GIHE: Personal Highlights Of 2021

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.

My conversations with Circe, Nadia Javed, Breakup Haircut, Sian O’Gorman (NYX Choir), Lilith AI, Softcult, Nova TwinsBleach Lab and Divide & Dissolve all left a lasting impression on me in 2021.

 

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!

 

LISTEN: GIHE on Soho Radio – Highlights of 2021 15.12.21

Tash, Kate & Mari were back on the Soho Radio airwaves for their final show of 2021, playing their new music highlights, some of their favourite tracks of the year and a sprinkling of festive tunes from female, non-binary and LGBTQ+ artists.

Big thanks & love to everyone who’s tuned in to our shows. We’ll be back on air in January 2022! xx

Listen back below:

 

Tracklist
The Big Moon – Carol Of The Bells
November Ultra – le manége
Solaja – Vision
VERO – Beg
Momma – Medicine
Salt Ashes – Body Says
Crisp&Classy – SML4U
KIN – The Runaways
MEMA – Estou Bem
Elodie Gervaise – Free Babe
Sans Soucis – I’m On
Noga Erez – End of the Road
Maria Uzor – Innocence
SOPHIE – BIPP (Autechre Mx)
Tirzah – Tectonic
Fears – Fabric
Brimheim – poison fizzing on a tongue
Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra – Empty Envelope
Planningtorock – Gay Dreams Do Come True
Saint Etienne – Pond house
Wet Leg – Chaise Longue
Fraulein – Belly
Cherym – Listening To My Head
Bitch Hunt – Shapeshifter
ARXX – DEEP
Blonde Maze – Being Pulled
Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business – He Earns Enough
Pongo – Wegue Wegue
Death Hags – Frozen Santa
Gemma Cullingford – Walking In The Air
Poly Styrene – Black Christmas

LISTEN: GIHE on Soho Radio with Grandmas House 20.10.21

Tash & Kate were back on Soho Radio‘s airwaves playing loads of new music from some of their favourite female, non-binary and LGBTQ+ artists. An iconic 00s banger from Xtina also made the cut for this weeks playlist…

Bristol punk trio Grandmas House joined them to talk about the release of the debut EP, their favourite track on the record and what it’s like to shoot a music video during a British heatwave.

Listen back below:

Tracklist
Planningtorock – Let’s Talk About Gender Baby
girlhouse – boundary issues
Butcher Brown, Alex Isley – Remind Me
All Day Breakfast Cafe – I Believe In a Thing Called Love (The Darkness Cover)
Queen Cult – Show & Tell
Wet Leg – Wet Dream
Amy Fitz Doyley – Another
Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra – Empty Envelope
Brimheim – Poison Fizzing On A Tongue
Halsey – I am not a woman, I’m a god (Gazelle Twin remix)
HAVVK – Halfway Out
Elodie Gervaise – Free Babe
ATNA – Smile
Grandmas House – Golden
**Grandmas House interview**
Buggs – Nick Gowland
M(h)aol – Gender Studies
Duval Timothy ft. Lil Silva & Melanie Faye – Fall Again
Mai – Control
Currls – Let Down
Tiger Mimic – Silence Of The Night
The Tuts – Wannabe (Spice Girls Cover)
Blonde Maze – One House
Coco – Anybody’s Guess
Kay Young ft. JNR WILLIAMS – I’ve Got You
Charlotte Spiral – Suddenly (piano ballad)
Clare Kelly – CRIMINAL
Gemma Laurence – Adrienne
Christina Aguilera – Dirrty

INTERVIEW: Breakup Haircut

Today is International Day Of The Girl (11th October), a time to champion the achievements of girls on a global scale and to highlight and challenge the gender inequality that girls still face today.

Women Of The World Festival (WOW)’s research into gender disparity in music has found the following: “Recent studies show how underrepresented women are in the industry: a landmark US survey reported that from 2019 to 2020, female artists fell from 22.5% to 20.2%; female songwriters decreased from 14.4% to 12.9%; and female producers declined from 5% to just 2%. The research also took a representative sample of 600 songs between 2012 and 2020, of 23 individual women credited as producers just seven were women of colour, resulting in an overall ratio of one woman of colour to every 180 male producers.”

Determined to help change these statistics, WOW Festival created their WOW Sounds music programme to showcase and celebrate a range of girl bands from across the globe. This year, they’ve recorded performances with Nadia Javed, Breakup Haircut, Sri Lankan acoustic trio The Singing Potatoes, Roma girl band Pretty Loud and a project Naytive Mentorship led by Australian rapper and songwriter Naomi Wenitong. Each performance has been released as an exclusive short set with an introduction about the artist/band’s activism. The UK acts all filmed sets at EartH Hackney which you can watch via WOW’s IGTV and YouTube throughout today.

We caught up with Ishani, Ripley & Delphine – aka Breakup Haircut – who formed at First Timers Fest in 2019 to talk about their performance for WOW Sounds, how they think things have progressed in recent years for girls interested in music, their work with First Timers Fest and the work/life balance that accompanies being in a band that you love…

Hello Breakup Haircut! Talk to me about the pre-recorded set you played for WOW Sounds at EartH in Hackney…

Ishani: It was a really cool, fun experience. I thought our set was really chilled because we rehearse constantly, so it wasn’t too big a thing to play stuff from start to finish like that. Everyone was so nice. The sound engineer at EartH is called Luca and he was a very chill person to hang out with. I was also playing bass in Nadia Javed’s band too, so I was there for a bit longer.

Ripley: We played three of our tracks, ‘Why Can’t I Be Cool Enough To Move To Berlin?’, ‘Mum, I Wanna Be a Greaser’ and ‘I Don’t Want To Be Your Friend’.

Delphine: I’ve been to WOW as a punter and been to talks and shows before, but not as a direct contributor to the festival. It’s pretty nice to be on the other side of the stage!

I’m looking forward to watching your performance! As you all know, International Day Of The Girl is about highlighting the triumphs and the challenges that girls face. In terms of music, do you think things have improved for girls and young gender non-conforming people who are interested in joining bands and playing instruments since you were girls? 

Ishani: I think there are more movements now than to help people to diversify the music scene and that’s a really good thing. When I was younger, the reason I didn’t start a band was more because of my location. I grew up in the northeast and it’s not great for people of colour up there. It wasn’t easy to find people who wanted to play music with me. I think being in a big city is one thing, but also having movements like First Timers Fest and WOW Sounds, they make it a much friendlier and nicer place. You don’t have to brunt quite as much hostility to get to the point of playing a show or playing music. I think there are people who champion and try really hard in that to make stuff happen. Two of us are on the committee for First Timers and we help out with that now. That’s something we think is very important and we want to champion people being able to play music.

Delphine: I didn’t grow up in this country, so I can’t really talk about the UK in general, and I have no idea what France is like at the moment because I’ve been here in the UK for 17 years. So I’m like: “I can’t talk about the UK as a kid, but I can’t talk about France as an adult.” But in France I come from a very rural area where because of distances it’s a challenge to access things.

I think music is a bit different in the sense that France is very serious. You either go to music school and you study music, or you don’t do music. In terms of representation, I come from a very white area. So if you were a person of colour, it probably would have been harder as well. It’s not a very diverse. So in terms of representation and challenging that, it just didn’t happen at the time. But it probably has changed a lot now and I’m glad it has, because we’re actually waking up to the fact that there is space for everybody. You have to allow people to be themselves and you have to allow people to express their art, because everybody’s happier that way. I think championing minorities and allowing more access and making effort to actually give access to more people is going to benefit everybody in the long term.

Ripley: I think it’s definitely better than when I grew up in terms of accessibility. I’m from a family where no one does music except for me. I grew up military and I moved around a lot and pretty much every school I went to, music was for kids who had money. Financially as a family we were comfortable, but music lessons were really expensive and I couldn’t have them. So I think stuff has got better because with initiatives like Girls Rock London and First Timers Fest where people are trying to eliminate the monetary barriers so you can actually have a go with an instrument, which is great.

Also, speaking as a queer person as well, there’s a lot more queer people in music which is really, really cool because I had zero role models when I was a kid. So over the last five years or so, there’s just been more and more queer representation. We’ve always got to keep pushing so that things keep moving forward and don’t go backwards, but I think it is on the way to being better.

