2021 has been another strange year. Live music tentatively returned after multiple Covid-19 lockdowns, which meant the GIHE team were finally able to see some of our favourite bands in the flesh. The easing of restrictions also meant we were able to physically get into a studio to record our monthly Soho Radio show together! More than ever, we were grateful to feel connected – either through the internet or in real life – to our friends and followers, and that’s what our Personal Highlights of 2021 reflect.
Read below for a recap of some of our Personal Highlights of the year. Huge thanks to everyone who has supported GIHE. Love & solidarity. x
Team Highlight: Moving to Soho Radio
After six years of presenting our new music show on Hoxton Radio, the GIHE team were invited to move over to Soho Radio’s airwaves. They say a change is as good as a rest, and this change certainly helped to re-energise us to get back into doing what we love: fan-girling on air about our favourite music and talking to the bands and artists who create it. Noga Erez helped us launch our debut show in May, and since then we’ve spoken to BISHI, Bitch Hunt, Fears, BLAB, Maria Uzor, Grandmas House & The Log Books’ Shivani Dave. It’s a privilege to have this platform on Soho to promote women & non-binary artists, and we’re excited to bring you more radio shows with them problem pain 2022!
Mari Lane (Co-Founder & Managing Editor)
Interviewing Sleigh Bells
With the release of their sixth album Texis this year, genre-defying duo Sleigh Bells have been firm favourites of mine over the last decade, and have provided many personal musical memories. From dancing the night away to the immense energy of the likes of ‘Rill Rill’ or ‘Infinity Guitars’ throughout my 20s, to watching that scene of Jessica Jones on repeat, purely because of the incredible power that ‘Demons’ adds to the narrative. It was such an honour to speak to vocalist and songwriter Alexis Krauss in September about the album, her collaborative process with producer/guitarist Derek Miller, the formation of Sleigh Bells, being a woman in the industry, and her involvement with Young Women Who Crush – an amazing sounding organisation for young women and gender expansive youth from New York City public schools, inspiring them to discover the outdoors and develop their leadership skills. You can read the full interview here.
GIHE Live at The Shacklewell Arms with Problem Patterns, pink suits & GUTTS
Hosting our first gig at The Shacklewell Arms was such a joyous experience in every way. Not only was it an honour to be able to organise an event at such an esteemed venue at which I’ve spent many a night enjoying some of the best live music at, but everyone who works there was so lovely and helpful, that it made the whole experience completely stress-free. Massive shout-out to sound engineer Sofia, a total pro who is amazing at what she does!
And of course, what made the night particularly special was the bands. With GIHE having been mega fans of Northern Irish punks Problem Patterns for some time now, it was such a privilege to be able to host their first London gig. With each poignant, raging offering, the band filled the venue with their swirling, empowering energy and fierce, infectious passion, uniting the crowd with both their righteous anger and vibrant, joyous sense of fun. With the captivating, riotous force of queer Margate duo pink suits, and the angst-driven ‘sax punk’ of opening band GUTTS too, it really was a dream of a night and I’m so grateful it was able to go ahead. You can check out pics of the event here.
Talking to The Independent about Women’s Safety at Gigs & Festivals
Kate and I spoke to Elizabeth Aubrey for a feature in The Independent about the need to make music events safer spaces for women, girls and the LGBTQ+ community. A topic we feel extremely strongly about. We discussed our zero tolerance policy to sexual assault and harassment at our events, and measures we put in place at our gigs to try and ensure the safest possible environment for all. It was also the first time I’ve really properly talked about the experience of having my drink spiked whilst at university in Leeds – the issue of women and girls being spiked sadly being something that seems particularly prevalent at the moment.
I was really grateful to be given the opportunity to speak to Elizabeth about such an important issue and hope that, with an increased awareness in the public eye, more ‘active bystanders’ and with more women, girls and LGBTQIA+ folk feeling safe enough to speak out, more can start being done by the industry as a whole to put a stop to instances of abuse or harassment, and to provide the safest possible spaces. You can read the full feature here.
Interviewing Celeste Bell (Poly Styrene’s daughter)
With the release of the documentary Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché this year, we were lucky enough to talk to Celeste Bell – Poly’s daughter and co-director of the film, along with Paul Sng – about the inspirations behind the film, her relationship with her mother and the sexism that still prevails in the music industry. Based around a wonderful book by Zoë Howe, Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story, the film chronicles Poly’s remarkable and often troubled life, including never-seen-before footage of her, telling her moving story predominantly through the eyes of her daughter.
In addition to discussing the film, it was interesting to speak to Celeste about how far the industry and society’s attitudes towards women still have to go, and the urgent need to revive some of Poly’s punk spirit. To unite, overcome adversity and bring about change, we could all do with being a bit more like her, to start to undo the bondage that binds us into this patriarchal society. As Poly says: “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!”. Read the full interview with Celeste here.
Honourable Mention: Ezra Furman
I thought I’d also give an honourable mention to Ezra Furman, who came out as a Transgender woman earlier this year and shared beautiful images of herself with her child. As Furman poignantly states in her coming out message: “I’m telling you I’m a mom now for a specific reason. Because one problem with being trans is that we have so few visions of what it can look like to have an adult life, to grow up and be happy and not die young. When our baby was born I had approximately zero examples that I had seen of trans women raising children. So here’s one for anyone who wants to see one. I’m a trans woman and a mom. This is possible.”
Kate Crudgington (Co-Founder & Features Editor)
Chatting to Cool Thing Records on Soho Radio about GIHE
I’ve been following Southend indie label Cool Thing Records since my Gigslutz days, so when Luke invited me on to their Soho Radio show (Cool Thing Presents) to chat about my experience as a DIY music journalist, I was genuinely chuffed. I loved reminiscing with him about landmark musical moments in my life and how we came to launch GIHE. I also managed to wedge in an impersonation of Eastenders’ Nick Cotton into our chat, which you can listen to in full here.
The Cool Thing team have supported GIHE in everything we do, and we naturally support them back. Their roster is bursting with talent – from BLAB, Mai and Beckie Margaret, to Asylums, Suspects, BAIT and The Horse Heads – I’m constantly impressed and excited to hear their new releases. There’s an immense amount of passion, commitment and empathy behind everything they do, and I look forward to working with them throughout 2022.
My first gig after Covid-19 & our first GIHE gig of 2021
When I walked in to Electrowerkz to see DROWND – aka my brother Joe – play his first gig of 2021 in August, I was tanked up on Gin & Tonic because I was nervous to be doing something “normal” for the first time in over a year. Despite my anxieties, within minutes of the gig starting, my mind blocked out any Covid-19 paraphernalia; it just let the intense, heavy sounds blasting out of the speakers spread through my cells. It was fucking brilliant. I didn’t want the night to end.
I had a similar sensation watching Schande and CURRLS perform at our first GIHE gig of 2021 at The Victoria a few months later in November. I watched from a distance as Mari worked the room, ensuring the bands and everyone who was attending felt safe and valued. 2022 is looking like another dodgy year for live music, but I hope we’ll get to attend and organise more gigs like this at some point soon.
Talking to NME about Women’s Safety at Gigs
With the return of live music, unfortunately, came the return of the all-to-familiar reports of sexual harassment and assault at gigs and festivals. It’s something we have experienced first hand at GIHE, and we know many of our friends and followers have also lived through these grim and debilitating experiences. That’s why we feel it’s important to push forward with our own policies at events to keep women & non-binary people safe, and to keep the conversations about women’s safety in the public eye.
Mari & I spoke to NME journalist Charlotte Krol about this and how we think things can be improved earlier this year. You can read the full feature here.
Favourite Interviews of 2021
One of the main things that’s kept me going this year are the conversations I’ve had with bands and artists about the music they make. It’s such a privilege to have access to someone’s creative processes, and I am humbled every time an artist shares their own thoughts and influences with me. I also love it when bands consistently crack jokes about how bored they are of hearing their own music, like Cork art-punks Pretty Happy did when I spoke to them back in September.
Victoria Conway (GIHE Contributor)
Helen Love @ Sheffield Pop Weekender Sidney and Matilda (first gig after lockdown)
I’m not sure if this was my first gig after lockdown, but, woah, it was the most memorable. After over 18 months without live music, Helen Love took me back, headfirst and in glorious technicolour. They fired up the drum machine and powered through a set of glitter-fuelled bubblegum punk pop with swagger and smiles. The legendary Ms. Love, still looking badass after fronting the band for almost 30 years, stood in front of a dizzying video collage and blasted out the hits to a crowd who roared their appreciation by shouting along to every word. ‘Does your heart go booooom?’ was a standout; it was the musical equivalent of someone shaking up a can of Monster Energy and letting it spray absolutely everywhere. I’m talking pure, giddy caffeinated joy! It was beautiful to reunite with a band I’ve loved for over half my life, and to do it on a dancefloor packed with much-missed gig buddies.
Thanks for everything folks. We’ll see you in 2022!