Interview: Celeste Bell

With the release of the documentary Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché set for early next month, we caught up with Celeste Bell – Poly’s daughter and co-director of the film (along with Paul Sng) – to talk about the inspirations behind the film, her relationship with her mother and the sexism that still prevails in the music industry. Currently based in Barcelona, where it sounds as though things are a little less fraught than in the UK right now, Celeste seems in good spirits – looking forward to the film’s release, despite not being able to promote it in the usual face-to-face ways. 

Anglo-Somali artist and punk maverick Poly Styrene (or Marion Elliott as she was born), 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 includes never-seen-before footage of Poly throughout her life, and tells her moving story predominantly through the eyes of her daughter, Celeste. 

Discussing the inspiration to make the film, Celeste explains that it was the idea for the book Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story that came first – a collection of archives put together and written about by author Zoë Howe (Typical Girls? The Story of the Slits; Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams & Rumours) and Celeste. “The original inspiration for the book was my mother’s diary entries. She had created a retrospective look of writing the album Germ Free Adolescents – for each track she had written a short diary entry, which she planned to publish all together with the title ‘Diary Of The Seventies’…”  Sadly, Poly Styrene passed away before she was able to do this, but sharing it has always been something that Celeste has wanted to do – “… And so I decided it would be nice to match the diary entries with her artwork. She had done all the artwork for the band herself, including an amazing collection of original posters and art she’d done by hand.” That’s when Celeste decided to get in touch with Zoë Howe: “I knew Zoë as she had interviewed me for a book before (How’s Your Dad? Living In The Shadow Of A Rockstar Parent). She interviewed me for that in 2008/9 backstage at a gig at Cargo – my mum was actually there in the audience. And I just have a clear memory of Zoë being a really lovely person, and that’s why I wanted to work with her again.”

It was whilst Zoë and Celeste were working on the book that the idea for a film came about: “Zoë introduced me to Paul Sng – the co-director of I Am A Cliche – who was looking to make a music documentary, and he had asked Zoë if she had any recommendations, and she mentioned our project. And it went from there – after that first meeting, two months later we’d started our crowdfunding campaign. It was like a runaway train – things moved very quickly after that. So, the first book project was actually happening in parallel to planning the film.”

For those of you that haven’t seen the book, Dayglo really is a wonderful collection: featuring some incredible artwork by Poly, alongside some stirring insight into her personality and life through diary entries and letters, it’s not only a moving read, but a visually exciting journey. Of her mum’s artistic skill, Celeste explains: “She had never had any formal art training – she was always self taught, and just had a natural creative ability. She did go to drama clubs and performing arts when in school, that was mainly what she was into as a child. But she just seemed to have a natural gift for visual art. And not just visual art, but also fashion design – anything she put her mind to, she was good at!” 

The film Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché draws on the diary entries used in the book, as well as Celeste’s own memories, and plenty of never-seen-before footage of Poly throughout her life. “A big part of the journey of making the film was sourcing archive. This was very challenging as we obviously wanted to use as much archive from the time as possible, to bring my mum to life. There were a few sources that we had to go to and we used, for example the Arena documentary made in 1979 Who Is Poly Styrene? – there’s great footage that we used from that. There were also various other bits of my mum performing, in Top Of The Pops and things and interviews that she did at the time. There was also a great interview from ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Company), so we used footage from that.” As well as sourcing this archive, Celeste and Paul were also gifted some unseen footage of Poly Styrene by the widow of her manager, who had happened to also be filmmaker and shot a lot of her and the band throughout the time they were together. “So, we had lots of different archive sources, but it was challenging in terms of finding everything that was out there and then negotiating with the various owners in terms of paying for it, except for the archive we were gifted. Gathering it all together was a big part of the journey of making the film – it probably took us a lot longer to do this than to actually shoot contemporary footage.”

Throughout the film, it is evident what a pivotal figure Poly Styrene was, and continues to be. In addition to interviews with those that knew her personally, it features various people from the industry (including Kathleen Hanna, Pauline Black, Neneh Cherry) talking about her and the impact that she has had on their lives. Celeste explains the process of choosing those who they featured in the film: “We got in touch with the people that we wanted to interview. There were three categories of people that we interviewed: People who knew my mum – so contemporaries of hers in the punk scene, for example – or musicians who had worked with her; then friends and family – people who knew her in a more intimate way; then the third category was people who didn’t necessarily know my mum, but who were inspired by her – we learnt who they were through research, they may have mentioned being fans of hers in an interview, for example.”

Going through all this footage of her mum, and hearing people talk about her so fondly, was both an emotional and cathartic process for Celeste. Throughout the film, it’s not only inspiring to hear about all the incredible steps Poly Styrene took as a woman of colour in the world of punk, but it’s particularly moving to hear Celeste talk about her mother and their relationship. 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. Of the process of gathering all the information for the film together, Celeste adds: “Looking at all the interviews together and the process of writing the script (Zoë Howe and I were writing script for the film whilst making the book) really helped me build a much clearer picture of who my mother was before I was born – this whole process of researching and discovering really enabled me to understand my mum a little better.

Alongside the interviews, throughout the film extracts from Poly Styrene’s diary are narrated by the actor Ruth Negga (Preacher, Loving, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D ). Of the decision to cast Negga as the voice of her mother, Celeste explains: “It was a really fortuitous moment – one of those moments that fate puts in your path. I met Ruth Negga on a night out in 2017 or 2018, and it was shortly after we’d started on the film project. I was in Soho with my cousin Soloman – we’d been out, and just ran into her in the street. My cousin is very outgoing and a great people-person – he just started speaking to her, and it came up about my mum. Ruth said that she was a huge fan and my mum was inspirational to her. So, we ended up spending the evening with her and we had a great time. After that night I thought to myself that Ruth would be a great person to do my mum’s voice.” Although originally the plan had been for Celeste to narrate the diary entries, she then decided that this could get confusing as you hear her voice a lot throughout the film anyway, so a different voice was needed. “Ruth is such a great actress. She is so talented, and she was able to really nail my mum’s voice. I think it was the right choice, I can’t think of anyone else who would have done it justice in the way that she did.”

It is through these diary entries and Celeste’s own memories that we gain a poignant insight into Poly Styrene’s ongoing struggle with mental health difficulties throughout her life. Eventually diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, after a previous damaging mis-diagnosis of Schizophrenia, the film charts her difficulty with being in the public eye, so often scrutinised by the media. One diary entry references her feeling that being “broke and famous was the worst of both worlds”, and we see that this feeling eventually culminated in her deciding that “Poly Styrene had to die so that Marion Elliott could survive”, bringing an end to her time in X Ray Spex. Discussing what may have triggered her mother’s breakdowns and deterioration in mental health, Celeste reflects: “The general experience of being in the public eye and having that brush with fame I think really tipped her over the edge. She was predisposed to having a mental illness – she told me that there were signs when she was very young, and she always had an understanding that there was something not quite right. But I think that if she’d never been in a band and hadn’t had that success and fame, I don’t think that it would have necessarily manifested as a full-blown disorder.” 

Throughout I Am A Cliché, Celeste also talks about her own experience of having a mother with Bipolar Disorder and the difficulties this could bring, including having to go and live with her grandmother on and off throughout her childhood. However, as is somewhat tragically highlighted in the film, her and her mother’s relationship changed as she got older; they became closer, working together to create Poly Styrene’s final album Generation Indigo, and Celeste even joined her mum on stage at the Roundhouse in 2008 – the footage of which is particularly moving, clearly a moment of joy and pride for them both. Talking about the experience of working together, Celeste tells me: “It was a great experience – we had a lot of fun. My mum was in a really good place when she was writing the songs, and we wrote a couple of songs together. And it was just pure fun. My mum didn’t put too much pressure on herself that time.” Having always felt an enormous amount of pressure in terms of having approval within the industry throughout her career previously, and having been very affected by criticism, by the time she started working on Generation Indigo, Poly seemed to be a lot more relaxed and comfortable with who she was – “… She’d reached a place of acceptance. And it was just a real pleasure for me to be on that journey with her and participate and see her in that environment – to see her be happy, relaxed with it, and it not stressing her out. It was just a joy to work with her and Youth, the producer – we would go to his home studio, which was a very warm and comforting environment. It was very different from going into a more corporate recording studio. So, the whole experience was very enjoyable.” Despite Generation Indigo being a step away from the raw punk sounds of X Ray Spex, its eclectic fusion of genres, futuristic themes and vibrant energy are equally as innovative as Poly Styrene’s previous projects and imply that she would have shared a lot more creativity had she lived longer. “I think after making that album she had a new lease of life and was feeling a lot more positive about the music industry. She’d had so many negative experiences before, that I think it took a lot for her to say ‘right, I’m ready to start making music again’. So, I think that if she hadn’t gotten sick, she would have continued to make music without a doubt. Hopefully she’s still making music, wherever she is now…” I’m sure she is. 

Poly Styrene was, and continues to be, a role model for many – as such an innovative woman in music, and a woman of colour, at a time when ingrained sexism was rife in the industry. We see snippets in the film of interviews with her, comprising questions that seemed to focus solely on her appearance or relationships rather than what she was creating, and she was repeatedly described as “not conventionally beautiful” in the media – something which understandably was a source of much frustration for her, and affected her own self-esteem. And the moments in the film where you see how explicitly she was treated differently from her male peers are certainly some of the most powerful – Celeste expands: “… The scrutiny that she came under from journalists and the focus on her physical appearance was really tough. There’s a moment in the film when my mum recalls that the record label had slimmed down her image on the Germ Free Adolescents cover – the cover where they’re in the test tubes. That really upset her. Also, there was this insinuation that she was big or chubby, but she wasn’t at all – she was actually very petite, just curvy. She just had a natural woman’s body! Even though she never played on being sexy and never wanted to use her body, she still came under all this scrutiny about the way she looked and it had a huge impact on her and her self esteem. It was something she was struggling with throughout her life – feeling that she wasn’t pretty enough or slim enough, or feeling that she had to make herself more elegant. So much attention was on her and the way she looked. Even though she was this prolific writer with so many important things to say, journalists would often ask her really stupid questions about why she wore braces and whether the braces were real, as well as comments about her being frumpy, or questions about her romantic life.”

It’s easy now for us to dismiss the way that Poly Styrene was treated by the media as symptomatic of society’s attitudes towards women in the ‘70s, of how sexist the music industry used to be, but Celeste feels that this is still very much an issue for female artists today: “It hasn’t changed for women. It hasn’t got better – it’s still the same bollocks. It’s a huge issue. In fact it may be even worse today.” A strong statement, but one which is hard to disagree with, and is evidenced by the fact that organisations such as ourselves at Get In Her Ears are necessary today: we’re forever fighting the ingrained sexism and sexualisation of women that is still so rife in the industry. “Women are more sexualised than ever. We’re sexualising ourselves. But you have to ask why – why are so many successful women today so overly sexualised? If you think about any pop star in the last twenty years – whenever they’ve put on a bit of weight, they’ve all ended up losing weight again, getting surgery. There’s always this beautifying journey. It always happens. It’s almost impossible to resist. It’s easy enough to sit back and say ‘I would never do that, I would never get surgery etc’. It’s easy to say when you’re not on the screen, when your picture isn’t everywhere all the time.” Reflecting on this begs the question, how can we go about changing this? “This won’t change until society changes. A drastic structural change. Entertainment just reflects society. Until we see some major societal shifts in how women are perceived in society, I don’t think it’s going to get any better in the music industry.” 

A somewhat depressing, but undeniably true, thought. However, the fact that we have strong role models to look to, such as Poly Styrene, is a definite comfort – the pivotal steps that these women before us have taken in a quest to be heard continues to inspire and motivate me every day. The songs that Poly wrote still seem so relevant and her lyrics are so poignant today, perhaps more so than ever before – take ‘Germ Free Adolescents’, for example – Celeste’s current favourite song of her mother’s: “It’s the most perfect song for this age of ‘antiseptic’, where we are all germaphobes and kind of OCD all of a sudden. Mum was actually inspired by OCD for the song, which wasn’t something that was talked about back in the ‘70s, but something that she was well aware of. So, ‘Germ Free Adolescents’ definitely seems like a very prescient choice.” It does – such a poignant and prescient sentiment when looking back now, and further evidence that Poly Styrene was somewhat ahead of her times in her awareness of mental health struggles and associated issues. 

Continuing to inspire women in music years on from the release of Germ Free Adolescents back in 1978, I wonder what current bands or artists Poly Styrene would be a fan of today. “There are so many great bands out there at the moment….”, Celeste begins, “I really love Big Joanie –  they’re just lovely people as well a great band, which helps! There are so many great underground punk bands around right now – Screaming Toenail are another one that I like. A really fabulous band.” Both fantastic bands that we love and promoted many times here at Get In Her Ears! “And there are so many artists that I see and can see my mum in them – often more in the pop world. People forget that X Ray Spex was more of pop-punk band really – very catchy, quite commercially successful. They did really well in the charts. So, Billie Eilish, for example – I see a lot of parallels with my mum in her. The main parallel being in the way she refuses to dress like a more ‘conventional’ pop star, and also the way the media have responded to that. Sadly, she seems to face the same sort of problems that my mum faced about her appearance now.”  Again, although the issue of the sexualisation of women in the industry continues to be a problem, there are plenty of women who are going against these patriarchal expectations of them and not holding in back in being who they want to be – “I see a lot of my mum in all these maverick, very independent women that are making music on their own terms: people like MIA, Grimes… There are just so many powerful women in music who are really original.” There really are, and I’m sure this is – in part – thanks to the innovative women, like Poly Styrene, that have paved the way for them in the industry. 

Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché is both emotion-driven and informative; an insightful and poignant look at a true pioneer. It is not only deeply moving to hear Poly’s story and Celeste reflect on her mother’s life, but seeing some of the original footage of her playing live – the vibrant energy and ferocious charisma that she brought both on and off stage – is truly joyous; an inspiration to watch. As well as looking back, the film highlights how far the industry and society’s attitudes towards women still have to go, and evokes a feeling of motivation, a desire 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. In the words of Poly Styrene: “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!”.

Massive thanks to Celeste for taking the time to talk to us!

Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché is directed by Celeste Bell and Paul Sng, and will be released via Modern Films from Friday 5th March. By purchasing a ‘virtual ticket’, viewers will be able to support a participating local independent cinema – the revenue will be shared with the venue. The World Premiere is the week before at the Glasgow Film Festival (details here). And, if you like the film and want to find out more about Poly Styrene, I strongly recommend you also check out the beautiful book Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story (by Zoë Howe and Celeste Bell), still available to buy now.

 

Mari Lane
@marimindles

PLAYLIST: Galentine’s Day 2021

Grrrls, it’s one of the best days of the year – GALENTINE’S DAY! Coined by Parks and Recreation character Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) back in 2010, Galentine’s has since been recognised by girls across the globe and used as a light-hearted platform to celebrate the girls and women who enrich our lives.

To celebrate, we’ve chosen tracks from some of the many female-identifying artists who inspire us and we’ve put them all together in one big playlist. We’re all about self-love & sisterly (not just cis-terly) love today, so scroll down, press play and share the Galentine’s joy!

 

Bikini Kill – ‘Rebel Girl’
This one goes out to my GIHE gals, Tash and Kate! A song about having the coolest best friend, by ultimate heroes Bikini Kill, you should listen to it at full volume and celebrate all the “queens” of your world this Galentine’s. (Mari Lane)

Nova Twins – ‘Thelma & Louise’
An iconic duo singing about another iconic duo! The GIHE team love everything that Nova Twins are about. Not only do they make genre-defying, loud music that makes our cells scream, the pair are vocal about the lack of visibility and support for women of colour in the heavy & alternative music scenes. They’re releasing a new compilation album on Blood Records titled Voices Of The Unheardwhich aims to spotlight just some of the amazing artists of colour in the scene who deserve more recognition. Featuring tracks by Big Joanie and The OBGMs, it’s set to be a superb listen and all profits will be going to The Black Curriculum too.  (Kate Crudgington)

X-Ray Spex – ‘Oh Bondage! Up Yours!’
We are all so, so, so excited to see the new documentary Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché that celebrates the life of the X-Ray Spex frontwoman. This track always reminds me of GIHE and  Tash & Mari when I hear it. I’m very grateful for all the hard work and friendship they put into running this platform with me. (KC)

T-Bitch – ‘Dressing Up’
Southend-based feminist punks T-Bitch deliver a much needed dose of defiant self confidence on this belter of a track. If you can’t dress up on Galentine’s Day, when can you? Underscored by a strong and necessary message of support for trans women, ‘Dressing Up’ is a middle finger to anyone who tries to stop you from being your true self. As the band put it: “It’s not about pleasing them, it’s about pleasing yourself / Fuck those insecurities, leave them on the shelf!” (KC)

The Other Ones – ‘Forever Young’
The latest single from GIHE faves The Other Ones, ‘Forever Young’ races with a swirling, euphoric energy, oozing a sunny sense of nostalgia with honey-sweet harmonies and scuzz-filled riffs. This uplifting anthem is an irresistibly catchy slice of shimmering punk-pop, reflecting on how “anything feels possible” when you have the right person with you. (ML)

Diet Cig – ‘Roadtrip’
Flowing with Alex Luciano’s luscious honey-sweet vocals, infectious jangly melodies and all the twinkling energy I need now more than ever, Diet Cig’s ‘Roadtrip’ (taken from 2017 album Swear I’m Good At This) reflects on a fun, carefree trip across the country with friends, with nostalgia-inducing lyrics and an uplifting sunny charm. What I wouldn’t give for a roadtrip with loved ones right now…! (ML)

Chastity Belt – ‘Joke’
This was one of the bands I discovered at the start of GIHE, all those years ago, and it just reminds me so much of what it was like at the start of it all. All these years on here’s to my two GIHE gals Mari & Kate, and all of the jokes we’ve had along the way. (Tash Walker)

ARXX – ‘The Cat Song’
At first listen, a song about appreciating our feline friends (which I have done LOADS throughout the last year, as any of my Instagram followers/Poppy fans will be aware), I think this cute song from our fave gal duo ARXX is also about the love we have for our friends. As Hanni sings “I’m going to hold you up like this”, I think of how my friends hold me up throughout the bad times and good. And there’s added actual cat sounds – what’s not to love?! (ML)

Vagabon – ‘Every Woman’
Over the last year, I’ve completely immersed myself in the soothing sounds of Laetitia Tamko, aka Vagabon. And this song seems the perfect ode to all the strong women in your life this Galentine’s. As Tamko’s rich distinctive vocals soar with a reassuring tenderness, reflecting on how “all the women I meet are tired…” she speaks out for all women who have been told they are not enough as they are, offering a gentle cathartic release for all of us ‘gals’ who are so tired of patriarchal norms. (ML)

Girlhood – ‘It Might Take A Woman’
Tash introduced me to the glorious sounds of Girlhood last year and we were lucky enough to have vocalist Tessa join us for a Zoom chat for one of our radio shows too. I remember the call so clearly, because Tessa’s passion for her music radiated through the screen. She was such a joy to talk to. She also paid me a very nice compliment when I was trying to pose for a promo screenshot we were taking. An absolute babe through and through. (KC)

Queen Latifah ft. Monie Love – ‘Ladies First’
After I kept going on about listening to the Slowburn Podcast about 2Pac & Biggie Smalls, Mari kindly recommended I watch Netflix’s documentary Hip Hop Evolution. It’s an epic look back at the origins and development of the genre, featuring big names and many artists who I didn’t know anything about. One name that did strike a chord though was Queen Latifah. She released this track in 1989 with Monie Love and it’s an empowering BANGER. These lyrics say it all: “Some think that we can’t flow / Stereotypes, they got to go / I’m a mess around and flip the scene into reverse / (With what?) With a little touch of Ladies First” (KC)

Aretha Franklin & Annie Lennox – ‘Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves’
It it even a Galentine’s playlist if this absolute classic isn’t on it? These two talented women coming together to sing about equality and independence never fails to make me feel good. It may have been released in 1985, but the lyrics are just as relevant today. (KC)

CMAT – ‘I Wanna Be a Cowboy, Baby!’
This charming slice of country-pop from Irish artist CMAT is a heartfelt, witty lament about urban isolation and wanting to be free from societies patriarchal shackles. She just wants to exist with the confidence of a cowboy, unafraid to down a whiskey at the bar and stagger home safely. “Wanna go to my first rodeo, what’s that cracked up to be? / I wanna stop relying on men who are bigger than me” she sings, pining for the freedom that’s naturally afforded to men, but rarely extended to women. I love everything CMAT releases and will continue to stalk her on Twitter for the rest of 2021. (KC)

Piney Gir – ‘Puppy Love’
With fond memories of Piney Gir charming our ears at the last gig we hosted on Valentine’s Day last year, ‘Puppy Love’ oozes a honey-sweet romanticism and shimmering catchy melodies. Nostalgically harking back to the simpler times of crushes and the pain of first (‘Puppy’) love, the track also reflects on the common metaphor for depression – the ‘Black Dog’ – its all-consuming nature, and the struggles of mental health. A poignant and infectious offering, it could just be the perfect, bitter-sweet, accompaniment to the mixed feelings that go hand in hand with the love-filled celebrations of the next couple of days. (ML)

Girl Ray – ‘Friend Like That’
An ode to friendship, ‘Friend Like That’ flows with the trio’s colourful energy as jangly syncopated beats flow alongside the distinctive soothing allure of Poppy Hankin’s vocals and funk-filled pop-inspired hooks, creating a dreamily uplifting offering. Of the track, the band explain: “This is a friendship anthem. Reminds us of a really smashing high five with great contact. In music, friend love is often overshadowed by romantic love and IT’S JUST WRONG. This one goes out to the mates of the world.” (ML)

Chromatics – ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’
A great cover of a great track. ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ always reminds me of a story about this 60 year old Italian woman who walked into her local fire station as she was having trouble with her lock. When the firemen asked the woman where she lived, thinking she’d locked herself out of her house, she lifted her sweater and showed them her chastity belt. (TW)

Beckie Margaret – ‘Divine Feminine’
“’Divine Feminine’ is a song for people who stop you reaching your highest self,” explains Essex songwriter Beckie Margaret. Through her commanding sounds and effortless vocal delivery, Margaret elegantly balances her emotions as she warns those trying to silence her to “stay out of my way.” I absolutely love everything this young woman writes and I can’t wait to hear her debut album, which she’ll be releasing through Cool Thing Records at some point in the future. (KC)

Carole King – ‘You’ve Got A Friend’
Celebrating its 50th birthday this year, Carole King’s Tapestry continues to be one of my most favourite albums. It’s my mum’s favourite too, and I have many memories of singing along with this uplifting message of unity and platonic love with her over the years, both reaching for the tissues when we saw it live in the musical Beautiful. So, this heartfelt anthem goes out to her, my all time favourite gal, who inspires me every day and I miss so much right now. (ML)

CIRCE – ‘Ten Girls’
London based dark-pop artist Circe is inspired by the films of David Lynch, the brutality of Margaret Atwood’s fiction and the soundtracks to Stranger Things and Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo & Juliet. This single takes its title from a quote from The Handmaid’s Tale. Of the track, Circe explains: “[Atwood’s novel] is a poetic but disturbing view of women living in a dystopian oppressive world. This chimes with my own fractured generation of cancel culture, swipes of sex, and revenge porn.” I’m obsessed with Circe’s debut EP She’s Made Of Saints, which is full of sweeping, cinematic gems. (KC)

Robyn – ‘Dancing On My Own’
‘Dancing On My Own’, and what’s wrong with that!? Often I prefer to dance on my own. More space. Robyn is also an outspoken ally for LGBTQ+ rights, and we all know romance isn’t just for the heterosexuals out there! So whether you honour Galentine’s, Valentine’s, or even Palentine’s Day; make sure you have a good old dance. (TW)

Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande – ‘Rain On Me’
I am dying to hear this on a dance-floor at some point! Until then, I’ll settle for my new flatmate Rachel telling Alexa to play it at random intervals during the day. (KC)

Lizzo – ‘Like A Girl’
Turning the common derogatory phrase ‘Like A Girl’ on its head to create something wonderfully empowering, this is another ferociously fun offering from GIHE fave, Lizzo. With references to other powerful women of colour, including Lauryn Hill and Serena Williams, it’s the perfect ode to the power of being female and the power felt when women unite. So, this Galentine’s Day, I’ll leave you with the Lizzo’s words of wisdom: “If you fight like a girl, cry like a girl, do your thing, run the whole damn world”. An ultimate feel-good anthem for women everywhere. (ML)

Lotic – ‘Burn A Print’
With a name that means to “to inhabit rapidly moving water,” Lotic’s chaotic yet fluid soundscapes truly embody her passionate, fighting spirit. Her mission is to “live life to the fullest by not giving a fuck about what anybody thinks” and she communicates that with defiant flair on this track. (KC)

Britney Spears – ‘If U Seek Amy’
I just thought that this Galentine’s Day would be a good opportunity to show some solidarity with wonder woman Britney Spears. I’m sure most of you have heard about the new documentary ‘Framing Britney Spears’ – a film investigating the conservatorship arrangement that has been in place since 2009, declaring Spears unfit to manage her own personal affairs, and the grossly unfair ways in which she has been treated over the years. With her independence being so extremely restricted by a terrifying patriarchal system (and her own father), it highlights the awful ways that society can find to assert control over women. This Galentine’s Day, and all other days, we stand with the #FreeBritney campaign by singing along to one of her most controversial songs. (ML)

Destiny’s Child – ‘Girl’
I re-watched the video for this Destiny’s Child track recently with tears in my eyes, because they’re just so nice to Kelly in it?! The bit where Beyoncé wipes the tear from her cheek… *sobs* This 2004 banger pure girl power all the way through. (KC)

#ThrowbackThursday: GIHE first radio show! (04/02/15)

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.

As we’re celebrating our sixth anniversary of being on air this week, we’ve chosen to share our first ever radio show! Broadcast on 4th February 2015, this show marked the first time Mari & Tash were live in the studio together, originally branded as ‘The Gigslutz Girls‘ as Mari was their New Music Editor at the time. They were joined by “the face of Gigslutz TV” Caitlin for a Valentine’s special, so the trio picked some of their top love (and not so loving) songs alongside tracks from their favourite female artists.

Thanks to everyone who’s supported the Get In Her Ears team since 2015. We’ve grown from a monthly radio show into a multi-platform organisation dedicated to sharing and celebrating the music of women & non-binary artists. Here’s to another 6 years of that!

Listen back here:

Tracklist
Queen Of Japan – I Was Made For Lovin’ You
X-Ray Spex – Oh Bondage, Up Yours!
Blondie – One Way Or Another
Alvvays – Marry Me
Letters To Cleo – I Want You To Want Me
FKA Twigs – Two Weeks
The Distillers – The City Of Angels
Grace Jones – Pull Up To The Bumper
Lizzo ft. Sophia Eris – Batches & Cookies
Brandy – I Wanna Be Down
Bikini Kill – Rebel Girl
Carole King – (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
PINS – Waiting For The End
Tweet ft. Missy Elliott – Oops (Oh My)
Kate Bush – Sexual Healing (Marvin Gaye cover)
Kill J – You Have Another Love
Imogen Heap – Hide And Seek
Sleater-Kinney – Buy Her Candy
Prince – Forever In My Life
Patti Smith – Because The Night
Beyoncé – All The Single Ladies (remix)
Salt ‘N’ Pepa – Whatta a Man
Jocelyn Brown – Somebody Else’s Guy
The Selecter – Missing Words
The Slits – Typical Girls

#ThrowbackThursday: GIHE w/ ESYA (Ayse Hassan) 11.07.19

Due to the current lockdown/coronavirus situation, 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 & chats with some of our favourite artists each week.

Today, we’ve picked our July 2019 show with ESYA, the solo project of Ayse Hassan (Savages, Kite Base, 180db). She spoke to Kate & Mari about her second EP, Absurdity Of ATCG (I), and her upcoming gig supporting Bo Ningen at The Shacklewell Arms in August 2019. If you are able to support ESYA during this difficult time, you can buy merch from her bandcamp page.

Listen back to the show here:

Featured Artists
X Ray Spex
Beckie Margaret
NIMMO
Petite Meller
Grawl!x
Pongo
Deep Deep Water
The Eyelids
Duck
Grapefruit
Life Is Better Blonde
Dude York
Zamilska
ESYA
Giungla
Jenny Hval
Salad
Gauche
Smaller Hearts
Atelier Blue
Mauno
Emma McGrath
GEISTE
HEALTH (feat. Soccer Mommy)
Zola Jesus
Planningtorock