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Invader Girl On Female Musicians

Wednesday 08 April 2015
Words Ailis Mara

Spindle sent me this fairly horrifying yet sadly not unusual photo highlighting the lack of female headliners at Reading/Leeds festival this year, and asked me to comment on this and share some of my own experiences as a female live musician.


When I first started playing in bands as a teenager I would almost always be the only girl playing in any of the bands on the bill at whichever sticky, dingy, half-empty venue we’d be playing at that week. At every sound check without fail, the members of the other bands (usually after unimaginatively asking someone in my band which one of them were my boyfriend. They could not get their floppy haired acne ridden heads around the fact that these dudes were in a band with me purely because we enjoyed making music together and trusted each others talent), would line up like a skinny jeaned judge parade getting ready to have a good old laugh at “the girl”, as she was bound to be shit. As a result, the sound check became more nerve inducing than the gig itself. But it left me with no other choice than to become good.

My songs had to be better than their songs, my band had to be tighter than their band and I had to have twice as much attitude on stage or I’d be booed right out of the “boys club”.

This may have resulted in some poorly carried out spitting, stage diving and general mental gyrating on my part that makes me cringe right into my fingertips to this day, but it was a lot of fun and I learned some valuable lessons. Such as don’t rock out so much that you break your own nose on stage. It’s not a good look. More importantly it taught me to never get lazy and to keep trying to get better every day. It put a little extra fighting spirit in my belly, which is always useful to have in this business.

To inspire young girls to become awesome musicians they need to have great female role models in music.

It is so hard to have the guts to pick such a terrifying and uncertain (yet therefore also exhilarating and rewarding) career unless you have examples of people you can identify with succeeding at it.

The majority of my own role models as a teenager mostly hailed from punk, new wave or grunge, so they were often plucked out of moments in history before I was even born. It is certainly valuable to know your music history and those women who most definitely paved the way for others. However, it would still have been nice to have had more successful, talented and strong current female musicians represented on the blogs and in the magazines I read. Discovering someone like Karen O from The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s was like a shiny moment of pure bliss. She was relevant and talented and so strong yet absolutely feminine, and seemed to be completely in control of her own destiny. When I first saw them live, I cried like a crazy idiot throughout most of the gig from pure bolt-to-the-heart inspiration. It made it seem like perhaps I could at least have a go at this myself.


The problem with a line up such as the example Spindle sent to me isn’t purely that there is no excuse for it these days when there is finally an abundance of current, relevant, successful female talent outselling the dudes, it is that the female role models don’t become as easily available to inspire us if they are not allowed to be part of the mainstream picture.

If it has to take the most creative ‘Googler’ and seasoned music nerd to find and expose themselves to new female acts, then that’s a problem and a real shame.

There’s been a real development in such a short time. These days when I go to gigs there are several female musicians and they are all good. They are there on merit alone. The club is slowly turning from a boys club into simply a “people club”. But there is still a desperate need for a change in perception. People are still a little too surprised, for instance, when they hear that I write and produce my own music. Someone said to me the other day,

“The problem with you is that you have a nice face and a girly personality, which makes people forget that you are actually an artist”. I would have punched him square in the nuts if it weren’t for the mournful fact that it is probably true.

We are all aware that there is a real problem in even the most left wing, western hipster bearded, Guardian reading parts of society with not taking things that are considered conventionally “female” as seriously as things are considered conventionally “male”. This is of course a big bag of crap, but it happens every day.

To change perceptions we need powerful people like Billy Big Bollocks at Billy Big Bollocks Promotions or whoever books bands for these major events, to book from a wider selection of the fantastic acts that are available to them. And these days that without a doubt includes acts from all gender groups.

Invader Girl’s latest video ‘Stuck On Me’ premiered on Monday and we’re already stuck on it… 

Photography Credits
Stylist – Kiera Liberati
Hair – Tassilia Varda using 3 More Inches
MUA – Isobel Kennedy
Clothing Credits
Jacket & Fur – Gemma Goldstone, Bracelet – Only Child London, Earrings- Coco’s Liberty Cosmic Earrings.
Two piece – Gemma Goldstone, Earrings – Topshop, Jacket – Gemma Goldstone, Shoes – Invader Girls Own.