LIVE: Deer Shed Festival 2022 (Day 1: 29.07.22)

It’s been a while since I attended a festival… Obviously, there were so many cancellations throughout the last couple of years due the pandemic, and I missed out on 2019 as I was busy hosting my own (well, my wedding which I aimed to be as festival-like as possible). So, this year I was desperate to find one that was as lovely as possible and suited my needs of being perhaps a little older than the average festival-goer without missing out on any of the best new music. Sadly, the last festival I went to in 2018, and my favourite ever festival experience – Indie Tracks – did not survive Covid, and so I was looking for a replacement; something equally as inclusive, chilled-out, family friendly, and of course hosting plenty of amazing female and non-binary bands and artists. And then I came across Deer Shed… And it was just what I was after! Highlighting a real family-friendly focus, whilst hosting an incredible range of exciting new artists, the North Yorkshire based Deer Shed perfectly filled the festival-shaped-void I’d been feeling for the last few years.

Having settled into our pre-pitched tent (a revelation saving so much time and energy that I will be doing at every festival going forwards!), our first taste of live music of the weekend comes from Scottish artist Brooke Combe, oozing a soul-drenched groove and danceable energy.

Although sadly Lime Garden weren’t able to make their initial slot due to van troubles, we wander to the In The Dock stage to see what’s happening, and I couldn’t be happier to have happened upon an impromptu set from Leeds-based composer and producer Remy Enceladus, aka Straight Girl (“but I’m not straight and I’m not a girl!“). Delivering an incredible performance, oozing a fierce charisma and immense, vibrant energy, their unique electro-punk soundscapes and sparkling stage presence offer the perfect start to the weekend. And I’m evidently not the only one who thinks so; a child called George who can’t be more than twelve is head-banging in the front row – grasping the barriers and losing themselves in the throbbing beats, it’s really wonderful to see the positive, inspiring impact that role models like Straight Girl can have on young ones (this heartwarming sentiment is to become an ongoing theme throughout the weekend…).

After enjoying some delicious vegan delights from ‘Big Mouth Gyoza’, we head back to the main stage to enjoy the satirical indie-rock of the first of North Yorkshire’s Mercury nominees of the weekend, Yard Act. Despite not being in-keeping with the usual bands we’d feature on this site, I love their raw energy and witty social commentary; my admiration of them growing when James explains to the crowd that despite their “lad-like persona“, they’re not always cynical and can be quite nice, and that sometimes “people are alright” – an endearing introduction to their slower anthem ‘100% Endurance’.

And then back to the In The Dock Stage for the driving force of total faves The Lovely Eggs. Despite my view being somewhat obstructed by someone wearing some kind of Lowkey-inspired headpiece for the entirety of the set, it’s wonderful to see the packed tent dance along to the band’s colourful, buoyant energy and the brash, inspiring charisma and no-frills-yet-empowering presence of vocalist Holly Ross. As she takes a swig of her Thatchers (Strongbow is too weak these days), she challenges the youngsters to become the “youngest ever crowd surfer” and it strikes me that had this been anywhere else other than Deer Shed, I may have felt a bit uneasy with this suggestion – but the incredibly warm and child-friendly atmosphere just feels like one big happy family, and I have no fear that the willing participant is in safe hands (literally) as they’re propelled through the top of the crowd. However, whilst welcoming kids at gigs, Ross takes a moment in-between frenzied offerings to make her pro-abortion stance clear at a time when reproductive rights are being terrifyingly restricted across the world, stating that “it’s a woman’s choice“.

For our penultimate performance of the day, we return to the Main Stage for Bristol-based artist and someone I’ve been keen to see live for some time now – Billy Nomates. As she bounds across the stage with nothing but a laptop for company, I find myself completely immersed in her poignant spot-on lyricism and fierce, gritty energy. Delivering her stark social commentary to the backdrop of propulsive beats, she’s able to create an immense, stirring sense of urgency with a swirling, danceable allure, and I’m utterly captivated. My excitement about this set was most certainly justified.

Completing our first day at Deer Shed festival, it’s wonderful to see the return of Nadine Shah. Looking sharp in a tiger print suit, she exudes all the spellbinding charisma that I remember from seeing her at the last gig I attended before lockdown in 2019 (BBC 6Music’s International Women’s Day event at The Roundhouse). With an endearing modesty and gratitude for finally being able to headline the festival (after ten years), Shah and her band treat us to a stunningly majestic set; a sweeping orchestral musicality accompanied by her distinctive rich vocals. A truly enchanting performance creating a beautifully unified atmosphere (of “young ones and drunk parents“) to close Friday’s events in a blissfully joyous fashion.

Stay tuned for our review of Days 2 and 3 of Deer Shed festival!

Words: Mari Lane / @marimindles

Photo Credit: Paul Dawes / @paullikesrobots

INTERVIEW: Megan Evans of Deer Shed Festival

It’s been a while since I attended a festival… Obviously, there were so many cancellations throughout the last couple of years due the pandemic, and I missed out on 2019 as I was busy hosting my own (well, my wedding which I aimed to be as festival-like as possible). So, this year I was desperate to find one that was as lovely as possible and suited my needs of being perhaps a little older than the average festival-goer without missing out on any of the best new music. Sadly, the last festival I went to in 2018, and my favourite ever festival experience – Indie Tracks – did not survive Covid, and so I was looking for a replacement; something equally as inclusive, chilled-out, family friendly, and of course hosting plenty of amazing female and non-binary bands and artists. And then I came across Deer Shed… And I cannot wait to attend for the first time next month!

A festival with a real family-friendly focus, whilst hosting an incredible range of exciting new artists – as well as an array of comedy, spoken word, literary and theatrical shows – it seems like the perfect fit.

We caught up with festival organiser Megan Evans to talk more about Deer Shed’s roots, its ethos and inclusive line-up, some of the most special Deer Shed moments of years gone by, and more… Have a read below, and have a listen to our special Deer Shed 2022 playlist , featuring some of our personal faves who’ll be playing at the festival, at the bottom of this feature!

Hi Megan! 2022 will be Deer Shed’s 12th year – congrats! Can you tell us a bit about what Deer Shed is all about, and how it all started out?
Thanks! Deer Shed was started by our founders Kate & Oliver after they struggled to find a festival environment that was right for their kids but that didn’t compromise on cool and interesting music and culture programming for them. So, thats very much the goal of the festival – to create a festival environment that is accessible and exciting for all ages and groups, whether that’s families with kids of any ages or groups of adults with no kids in tow. Our family friendly festival content doesn’t look down on or condescend  and our music line up (we like to think!) is about as current and exciting as it can be. We’ve found it really works though it can lead to some funny situations, especially challenging our comedians to deliver PG sets to families who are unafraid of some audience interaction…

What strikes me about Deer Shed and makes it stand out against other festivals at the moment is the good gender balance of the line up – was there an intentional and specific decision to do this, or does it just naturally pan out that way?
We’ve strived for a 50/50 gender line up for years now which, while we’re mindful about achieving that, we also feel has happened very naturally and organically. Our focus is becoming more about looking at our line ups from a point of view of how inclusive, diverse & neurodivergent our performers are, both across the music line up and the arts and comedy. Gender parity of booking is something we have to be aware of, but it naturally also happens as our wish list each year always has more female and non-binary artists than male. Like everyone, we can always do better though and we still have work to do to making sure the line up across the board is as inclusive as possible. It’s something the whole festival industry has to be aware of and do better at. It’s no good saying that there aren’t enough female headliners or that its hard to find female headliners, that’s just lazy booking in my opinion. As festivals we have the ability to put our faith in artists and make them headliners – we’re not powerless in this situation.

Over the last 11 years, you’ve hosted some amazing bands and artists including Anna Calvi, Adult Mom, Sunflower Bean, Big Joanie, Ezra Furman, The Go Team! and Honeyblood, but has there been a particular set that stands out for you as a personal highlight over the years? 
There are so many! So if I’m allowed a few…
Kae Tempest headlining Saturday night as the rain started to come down was incredible, it was so atmospheric and beautiful… like it was meant to happen. School of Seven Bells is another highlight. We always say Deer Shed is a great place to discover new bands and I was just in my infancy of working for Deer Shed back then, this band just nailed it and I remained a loyal fan ever since. Their final and last album Ghostory was stunning. Anna Clavi headlining in 2019 with that album was amazing – the lighting and sound is one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to and god the guitar playing is mesmerising. Ibibio Sound Machine, when we did a massive flash mob with the audience to ‘Give Me Reason’, was one of my highlights of the last ten years; audiences young and old had learnt this dance routine for this specific time in front of the main stage. Joan As Policewoman – I love her! When she came to Deer Shed and headlined the Lodge Stage I was completely star struck. Honourable mentions also for Lone Lady and She Drew the Gun.

And this year you’ve got some GIHE faves playing – Self Esteem, Nadine Shah, Denise Chaila, Billy Nomates, The Lovely Eggs and CMAT… 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 over the year? 
We always have a wish list each year and we try to see as much as we can live. We’ll often head down to Leeds to the Brudenell or head to over other festivals or city based new music events like Great Escape to check out some of the artists we’re keen to bring to the festival. We keep a very close eye on new music being released and like to think we’ve developed good relationships and reputations with booking agencies whose rosters we rate. Really though, it always comes to what an act is like live, that’s where you can find some of the real gems. 

And for any upcoming bands/artists looking to apply for festivals next year, do you have any tips? 
More generally I would say spend your time reaching out to the right people in the right way rather than blanket emailing everyone in the world – find the festivals where artists you love are playing, work on a pitch and keep going! Festivals get a huge amount of unsolicited submissions, don’t take it personally if you don’t hear back!
Specifically for Deer Shed I would say email us (after July!!!) –  we can’t always reply to emails, but we are planning to launch an emerging artist comp for our 2023 event, so keep you eyes peeled. 

There seems to be a definite focus on making the festival as family-friendly as possible – what inspired the idea to do this, and stand out from other festivals in this way? 
We have always said that the festival should have the cross-generational appeal of a Pixar film, so we would say we are more of a festival for everyone, but especially if you’re a music fan and have children. The festival is for music fans but there’s so much other programming to get involved in and watch which is specially curated for families, everyone should have a great weekend! 

Do you feel much has changed over the last few years in the music industry’s treatment of new artists, particularly female and non-binary artists? 
Yes and no. It’s good that this has been identified, and organisations such as Key Change are in place to make noise and create positive changes in the way people of marginalised genders have been treated. Though the industry itself has a long way to go, agents along with promoters and festivals have to work together to make sure there is a connection and progression of acts across these areas. We all have a responsibility for this – there’s no excuses to not address these issues and create a more equitable and representative space for our artists. 

Finally, as we’re a new music focused site, are there any particular new bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
For artists playing at Deer Shed this year, I would say: Kobi Onyame, Brooke Combe, Mickey Callisto, Balimaya Project, CMAT, The Bug Club, Cortney Dixon, Beija Flo, Bess Atwell, CVC…  Outside of that, more generally, I’m really loving Lynks, Kills Birds, Taahliah, Bicurious, GUSTAF, English teacher & Dreya MAC at the moment! 

Massive thanks to Megan for answering our questions – we can’t wait to have the most wonderful time at Deer Shed festival next month! Deer Shed this year runs from 29th – 31st July in Baldersby Park North Yorkshire. Find out more information and get tickets at their website.

Listen to our special Deer Shed playlist here:

#ThrowbackThursday: GIHE w/ Brix Smith-Start (20.02.20)

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown in the UK, we’re unable to make it into the Hoxton Radio studio to broadcast our weekly live new music show from 7-9pm. Instead, we’re sharing previous GIHE radio show recordings as #ThrowbackThursday sessions, so you can still enjoy 2 hours of new music tunes & chats with some of our favourite artists each week.

Today, we’ve picked our February 2020 show with the incredible Brix Smith-Start. She joined Mari & Kate in the studio to talk about her last three albums with Brix & The Extricated, her love for Nadine Shah and her experiences over the years as a trailblazer in the music industry.

Listen back to the show below:

Tracklist
Lizzo – Juice
LegPuppy ft. Josefin Ohrn – Secret Friend
MAITA – A Beast
DRAMA – Years
MIRI – Girls Just Want To Have Fun
MEI – I Don’t Know What’s Next
Lido Pimienta – Eso Que Tu Haces
Bad Bones – Beg
Desire – Bizarre Love Triangle (New Order Cover)
Alessi’s Ark – Woman
Shoulder Season – Clean Lines
Brix & The Extricated – Wolves
**Interview with Brix Smith-Start**
RUNAH – Same Face
Li Yilei – A Star Without Guidance
HMS Morris – Babanod
Hilary Woods – Orange Tree
Girl Ray – Friend Like That
Am.i – Millenial
Chloe Foy – Callous Copper
Charlotte Spiral – Wide Eyed
Nirvana – Heart-Shaped Box
Kate Tempest – People’s Faces

GIHE: Personal Highlights Of 2020

2020 has been a year unlike any other and we’ll be glad to see the back of it, but before we wave goodbye, the GIHE team would like to share some of their personal highlights. Thanks to everyone who has been following, reading or listening to GIHE this year. It really does mean the world to us and we couldn’t do this without you.

Shared Highlights

Seeing the GIHE name appear in a PHYSICAL BOOK was a landmark moment for the team this year. Music journalist Lucy O’Brien mentioned us in her 25th anniversary edition of She Bop, a fantastic book that explores the role of female artists and how they’ve helped to shape the music industry. You can buy your copy here.

Fellow GIHE Co-Founder Tash Walker was super busy recording & producing series 2 of The Log Books throughout 2020, a podcast which explores the history of the LGBTQ community via the phone archives of LGBT+ charity Switchboard. Tash is a co-chair at Switchboard and she is dedicated to celebrating and supporting the LGBTQ community through her work with them, and through her work with GIHE. She is one of the most resilient, informed and hilarious people we know and it’s a privilege to work alongside her and call her a friend. The Log Books are a truly necessary listen for all.

Now for some personal highlights…

Kate Crudgington (Features Editor)

GIHE usually takes up a big part of my life, but it was a lifeline for me during March of this year when the government text me (lol) telling me to shield for 12 weeks. Thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to talk to the people who were making the music that was distracting me from the panic-inducing headlines, reminding me what a huge privilege it is to have access to this amazing platform.

As our followers already know, Lockdown 1.0 instantly put a stop to our weekly GIHE new music shows on Hoxton Radio. We had 16 weeks off air, so when it was “safe” for me to go back in to the studio in July I was buzzing with excitement (which you can hear in my voice if you listen back to the show here.)

Like most platforms during the pandemic, we embraced technology and started interviewing artists over Zoom instead of inviting them in to the studio for the usual chat and live session. We managed to get time with Jessica Winter, BISHI, Lucy O’Brien, Tessa from Girlhood, Julia-Sophie, Lizzie from Bitch Falcon, Grave Goods, Problem Patterns, ZAND, Hannah from PELA, Seraphina-Simone & Penelope Trappes. It was so lovely to see Tash in person in the studio most weeks, and while we both missed seeing Mari a great deal, her weekly track contributions to the show still made it feel like a GIHE team effort.

At the beginning of the year, I was invited by Niall Jackson, one of the hosts of Riverside Radio’s The Irish Jam, to be a contributor to their New Music Sunday section. Co-hosted by Kealan, Mel and Rob, The Irish Jam is a London based radio show that celebrates and promotes music from Irish artists. The crossover of favourite bands between GIHE & the Jam is huge and something I’ve enjoyed chatting to the team about both on and off air. They’ve introduced me to the likes of CMAT, fears, Denise Chaila, Silverbacks and Celaviedmai, whilst I’ve shared tracks by Kynsy, Party Fears and CAMI with them. Listening to their show on a Sunday evening continues to be a wonderful distraction from life.

Who could’ve predicted that bandcamp would become the musical hero of 2020? When the streaming platform announced that on the first Friday of every month they’d be waiving their fees so that 100% of profits would be going directly to artists, my newsfeeds were awash with new music recommendations. Moving home to Essex from London in March meant I actually had some expendable income to buy new records, so I was furiously typing bespoke recommendation threads on Twitter every time the date rolled around. bandcamps’ generosity meant you were able to genuinely support your friends (and the artists you secretly wish you were friends with) during a truly depressing year for music.

Normally, we’d be picking our live music highlights too, but for obvious reasons, we’ve hardly been to any gigs this year. Mari had to cancel half of the gigs GIHE she had booked pre-pandemic and it’s fucking depressing to not know when it will be (properly) safe for her to book more. That’s why I feel incredibly fortunate to have wedged in one last GIHE gig before Lockdown 1.0. GIHE worked together with Sofar Sounds to put together a special International Women’s Day gig at their Hackney HQ in March, with Beckie Margaret, Amahla and Indian Queens on the bill. It was so exciting (and nerve-racking) to host the evening with fellow GIHE pal Tash too. Even if I’d had a year full of gigs, this one still would’ve made my highlights list.

One last gloat – I published some of my all-time favourite features on our website this year. My Zoom interviews with the wonderful A.A Williams, the hilarious CMAT and the ultra talented Lido Pimienta are well worth a read.

Mari Lane (Managing Editor)

It goes without saying, most of the highlights I’d normally mention at this time of year were not able to go ahead in the void of 2020. They would normally consist of the monthly gigs that I host at The Finsbury, whereas this year I was only able to put on two before Covid hit. And, in addition to having to cancel at least seven of our regular gigs, we were pretty heartbroken to cancel what would have been our very first festival, due to take place in July. However, I did manage to fit in a couple of memorable live experiences before being confined to being permanently pyjama clad; my only weekly highlight being our regular beer delivery from Croydon’s Art & Craft bar.

The first gig I hosted this year felt particularly special. Personal Best headlined a night filled with all the best vibes. Drawing the night to a memorable close, front person Katie Gatt dedicated their set closer to the queer community. As a sea of buoyant voices joined in with “I wanna kiss you in the street / where everyone can see / ’cause this is what we look like,” the poignancy of the lyrics was overwhelming and an empowering sense of unity took hold. The night also included the shimmering folk-strewn offerings of Athabaska, the quirky energy and sparkling charisma of Nun Habit and the sun-drenched swirling anthems of Hurtling. There is nothing quite like that joyous sense of togetherness that comes from hosting gigs filled with like-minded wonderful people.

I was also lucky enough to fit in seeing one of my all time favourite bands with a few of my all time favourite people. The last time that Tash, Kate, Paul and I were all together pre-Covid was for Sleater Kinney at Brixton Academy – a pretty special night. Not only did I get to see the legendary Carrie Brownstein deliver her distinctive gritty, scuzz-filled riffs alongside Corin Tucker’s unmistakable swooning vocals in the flesh, conjuring up massive feelings of awe and nostalgia, but they were supported by one of our favourite current bands. The second time we’d seen Big Joanie on the Brixton Academy stage (the first being opening for Bikini Kill last year!), they showcased just how deserving they are of their rising success; with their unique, raw, post-punk soundscapes and poignant lyricism, they delivered an absolutely incredible set. A truly memorable night.

My last ‘outing’ before lockdown was to the BBC 6Music festival for International Women’s Day at The Roundhouse. An epic line-up consisting of some incredible women and non-binary folk that I’m incredibly grateful I got to witness before everything fell apart. In addition to the immense poignant power of Jehnny Beth, the utterly beguiling splendour of Nadine Shah (who I fell in love with there and then), and the completely mind-blowing presence of hero Kim Gordon, Kae Tempest delivered a fiercely moving, truly breath-taking headline set.

And then gigs were gone. To be replaced by online streamed “events” which I think have had mixed reviews over the last few months – they’re of course no replacement for the “real thing” and it’s hard to feel motivated to “attend” things when you’ve been on the sofa in your pjs for weeks. However, I have managed to organise a few GIHE Instagram ‘Takeovers’, featuring some of our favourite bands and artists. From ARXX’s drum and guitar lessons, LibraLibra’s quirky tele-sales style feature and Tiger Mimic’s interviews with others on the scene, to inspiring chats with Amaroun, Eckoes, Foundlings and Husk, beaut “live” sessions from Gold Baby, Scrounge and KIN, and King Hannah’s EP run through, I feel grateful that so many creatives have wanted to be involved.

It’s a strange time, no doubt, but one which is made that much better by a sense of togetherness within the community. One positive from all this really has been the mutual support and genuine care that I’ve seen musicians and those within the industry show for each other.

John McGovern (Contributor)

On the one hand, there’s been almost no gigs, no festivals, much fewer physical releases and closed record shops. On the other, BBC 6Music’s response helped me stay indoors and make the most of my furlough life. Lauren Laverne‘s show was extended to cover the late morning, running to nearly double the length of most of the other shows on the station and basically saw her appointed as chief mood-lifter for the BBC’s flagship alternative music station. Amongst the days of uncertainty, where even leaving the house offered the risk of serious illness, with no guarantee of a job at the end of the summer, having Lauren there to soundtrack breakfast/brunch made a world of difference. It produced a kind of odd stasis: the background radiation of a pandemic, but an excellent range of music, usually featuring a smattering of classics, new music and obscure gems. The only disappointment was when the schedule reverted back to usual come the end of lockdown. Hopefully, that same semblance of normality will be back for us all, soon.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read our highlights!

You can read about our GIHE Albums of 2020 here and our GIHE Tracks Of 2020 here.

Keep an eye out for our Ones To Watch in 2021 feature next week!