INTERVIEW: Nadia Javed

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 the amazing Nadia Javed (known to us as a solo artist, activist and lead singer of The Tuts) about her performance for WOW Sounds, what she’s gained from speaking to the girls in their on-going mentoring programme and the importance of talking about the “double life” of a female musician…

Hello Nadia! how are you doing? What have you been up to recently?

I had the most amazing morning even though I’m absolutely exhausted. I was on the London Eye at 8:30am mentoring sixth form girls and it was the most incredible experience, it was so much fun. I was able to give them advice and share my life story with them and it was so wholesome and vulnerable. Then I had to rush back home for a meeting at 12pm with my day job, so I went from being on this high of “life is so amazing! I’ve met all of these inspiring people!” and then my Mum messaged me to say “you’ve got a parking ticket in the post” and I was like “what is this!?” I have this double life thing. We need to talk about double life thing you know, this needs to be separate piece! I had to talk about this to the girls today. I was like “look, I’m a musician, but I have a day job still because I do have to think about how am I going to pay the bills, blah blah blah.” I was honest with them about it, because sometimes from the outside it can seem like I am a full time musician when I’m not. It’s hard. I was actually talking about balance to one of the girls, because she wants to do medicine but also do music as well, so it’s really hard to get the balance right sometimes without burning out.

It’s so much to balance isn’t it? Such extreme highs with your everyday life and the lows that come with that sometimes. I hope the parking ticket isn’t too expensive…

Tell me about your performance for WOW Sounds that you recorded at EartH in Hackney…

It was really amazing. I’ve played WOW Festival before with The Tuts on International Day Of The Girl at Southbank Centre and it was absolutely incredible. The crowd was just a sea of young girls from a local school and I felt like I was in Little Mix, because they were just going wild. So when WOW approached me again tis year, they initially wanted The Tuts to play, but we’re on a really long hiatus at the moment. I didn’t want to let the opportunity slip, so I asked how they felt about me performing solo and they were really supportive, they said they would love to have me, but with a full band behind me. At the moment with my solo stuff, it’s literally me and an acoustic guitar. I’m like the brown Ed Sheeran, except that I need to invest in a loop pedal so I can do all the stuff that he does. Although, I think KT Tunstall did the pedal thing as well back in the day, so let’s not forget about Katie…

So, I got a Ishani from Breakup Haircut to play bass and I got Christabel who’s previously been in other bands like Suggested Friends and I got another friend to jump on drums. Then I thought about which songs would sound cool live, so we did ‘My Therapist Said’ which is a very upbeat pop punk track. It’s about my journey through therapy and having a problematic white therapist who didn’t know what South Asian was, and then having a South Asian therapist who told me that I “punish men,” so that did not work well. But, good news, I do have a good therapist now! Then we did a stripped back, more emotional song called ‘I Can’t Marry You’ which is about coming out of a very long term relationship where I felt pressurised to get married to this guy because I’m Muslim and he was also Muslim. He was very nice, but he just wasn’t the one.

That all sounds great, I’m looking forward to watching your set. You mentioned that you spent the morning with a group of young girls talking about being a musician. Do you think things have improved for girls and young gender non-conforming people who want to get into music since you were a girl yourself?

I don’t know how long ago that would have been for you actually as I’m not sure how old you are…

I’m 33 now. Before, I was very secretive about my age because I was like: “I should be rich and famous by now, I should be an established pop star and rock star by now.” But the truth is, I’m not. This is the reality of how long it’s taken for me to get to where I am now. I went on my first tour with The Tuts at the age of 24 with Kate Nash and then we played Glastonbury and then we went on tour with The Selector and The Specials. Then our last gig was with Bikini Kill at Brixton Academy. I’ve played Brixton Academy three times. I don’t think there is another South Asian female Muslim punk who has played that venue three times? I sometimes have to remind myself of that when I feel really shit about myself, but the point I’m trying to make is that it has taken me to get to this age, to have this “CV” that I have, because as a woman and as a woman of colour, that’s how long I feel it has taken to get here.

I think it’s different now though. I think there’s more support in a sense, because more and more people are opening up their platforms. For example, what you do at Get In Her Ears, you platform a lot of female and non-binary artists and we have the amazing Loud Women Festival too. There are more platforms out there trying to help and I think that’s a step in the right direction. We can use social media to be activists and talk about things and protest about things that we feel passionately about. I think that change is happening, not at a super fast speed, but it is happening. I think it’s important that people just become the change that they want to see. Because, let’s be honest, white cis mediocre men are still dominating everything, so we need to make sure that we don’t let that defeat us. Instead, we need to use that anger to fuel our music and our creative passion to make the change. Keep asking for help from people and networking and connecting with people and opening it up, rather than thinking that you have to solve this problem completely on your own.

I sympathise with you there. You joked earlier that you were “the brown Ed Sheeran” and some days I find myself being furious at Ed Sheeran as one mediocre man in the music industry, rather than taking a step back and connecting with our DIY music community and focusing on what I can do as part of that community and Get In Her Ears to make things better…

I mean, mediocre men – we could do a whole other interview about that as well! We’re all doing the right things. We’re using our voices and our platforms as best we can. There’s only so fast we can move before we burnout as well. You can’t do everything.

When I was speaking to the girls earlier on today at the London eye, they asked me if I ever felt anxious or nervous before I go up on stage. It is quite stressful, but there’s also a lot of imposter syndrome out there as well. We all get it, I get it all the time, but I told the girls to just remind themselves that there’s so many mediocre white cis men out there who are just doing the same thing over and over again with an acoustic guitar. So just by you existing as you are, and me existing as I am, is a political statement in itself. That is enough. You are enough.

With this WOW mentoring scheme, it’s taught me so much about myself, because I remembered that we all know more than we think we do. We’ve all been through so much in our lives, that we all have our own individual stories. We’ve all had our own struggles and painful experiences and those things have taught us so many lessons. Then it’s in moments like this, that you realise “oh, that kind of horrific experience wasn’t so bad now, because I’ve got to share it with someone and they’ve been able to relate to it and use it to their advantage now.” So it’s quite cool actually.

That’s really solid advice. Your work with WOW is clearly important to you, but I know you work with other great organisations like the Solidarity Not Silence campaign too. Are there any other charities or non-profit groups that you recommend we check out?

I dressed up as a pregnant woman to help my friend Janey who works for Level Up last month. A pregnant woman who was supposed to take part in the campaign had to pull out last minute so I stepped in to help out. It’s such an important campaign. They’re trying to stop pregnant women from being put in prison, because even if you have a short sentence, you can get put into jail for simple things like not paying council tax or a minor first offence. There are some horrific stories of girls giving birth in their cells and their babies dying – horrific things that no one should have to go through, so we are fighting for that really big change. We need around 10,000 signatures on the petition and we’re somewhere around 7,000 now. We want there to be a huge change in the law around this issue. Sharing these stories starts a conversation and that brings about the change.

The work that organisations like Level Up do to create change is incredible, I admire their efforts and your involvement too.

Before we let you go, are there any bands or artists that you recommend we check out?

I literally have the most basic taste in music. Basically, all I know is the Spice Girls, The Libertines, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Taylor Swift and McFly. I listen to my own band’s album sometimes too!

Thanks to Nadia for the chat!

Follow Nadia Javed on TwitterInstagram

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

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

PLAYLIST: May 2021

The GIHE team have unearthed some more new music gems for you to listen to on our May Playlist! There’s an eclectic mix of indie tunes, dark-pop gems, electronic bangers and gritty guitar tracks. Take some time to scroll through our track choices below and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist at the end of this post.

Follow GIHE on Spotify to hear all of our previous playlists too.

Solidarity Not Silence – ‘This Is Sisterhood’
With members of The Tuts, Petrol Girls, Personal Best and Colour Me Wednesday collaborating, as well as a snippet of the legendary Kathleen Hanna speaking about the cause, ‘This Is Sisterhood’ sees members of the DIY feminist music community come together to raise funds for the legal costs of a group of women who are fighting a defamation claim made against them. A truly impassioned and empowering creation, ‘This Is Sisterhood’ is a totally necessary call to arms; a plea to unite in solidarity against the patriarchal norms seeking to hold us down. Find out more about the cause and how to donate here.
(Mari Lane)

LOUD WOMEN – ‘Reclaim These Streets’
LOUD WOMEN’s ‘Reclaim These Streets’ is an uncompromising feminist anthem that centers women’s experiences of harassment and fears for their safety in public spheres. The idea for the collaborative charity single was sparked by the conversations around the deaths of Blessing Olusegun and Sarah Everard, which prompted LOUD WOMEN’s founder Cassie Fox to invite a collective of female and non-binary musicians to rage alongside her on this vital musical statement. The track features over 60 female voices from the independent & alternative UK music scenes and all proceeds from the track will be donated to UK charity Women’s Aid.
(Kate Crudgington)

Deep Tan – ‘Hollow Scene’
Following their uplifting last single ‘camelot’, Hackney-based trio deep tan have now shared another stirring taste of what’s to come from their upcoming debut EP. Propelled by glitchy beats and twinkling hooks, ‘hollow scene’ captivates the ears with the vocals’ compelling seductive allure. (ML)

Krush Puppies – ‘Slay The Dragon’
Establishing themselves on the London scene for a few years now, Krush Puppies’ latest offering comes in the form of the medieval-inspired ‘Slay The Dragon’. A poignant reflection about “transcending the monsters we’ve all had to endure”, the track builds with a gritty, swirling energy and a raw, haunting majesty reminiscent of fellow London post-punkers Goat Girl. (ML)

CIRCE – ‘Going Down’
I’ve been obsessed with London-based, dark-pop sensation Circe since the release of her debut EP, She’s Made Of Saints, last year. This new offering is all about celebrating female sexuality and embracing the head-rush that comes with a new romantic infatuation. (KC)

Girl Ray – ‘Give Me Your Love’
The new single from total faves Girl Ray, ‘Give Me Your Love’ is filled with funk-fuelled beats and swirling synths, alongside the distinctive soothing allure of Poppy’s vocals. Produced and mixed by Joe Goddard and Al Doyle from Hot Chip, the track offers a more electro-driven sound than previous releases, whilst maintaining the band’s knack for creating lilting sonic delights, fizzing with plenty of vibrant, uplifting vibes and even some twinkling steel pans. Watch the new video for ‘Give Me Your Love’ here. (ML)

Ladyhawke – ‘Mixed Emotions’
This fab new single is taken from Ladyhawke’s upcoming album Time Flies, which is set for release on 8th October. It’s a buoyant exploration of the turbulent feelings you can experience with one person, sometimes over the course of a single day. (KC)

Mumble Tide – ‘Sucker’
Formed of Gina Leonard and Ryan Rogers, Bristol-based Mumble Tide originally met through a Gumtree ad and everything they create is entirely self-produced, including their own videos and artwork, proving that all you need is good company and a comfortable atmosphere to make meaningful art. (KC)

Talking Violet – ‘Superego’
The latest single from Ontario band Talking Violet, ‘Superego’ captivates the ears with its shimmering, shoegaze-inspired allure. Tackling unhealthy friendships, it flows with a brooding splendour as reverb-strewn riffs sizzle alongside dreamy harmonies, building to a perfectly scuzzy, angst-driven climax. (ML)

CIEL – ‘Never Alone’
I love this new offering from Brighton dream-pop trio CIEL. Front-woman Michelle Hindriks penned the song about her own feelings of anxiety and isolation, which will strike a chord with many of us in this post-lockdown world. (KC)

MAITA – ‘Dumb’ (Nirvana Cover)
One of my favourite Nirvana songs covered by Oregan based MAITA, fronted by Maria-Maita Keppeler. This is the second cover track the band have shared as part of iconic Riot Grrrl label Kill Rock Stars 30th anniversary celebrations. Maria said she wanted to cover ‘Dumb’ because she feels like Nirvana gave her “permission for unadulterated release” back in their heyday, and that’s what she wants listeners to embrace now. (KC)

PinkFiz – ‘Pleaser’
18 year old, Cambridgeshire artist PinkFiz penned ‘Pleaser’ after feeling the unwanted pressure of trying to satisfy someone else at the expense of her own self-esteem. This track is taken from her recent EP The World Of PinkFiz, which explores her experiences as a young, bisexual woman. (KC)

Fräulein – ‘Pretty People’
Having been winning us over since we first became pretty obsessed with last year’s single ‘Drag Behind’, South London based duo, Joni Samuels and Karsten van der Tol – aka Fräulein – have now shared their first single on Practise music, ‘Pretty People’. Reflecting on the shallow world of fashion, the track builds with a captivating dark energy and visceral, grunge-infused splendour. I cannot recommend these two strongly enough; I really think they have something wonderfully nostalgic, yet ultimately unique to offer. (ML)

Alice Hubble – ‘Power Play’
Described as “the closest thing (she’s) written to a protest song”, ‘Power Play’ is London artist Alice Hubble’s response to the #MeToo movement. Flowing with a euphoric, synth-driven energy and glitchy ‘80s-inspired musicality, it flows with Hubble’s majestic soaring vocals as the lyrics offer a poignant reflection on the disparities of sexism and gender-based violence. (ML)

SPELLLING – ‘Boys At School’
Taken from her upcoming album The Turning Wheel, set for release on 25th June via Sacred Bones, SPELLLING’s latest single sees her step back into her younger teenage self and explore feelings of angst, desire and disillusionment. I can’t wait to hear the album in full. (KC)

Janette King ft. DijahSB – ‘Cool Me Down’
The latest single from Canadian artist Janette King, ‘Cool Me Down’ flows with a funk-fuelled groove as rapper DijahSB’s gritty spoken-word lyricism complements King’s luscious, soulful vocals perfectly. What We Lost, the debut album from Janette King, is set for release 25th June via Hot Tramp Records. (ML)

Alex Loveless – ‘Idk U’
I’m a big fan of everything London-based artist Alex Loveless releases and this new super chill single is no exception. (KC)

Deap Vally ft. Jennie Vee – ‘I Like Crime’
Two names that need no introduction and a track that speaks for itself! I can’t wait to hear Deap Vally’s upcoming EP American Cockroach when it’s released on 18th June. (KC)

Tokky Horror – ‘Eden On Acid’
This banger is lifted from Liverpool-London trio Tokky Horror’s debut EP, I Found The Answers And Now I Want More, released via Alcopop! Records. It’s a wild blend of drum & bass beats, dance music rhythms and punk-infused energy and their whole EP gatecrashes multiple musical genres with pure anarchic flair. (KC)

Cherym – ‘Listening To My Head’
The new single from Derry trio Cherym, ‘Listening To My Head’ is inspired by the Netflix series Dirty John. A jangling slice of punk-pop, it’s propelled by driving beats and an uplifting, empowering energy, as swirling hooks accompany luscious angst-driven honey-sweet vocals. Oozing a wonderfully fuzzy sense of nostalgia as the tongue-in-cheek wit of the lyrical storytelling and a colourful charismatic musicality flows, ‘Listening To My Head’ is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, a clench in your fist and a spring in your step in the face of cheating men everywhere. (ML)

Fightmilk – ‘Hey Annabelle’
The latest single from faves Fightmilk, ‘Hey Annabelle’ is a perfectly scuzzy ode to an ex, oozing jangling melodies and the band’s trademark anthemic power-pop energy. Of the track the band explain: “Putting the ‘angry’ in ‘Shangri-La’s’, this is arguably our pettiest song. ‘Hey Annabelle!’ is about that very specific thing you do when you’ve split up with someone and part of moving on entails just very casually asking mutuals what they’re up to and, more importantly, whether they’re also miserable.” Contender, the new album from Fightmilk, is out now via Reckless Yes. (ML)

Track Of The Day: Solidarity Not Silence – ‘This Is Sisterhood’

“Using my platform for the greater good. I stand in solidarity, this is sisterhood.

This poignant refrain sums up all that the powerful new release from Solidarity Not Silence stands for. With members of The Tuts, Petrol Girls, Personal Best and Colour Me Wednesday collaborating, as well as a snippet of the legendary Kathleen Hanna speaking about the cause, ‘This Is Sisterhood’ sees members of the DIY feminist music community come together to raise funds for the legal costs of a group of women who are fighting a defamation claim made against them.

The Solidarity Not Silence movement was started to raise money for the legal cost for this group of women, after each of them spoke up about their accuser’s alleged abuse. A number of his former partners, as well as feminist musicians who spoke out in support, including Nadia Javed of The Tuts and Ren Aldridge of Petrol Girls, are facing a libel claim. Their case is immensely relevant in the aftermath of #MeToo and could affect legal precedent on how similar cases are treated by the law. 

And ‘This Is Sisterhood’ marks the perfect way to bring the case to people’s attention; as Nadia Javed explains: “… we’re musicians not lawyers. We can’t fight this case without the help of our lawyers, but what we can do, is use our skills and resources as musicians to tell our story, and build the momentum that we need to expand our fundraising campaign and keep covering our legal costs.”

A truly impassioned and empowering creation, ‘This Is Sisterhood’ is a totally necessary call to arms; a plea to unite in solidarity against the patriarchal norms seeking to hold us down. Starting with the glistening, honey-sweet vocals of Javed telling the story of Solidarity Not Silence, it builds with swirling riffs (courtesy of Katie from Personal Best) and a stirring energy to a rousing anthem.

As the poignant, spoken word from Ren (Petrol Girls) states some of the disturbing facts surrounding gender-based violence against the heartrending backdrop of a sweeping chorus of harmonic voices (all powerful voices from across the DIY punk community), we’re left to reflect on the track’s resonant sentiment – “When will the reputation of men stop being valued over our safety?”.

Propelled by an immense, stirring splendour, ‘This Is Sisterhood’ sends shivers down the spine with its emotion-filled sweeping power and urgent sentiment. An utterly necessary, and deeply cathartic, listen; a beautifully compelling way to bring attention to such a pressing issue, showcasing the true power of women and non-binary people coming together to unite and fight back against the powers that seek to control us.

Watch the emotive new video, created by Martyna Wisniewska and featuring footage of the community recording the track, for ‘This Is Sisterhood’ here:

Engineered by Simon Small and produced by Patrick James Pearson, ‘This Is Sisterhood’ is out now via Alcopop! Records.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Photo Credit: Martyna Wisniewska

More information about Solidarity Not Silence and the defamation case:
The group of women has been fighting this case for over four years, and is desperately trying to fundraise enough money to maintain their legal representation. Since launching their crowdfunder – and again since identities were made public – they have received an extraordinary amount of support. It seems that their case resonates with many people who have had similar experiences of being silenced by someone with more power, fame or financial backing. 
However, they have now reached a crucial point in the case, where costs are escalating rapidly. Therefore, in an attempt to reach out beyond their usual networks they wrote and recorded this powerful single, which tells the compelling story of their legal battle, in 2019 and are now releasing it into the world. Their strategy in releasing the track is twofold: firstly they hope to raise money directly through digital downloads and merch sales, but ultimately the goal is to tell their story and get as much attention, and therefore donations, to their crowdfunder as possible. 

#ThrowbackThursday: GIHE w/ The Tuts 16.03.17

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and Lockdown 2.0, we’re unable to make it in to the Hoxton Radio studio to broadcast our weekly live new music show from 7-9pm. Instead, we’re sharing previous 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 March 2017 show with feminist pop-punk trio The Tuts (aka Nadia, Beverley and Harriet.) Tash, Mari & Kate spoke to them about power-cut troubles during their Glastonbury set, the struggles of being a DIY “three tone” band, their interactions with Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill, their love for Feeder and playing for Decolonise Fest’s fundraiser in 2017. They also performed two of their tracks live in the studio.

Listen back here:

Tracklist
Candi Staton – Young Hearts Run Free
Nina Jirachi – Pure Luck
Nipah – Forever
Malka – Fell For You
Little Wise ft. Sal Kimber – Favourite Song
Shopping – Wind Up
Luuna – Soap
Pip Blom – I Think I’m In Love
Vaarwell – You
DYVR – Half Awake
H1987 – I
Caswell – Animal
Molina – Salvation
The Baby Seals – Guuurl
The Selecter – Missing Words
**The Tuts Interview & Live Session**
Stormzy – Shut Up
Tilia – Black Monday
Innacut ft. Anqui – Feel Love
Petrol Girls – Touch Me Again
Bitch Falcon – Clutch
Xy&o – What’s Love Got To Do With It
Noga Erez – Toy
Adwaith – Hall
Barbara Lewis – Hello Stranger