You’ve listed some great organisations that we’re big fans of here at Get In Her Ears. I think if Girls Rock London and First Timers Fest had been around when I was a girl, I might have started to learn an instrument…

Ishani: We run adult camps too, so you can always come along to those!

Delphine: Come along it’ll be so much fun!

Maybe I will?! I really like the idea of being in a non-judgmental environment where people don’t care if you don’t know what a chord is and you’re allowed to just take your time and enjoy playing an instrument…

Ishani: That’s so true, actually. People can be so elitist about it and make you feel so shut out. Everyone starts somewhere, just because someone happened to start learning music when they were five doesn’t make someone else’s efforts to start a bit later in life any less valid. Music is such a joy. Everyone should be able to have the opportunity and access to it and it really sucks that people still don’t.

After forming at First Timers Fest in 2019, you released your debut EP, What did you expect? I got it off the internet. What are you most proud of about this record?

Ripley: I think at the time, it was just getting something out.

Ishani: Releasing that EP was actually incredibly stressful for all of us because we put an unrealistic time constraint on ourselves. We wouldn’t do it again like that, I’m quite proud of the fact that we did, but we never want to do it like that again. We recorded six songs live and the entire thing was pulled together in a month and then we released it two months later.

Delphine: I’m glad that we survived that, because that was a lot. But have we really learned that lesson of not doing too much at once?

Ripley: Partly? Thanks to lockdown, we’re in the mixing and mastering stage of our new album now. The album has taken over a year to record due to various lockdowns interrupting us, so partly due to world events, we have taken a much longer time on this record…

Delphine: Err…we recorded 10 songs in one week? So…

Ishani: Ripley has definitely taken me aside and said that we have been waiting for this album for literally years at this point. We don’t need to rush the output and we may as well do it right. I really forget that you don’t have to output consistently. So it’s really good to have people reminding me of that.

Ripley: Burnout is real in so many aspects of life. So many people I know are having trouble with it in regular work and for projects outside of work. I’ve burned out several times before. Trying to pace yourself and learn how to look after yourself is harder to do in the digital age where everyone’s expected to output on every front all the time. Getting that balance right is quite tricky.

Delphine: We just have to remind ourselves that we’re doing this for fun. That’s the main thing. This doesn’t pay our bills, it helps when we have gigs and stuff because then the band can sustain itself a bit by not having to worry too much about paying for rehearsal spaces and things, but it’s not something that pays for our day-to-day things.

Ripley: I’ve been in a previous project before where it was very much “the band is the main thing, screw your work” and it was a really unhealthy atmosphere, so unsurprisingly I left. We had an agreement upfront when we started Breakup Haircut that we were all going to try our best, but if any of this is impacting people’s work and their income, then as depressing as it is sometimes, people’s day jobs do have to come first. Although this is way more fun than a day job, you’ve got to be able to pay your rent and feed yourself. So we’re trying to make sure that we take care of ourselves. I’ve said to my mates that my day job makes it so I can pay the rent and then the keeps me sane.

It sounds like you’re all on the same page about the work/life music balance, so that in itself is encouraging to hear.

Finally, do you have any bands or artists who you’ve been listening to at the moment that you’d like to give a shout out to?

Ripley: I’ve been really enjoying Penelope Scott recently. She plays kind of lo-fi electronics with funky sounds and she does a song called ‘Rat’ which is a kind of “screw you” to tech billionaires like Elon Musk. It’s got really good lyrics and some nice sort of science-y burns. I like it. Also shout out to pinkshift, I’ve really got into pink shift recently as well.

Delphine: Since Loud Women Festival in September, I’ve been listening a lot of ARXX and Lilith Ai, because she’s just so beautiful.

Ishani: I’ve been listening to a friend of mine Kapil Seshasayee, he is part of the South Asian scene and it’s interesting to hear someone making music that’s very different from the output of that scene and he makes a lot of like interesting political points as well. So I’m really enjoying that right now.

Thanks to Breakup Haircut for the chat!

Follow Breakup Haircut on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Watch their performance at EartH via WOW’s IGTV and YouTube channels

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut