A Pony’ and ‘Across the Universe’ as there was something otherworldly about the lyrics and song arrangements that made them stand out to me. I obviously haven’t listened to every Beatles song but while I was in Beatles research mode I found quite a few covers of the band that  I loved just as much, and sometimes more, than the original. So I’ve put together a small list for your perusal, add to it if you want to, question it if you want to but here’s my list of bands that matched or beat The Beatles:

6. Dig A Pony- St Vincent

St Vincent does what St Vincent does best and that’s lay out face-melting lead riffs that make thousands of brain dead fools splutter: “Wow, I wish all girls played guitar like she does.” Don’t get me started on that one. Riffs aside, Annie Clark’s energy alone during her solo performance of ‘Dig A Pony’ is enough reason for her to be on this list.

5. Across The Universe- Fiona Apple

This song is astoundingly beautiful and too be honest I don’t think it is any worse or better than the original because you just can’t go wrong with this. And, if you’re wondering yes I did first hear this song on the Pleasantville soundtrack. What’s wrong with that.

4. Happiness is a Warm Gun- Breeders

How can the super team of Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly ever go wrong. Back when the Breeders were a side project for both ladies they decided to cover one of the most inventive Beatles songs and they pulled it off. MOTHER SUPERIOR JUMP THE GUN.

3. Cry Baby Cry- Throwing Muses

Not to be confused with the Muses song of the same name ‘Cry Baby Cry’ is such an odd song only Throwing Muses with their forward-thinking approach to sound could do this song justice.

2. Don’t Wanna Hold Your Hand- Thee Headcoatees

The reason I love Thee Headcoatees cover of ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ is because it’s so childish and immature but they just don’t care. It’s probably not a cover that proper Beatles fans would feel matched the original but I love it.

1. Wild Honey Pie- Pixies

Many people have decided that ‘Wild Honey Pie’, which was written and performed entirely by Paul McCartney, was the worst Beatles song ever. With it’s repetitive, deep vocals and hellish carnival-esque feel it is certainly the most challenging. Obviously The Pixies weren’t put off by this. They stripped it down, turned up the distortion and threw on the trademark guttural screams and within no time they had themselves a winning cover song.