GIHE Personal Highlights 2019

It’s that time of year again when we look back at some of our highlights of the last twelve months. And, despite coming to a pretty horrific and terrifying end, 2019 has been filled with some pretty memorable moments… 

So far, we’ve shared our favourite tracks, albums and gigs of the year, and we’ve yet to reveal our Ones To Watch for 2020, but for now, here are our personal overall highlights of the last year…


Bikini Kill Reforming
When news that Bikini Kill were reforming broke earlier this year, I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. Despite seeing The Julie Ruin twice now (the second time at KOKO probably being the most special gig I’ve ever been to), I – like many other people I know – was desperate to get tickets; seeing the Riot Grrrl pioneers back together, reunited with the original line-up (with the exception of guitarist Billy being replaced by Erica Dawn Lyle) would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Thankfully, I succeeded. And what an experience it was. Although I started to feel anxious on the way to Brixton Academy about this event I’d built up so much, the minute Kathleen, Kathi, Tobi and Erica graced the stage (after a fantastic and career-building set from Big Joanie), all worries and negative thoughts disappeared. I was completely immersed in the empowering, inspiring force emanating from these heroes of mine. And, as those first few notes of personal favourite ‘Feels Blind’ hit, I felt my eyes fill up and my heart break just a little. A truly memorable experience, not only because of the incredible womxn in the bands, but the hoards of familiar faces of amazing womxn and allies that filled the venue – all of us seeking solace in our favourite band, and in the unity of being with each other. So, thank you Bikini Kill, for being a constant source of motivation, for so-often giving me the strength to carry on, and for giving us all the opportunity to see you live – an experience I never thought would be possible.
(Mari Lane – Co Founder/Managing Editor)

Bikini Kill Reforming
Watching Bikini Kill live at Brixton Academy earlier this year was a life-affirming event. I was stood next to my cousin, an original ’90s Riot Grrrl, and surrounded by my GIHE grrrls and allies, and I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging. Bikini Kill have given so many women the confidence to start a revolution – whether that’s personal, political or musical – and their live show proved that even after a 20 year hiatus, they’re still as riotous, raw, and committed to giving girls and women that power. Watching Big Joanie support them was also a pretty special experience, which they relayed to us when they were guests on our radio show shortly afterwards. I feel very privileged to have seen these women grace Brixton Academy’s stage.
(Kate Crudgington – Co-Founder/Features Editor)

Missy Elliot Blitzes MTV Video Music Awards
For about as long as I can remember, it feels like Missy ‘Misdemeanour’ Elliot has been a revered figure. A pop-star sure, but a rapper, writer and producer too. An uncompromisingly offbeat, yet still charismatic figure, and an unconventional individual in an industry that leans heavily towards the conventional in its pursuit of profit. She’s someone who could talk about sexuality, but not be exploited as a sexual object. An innovator who succeeds in taking her audience with her, by making deceptively simple music that doesn’t talk down to the listener. This particular performance came as part of her receipt of the 2019 MTV ‘Video Vanguard’ award at the annual awards show and reflects Elliot’s long-standing position at the intersection of pop, hip-hop and electronic music, as a woman of colour completely in control of her sound, her public persona and her image. But, in truth, I couldn’t give a toss about the VMAs themselves. Credit where it’s due – the staging of this reflected Elliot’s career, and her performances of a medley hits including ‘Pass That Dutch’ and ‘Work It’ were spot-on, whilst the show’s costume changes were satisfyingly ludicrous (camo to inflated PVC to scarecrow to day-glo tracksuit). The footage also shows latter-day pop mammoths at the side of the stage, singing and dancing like they were fans off the street. That’s the Missy effect – it lets anyone, even Taylor Swift, get their freak on. The performance is a mere seven minutes, but it showcases exactly what’s possible when artistic integrity is combined with originality and a dump-truck of talent. In a year of cynicism, this was music at its most gleeful.
(John McGovern – Contributor)

Queens Of Punk: Poly-Styrene & Jordan, The British Library, July 2019
Prior to having Celeste Bell on our radio show earlier this month, this summer I attended a very special night celebrating Queens Of Punk at The British Library. Hosted by self proclaimed ‘Professor Of Punk’, Vivien Goldman, the panel discussed the release of two books about two of the most legendary ‘queens of punk’: Defying Gravity: Jordan’s Story and Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story, by Zoë Howe and Celeste. The whole evening was particularly poignant, especially given that now, nearly 50 years after its emergence, when we’ve witnessed a regression in politics and equal rights, the spirit of ‘punk’ – and in particular these strong female voices – is needed now more than it has been for decades. Hearing about all the pivotal steps that these women before us have taken in a quest to be heard left me feeling inspired and motivated. As Goldman said at the beginning of the evening, now is certainly the time to revive the punk spirit, to unite and overcome adversity: we need strong figures like Poly and Jordan now more than ever. Read more about the night here.
(ML)

Noga Erez Interview, November 2019
I remember replying quickly, and in caps lock, when Mari told me we had interview time with the brilliant Noga Erez. I also remember trying to stay calm, and not fan girl, when I walked into the room to meet her a few weeks later. Noga was incredibly welcoming. She patiently answered my many questions, and made me laugh when she asked if “Get In Her Ears” meant the same kind of thing as “Get In Her Pants”. Read the full interview here.
(KC)

GIHE Radio Show
I’ll be here forever if I start talking about how much fun I’ve had hosting or co-hosting our weekly radio shows this year. Here is a very brief re-cap of my favourite guests: Foxgluvv, Big Joanie, ARXX, Bengi Unsal, ESYA, Jelly Cleaver, Girls Rock London and Celeste Bell.
(KC)

Indietracks, July 2019
Indietracks is always the highlight of my summer, hands down. So much so that I now volunteer there. This year, though, the indiepop festival, which takes place at a vintage railway station in Derbyshire, felt particularly special. While many festival line-ups remain overwhelmingly male, all three of Indietracks headliners were female-fronted bands. There was a real celebration of non-binary and queer artists too. One of the most special performances was The Spook’s School’s final Indietracks show. The band, who were Indietracks regulars, penned a special tribute song to the festival and, basically, just made everyone cry their eyes out. Oh, and there were balloons! Porridge Radio, Bis, LIINES, The Orielles, Peaness and Martha were amazing too. And while the endless rain might have soaked everything we owned, it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. Indietracks is such a special, cosy and inclusive festival; I’m looking forward to taking my kids again next year. There’s already a couple of exciting rumours about the line-up, and it’s got to be time we had a bit of sun, surely?! Indietracks 2020 takes place from 24th – 26th July at the Midland Railway Centre in Butterley, Derbyshire. Tickets and more information are available from https://www.indietracks.co.uk/
(Vic Conway – Contributor)

Bang Bang Romeo Interview, October 2019
It really was such an honour to interview Stars and the rest of Bang Bang Romeo prior to their sold-out gig at Omeara earlier this year. Just genuinely nice people, with an admirable enthusiasm for all they do, they discussed their love of music, working with P!NK, their upcoming releases and ‘that’ topic of being a ‘woman in the industry’ – “I wanna be on a line-up for a festival because I’m good enough, not because I’ve ticked a box. Not because there’s a space for my vagina! I don’t want to be a statistic on your fucking spreadsheet. I’m here because I’m good enough.” Stars’ assertive and vibrant nature is something that I truly admire, and wish I had more of. She’s a force to be reckoned with, an essential strong presence in today’s industry. Read the full interview here.
(ML)

Talking On Panels At Southbank Centre / Skivvy Records
Get In Her Ears have received some incredible invitations to talk about what we do as a non-profit organisation this year. Tash & I spoke on two panels at Southbank Centre. The first was for a Women In Music event, where we spoke about the representation of women & LGBTQ+ people in the music industry. The second was for Jazzworks and The London Jazz Festival, talking about issues faced by women & LGBTQ+ people in the industry as a whole. I also loved speaking alongside Mari on another panel for independent label Skivvy Records at Peckham Levels. We met so many inspiring young women, and hopefully provided them with some information about how to get past the many hurdles we ourselves have come across.

I can’t believe I’ve gone from listening to music alone in my bedroom, to talking to rooms full of women and girls about the work I do alongside Mari & Tash at Get In Her Ears. It’s something I’ll never take for granted.
(KC)

Our Wedding, August 2019
Well, we did say ‘personal’ highlights… But seriously, I couldn’t really round up this year without mentioning marrying to the best person I know. My new spouse, Paul, is a truly wonderful ally, and someone who Get In Her Ears wouldn’t exist without – not only does he create most of our artwork, and help with all the technical aspects of running a website, he inspires me every day. I pride myself on being an independent woman, but his constant support and enthusiasm for all I do is unmatched, it’s what keeps me going when I feel like giving up. He is constantly helping me come up with new ideas and strive for new dreams. Everyone who was at our wedding inspires me constantly, and it was pretty special just spending a whole day with all the people we love in one place. Aside from the obvious getting married to the best person thing, highlights of the day included: walking down the aisle to Deep Throat Choir, my family forming an epic ‘Lane Band’ and performing amazingly, Tash tearing up the dance-floor with one of my nieces, and Kate literally running for her life from the toilet when she heard ‘Rebel Girl’ was playing (never seen anyone move that fast!). Massive thanks to our Jon Mo, too, who made an exception from gig photography, to capture all the action!
(ML)

And thanks to everyone who’s been following, reading, listening and attending gigs of ours, this year – it really does mean the world, and we couldn’t do this without you.

Listen to our Best Of 2019 playlist, with added personal highlights, now:

 

Mari Lane / @marimindles
Kate Crudgington / @kcbobcut
John McGovern / @etinsuburbiaego
Vic Conway 

Get In Her Ears w/ Celeste Bell 05.12.19

This week, Kate and Mari played some of their favourite new music from the likes of MAITA, Eilis Frawley, Small Man Society, Kate Stapley, LibraLibra and HEZEN.

They were joined in the studio by Celeste Bell, who spoke about her Mother Poly Styrene‘s legacy, and the upcoming documentary film she’s been working on, ‘Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché’.

Find out more about the film and how to donate to its Patreon Crowdfund here.

Listen back to the show here:

Tracklist
X Ray Spex – ‘Oh Bondage, Up Yours’
MAITA – ‘Can’t Blame A Kid’
Mango – ‘Demons’
King Hannah – ‘Creme Brulee’
Hezen – ‘Whole’
Fassine – ‘Limbs’
Eilis Frawley – ‘Strangers’
Calva Louise – ‘Adelante’
Small Man Society – ‘Songs I Write’
Calista Kazuko – ‘Benzo Belle’
Jaguary Jonze – ‘Kill Me With Your Love’
IVEY – ‘Scream’
LibraLibra – ‘Loverboy’
Toni&Mash – ‘I Want It’
X Ray Spex – ‘I Am A Cliche’
Zola Jesus – ‘Bound’
Foxcunt – ‘Merry Christmas, Fuck The Patriarchy’
Kate Stapley – ‘Hermit’
Peggy Sue – ‘White Christmas’
Suggested Friends – ‘Cygnets’
Tinx – ‘Wait & See’
Frazey Ford – ‘The Kids Are Having None Of It’
Alanis Morissette – ‘Hand In My Pocket’

 

‘Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché’ Film Patreon Launched

Anglo-Somali artist and punk maverick Poly Styrene, of the band X Ray Spex, was one of the first women of colour to lead a successful rock band, and was a truly innovative figure both in music and for women generally. Chronicling her remarkable, and often troubled, life, Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché is directed by Paul Sng and Poly’s daughter Celeste Bell, and includes never-seen-before footage of Poly throughout her life, as well as interviews with other people in the industry including Kathleen Hanna, Pauline Black and Thurston Moore, about the great influence she had on them.

Now, to help them finish the film and bring it to international audiences, Bell and Sng have launched a Patreon campaign. Of the film, Bell explains:

“I set out with a clear goal to share my mother’s story as widely as possible because her story needs to be heard. In making this film, I have uncovered aspects of my mother I hardly knew before and also discovered that she made a huge impact on culture that is still being felt today. The fact that her legacy has not been properly acknowledged is something we are seeking to redress with this film.” 

Poly’s life was fraught with difficulties: poverty, racism, misogyny, and chronic mental health issues. After suffering a nervous breakdown at the height of her success, she left music to join the Hare Krishna movement. The film follows Poly’s daughter Celeste Bell as she examines her mother’s unopened artistic archive and uncovers the legacy of a woman whose lyrics were described by radical musician Billy Bragg as, “a slap in the face” to male artists and journalists.

Although rose-tinted spectacles are firmly off, the film looks to show Poly Styrene not only as the innovative figure for women in music that she remains to this day, but as a mother and a person.

The film follows Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story – a book released earlier this year by Celeste and author Zoë Howe.

Watch the trailer here:

Find out about the Patreon crowdfunding details here. Visit the film’s website.

And, make sure you tune in to our radio show tomorrow 5th December on Hoxton Radio 8-10pm, when we’ll have Celeste Bell in for a chat!

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Queens Of Punk: Poly Styrene & Jordan, The British Library, 04.07.19

Last night I was lucky enough to go along to a very special night celebrating Queens Of Punk at The British Library. Hosted by self proclaimed ‘Professor Of Punk’, Vivien Goldman, the panel discussed the release of two books about two of the most legendary ‘queens of punk’: Defying Gravity: Jordan’s Story and Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story

Prior to talking to the authors, Goldman (also having recently released her own book Revenge Of The She Punks) delivers a poignant and stirring introduction, describing both Jordan and Poly Styrene as “prophetic” in the topics they addressed through their work, asserting that the most important aspect of punk was that women finally found a voice. Considering artists such as Jordan and Poly Styrene, as well as bands such as The Slits and The Raincoats, this would certainly seem true – the 1970s seeing these women coming to the fore and finally being heard. 

And now, nearly 50 years later, when we’ve witnessed almost a regression in politics and equal rights, the spirit of punk – and in particular these strong female voices – is needed now more than it has been for decades. 

To be honest, I hadn’t really been aware of Jordan’s prominence in the world of punk before tonight, and so her discussion with Goldman was both enlightening and inspiring. Describing how she wanted to create herself as a work of art, the way she dressed becoming a part of who she was, she explains that being self aware was a major part of being ‘punk’; it was about being aware of you are and “not giving a damn” what other people thought – a community for people who didn’t fit the mould. And, hearing her talk about her vibrant fashion choices (and work in in Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s ground-breaking boutique, SEX, then Seditionaries and, later, World’s End), and position as a woman in the industry at the time, it becomes clear just how courageous and innovative she has been. 

Discussing the writing of the book, Jordan’s co-writer Cathi Unsworth (Sounds, Bizarre, The Guardian), describes their writing process as like making a dress; together they cut and pieced together Jordan’s memories to fit a narrative. However, Unsworth asserts that this wasn’t difficult, as Jordan is just like a person she’d invent to be a heroine of a novel, her life being filled with fearless adventure and outrageous events. Whatever the process of writing, it seems to have worked; Goldman describing Defying Gravity as like a “window into the [punk] culture”. 

Asserting how “punk encapsulated everybody”, Jordan credits the gay clubs of Brighton and the role of the gay community in helping her feel comfortable in who she was, before discussing her work with Derek Jarman (he cast her as the ferocious Amyl Nitrate in his 1978 film Jubilee) – who she describes as oozing the essence of punk, as he didn’t care what anyone thought – and Adam Ant. Of the later, she recalls a night at The Roundhouse where Adam and The Ants were playing alongside X Ray Spex… 

And so to Celeste Bell and Zoë Howe (Typical Girls? The Story of the Slits; Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams & Rumours) who worked together on Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story. Having initially met Zoë when she was writing her book about children of ‘rockstars’ –‘How’s Your Dad?’ Living in the Shadow of a Rock Star Parent – Celeste decided to write a book about her mother on realising she had a large archive of material from Poly Styrene’s life, that had mostly been in the hands of her old manager prior to her death. Including artwork, diary entries, and hundreds of unrecorded lyrics, as well as letters that Celeste has since written to her mother, Howe explains that they put the memories and archive together like “one big conversation”, trying to reflect Poly’s character as much as possible. 

As well as the book, Howe and Bell have also recently been working on a documentary about Poly Styrene: Poly Styrene – I Am A Cliché. Directed by Paul Sng, the film includes never-seen-before footage of Poly throughout her life, as well as interviews with other people in the industry including Kathleen Hanna and Thurston Moore, about the great influence she had on them. We’re lucky enough to be treated to an exclusive showing of the trailer, and it looks like it’s going to be a wonderful watch! 

Resuming the discussion about the book, Celeste opens up about her mother’s struggle with having Bipolar Disorder, and other people’s perception of her as being ‘psychic’. Celeste explains that her mother was very intuitive and would soak up any energy that was around her, which would often aid her creative process – her feelings being transformed into poetry – but could be psychologically difficult to deal with. 

Celeste continues to explain that her mother had had mixed feelings about her following in her footsteps and making music; although she encouraged her daughter to learn to play instruments, she was concerned about Celeste being a woman in a sexist industry, having being affected by her own experiences. Throughout her career, for example, Poly Styrene had always been described by journalists and others in the industry as “not conventionally beautiful”, which often had a negative impact on her state of mind; as Celeste explains, her mother would get extremely frustrated by the industry’s focus on her looks rather than the work she was creating, and – in any case – she was “fucking beautiful!” no matter what anyone else said. 

Recalling another instance of the industry’s ingrained sexism, Howe describes how a certain review of an X Ray Spex show seemed to pit Poly and saxophonist Lora Logic against each other, making out that Logic was the star of the show. Celeste describes how much this upset her mother, resulting in Lora being sacked from the band. This is a prime example of how the industry has, and continues to, pit females against each other, purely because of their gender, judging them on appearance, playing on insecurities, rather than focusing on the music being created. Lora and Poly, however, reunited years later, when they were both part of the Hare Krishna movement, and even performed together at Glastonbury.

It’s not only inspiring to hear about all the incredible steps Poly Styrene took as, not only a woman, but a woman of colour, in the world of punk, but particularly moving to hear Celeste talk about her mother and their relationship. Although rose-tinted spectacles are firmly off, it’s wonderful to hear her talk about Poly Styrene not only as the innovative figure for women in music that she remains to this day, but as a mother and a person.

Hearing about both Defying Gravity: Jordan’s Story and Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story, and all the pivotal steps that these women before us have taken in a quest to be heard, leaves me feeling inspired and motivated. As Goldman said at the beginning of the evening, now is certainly the time to revive the punk spirit, to unite and overcome adversity: we need strong figures like Poly and Jordan now more than ever. 

Defying Gravity: Jordan’s Story and Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story are both out now via Omnibus Press. 

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Track Of The Day: Petrol Girls – ‘Big Mouth’

Always at the forefront when it comes to fighting for equality and fair representation; Petrol Girls have shared a powerful new video for their new single ‘Big Mouth’. Supporting the ongoing defamation case for Solidarity Not Silence – a group of women who are being silenced for speaking out against the behaviour of a man in the music industry – their new single is a necessary shout-back and a call to arms to support their activist sisters.

Vocalist Ren Aldridge explains more about the track’s context: “[Big Mouth] focuses in on voice as a physical sound that comes directly from our bodies, and also more generally as self-expression. There’s a lot of politics around who is heard and what that means, and many marginalised groups are only tolerated when they’re quiet. When they refuse this containment and control, they’re met with attempts to silence them.”

“Just one example of this is the defamation case which aims to silence the Solidarity Not Silence girls…whilst the case is ongoing, we are limited in what we can say about it, but encourage everyone to spread the word and donate to the crowdfunding campaign for their legal costs. They are determined to not allow their case to set a precedent for silencing marginalised voices in the music industry and beyond. There’s no legal aid for this kind of case – they need money to pay for their legal representation in order to pursue justice. You can get a Solidarity Not Silence t-shirt, as worn by Joe in the ‘Big Mouth’ music video, here.”

As well as Ren’s own powerful voice, the new single includes a sample of Poly Styrene’s iconic intro to X-Ray Spex’s ‘Oh Bondage! Up Yours!’- with lyrics that still resonate with activists and musicians over forty years later. ‘Big Mouth’ is taken from Petrol Girls’ upcoming album Cut & Stitch, which will be released on 24th May via Hassle Records. A companion Rough Trade Publishing ‘Edition’, written by Ren, is also available to pre-order via the band’s official store.

The band will be touring extensively from the beginning of May, including in-stores at Rough Trades in the week the album is released, tours with War On Women and La Dispute, plus appearances as festivals like The Great Escape, 2000trees and Roskilde. Watch the video for ‘Big Mouth’ below and follow Petrol Girls on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut