Here at GIHE HQ we’re currently counting down the days to FemRock‘s DIY not-for-profit gig night in Brighton on 30th June. Kindred spirits of ours, they are all about putting girls to the front and promoting women in music. We caught up with FemRock to get the low down on what to expect this year, the meaning behind their manifesto and the artists they’re loving right now.
Hi FemRock! Congratulations on your second annual female-fronted festival! FemRock is a PR company, so can you tell us a bit about how you began? What inspired you to setup FemRock?
Thank you so much! So, FemRock began in February 2013 in response to a lack of women’s representation in the music scene. I’d grown up with a passion for going to live shows and eventually noticed a real lack of line ups that involved women, let alone bands that were fronted by women and especially bands fronted by women being higher on the line-up than an opening slot. I was sick and tired, and questioned why there was such a lack of diversity in these line-ups. At first I thought that maybe women weren’t as involved in music as men were, due to the sexist nature of the music industry, but soon discovered that it went deeper than that; women were involved in music but all male and male-fronted bands were prioritised. So, when I moved to Brighton I decided to create what I believed the music scene’s I had been involved in before were lacking. Thus FemRock was born!
And what kicked things off for the FemRock Fest last year?
By the time we decided to create FemRock Fest we had been running for 4 years. It was around this time that the lack of diversity in festival line-ups was in the spotlight, and I’d built up a strong team around me to run FemRock together. So rather than waiting for existing festivals to correct this problem, we decided to create our own festival with a line-up that showed just how many amazing bands had women members and frontwomen!
As part of the FemRock Manifesto you make an emphasis on being feminist, d.i.y. and unapologetically political – can you expand on these for us and what they mean to you?
Feminism runs through everything we do, as individuals and as a team running FemRock. It felt important to state that explicitly in our manifesto – not only are we creating spaces for women to make and share music, we’re also placing that within the broader world of activism and the significance of lifting up the voices of women and other oppressed groups. We invite feminist groups to display flyers and petitions at our events, and work alongside local campaigns whenever possible. At our festival we always fundraise for relevant causes and provide spaces for organisations to display their information and talk to attendees. We don’t shy away from our politics, and we work hard to ensure that an accepting and loving culture is created at FemRock for people of all identities while recognising that we are all learning and growing. We don’t tolerate hatred and harassment, and we hope that our girls to the front ethos helps to create a night where everyone feels safe, heard and can have a great time too.
Here at GIHE we have massive respect for all those D.I.Y. artists out there, so it’s great to see an organisation supporting them by putting so many of them on your line up! A couple of our favs are on there – in particular Charmpit, Militant Girlfriend and The Baby Seals – how did you go about picking the bands for the final line up?
It was a combination of us approaching bands we’ve watched and admired from afar and inviting back bands who are FemRock favourites that we’ve worked with in the past. A festival is a great way of bringing together all those bands together to create one stellar line-up and we’re so excited to have them all on one line-up – we feel so spoiled to have them all!
How do you all feel about the general lack of female headliners at a lot of big festivals at the moment?
I don’t think there’s any excuse for the lack of diversity or lack of adequate representation on big festival line-ups and I don’t think it’s good enough to make a promise of correcting this by 2020, as many festivals have pledged, when there are so many talented bands involving women out there right now and who have been there for a long time, and simply gone unnoticed. We have a long way to go, but hopefully we’ll get there soon.
The festival is not just about music either is it? You’ve got 2 vegan food stalls and a feminist marketplace – can you tell us a bit more about that?
We’re very fortunate to have Cactus Kitchen Gals and Vegasmic catering our festival! Cactus Kitchen Gals do super tasty vegan junk food which is the perfect festival-fuel! Vegasmic will be selling delicious vegan sweets and treats! Our feminist marketplace was a huge hit last year so we decided to do it all over again! The marketplace is held in the courtyard of the venue and is made up of stallholders selling artwork, illustrations and creations and community organisations and activist groups. We also have DJ sets outside throughout the day to give a real festival vibe.
Finally, as we’re a new music focused site, are there any particular new bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
Some of our favourite bands that you’ve not already mentioned include Sit Down (YES! We LOVE them!), who are a Brighton-based garage-punk two piece whose frontwoman is also their drummer, she is a force to be reckoned with! We’re also HUGE fans of The Nyx, The Menstrual Cramps, Bloom, Jellie Rolls, The Great Malarkey and CLT DRP among SO many more. We could keep going forever…
Huge thanks to FemRock for answering our questions!
Femrock’s second annual female-fronted festival returns to Brighton on Saturday 30th June at The Green Door Store. There’ll 10 female-fronted bands, 2 vegan food stalls, a Feminist Marketplace full of creatives and activists and outdoor DJ sets throughout the day. Ticket info here.
Full FemRock line-up: