Saturday, 4 July 2015

Typical Girls

Over the past few months I have been thinking about feminism, and how I feel about it and how it relates to my life. I have been trying to read as much about it as possible, and this lead to me reading Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys by Viv Albertine. As part of my misspent twenties - or the wilderness years as I like to think of them, I DJed at a few different venues around Glasgow. I loved DJing, I was totally inspired by Queens of Noize, who spent the 00s running club nights in London, writing for NME, and hosting shows on MTV2 and 6music. I loved that they played such a mix of different styles of music, mixed with all the latest and coolest sounds. They were so knowledgable about music, perfectly able to mix the old and new. They weren't just saying they were into bands to impress guys - music meant as much to them as it did to me. When I got my first DJ gig with my lovely friend CJ, I messaged Mairead Nash (who more recently has managed Florence Welsh) on myspace (I know) and asked her if she had any advice, and what songs she was liking at the moment. She suggested I play Generator by the Holloways, The Bouncer covered by Klaxons, and Going Nowhere by Cut Copy. Songs that I still enjoy to this day. My favourite thing about Queens of Noize was that they were right up there in midst of all this indie rock n roll boys club. Their DJ sets always seemed like a big party, where dancing and having fun seemed to be as important as picking the next record. They were just the coolest. 

Reading Viv Albertine's memoir about her journey into music in the 70s really resonated with my own time DJing. It even relates to the above NME article which lived on my wall for five years. Being a girl who is into music means you only want to sleep with guys in bands, nothing about what you think their music is like apparently. I certainly felt some male bias in my life as a DJ, I went to Greece on holiday in like 2005 and there were a few indie bars, I had taken over a few CDs with me, and asked one of them if I could do an hour set. Afterwards they said I was good, but was a bit heavy on females artists. At the times I didn't think much of it - other than -fuck! I better look out some Oasis, but now it makes me so angry. Surely hearing some great female indie music has to be better than the same old crap over and over again. Lads with swagger that I don't relate to - sorry but I live my life through the eyes of a woman and that's my main point of reference I'm afraid. Oops a bit of the rage popping out there. For the most part though I never felt that at the places I worked in Glasgow, big shout out to Maggie Mays and Slouch! I feel that at Maggie's I really managed to get that whole let's have a big party and listen to music vibe going. I think that was helped by exploring different genre's of music which Viv says was so important in the sound of The Slits. To be stuck in a mind set where you only listen to one genre of music is completely alien to me - I almost feel claustrophobic thinking about it. Although to be fair I will never ever listen to happy hardcore, is that even music.

I love when Viv is describing The Slits as a band they sound vulgar, which is what I really like in my female performers. I like performers who make you feel uncomfortable. I love women playing guitars and screaming lyrics. Give me Stevie screaming Rhiannon any day over some whispery vocal act that seems to be churned out by record companies far too often. This makes me think of Ellie Goulding, remember when she brought out her first album? Did an advert for John Lewis and we were all like, ooh what a unique sound. Then record companies jumped all over it, and it feels like so many female artists are now just Ellie Goulding knock offs, and even she has gotten tired of that, prefering to put out pop/dance tracks with Calvin Harris. What is being a female indie performer when the real money for women is made in pop?

When I was writing this I finally got round to watching Rihanna's new video - wow. She is the man! Honestly. It is vulgar perfection. I personally don't think there is anything sexy or degrading about it. I am sure I can hear now people saying - the children, someone think of the children. Well you know what - don't let your kids watch it!

Possibly what I liked most about Viv's (I call her by her first name as I feel we are friends now) book is that she has had to go on and rebuild her life a quite a few times. Guess what I can totally relate to that! When The Slits spilt she was completely at a loss, and writes about this time in her life with such honesty. Every chapter is so honest - it is fantastic writing and one hundered percent punk because of that. After the band broke up she couldn't listen to music for three years, this I got. When my anxiety was really bad I couldn't listen to any music, or at least any music that meant anything to me. So I spent my time listening to watered down pop, not the best time of my life - for oh so many reasons. When Viv talks about rebuiding herself towards the end of her marriage, I felt like she was speaking to me, and where I am in my life now. She had closed off her past self to give her life as a wife and mother a chance, but in doing so she was denying the artist in her a life. I feel like I have spent so much time getting myself well again that I have almost closed off parts of myself, like my artistic and creative side. I know over the next few months this part of me is going to blossom again - I am throwing myself back into music and fashion, two passions which have been somewhat neglected of late. I may as well keep you all updated on here to see how that goes. I am going to learn how to play the guitar. I feel lucky to have so many great female role models in music, when Viv started - she had none, she became her own role model and in doing that became mine too. 

Right here are my top ten female artists - I haven't included Kylie in this because my love for her should be a post in itself.

1. Stevie Nicks 

2. Annie Hardy (Giant Drag) 

3.PJ Harvey 

4. Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)

5. Shakespear's Sister (I had some confusing feelings after watching this video as a child)
 6. Florence Welsh

7. Honeyblood 

8.Sleater Kinney

9. Nico

10. Kate Bush (Svaing the best til last)