As we near the end of the year, we wanted to reflect on some of our highlights of 2017; to draw attention to the times when, despite all the shit going on in the world, women in music have inspired us, motivated us, and shown themselves to be positively awesome. So, though we don’t know what 2018 might bring, let’s celebrate these incredible women in all their patriarchy-smashing glory!
Whilst it’s easy (and natural) to agonise about the harassment and adversity that female musicians face in the industry, it’s even more important to organise and shout back against the injustice of it all: and that’s exactly what Slowcoaches bassist & vocalist Heather Perkins did on ‘Complex’. She wrote the song as a response to the sexual assault allegations against artists in the press at the time. Singing about a male lead singer who “really needs a hand, one’s in the other, and the other’s in his pants”, Heather sounds confident in her assertion that his story “holds no weight”, and the rage and distrust in her lyrics resonated with Mari & I profoundly. (Kate Crudgington)
“Don’t let the bastards get you down, don’t let the arseholes wear you out.”
Wise words from Kesha. A woman who’s provided much inspiration for us this year in her determination in the ongoing legal battle against producer Dr. Luke, amid accusations that he “sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally” abused her for years.
After everything she’s been through this year and with the release of her latest album Rainbow – a collection of powerful and motivating anthems – Kesha’s shown herself to be a super strong inspiration of a woman. If songs like ‘Woman’ and ‘Bastards’ don’t make you want to get up, feel empowered and give a whopping middle finger up to the patriarchy, I’m not sure what will.
And, though the battle is far from over for Kesha, let’s give her credit for having the strength to speak out publicly against abusive men, giving us all a bit of inspiration to fight and not let those bastards get us down. (Mari Lane)
Since the release of their single ‘Somebody’ earlier this year, Dream Wife‘s live shows now feel twice as liberating. ‘Somebody’ is an anthem about recovery and reclaiming your body, but the trauma that lurks behind the sexual assault which sparked the song still puts a lump in my throat. Having said that, it was a sheer joy to watch Rakel, Alice & Bella perform the song to their sold out crowd at Scala in October, who echoed back Rakel’s life-affirming lyric “I am not my body, I’m somebody”. If you haven’t seem Dream Wife live yet, I urge you to come to their show at Heaven in 2018. You won’t regret it. (KC)
Having played on the Rising Stage for the last four years, it was a joy to see all-female collective Deep Throat Choir get a turn on the main Mountain Stage at Green Man Festival this year. Since I last saw them two years ago, the group had grown in both size and power. Dressed in matching vibrant oranges and pinks, they succeed in brightening a rather grey last day of the festival, treating us to a mix of covers and originals from their wonderful debut album Be OK. With everyone singing along to personal favourite ‘Baby’ being a pretty emotional highlight, it was a simply euphoric experience watching these wonderful women create such perfect, intense harmonies and sweeping vocal melodies. Epitomising the exceptional power of women coming together to create, Deep Throat Choir unite their voices to summon a force that is truly awe-inspiring. (ML)
When Wolf Alice effortlessly performed ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ under the sparkling mirror-ball lights at their Alexandra Palace headline gig in November; I swooned so hard I thought I might drown in my own heart-shaped tears. Their perfectly executed set was laced with tracks from debut record My Love Is Cool (‘Lisbon’, ‘Bros’, You’re A Germ’ & ‘Silk’) as well as a healthy dose of new material from second album Visions Of a Life, (‘Heavenward’, ‘Formidable Cool’ & vicious lead single ‘Yuk Foo’). I’ve seen them live many times before, but I left Ally Pally feeling confident I’d witnessed something special, and I’ll definitely be catching them again in 2018.(KC)
Whilst the #MeToo campaign this year has signalled the start of a change for the better – bringing the issue of violence against women into the public eye, with perpetrators (finally) beginning to see some consequences to their actions – domestic violence against women and children continues to occur every minute of every day. And, with the government continuing to make life-threatening cuts to vital services, charities like Feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut are more necessary now than ever.
Gaptooth‘s latest single ‘They Cut We Bleed’ celebrates the work of Sisters Uncut; featuring powerful footage from their protests, it rages against the government with a frenzied, impassioned energy and powerful force. With shades of the likes of Le Tigre or MEN, it’s the perfect call to arms that we need now more than ever. Drawing our attention to the issue with the raw honesty of horrific facts and figures (“In the UK on average two women a week are murdered by a partner or ex-partner…”), accompanied by catchy, whirring beats, Gaptooth offers an empowering voice for all we should be saying right now; inspiring us to get up, unite and take action to create the positive change that so urgently needs to happen. (ML)
It feels odd to call this a ‘highlight’, but I want to include it here because I remember reading the statement and thinking “YES! GOOD FOR HER!”. High profile women like Kesha, Alice Glass & Taylor Swift publicly called out the men who had abused or sexually harassed them this year, and it paved the way for female musicians in smaller bands to do the same.
Estrons vocalist Tali Källström used the band’s Facebook page to inform fans that Paul Draper had sent her inappropriate messages prior to their dates supporting his band, and consequently she’d decided to cancel the shows. She wrote: “I have experienced sexism, misogyny and prejudice, but this time, enough is enough. I will not pander because I want success. I was asked to sweep this under the carpet, but I can’t. I want to play alongside musicians that respect me and like me for my music and personality, not because they are sexually interested in me.” Tali is a fierce front-woman who’s not afraid to ask for more, and I hope her words have inspired other women in the industry to speak out against similar types of behaviour. (KC)
We’ve been big fans of Julie Hawk for a while now – writing songs with her band HAWK that draw attention to reproductive rights and the mistreatment of women in her Irish homeland. However, this year – in addition to continuing to create powerfully enchanting music – she started a new creative venture, ‘Female Fronted, Drawn Together’.
Putting together a playlist of wonderful female artists, new and old, who have inspired her in some way, she created a unique illustration to accompany each song. Including some of our favourites – Bitch Falcon, Dream Nails, Skinny Girl Diet, PINS and The Julie Ruin – it’s provided the perfect, empowering soundtrack to 2017. Julie has now started the next instalment of ‘Female Fronted Drawn Together’, and we urge you to check out all her wonderful illustrations on her Instagram page.(ML)
Mari Lane / @marimindles
Kate Crudgington / @kcbobcut