Guest Blog: Potpourri (‘Love Letters’ to Sisters Uncut)

In the wake of events such as the murders of Sarah Everard, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, and the recent passing of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, organisations such as Sisters Uncut have been doing vital work in uniting people to fight injustice, providing a strong voice to highlight diminishing funds and government representation that leave people vulnerable, protecting those in need.

Sheffield band Potpourri have recognised the immense of importance of Sisters Uncut, and so wanted to show their gratitude and love for the organisation by putting together ‘Love Letters’: a compilation of beautiful tunes by DIY artists who feel strongly about the cause. Including favourites such as PINS, Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business, Y.A.Y MARIA and The Crystal Furs, amongst many others, it’s a heartfelt ode to not only draw attention to Sisters Uncut’s vital work, but to raise funds for them at a time when they need it the most.

We spoke to Lauren from Potpourri about the decision to release Love Letters… Have a read and buy on bandcamp now!

Sisters Uncut is an incredible British feminist direct action group that has catalysed a current of empowerment, creating accessibility for people to come together, find the confidence to open dialogue, and express their right to be free and equal citizens. The Kill The Bill coalition established consciousness of the danger against Roma, Traveller, and Gypsy communities, and unveiled the increase of tools of state violence against communities that already bear the brunt of a racist, sexist criminal justice system.

It felt important to send love and gratitude to the people working tirelessly to end violence against women and non-binary people. Their graft couldn’t go unnoticed and we felt that if there was a way we could use our art to stand in solidarity, we would.

The lockdown meant that a fundraiser gig couldn’t take place, but we could still contribute and act in a different way to fight the rollback of human rights. I wanted our first Love Letter compilation to reflect the Sisters Uncut feministo, reaching out to female and gender-variant artists who themselves are creating gorgeous music with a DIY ethos and building their own pockets of togetherness. It was a blessing to connect with fellow bands, especially when bands haven’t been crossing paths for the last year, and together support a movement we feel so dearly about. Everyone who contributed to the cassette condemns the awful systemic violence that Sisters Uncut work so hard to draw attention to and fight against.

Massive thanks to Lauren for talking to us about this vital and beautiful compilation. Buy Love Letters on bandcamp now, and find out more about Sisters Uncut here. And below see the accompanying ‘love letter’ from all the bands involved to Sisters Uncut.

LISTEN: Dream Nails – ‘Payback’

A rallying cry against the lack of justice for survivors of sexual violence; GIHE favourites Dream Nails have shared their powerful new single ‘Payback’. Taken from their upcoming self-titled debut album, set for release 3rd April via Alcopop! Records, the track is accompanied by a poignant video showcasing the work of UK feminist activist group, Sisters Uncut.

With it’s mantra-like lyrics – “Hey mister, get your hands off my sister” – and abrasive guitar riffs, Dream Nails have created an aural call to arms that vehemently protests the rights of domestic violence survivors. The track is heavy in terms of volume and context, but as is the case for so many of Dream Nails tracks, it’s also tear-jerking because of the depressing reality behind their catchy lyricism.

Vocalist Janey Starling provides further insight: “In the UK, only 1.5% of rape cases lead to a charge or summons. ‘Payback’ is a song about how the UK criminal justice system fails survivors – and we’re angry about it. This is a country where two women are murdered every week by a partner or ex-partner. So many women have lived through sexual and physical abuse, and carry the scars and memories of that – but will never see justice for it.”

Drummer Lucy Katz adds that the single is “fuelled by fury borne from our experiences and the stories we hear from our peers, from the news, and in our day jobs. We are sick and tired of being failed and gaslit again and again by a state and a system that does not care about the continued abuse of women.”

Whilst there is a necessary and underlying rage throughout ‘Payback’, Guitarist Anya Pearson reminds us that it provides time and space to blow off some steam: “This is a tune to mosh to, throw yourself around with your sisters and non binary babes in the pit and scream the chorus: “One day we’ll make you pay””

Dream Nails are a vital force in both musical and activist societies, and their refusal to accept sub-standard treatment for their fans and their allies is why we keep returning to their music time, and time again. Watch the video for ‘Payback’ below, and follow Dream Nails on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Dream Nails UK Tour Dates 2020
10 April Cardiff, Wales Goes Pop!
11 April Leicester, The Shed
22 April St Albans, The Horn
23 April London, Oslo – Album Release Show
24 April Bristol, Louisiana
25 April Reading, Are You Listening? Festival
26 April Southampton, Heartbreakers
29 April Leeds, Oporto
30 April Manchester, Castle
02 May Edinburgh, Stag & Dagger Festival
03 May Newcastle, Hit The North
09-11 July Cheltenham, 2000Trees Festival
31 Jul – 01 Aug Oxfordshire, Truck Festival

Photo Credit: Marieke Macklon

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Gaptooth – ‘Sharp Minds, Raised Fists’

Gaptooth – singer, songwriter and producer Hannah Lucy – wears her influences on her sleeve (quite literally, if you check out the video for ‘Post-Patriarchy Disco’). And, like the feminist punk bands she loves, Sharp Minds, Raised Fists has purpose and a pure punk attitude. Yet the poppy synths, crunchy guitars and electro beats make it feel accessible, too.

And accessibility is everything when your message is so important. Gaptooth’s impassioned lyrics are a call to arms; a rallying cry against the patriarchy and capitalism. It’s hard not to get fired up by them. In ‘Red flags’, you feel and share her anger: “We wanna stay sexy and not get murdered,” she sings, “We’re still walking home with our keys in our fists.”

‘They Cut, We Bleed’ is peppered with samples from marches arranged by the feminist direct action group, Sisters Uncut. It feels ground-breaking and powerful. Meanwhile, ‘I Am Not My Productivity’ is an anti-capitalist anthem for anyone who feels like work is sucking the life out of them. And God, there’s a lot of us!

Sharp Minds, Raised Fists includes some more personal songs, too. ‘Mixtape Song’ and ‘Why I Left You Standing Outside Pizza Express’ offer an insight into both Hannah Lucy’s life and what it means to be a woman or non-binary person today.

This is an accomplished, important record. It sounds great; a real triumph of song-writing, performance and production. But more than that, it feels like Sharp Minds, Raised Fists could really inspire and empower people. It could soundtrack a movement.

You know the old adage about how everyone who attended the Sex Pistols gig at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester started a band? Similarly, perhaps this record will make people start a revolution.

Sharp Minds, Raised Fists is out 11th October. Pre-order on Bandcamp now.

Vic Conway

Photo Credit: Keira Anee Photography

Highlights Of The Year 2017

As we near the end of the year, we wanted to reflect on some of our highlights of 2017; to draw attention to the times when, despite all the shit going on in the world, women in music have inspired us, motivated us, and shown themselves to be positively awesome. So, though we don’t know what 2018 might bring, let’s celebrate these incredible women in all their patriarchy-smashing glory! 

Whilst it’s easy (and natural) to agonise about the harassment and adversity that female musicians face in the industry, it’s even more important to organise and shout back against the injustice of it all: and that’s exactly what Slowcoaches bassist & vocalist Heather Perkins did on ‘Complex’. She wrote the song as a response to the sexual assault allegations against artists in the press at the time. Singing about a male lead singer who “really needs a hand, one’s in the other, and the other’s in his pants”, Heather sounds confident in her assertion that his story “holds no weight”, and the rage and distrust in her lyrics resonated with Mari & I profoundly. (Kate Crudgington)

“Don’t let the bastards get you down, don’t let the arseholes wear you out.”
Wise words from Kesha. A woman who’s provided much inspiration for us this year in her determination in the ongoing legal battle against producer Dr. Luke, amid accusations that he “sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally” abused her for years.

After everything she’s been through this year and with the release of her latest album Rainbow – a collection of powerful and motivating anthems – Kesha’s shown herself to be a super strong inspiration of a woman. If songs like ‘Woman’ and ‘Bastards’ don’t make you want to get up, feel empowered and give a whopping middle finger up to the patriarchy, I’m not sure what will.

And, though the battle is far from over for Kesha, let’s give her credit for having the strength to speak out publicly against abusive men, giving us all a bit of inspiration to fight and not let those bastards get us down. (Mari Lane)

Since the release of their single ‘Somebody’ earlier this year, Dream Wife‘s live shows now feel twice as liberating. ‘Somebody’ is an anthem about recovery and reclaiming your body, but the trauma that lurks behind the sexual assault which sparked the song still puts a lump in my throat. Having said that, it was a sheer joy to watch Rakel, Alice & Bella perform the song to their sold out crowd at Scala in October, who echoed back Rakel’s life-affirming lyric “I am not my body, I’m somebody”. If you haven’t seem Dream Wife live yet, I urge you to come to their show at Heaven in 2018. You won’t regret it. (KC)

Having played on the Rising Stage for the last four years, it was a joy to see all-female collective Deep Throat Choir get a turn on the main Mountain Stage at Green Man Festival this year. Since I last saw them two years ago, the group had grown in both size and power. Dressed in matching vibrant oranges and pinks, they succeed in brightening a rather grey last day of the festival, treating us to a mix of covers and originals from their wonderful debut album Be OK. With everyone singing along to personal favourite ‘Baby’ being a pretty emotional highlight, it was a simply euphoric experience watching these wonderful women create such perfect, intense harmonies and sweeping vocal melodies. Epitomising the exceptional power of women coming together to create, Deep Throat Choir unite their voices to summon a force that is truly awe-inspiring. (ML)

When Wolf Alice effortlessly performed ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ under the sparkling mirror-ball lights at their Alexandra Palace headline gig in November; I swooned so hard I thought I might drown in my own heart-shaped tears. Their perfectly executed set was laced with tracks from debut record My Love Is Cool (‘Lisbon’, ‘Bros’, You’re A Germ’ & ‘Silk’) as well as a healthy dose of new material from second album Visions Of a Life, (‘Heavenward’, ‘Formidable Cool’ & vicious lead single ‘Yuk Foo’). I’ve seen them live many times before, but I left Ally Pally feeling confident I’d witnessed something special, and I’ll definitely be catching them again in 2018.(KC)

Whilst the #MeToo campaign this year has signalled the start of a change for the better – bringing the issue of violence against women into the public eye, with perpetrators (finally) beginning to see some consequences to their actions – domestic violence against women and children continues to occur every minute of every day. And, with the government continuing to make life-threatening cuts to vital services, charities like Feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut are more necessary now than ever. 

Gaptooth‘s latest single ‘They Cut We Bleed’ celebrates the work of Sisters Uncut; featuring powerful footage from their protests, it rages against the government with a frenzied, impassioned energy and powerful force. With shades of the likes of Le Tigre or MEN, it’s the perfect call to arms that we need now more than ever. Drawing our attention to the issue with the raw honesty of horrific facts and figures (“In the UK on average two women a week are murdered by a partner or ex-partner…”), accompanied by catchy, whirring beats, Gaptooth offers an empowering voice for all we should be saying right now; inspiring us to get up, unite and take action to create the positive change that so urgently needs to happen. (ML)

It feels odd to call this a ‘highlight’, but I want to include it here because I remember reading the statement and thinking “YES! GOOD FOR HER!”. High profile women like Kesha, Alice Glass & Taylor Swift publicly called out the men who had abused or sexually harassed them this year, and it paved the way for female musicians in smaller bands to do the same.

Estrons vocalist Tali Källström used the band’s Facebook page to inform fans that Paul Draper had sent her inappropriate messages prior to their dates supporting his band, and consequently she’d decided to cancel the shows. She wrote: “I have experienced sexism, misogyny and prejudice, but this time, enough is enough. I will not pander because I want success. I was asked to sweep this under the carpet, but I can’t. I want to play alongside musicians that respect me and like me for my music and personality, not because they are sexually interested in me.” Tali is a fierce front-woman who’s not afraid to ask for more, and I hope her words have inspired other women in the industry to speak out against similar types of behaviour. (KC)

We’ve been big fans of Julie Hawk for a while now – writing songs with her band HAWK that draw attention to reproductive rights and the mistreatment of women in her Irish homeland. However, this year – in addition to continuing to create powerfully enchanting music – she started a new creative venture, ‘Female Fronted, Drawn Together’. 

Putting together a playlist of wonderful female artists, new and old, who have inspired her in some way, she created a unique illustration to accompany each song. Including some of our favourites – Bitch Falcon, Dream Nails, Skinny Girl Diet, PINS and The Julie Ruin – it’s provided the perfect, empowering soundtrack to 2017. Julie has now started the next instalment of ‘Female Fronted Drawn Together’, and we urge you to check out all her wonderful illustrations on her Instagram page.(ML) 

Listen to our Get In Her Ears Highlights Of 2017 playlist, including our Tracks Of The Year and songs from our favourite Albums Of The Year.

 

Mari Lane / @marimindles 
Kate Crudgington / @kcbobcut