Norwich Sound and Vision – Women In Music Panel

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Women In Music Panel

Sound and Vision – Women In Music Panel

Being a woman in music, a singer/songwriter and one who also teaches music, writes music articles and produces my own music, I was particularly looking forward to a couple of Women in Music panels on the Friday morning, day 2, of this year’s Sound and Vision.

The female panel featured Sophie Little of BBC Introducing, artist Mary Epworth of Hand of Glory records, Nathalie Du Bois, who had been on yesterday’s sync panel and is founder of 6 Degrees Entertainment, an independent music company that represents a wide roster of artists for film, television and commercial sectors, live music specialist Anna Moulson of Melting Vinyl who programmes venues across the south-east coast, and Juliana Meyer founder and CEO of streaming platform SupaPass which gives music superfans VIP access to their favourite bands and all their music.

In the first panel titled Mind the Gender Gap they discussed the often wrong assumption that females are going to drop out of the industry to have a family and how its time to change attitudes. It was really refreshing to see an all female panel but they also stressed how its still important to include men’s thoughts and it’s not about excluding a male perspective. To emphasise this they even encouraged a couple of men to join the panel.

The panel then discussed the ways in which attitudes could possibly be changed. They felt that through education would be a key way, looking at different sectors of the industry, for example, the corporate side, as they felt that the indie world is an area where people genuinely love music and nurtures female talent. Anna, who also teaches in concert promotions at Brighton Institute of Modern Music, said she has definitely seen a confidence gap, her female students can often be much less confident than the male students. They all agreed that we need more positive female role models. Juliana cited Imogen Heap and Sia as amazing female artists writing and producing their own music and forging their own paths. Growing up I was certainly inspired by Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell and Carole King.

A female artists visual presentation is something that often gets more focus but the panel had some astonishing examples of derogatory and sexist inappropriate comments they’d received during their careers and felt there was no excuse for it. They emphasised the need to take a stance, to not get bitter, and on asked what advice they would give, they said to continue wearing different creative hats and keep striving for your dreams.

Continuing with the same female panel, the next discussion was about lazy festival line ups. We viewed some recent festival bills and the lack of female artists was disappointing particularly at Reading and Creamfields, despite female artists really dominating the charts. They cited that the biggest draw at last year’s Glastonbury was Dolly Parton and Grace Jones and Patti Smith are still captivating audiences. They felt it was again about changing attitudes, not assuming that all women have children and take a break and become invisible while male artists can often break through at a later age.

The panel acknowledged that we have to consider that tickets need to be sold for festivals to survive however it should be about the artist as men can also love female artists. They believe there needs to be a discussion between men and women and that maybe inspiration could come from a smaller DIY level as the boutique festivals are flourishing and there is already more of a mix of male and female artists on the line ups.

The Reading festival audience now is very much a mix of teenage girls and boys so they felt it was a shame that there is often a lack of variety in some festival line ups, a lot of the same artists appearing on the bill. Creamfields is very genre specific but there were only 6 women in the line up this year. On a more positive note, Mary had been to Festival No 6 and thought it embraced more female artists and creativity and Anna felt there’s a bit of a resurgence in the Riot grrrl movement with the likes of Savages. In rock schools there is also now a half and half mix of girls and boys playing instruments when before they thought it was more of a novelty having a female bass player or drummer. I certainly teach more females than male at the moment.

How we add more females to festival line ups, the answer is in the curation. Anna suggested that its an issue the Arts Council or PRS funding should address and it’s also about addressing diversity overall. They involved the audience by getting us all to look at recent festival line ups and discuss how we could change them, suggesting female artists that should’ve been included. It was a great way of starting to do something productive about line ups, hearing the female artists whose names were put forward.

Later that evening I really enjoyed Ekkah, 2 friends Rebecca and Rebekah whose infectious mix of disco and funk pop got people dancing. I particularly liked their songs ‘Last Chance to Dance’ and ‘Home Alone’ and could really see them breaking through.

On Saturday an impressive crowd gathered at the Forum library to see an afternoon of live music. I first caught Cove Hithe whose new live EP ‘Live At Old School Studios’ is out now. I’ve seen them before and love their haunting songs, musicianship and instrumentation. I would also recommend their ‘Your Ground Is My Earth’ release which includes a cover of a song by Molly Drake. Next it was duo Dove and Boweevil whose music mixes Americana, soul, blues through to gospel. Lauren’s amazing voice and energy really engaged the audience and I really like the title track from their album ‘This Life’ which has also been played by BBC Radio Introducing recently. Emily Wiing (Sargasso Trio) rounded off the afternoon with her rousing band who I’ve enjoyed before at Norwich Arts Centre.

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With Jay from Cove Hithe

In the evening I saw Fossa at the Mash Tun. Recently their track ‘Five Days’ was made mp3 of the day on Lauren Laverne’s 6 music show. I could hear influences of Radiohead and Alt J but think they have their own inventive sound and emotive songs that really draw you in. Finally I saw Port Isla at Norwich Arts Centre, who I wrote about at the Radio 1 Academy. They have an anthemic sound and strong uplifting melodies as demonstrated on this year’s ‘A.L.I.V.E’ EP and a highlight of the gig was when they were joined by True Adventures to perform a moving version of his song ‘North Atlantic Ocean.’ It was a lovely way to close another great Sound and Vision. Looking forward to next year!

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