INTERVIEW: Boudica Festival

With a female-focused line up, Boudica Festival (named after the warrior queen thought to have stood her final battle against the Romans just north of Coventry) is a unique event that gives a platform to, and celebrates, the wealth and diversity of womxn and non-binary talent in the music industry both on the stage and behind the scenes.

Womxn and non binary artists have always been underrepresented in all aspects of the music industry. Low womxn representation is an industry wide problem, with a growing awareness seeing many festivals being called out for their male dominated lineups. Boudica Festival, however, seeks to change this opinion by showcasing womxn and non-binary musicians from across a wide spectrum of musical genres across three stages, including a local artists stage, showcasing the best up and coming talent in Coventry. Alongside the live music there will be DJ and music coding workshops for budding musicians as well as stalls filled with arts and crafts from local artists. A long term aim, as well as having a stellar female line-up, is to form an all womxn events crew, using the expertise of womxn sound engineers, lighting technicians and stage managers.  As well as providing a platform, Boudica Festival wants to highlight the opportunities available to womxn within the music industry other than performing.

Taking place on 19th October in Coventry, we obviously strongly agree with all that Boudica Festival stands for, especially with some of our favourite bands playing there this year! So, we caught up with the team to find out more…

Hi Boudica Festival, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about what you do?

Ellie Ball: Boudica Festival is an annual celebration of women and non-binary people in music both on and off the stage. The festival features specially curated live music over three stages celebrating inspirational female and non-binary performers from a variety of genres, alongside music workshops and stalls from local artists. In addition to showcasing female talent, we have also built an entirely female & non-binary events crew. Meaning everything from the sound to the marketing has been provided by womxn.
Sarah Morgan: For the past couple of years the festival has been supported by PRS Foundation. This year through their Talent Development Partnership Programme. 

2019 will be Boudica Festival’s third year – congrats! Can you tell us a bit about how it all started out?

EB: The festival was born out of a shared frustration towards the state of the music industry, particularly in the live sector. Our first edition took place back in 2017 in a sort of warehouse type space in Coventry City Centre. It was great! We had a selection of local and up-and-coming performers play. Last year we moved to our new home, The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum which has offered up the exciting opportunity to programme more artists across different stages. 

It’s fantastic that you’re hosting a festival specifically for women and non binary bands and artists – what triggered you to do this?

Michelle Bailey-LeLong: I got involved with Boudica as I was tired of being “the band with the women in it” or going to gigs where there weren’t any female and non-binary artists on the bill. Boudica Festival is our battle cry against that kind of programming. It’s an old problem which has yet to be fixed, so we want to be part of the solution rather than the problem.
Sarah Scouller: We have had enough of the music industry being male dominated, being the only woman at a gig, going to all dayers and seeing no women on stage. We decided to create a music festival that showcases the best up and coming female and non-binary artists across a wide range of genres. If we can host an entire festival of female artists, what’s stopping the rest of the music festivals from upping their female representation on their lineup?
SM: I run a music venue and programme events in the city and had experienced sexism whereby guys had asked to speak to my ‘manager’. I was really keen to show that there are no restrictions with what womxn can do within the industry.

And how do you feel about the general lack of female headliners at a lot of big festivals at the moment?

MB: It’s frustrating, but it fuels are mission to prove that female musicians deserve the recognition. Primavera did a 50/50 lineup this year and I spent one night seeing 5 female acts back to back, it was one of the best festival experiences I’ve ever had! It’s a great example that if one of Europe’s biggest music festivals can close the gender gap then why can’t the rest? It’s proof that it can be and should be done.
SS: While it is good that womxn representation at festivals is currently a hot topic, I haven’t seen much evidence of this being rectified this year at the top UK festivals. The response from some of the festival organisers was that there are simply not enough womxn musicians out there to book couldn’t be further from the truth. The amount of womxn talent out there right now is HUGE. We are in really exciting times for music, I hope we will see this reflected in lineups soon.

Over the last couple of years, you’ve hosted some amazing bands and artists including Queen Zee, Let’s Eat Grandma, Nova Twins and Nightflowers, but has there been a particular set that’s stood out for you as a personal highlight over the years?

MB: Each act brings something so unique to the festival its really hard to say. Nova Twins smashed their set and I somehow ended up dancing on stage with them, so I obviously loved that! One of my favourite memories is the Savages DJ set where everyone was pulling out their best moves at the end of the night. Great way to end the festival!
SS: So true, the energy in that space when Nova Twins closed the festival was incredible, the whole room was moving and it was a beautiful moment seeing gals in the crowd being invited on stage to party and having the BEST time!
EB: For me, it would have to be a toss up between Hejira in 2017 and Mich Cota in 2018. Both brought really special and moving performances.
SM: Yep, every year brings something different to the festival so it’s really quite hard to decide which act stood out amongst the others. However, it’s always really great to see local artists perform alongside more established acts.

And this year you’ve got some GIHE faves playing – Ghum, Los Bitchos, Tusks… Curating such awesome line ups must be a lot of work – how do you normally go about it? Is it all based on bands/artists that have got in touch with you, or do you approach them?

SS: We have a big dream list of all the bands and artists we’d love to play. The amazing thing is that the list keeps on growing, as more and more womxn are being inspired to start bands! We all have our own musical tastes as well, which helps as we want to keep the festival diverse in musical styles, so we will meet up and share acts we are into, and if we all dig it we invite them to play! However, we are totally welcoming to acts approaching us too! 

And for any upcoming bands/artists looking to apply for festivals next year, do you have any tips?

MB: I love bands/artists who have shit loads of attitude, stand up for something and who aren’t afraid to try different things. Last year Mich Cota did amazing dancing which involved a rickety step ladder and fabric, and it was amazing and beautiful!
SS: Boudica festival is about showcasing as wide a variety of acts as possible, so we are very much looking for all types of music!
SM: Be really proactive and make sure your social media is kept bang up to date. Good music videos really help programmers to understand what a live performance might feel like.

This year you’re also launching your Music Video Competition, which invites filmmakers/musicians to submit music videos that they have worked on which celebrates womxn in front of and behind the camera – can you explain a bit more about this idea?

MB: The film and music industry are very similar and have the same struggles. As part of our film programme this year we wanted to showcase the talent of female/non binary artists in both these two male dominated industries and the music video is the bridge of the two. Music videos notoriously sexualise and objectify women who are in them, and with the rise of female music video directors we’re seeing a more authentic creative representation of female acts. Music videos are a great opportunity for filmmakers and musicians to collaborate, to have fun and to have your say. We’ve had amazing entries from all around the world and look forward to screening the top 5 during the festival.

How do you feel the music industry is for new bands and artists at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?

EB: It’s hard to say whether it’s better or worse than it used to be! There’s many more avenues for bands to go down in terms of getting noticed, be that online, live, through sync deals. However this has in turn levelled the playing field to a point where there’s almost an oversaturation of talent to compete with! I think it’s become a lot more about image than in previous years, it almost feels like artists need to have a really strong ‘brand’ in order to make it.
MB: Social media has definitely changed the game of the music industry. It’s a big part in how we programme. If you have a good online presence then it’s a great calling card.

Finally, as we’re a new music focused site, are there any particular new bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?

SS: All of the acts playing this year’s lineup! We have curated a festival of artists and bands we think are the next hot things! I would say am most excited to see the witchy post-punk gals GHUM and the garage rock/cumbia vibes of Los Bitchos, but we hope with the range of artists playing this year there is something for everyone!

Massive thanks to all at Boudica Festival for answering our questions! Get your tickets for Boudica Festival here.

Photo Credit: Adele Mary Reed

LIVE (Photos): Cro Cro Land, 06.04.19 (Part 2)

Last weekend saw the launch of Croydon’s brand new festival, Cro Cro Land. Organised by Croydon residents Angela Martin and Julia Woollams, the festival aimed to promote gender equality in both its line-up and staff, whilst championing a number of local bands and artists, and working in conjunction with a number of grassroots organisations and charities, including Lives Not Knives.

And what a festival it was! Paying host to SO MANY incredible bands, it was not only a day filled with all the best live music, but also a completely unmatched sense of community spirit and united joy at being part of the DIY scene. As well as all the superb bands playing on the day, we bumped into so many other bands and artists there to support their peers, as well as other key members from the community, such as Caffy from The Zine UK and staff from Croydon’s best pub, The Oval Tavern. It was like a huge family gathering, filled with all the most life-affirming vibes and, of course, the best live music.

Check out Part 1 of our review of the day here. And here’s some more fantastic photos from Jon Mo and Jamie MacMillan, who were there to capture all the action…

Following Bugeye’s impressive set, we stick around at the main Town Square stage to catch the festival’s ‘secret’ headliner – Liverpool’s She Drew The Gun. Kicking off with the politically-driven power of ‘Resister’, they treat us to an immense and utterly immersive set filled with a sincere, empowering energy.

Photo Credit: Jamie MacMillian

Photo Credit: Jamie MacMillan

Continuing the incredible performances at the Town Square stage, South Yorkshire’s Bang Bang Romeo blast into our eyes and ears with a magnificent energy. As front woman Stars completely blows my mind with her incredible compelling charisma and the soaring soulful power of her vocals, they deliver a truly breathtaking and instantly memorable set, taking full control of the huge crowd.

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Rather nervous about some of my favourite bands clashing (it’s just such a perfect line-up!), I manage to fit in at least some of all the ones I’m desperate to see over the next hour – flitting between the Concrete Playground and Town Square…

From Bang Bang Romeo, I catch a good chunk of the luscious, punk-infused indie-pop of Fightmilk. With their wonderfully raucous energy, they never fail to uplift, as I find myself singing along to each of their dreamily catchy offerings – including personal highlight ‘Dream Phone’ (and yes, sadly I am old enough to remember the game!).

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Photo Credit: Jamie MacMillan

Dashing back to the Town Square in time to catch South London duo Nova Twins, they once again succeed in completely taking my breath away with their ferocious power and biting energy. Having been following Georgia and Amy for some time now, it’s no surprise to see them achieving the success they have been (supporting Wolf Alice and Prophets Of Rage, praise from the likes of Iggy Pop, playing festivals across the world…); their truly immense, seething offerings are like nothing else I’ve heard before, and the vibrant, mighty force of their live show remains completely unmatched.

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Back at the Concrete Playground, total faves Chorusgirl do not disappoint. Another band I’ve been following for the last few years, it really is wonderful to see them develop their sound, with their incredible dedication to their craft paying off with the release of last year’s truly epic second album Shimmer and Spin. A set filled with a joyous energy and front woman Silvi’s endearing modest charm, I just can’t get enough of their scuzzy, sparkling garage-rock, and may even have shed a tear upon hearing personal favourite ‘Stuck’ live for the first time; a poignant offering from the new album, that tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways.

Photo Credit: Jamie MacMillan

Photo Credit: Jamie MacMillan

I manage to get back to the Town Square just in time to catch The Lovely Eggs. Despite a significant amp explosion moments before they’re due to start, the Lancaster duo deliver their immense punk-infused sonic fusions to perfection. With the brash, inspiring charisma and no-frills-yet-empowering presence of Holly Ross, they blast out a swirling, psychedelic cacophony and uplifting lo-fi fuzz. And, with their blunt realism and scathing retorts to all the dickheads in the world accompanying their riotous frenzied energy, they remain one of the most relevant bands around (and one of the most exciting to see live).

Photo Credit: Jamie MacMillan

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Closing the incredible day, Blood Red Shoes deliver a headline set filled with raucous anthems new and old. Oozing their trademark whirring riffs, thrashing beats and the immense, energy-fuelled interplay between Laura Mary and Steven, they fill the room with a mass of buoyant bodies, singing along to each electrifying offering.

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

HUGE thanks to Angela and Julia for organising one of the best days ever; and here’s to Cro Cro Land 2020!

Photos:
Jon Mo / @jonmophoto
Jamie MacMillan / @jamiemacphotos

Words:
Mari Lane / @marimindles

 

LIVE (Photos): Cro Cro Land, 06.04.19 (Part 1)

This weekend saw the launch of Croydon’s brand new festival, Cro Cro Land. Organised by Croydon residents Angela Martin and Julia Woollams, the festival aimed to promote gender equality in both its line-up and staff, whilst championing a number of local bands and artists, and working in conjunction with a number of grassroots organisations and charities, including Lives Not Knives.

And what a festival it was! Paying host to SO MANY incredible bands, it was not only a day filled with all the best live music, but also a completely unmatched sense of community spirit and united joy at being part of the DIY scene. As well as all the superb bands playing on the day, we bumped into so many other bands and artists there to support their peers, as well as other key members from the community, such as Caffy from The Zine UK and staff from Croydon’s best pub, The Oval Tavern. It was like a huge family gathering, filled with all the most life-affirming vibes and, of course, the best live music.

Our Jon Mo was there, along with Jamie MacMillan, to capture all the action…

First up we caught the fun-filled, punk-infused energy of Werecats on the Concrete Playground stage.

Photo Credit: Jamie MacMillan

Next, we headed to the main Town Square stage to be blown away by Tiger Mimic’s soaring rock anthems.

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Photo Credit: Jamie MacMillan

Having ‘spun’ a few tunes ourselves at the Concrete Playground stage, we were treated to the luscious, jangly joy of Jetstream Pony‘s dreamy indie-pop offerings. And, whilst floating away on their twinkling scuzz, we also couldn’t help but notice lead singer Beth’s amazing, Croydon-inspired, skirt (made with material courtesy of local designer Made By Mrs M)!

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Photo Credit: Jamie MacMillan

After continuing our DJ set at the Concrete Playground stage, GIHE faves ARXX blast into the packed space, delivering their unique, seething punk anthems with a magnificent sparkling power. And to see new music pioneer John Kennedy in the crowd enjoying the set really warms my heart; to see this band that I’ve followed for the last year or two grow into the incredible force of nature they are today makes me feel a bit like a proud mum – one of the most dedicated (and just all-round incredible) bands I’ve ever come across, they truly do deserve every success.

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Back at the Town Square, fellow faves Berries (every band we saw on Saturday was a favourite!) get the crowd moving with their raucous whirring energy and distinctive, smouldering vocals. Oozing a raw passion (and donning band tees of other greats such as LIINES and Estrons), their infectious offerings and buzzing charisma proves this trio worthy of the highest accolades.

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Photo Credit: Jamie MacMillan

With their unique, vibrant energy and glitchy groove, electro punk duo Feral Five fill the Concrete Playground with their soaring, shimmering offerings as front woman Kat’s glistening outfit and natural pizazz trigger dancing feet and smiling faces.

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Photo Credit: Jamie MacMillan

As if it wasn’t enough to organise the festival, hero of the day Angela also lead her band Bugeye blazing into our eyes and ears with their incredible colourful power. Delivering their raging, synth-driven anthems with a fierce grit and vibrant energy, they dazzle us all with their contagious disco punk creations.

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

Photo Credit: Jon Mo

If you think all that sounds impressive, stay tuned for part two of our Cro Cro Land review, with more fab photos of the incredible bands who took our breath away on Saturday!

Photo Credit:
Jon Mo/@jonmophoto
Jamie MacMillan/@jamiemacphotos

Words:
Mari Lane/@marimindles