Whilst we’re all about seeing the women of the world, and of the music world up on the stage, like all industries and well oiled machines there are those ensuring that everything runs smoothly.

Just last year music title, Pitchfork, ran a gender balance enquiry into the festival line ups, and surprise surprise… it was unbalanced. Now whilst there are various factors that may effect this, the festivals, and 23 major ones, have been making more of an effort to ensure that this is changing. In fact a vast majority of them have shown an increase in female, and in fact all genders on their bills. So who better to talk to then the women themselves that are helping to shape the field sized events?

Katarzyna Jaskows

FESTIVAL ASSISTANT – 2000 TREES / ARCTANGENT FESTIVAL

WHICH WOMEN, BOTH IN AND OUT OF THE INDUSTRY HAVE HAD THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOU? 

“I have a lot of extremely talented friends in bands and working in the industry. Seeing them excel everyday in what they do gives me huge amounts of inspiration. Goc O’Callaghan, one of the directors of Arctangent Festival has been a huge part of my career, by organising the festival that inspired me to work in the music industry in the first place, literally giving me a job and also being one of the first people to take me aside and be like “you’re great at this! You can do this!” which really stuck with me. Goc and the rest of the team are just incredible and have been a great support to me. It’s a really special community. The festival and the scene around it has had some stigma of being a bit of a boys club but there are some of the most hardworking and passionate women I’ve ever met behind the scenes that make it.

My biggest personal influence has to be Kim Gordon. Sonic Youth are pioneers but as well as that she’s also a revolutionary, bad-ass feminist that rejects and embraces femininity on her own terms. Her book ‘Girl in a Band’ is essential reading!”

WHY IS IT MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER BEFORE FOR FEMINISM TO HAVE A PRESENCE IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?

“There’s a lot of friction in the music industry right now regarding feminism, the #metoo movement has spearheaded a lot of people coming forward about their experiences and it’s an incredibly important conversation to have. What is and isn’t acceptable is being talked about more which is awesome but a lot of the time it feels like it’s met with hostility. Having well informed conversations about what feminism really means is very important right now. There’s a bit of friction when it comes to all female line ups and the whole “women in music” thing but it shouldn’t have to be like that. It’s not a level playing field and there’s a lot of work to be done until all women are equal in an industry that has been male dominated for so long. There’s obviously been a lot of progress but we’re not there yet.”

“Women are still seen as a novelty in music…”

WHO ARE SOME OF THE MOST INSPIRING, IMPORTANT AND INNOVATIVE WOMEN IN MUSIC RIGHT NOW?

“I have to say Goc O’Callaghan again. Cathy Pellows, the founder of Sargent House which is a label with probably the best roster ever (including some incredible experimental female artists such as Chelsea Wolfe, Emma Ruth Rundle and Brutus just to name a few). Serena Cherry of Svalbard is also hugely inspirational, she’s out there fighting the good fight of addressing sexism in the metal scene (and industry in general). I’m a massive fan of pop music and I feel like we’re really lucky to have some awesome women dominating the charts right now such as St Vincent, Lady Gaga, Grimes, Lorde, Ariana Grande and Jenelle Monae.”

WHAT IS STILL ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS FOR WOMEN IN MUSIC RIGHT NOW? HOW DO WE OVERCOME IT?

“It’s hard to say because everyone has different experiences at different levels of the industry. A lot of it boils down to mutual respect. Women are still seen as a novelty in music a lot of the time with the term “female fronted” still being thrown around even though it’s bullshit. It’s little things like being called the “merch girl” even through you’re the promoter, or assuming you’re at a gig because your boyfriend’s there or having the festival you work at be explained to you or being told you can get a gig “because you’re a girl”. A lot of the time it’s little things like that but for a lot of people I know they have a lot more serious negative experiences and we need to keep talking about it in an open and respectful way.

We need to look out for each other and hold people accountable for their actions but I feel the way to make a change is to open a dialogue with people that don’t necessarily agree with you . A lot of the casual sexism that happens in the music industry comes from plain ignorance instead of maliciousness and that can be solved with just having a mature conversation with the goal to educate instead of condemn.”


HELEN TYTHELEIGH 

EVENT DIRECTOR – TECH FEST 

WHICH WOMEN, BOTH IN AND OUT OF THE INDUSTRY HAVE HAD THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOU? 

“My biggest influence has been Vicky Langham, who is an artist manager at Northern Music. I worked with her at Northern as her assistant where she taught me everything I know about business and the music industry. I doubt I would be where I am today without her knowledge, support and guidance.

One of my earliest influences in music was Jeanne Sagan who was the bassist in All That Remains. I started getting into metal around 14/15 and loved the album The Fall of Ideals and was really excited when I discovered they also had a female bassist. She was one of the reasons I picked up a bass guitar and joined a metal band!”

WHY IS IT MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER BEFORE FOR FEMINISM TO HAVE A PRESENCE IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?

“Feminism is giving women their rightful, equal place in the music industry. I feel that the music industry is being seen less as a “boys club” nowadays and it’s incredibly important for that stereotype to be broken down. We are demanding to be heard, respected and valued for our skills, talent and knowledge. We still have a way to go, but it seems to me that things are changing as it’s no longer an unusual sight to see a woman as a promoter, technician, manager, musician or agent etc.”

“Feminism is giving women their rightful, equal place in the music industry!”

WHO ARE SOME OF THE MOST INSPIRING, IMPORTANT AND INNOVATIVE WOMEN IN MUSIC RIGHT NOW?

“I think Music Week’s Women in Music Awards are really important as they highlight the many inspiring women in music who hold executive and senior positions in companies such as Universal Music UK, Decca, Live Nation, Columbia Records, PRS Foundation and YouTube, to name a few.

In metal right now? Justine Jones, vocalist in post-hardcore band Employed To Serve; Tatiana Shmailyuk, vocalist in progressive metal band Jinjer; Reba Meyers, guitarist in Code Orange; Yvette Young, guitarist in Covet; and guitarist Sarah Longfield. They are all extremely talented musicians.”

WHAT IS STILL ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS FOR WOMEN IN MUSIC RIGHT NOW? HOW DO WE OVERCOME IT?

For me, being taken seriously and having my voice respected. The longer I’ve been involved with UK Tech-Fest the less this has happened to me, but I still remember how degrading it was when a guy insisted on testing my knowledge of technical metal to prove I was into it. All I wanted was a conversation, but I had to jump through hoops first because he had never encountered a woman who liked the same music as him.

Furthermore, sexual harassment and assault are still major issues for women in music, but organisations, such as Safe Gigs For Women, are doing excellent work. I believe things will eventually change through awareness and less tolerance for this behaviour; men especially need to help by calling out other men.

In 2017 Sam Carter from Architects stopped his show to call out a man for grabbing at a woman as she crowdsurfed. I was incredibly proud to see this because I was that girl 10 years ago, and I never crowdsurfed again as a consequence. We should not have to endure and put up with harassment and no one – of any gender – should ever be made to feel unsafe in a gig or festival environment.”


 

DEB SHILLING

FOUNDER – BLACK DEER FESTIVAL

WHICH WOMEN, BOTH IN AND OUT OF THE INDUSTRY HAVE HAD THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOU? 

Sister Rosetta Tharpe is one of the most influential figures in music history. An absolute inspiration through the 1940’s as a black woman singing gospel and playing electric guitar in her own unique way. She took Gospel out of the church and into clubs.  She not only paved the way for rock ‘n’ roll legends like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, the crossover with her style also influenced ‘R&B’.

She was the first person to showcase Little Richard on stage at the age of 14, changing his life and instigating what would be an incredibly successful future music career.

I love the idea ‘She is the founding mother who gave rock ‘n’rolls founding fathers the idea.’ – what an incredible woman. Other females in music include the catalytic Carter Family women; Mavis and her sisters in The Staple Singers; country music icon Dolly Parton; Americana heroin Emmylou Harris; blues gamechanger Bonnie Raitt and alt-country pioneer Lucinda Williams. There are many iconic women both in history and present day who constantly provide inspiration in all walks of life, their stories just need to be told.”

WHY IS IT MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER BEFORE FOR FEMINISM TO HAVE A PRESENCE IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?

If you mean by feminism the championing of women in the music industry, then the reason it’s important is because there’s a huge amount of female talent out there that needs to be heard.

In our first year, we pledged through the Keychange initiative a 50:50 gender balance on our line-up. We are proud to say we achieved that and continue to strive and support the initiative. Having said this, the most important criteria when curating our line-up has to be about the talent, male or female. Our 2019 line-up is more male biased as it stands, ultimately it comes down to availability when booking, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying and we are excited to have the likes of The Staves, Neko Case and Larkin Poe at the top of our bill this year. Aside of the talent, the core team at the forefront of organising the festival are female, with a few token gents of course (winks).”

“There are many iconic women both in history and present day… their stories just need to be told.”

WHO ARE SOME OF THE MOST INSPIRING, IMPORTANT AND INNOVATIVE WOMEN IN MUSIC RIGHT NOW?

“Within Americana, artists such as Neko Case, Rhiannon Giddens, Brandi Carlile, The Staves, Yola and Larkin Poe. UK Americana industry insiders like Trudie Harris and Stevie Freeman. Initiatives like Keychange and organisations such as HEARD collective and She Said.So. Music writers like Laura Barton and Laura Snapes. Fiona Stewart, Director and driver of Green Man Festival.”

WHAT IS STILL ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS FOR WOMEN IN MUSIC RIGHT NOW? HOW DO WE OVERCOME IT?

“That we still have to watch and read things about ‘The 50 greatest Female Songwriters’… when do you see the male version published? Also, it’d be nice to not hear stories like we did at AmericanaFest UK this year where a label told an artist they “already had a female banjo player”. It’s a good job they don’t say that to boys with guitars, isn’t it? Change will come inch by inch, day by day, by doing the right things with good intentions and being kind to each other. And continuing to recognise female talent..”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 FESTIVAL ASSISTANT – 2000 TREES / ARCTANGENT 

 

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