FREE - ISSUE # 1
Artwork by Nela Ilic
[Editors Letter] With the theme of gender and sexuality in the music industry, Stick To Your Guns celebrates the talented artists who are unafraid to challenge gender norms. We don’t care if you’re trans, gay, queer or genderless, isn’t the music industry supposed to be about discovering and enjoying music?
values of equality. There’s the courage seen by Kesha with her bitter battle between not only her producer, Dr. Luke, but with an industry that chose to not take her seriously. There’s also the bisexual, cross-dresser Ezra Furman who rallies for gender fluidity and refuses to conform to traditional gender standards.
Not only does Stick To Your Guns explore gender inequality towards women but issues of masculinity and identity in music. Time’s up for prejudice against women and a lack of representation and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.
This magazine’s aim is to change people’s perspectives and create a communal space where gender does not define who you are. We look back at ten years since Lady Gaga released The Fame and her work as an activist for LGBTQ+ rights. I am immensely proud of the skill and hardwork that has gone into every detail from all of our talented contributors. I hope from the first page to the last that you are left feeling inspired and remember: STICK TO YOUR GUNS.
For us at Stick To Your Guns, one artist could not represent the strength and power seen in the music industry. Therefore, we have selected four artists for the cover that embody our
DISCLAIMER: The Stick To Your Guns magazine and website is produced by students on the BA (hons) Popular Music Journalism course at Southampton Solent University. The opinions expressed in the magazine and website are the contributors own and as such the university and its staff cannot be held responsible.
Contributors. Editor - Charlotte Miles
Deputy Editor - Hayley Millross
Art Director - Lizzie Capewell
Features Editors - Rosie Chalk And Jasmine Hodge
Reviews Editors - Callum Hurst And Nada Olson
Sub Editors - Maddy Hardman, Andrew Shelley And Rupert Taylor
Picture Editor - Emily Young
Photographer - Phoebe Randall
Videographers - Phoebe Randall And Matt Smith
Podcasters - Harvey Baldwin, Becca Risk, Sam Taylor, Amber Williams, Sian Wilson
Writers - Sophie Barnden, Joey Butcher, Elisha Cloughton, Charlie Conibear, Lucas Eveleigh, Adam England, Chloe Gorman, Dan Phillips, Rebecca Togher, Tiffany Wright
Artists - Zoe Coxon, Charlie Hoar, Nela Ilic
06. News 07. Upskirting - Why Isn’t It A Criminal Offence? 08. The Trials of Kesha 10. These Charming Men 12. Poppy Marriott 16. ‘The Abuse Has Become A Lot More Real’ 18. Turning Up The Volume With Loud Women 20. Back and Forth 22. Hall of Fame: Lady Gaga 23. Solidarity Not Silence 24. Through The Looking Glass 27. Ezra Furman 28. Album Reviews 30. Pussy Riot 31. Troye Sivan 5
news partner Bais Haus has severed ties with him, and Space Jesus dropped his commitment to the tour.
In a statement on his twitter, Beetles said “I will make a bigger effort to make sure that nothing I do will be misinterpreted in the future.”
Canadian dubstep DJ Troy Beetles, (aka Datsik) has faced a storm of allegations over sexual misconduct toward young female fans.
Beetles has since switched his twitter account to private in response to a further onslaught of accusations.
The 29-year-old EDM DJ and producer has cancelled the remainder of his tour and any upcoming festival dates. Additionally, his DJ
By Rupert Taylor
3 Artists changing the industry all about her long legal battle with Dr Luke. At the Grammy Awards, she performed the track in support of the #MeToo movement, despite being snubbed by The Recording Academy.
Olly Alexander Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander has been an exceptional role model in the LGBTQ+ community. Recent he has revealed that he ignored all advice given to him to keep his sexuality in the dark before he became famous. To help encourage and support young people all across the country, Alexander released a documentary on the BBC called ‘Growing Up Gay’, where he openly discussed his sexuality and battles with depression.
Hayley Kiyoko After the release of singles ‘Girls Like Girls’ and ‘Curious’, it’s no surprise that Hayley Kiyoko is picking up a prominent LGBT+ following. Kiyoko is successfully using her platform as a mode of expression for her sexuality, something that until now has been practically taboo within the music industry. With Kiyoko openly singing of how “girls like girls like boys do – nothing new,” hopefully this is soon to change. The Californian singer/songwriter releases her debut album this week (March 20th), which we can assume will be filled with more of the LGBTQ+ anthems that got Kiyoko known on Twitter as the ‘lesbian Jesus’.
Kesha Kesha’s career escalated after she released ‘TiK ToK’ in 2009, but the public were unaware of the difficult situation she was stuck in with her producer, Dr Luke. The singer accused the famous producer of sexual harassment and assault back in 2014 and the entire case was world knowledge. Last year, Kesha released her first song after 4 years, ‘Praying’ which is
Upskirting – why isn’t it a criminal offence? Halsey has never been shy of calling out perverted photographers for taking pictures up her skirt, or calling anyone out in general. In fact, she tweeted to all of her 9 million followers not once, but twice, embarrassing the Daily Mail and exposing them for all that they are. However, the first time clearly didn’t phase them, or else they wouldn’t have attempted to do it again.
to the paparazzi taking pictures up their skirts, and it’s an act of a sexual nature so how and why is this not considered assault? Holly Willoughby and Kendall Jenner are amongst other celebrities that have spoken out about similar incidences. Willoughby gathered a number of photos to show the public just how common it is, including the likes of Rita Ora, Abbey Clancy and Louise Redknapp. All were taken on the night of the Brit Awards, where these women carried white roses to signify their support with the ‘Times Up’ movement, which helps those who have been victims of sexual abuse. Willoughby posted the photos with the caption “At the beginning of the night we held white roses and walked down a red carpet full of the hope and pride that comes with the #timesup campaign… at the end of the night, cameras were held low to get a photo up our skirts… times apparently up on #timesup”. How upsettingly ironic.
Halsey’s first tweet, at the beginning of February, stated “I had an entire pair of high cut black underwear under the dress. You can’t slap a censor bar over black fabric and make everyone think my pu**y is out. Tabloid culture never fails to surprise me.” The second tweet, posted just a few days ago on the 12 March, said “I wonder if the Daily Mail will ever stop trying to put cameras up my skirt. I’m gonna start wearing really funny underwear. Or writing the names of charities that need attention across my crotch. Enjoy!”
In this day and age, you’d think that women’s privacy and modesty would be respected by anyone and everyone. In this day and age, you’d think with events such as the Women’s March 2018; where Halsey gave a speech about her experiences with sexual assault, that action would be taken to ensure scenarios like this wouldn’t occur as often as they do, if at all. Continue to stand up for your rights, and for
It goes to show that nothing will stop the paparazzi from trying to get that ‘perfect’ shot, but the question is, WHY isn’t this a criminal offence yet? In Scotland, it’s illegal and comes under the Sexual Offences [Scotland] Act 2009, so why is that not applicable to England and Wales? The official definition for sexual assault according to the Met Police UK is “an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation in the form of a sexual act, inflicted on someone without their consent.” Celebrities like Halsey definitely do not give consent
women everywhere, and one day we will get there. by Elisha Cloughton Artwork by Lizzie Capewell
The Trials of Kesha At just 18-years-old, an ambitious and optimistic Kesha lay her full trust in producer Dr. Luke as she drops out of high school to pursue a music career – a move that would change her history.
this is the cause of knowing the attacker personally. Kesha hadn’t previously reported the abuse because Gottwald threatened to “shut her career down” and take away “all her publishing and recording rights”. Of course he would. How is that so hard to believe? A 17-yearold girl puts her faith in a man over a decade older than her, who is supposedly helping to put her on the map and he completely violates her. Why wouldn’t he use the destruction of her career as a means of keeping her quiet?
Fast forward to 2014, five years after her breakthrough release ‘Tik Tok’, the singer accuses Dr. Luke – whose real name is Lukasz Gottwald – of sexual assault and battery, gender violence and sexual harassment. The suit depicts a violent and emotionally manipulative relationship between Kesha and Gottwald, which she described as “intimidating”.
The power that the man had over Kesha for such a long time is heartbreaking – but despite her claims being dismissed in court, Kesha has taken control of her anguish and gifted the world with her strength – by putting it into music.
The accusations were extremely serious – yet the singer was dismissed almost immediately, with Gottwald claiming it to be “a campaign of publishing false and shocking accusations” in order to help the singer break her recording contract. Yet whilst Gottwald inherently denied the claims, many aspects of the case are too distressing to dismiss. It is claimed that Dr. Luke raped Kesha on two occasions - once of which she was forced to take date rape drug GHB.
The heartrending single ‘Praying’ is clearly shining a light on her tumultuous legal battle; the opportunity to name and shame the producer and make a show of her comeback was doubtless, but the singer reflected on it in a truly gripping way – opening a new wave of public discussion surrounding sexual violence. In a letter to Lena Dunham, Kesha states that “this song is about me finding peace in the fact that I can’t control everything”.
Unsurprisingly, it’s reported that Kesha was left suffering from “severe depression, posttraumatic stress, social isolation, and panic attacks”. Yet, Gottwald’s team, members of the public and even the Judge questioned why the singer had not made the accusations earlier. Why would that be reason to dismiss such an enormous claim?
Fast-forward again to the 2018 Grammy Awards, with artists wearing white roses to symbolise the Times Up movement, Kesha was joined by Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels, Bebe Rexha and Andra Day, as well as a choir, to sing a ferocious performance of ‘Praying’. Her tears said it all and brought together the community of women and men who have been victims of sexual assault.
Many women suffer alone for years after sexual abuse or harassment – in most cases,
So why did Kesha receive no recognition for her strength, willpower, honesty and talent when the awards came to surface? Her nominations for ‘Pray’ as best solo
performance and ‘Rainbow’ for best vocal album were disregarded as Ed Sheeran was presented with both awards – despite not even being there. A song about loving the shape of a woman’s body won over a song addressing sexual misconduct? Really? The music industry is known to keep noticeably quiet on the matter – but this is a brand new low. Many viewers took to Twitter to announce their disgust, and it’s understandable why people are so angry – it’s not like Grammy voters are excitable 14-year-olds – to qualify as a voting member of the Recording Academy, you must be able to prove a career in music through documented evidence. That’s real music professionals, who understand the importance of music as a gateway for social, political, cultural and emotional expression, deciding that a song that everyone is tired of (and if you’re not yet, you should be) is better than music from the heart and soul. It’s so difficult to believe that the industry behind something that brings society together can be so insolent when it comes to sexual misconduct. Yes, it may be fun to dance along to ‘Shape Of You’ while you’re half-cut, but real music is about real people and real adversities. How can the industry expect to bring people together when they’re only pushing them further apart? Artwork by Charlie Hoar
by Sophie Barnden
Artwork by Charlie Hoar
THESE CHARMING MEN Indie music and the concept of masculinity have coexisted sometimes uncomfortably. On one hand, you have the Noel’s and the Liam’s of the world, and on the other there are those less concerned about stereotypical gender norms, such as Sundara Karma’s Oscar Pollock, with long blonde hair and who can frequently be seen sporting painted nails, and Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke, who came out as homosexual in 2010. Nevertheless, indie has long been dominated by the straight white man. Of course, many straight white men have made excellent music and fully deserve to be held in high regard, but the feeling that LGBTQ+ male artists, and even straight male artists who don’t conform to dominant masculine values, face extra challenges remains. Perhaps the only artist at the forefront of indie today who is not a straight white man is Wolf Alice frontwoman Ellie Rowsell, who continues to thrive in a sea of Van McCann’s and Tom Ogden’s. There is a sense that the industry considers the straight white man the default, and anyone who veers from that norm will be – not viewed with suspicion as such – but seen perhaps as an outsider. There are certain overriding archetypes that artists in the scene are supposed to belong to: the lad, the hipster and so forth. Within these archetypes, they are generally expected to conform to a straight, white default. With certain exceptions, if it doesn’t work out, the artist may be under pressure to alter themselves in order to conform. For an example of a man who has changed their image to conform to masculine norms, take James Bay. Formerly an indie-folk troubadour, he transformed from hat-clad
Critics’ Choice Award winner in the vein of Hozier and George Ezra into rock star in less than the time it takes to say ‘hold back the river’. Three years after his debut, he takes on a greaser-inspired appearance, channeling AM-era Alex Turner. Turning back the clock 25 years or so, Morrissey did the same sort of thing, shedding the image he created for himself during his time in The Smiths, instead trying to portray himself as more of a ‘man’s man’, perhaps a precursor to the racist grandad caricature he was eventually to become. Thankfully though, it looks like the tide may slowly be changing, as indie becomes more accessible for LGBTQ+ men and women. Groups such as Girls Against are aiming to make gigs safer spaces for women and less male-dominated, while Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES has written for The Guardian about online harassment. Bands like HMLTD, King NoOne and Peace with their anti-gender norms anthem ‘I’m A Girl’ and the aforementioned Sundara Karma do not conform to traditional masculine norms, while alternative LGBTQ+ favourites such as Kele Okereke, Rostam Batmanglij and Laura Jane Grace continue to record music. And not to be forgetting the likes of Dream Wife, The Big Moon, Goat Girl and GIRLI who laugh in the face of the notion that indie is a masculine genre. Or as Oscar Pollock says, “But really it’s no longer a shocking thing to see a boy wearing nail varnish, or to see a man getting up on stage wearing a dress, or a girl with a shaved head”. by Adam England
Poppy Marriott Celebrating women and LGBTQIA+ people in the arts, meet Poppy Marriott a photographer who is ripping up the gender rulebook and championing the non-binary community. Having first seen photography as just a hobby, it wasn’t until Poppy took a year out of university that she decided this was something she wanted to pursue as a full-time career. Her work focuses on documenting female and non-binary artists, “because my art is linked so closely to my life, it seems almost fraudulent to not create art that matters, and about something that I believe in”, she says. The 21-year-old has already photographed riot grrrl band Peach Club, R&B sensation, Raye to bisexual, cross-dresser Ezra Furman. Aside from photography, Poppy creates zines such as ‘A Girl In A Band’ which fights against the overused phrase to describe female musicians by not only honoring female artists but ones who identity as LGBTQ+. Having sold out in under 24 hours, her zine ‘Solidarity Not Silence’ supports a campaign for a group of women who are fighting a defamation lawsuit made against them by a musician who is a rapist. Recently, Poppy released her first major project, ‘Titled’ via Polyester Magazine. Through a selection of photographs, the zine celebrates, “gender and people who identify as ‘beyond-the-binary’”, ranging from transgenders to drag kings and queens such as Kyleigh Simmons. It wasn’t until Poppy discovered Christine & the Queens and lead singer, Héloïse
Letissier’s fluid gender of pansexuality that her own identity as a non-binary truly made sense: “Gender-binaries are super outdated so I choose not to subscribe to them”. The representation of gender binary artists are incredibly important for inspiration to marginalised communities, for Poppy it was icons like Tilda Swinton, Adore Delano and Pete Burns. “If you don’t see people like yourself being successful, doing the jobs you want to do, working in positions of power then it becomes really difficult to picture yourself doing that”, she says. Unfortunately, the photography industry is overpowered by men and Poppy has experienced many cases of sexism and prejudice. “I’ve had male editors reject my pitches but then take the idea and get another photographer, a middle-aged, white man in this case, to do my idea”, she says. The lists goes on with Poppy having men in photo pits stand in front of her in attempt to move her out of the way and has been sexually harassed when shooting a gig by men in the crowd. Frustrated by sexism in the music industry, Poppy is angered by how male bands have had sexual assault allegations made against them but their career has remained intact. Recently, there has been countless cases in which bands still feature on festival line-ups and are plastered on the cover of music magazines, “because they ‘apologised’, that was enough for music industry professionals to be like, ALRIGHT COOL THEY’VE DONE THE BARE MINIMUM, PUT THEM ON THE COVER!”, states Poppy.
Poppy believes that the photography industry should prevent and fight against prejudice to the LGBTAIQ+ community by “having the people in power talking about it. It’s all well and good when DIY communities have these conversations, and obviously they are SO important, but it’s not going to reach the mainstream without the help of the people at the top”. Even though there is still a long way to go for diversity in the music industry, Poppy see’s improvement in the representation of LGBTQIA+ people in film. “There’s definitely change happening, and I think the right conversations are starting to happen. Take the Oscars for example, in 2016 Moonlight, a film about a queer, person of colour won Best Picture. This year, Call Me by Your Name, a film about two queer men falling in love was nominated for Best Picture. So things are changing, slowly, but it’s nice to be able to see that shift”.
real discussions and change through their music. If it wasn’t for the community I work in and am a part of, I wouldn’t have found them at all”. For example, currently on Poppy’s playlist, she is listening to LGBTQIA+ artists such as, “Jinkx Monsoon who released a song called ‘The Gender Binary Blues’ which is GENIUS, Troye Sivan, and Janelle Monae’s, ‘Make Me Feel’ is a bisexual ANTHEM. There’s so many more than people think there is. We’re everywhere”.
“THERE’S SO MANY INCREDIBLE QUEER BANDS, WHO SING ABOUT REAL ISSUES AND INCITE REAL DISCUSSIONS AND CHANGE THROUGH THEIR MUSIC.”
There is clearly a lack of coverage and diversity of LGBTQIA+ artists in the music industry as Poppy says, “There’s so many incredible queer bands, who sing about real issues and incite
by Charlotte Miles
“The Abuse Has Become a Lot More Real” Journalist and TV Host Billie JD Porter Adds to The Growing List of Allegations Made Against Vice Vice: the go-to publication for news you want to hear, documentaries on the depths of NorthKorea and insights to the world of high-class prostitutes. However, despite including articles that are intended to empower women, their sex lives and their jobs, it has recently come to light that the inner circle may not be as clean as portrayed and how the Vice culture is “dangerous from the top down”. Former employee, Billie JD Porter posted this on IG earlier this year:
completely different confidential victim testimonies in Vice’s official written records. That is to say, they included private information that another woman gave them, in a file with my name on it, then sent it to me.”
The journalist and TV host has started to speak out against the publication that is frequently scrutinised for its work-place culture, on its attempt to give her drugs and alcohol underage and her being asked to perform sexual acts on her boss before adding “the abuse has become a lot more real”. She has since posted a blog on Medium stating her clear views on the situation and why she is not going to partake in interviews about this investigation due to a worry of legal repercussions.
Vice issued a statement to Deadline, “We are confident in, and stand by, the integrity of our investigation, as well as the company’s response. We conducted the investigation, as we do all investigations, in a thorough, fair and sensitive manner, and listened to and responded to Ms. Porter throughout the process. We took timely and appropriate steps, including the dismissal of an employee.”
However, we shouldn’t be living in a world where repercussions block us from taking action against something as serious as sexual harassment. Porter has publicly called out the HR team at Vice for their “minimal respect and sensitivity” and for being “cold, unresponsive and inconsistent”. The lack of communication at Vice HR has also been confidentially confirmed by another former Vice employee. Another shocking event Porter recounted was that Vice allegedly mixed up her personal case with another woman’s and sent them each other’s private details. She claims, “…far more serious incidents, including senior HR staff mixing up two
She is also claiming that no compassion has been used when dealing with her case and that speaking to strangers about her case is “deeply traumatic on a number of levels”.
It is also noted that Vice suspended two senior executives – President Andrew Creighton and Chief Officer Mike Germano – following a report specifying sexual assault allegations made against them. However, it is clear that along with the issue of the sexual assault itself, the way Vice deals with the allegations seems just as much of an issue. Sexism and unwanted sexual advances appear to be an unspoken occurrence in publications, and after the Weinstein incidents more women are coming forward about being assaulted by men in power. However, the recent light that Vice has shed proves that no matter where you go, this kind of abuse and lack of support is what is still preventing women from coming forward. By Jasmine Hodge
TURNING UP THE VOLUME WITH LOUD WOMEN Amid a strong current of female activism in the music industry, one organisation is doing their bit with all the passion and humility of true music fans. Stick To Your Guns speaks to founding member Cassie Fox to get the scoop first-hand. Loud Women are a London based organisation taking things into their own hands, setting up gigs and events that do away with any necessity for male features on the bill. When Cassie Fox was performing in an all-female outfit back in 2015, she was becoming fed up with the constant undermining her group faced. “I was finding – as many all-female bands do – that we were often getting booked but automatically getting put bottom of the bill,” she tells us. “People thought that because we’re a female band we were going to be nice and gentle, rather than accepting we could also be quite loud.” Hosting an initial reactionary show was like a taste of blood for Fox and the rest of the team, fast-forwarding three years to find themselves in charge of a whole range of gigs and events. Cassie tells us “We’ve got a new regular night starting at the Hope and Anchor in Islington, but then we also team up with similar organisations to do special events.” She continues, “I put on a thing at genesis cinema called Genesisters there. Also the Matchwomen’s festival – we curate that. We try to team up with other people doing good things”. Atop the list of Loud Women’s responsibilities comes the arrangement of their ever-growing festival Loud Women Fest, now in its third year. “Every year it’s sold out and gotten bigger, and this year is going to be the biggest yet. We’ve got two really big venues – The Dome at Tuffnell Park and the Boston Music Room next door,” says Cassie with
excitement in her voice. Without wanting to disappoint any more eager customers, Loud Women’s workload has increased in order to cater for the consistently soldout event. “It doesn’t make any money and it takes up huge amounts of time when I should be sleeping, but it’s all good fun.” Shifting the conversation to a broader scope, Cassie tells us her thoughts on the recent announcement that festivals will achieve international gender parity by 2022. “It’s better than nothing. It’s slow progress but it is at least acknowledging a problem that for many years has just been ignored,” Cassie admits, though with a hint of apprehension. “It’s ridiculous to suggest that you need until 2022 to… I don’t even know what the point in that is. To train up the women so that they’re good enough to play with the men?” In the complete knowledge that the problem is not a lack of female options for festival line-ups, Cassie points the finger at the male festival bookers packing out the posters with a few more Y-chromosomes than necessary. “You kind of hope that they don’t know what they’re doing. It’s always tempting to say that there’s a big conspiracy, but I imagine most blokes running these festivals think that they are genuinely choosing music that’s popular, that they like, and that’s going to sell.” It may have been slightly naïve to ask whether Loud Women are heading the charge against this male-centric issue, although Cassie does allow for a wider perspective on the matter. “Yes! You just do what you can and this is all that we are able to do, but we have very little power really,” she admits. “I think there’s still a long way to go, but things like our festival helps to raise bands’ profiles and bring them to new audiences.” By Rupert Taylor
Artwork by Nela Ilic
BACK and FORTH Girls Against are a group of three teenage feminists fighting against sexual harassment and assault at gigs. However, recently they have come under fire for sponsoring Truck Festival when Moose Blood who have been accused of sexual assult have been booked to play. Two of our writers, Nada Olsen and Tiffany Wright debate whether Girls Against is still a true campaign or are they using their platform for their own benefit.
For - What is with all the criticism? Groping at gigs has always been a common, yet unspoken issue. But once there is a campaign formed to combat against sexual assault, it still gains criticism. This year marks 3 years since the incident at a Peace concert became viral. It has since been advertised throughout mainstream festivals like Reading and Leeds and has received press coverage from organisations such as the BBC, NME, The Guardian etc. I believe that in terms of the campaign’s aim, it has succeeded in creating the discussion. With now over 70 international representatives and support from artists such as Wolf Alice, Slaves and Declan McKenna, more women are speaking out at concerts and stopping the issue that has always been recognised but silenced. The campaign’s most recent decision was pulling out of Truck Festival due to the booking of Moose Blood, who have allegations against former drummer Glenn Harvey for sexual harassment. I believe this action was mandatory and shows that any form of sexual harassment should have consequences and that does require the shunning of bands from festival line ups. I think that without this campaign, many more women will experience
this and maybe even stop themselves attending gigs to prevent it from happening. Why should us as music fans be silenced? By Nada Olson
Against Support Victims or Perpetrators? As a support group for victims of sexual assault, you’d expect Girls Against to be more, well… supportive. But with the announcements of festival line-ups, support for the campaign has dwindled as their motives behind the movement become unclear. Moose Blood’s vocalist, Eddy Brewerton, was recently accused of stealing nude photos from a fan’s phone at a gig – an allegation the band didn’t even bother to address, until a few days prior to their album release. A complete fob out in many eyes, and seemingly dis-genuine. After being placed on the Truck Festival bill alongside Moose Blood, it took the team weeks before pulling out of the collaboration. Is this too long? Too long to make the decision that attending the festival could be “potentially compromising” to the campaigns values? This has led to speculation from fans online that the campaign has been a ruse for the group to gain favour with their favourite bands. Gaining access to gigs and attention on their online platforms is all very well so long as the campaign is doing what it claims, and isn’t just enough hopeful group of fans in to the industry. By Tiffany Wright
Artwork by Charlie Hoar
HALL OF FAME - LADY GAGA In 2010, Lady Gaga stunned the world by turning up to the MTV Video Music Awards in a dress made entirely of raw meat. It was a move that added further speculation to the already spiralling ideas behind Gaga’s eccentric self. Many deemed the meat dress as simply a portrayal of her insanity, or as some kind of ‘easy PR stunt’. But if it was so easy, why has nobody ever tried to repeat it? Two years earlier in 2008 was when the conversation on Gaga began. With the release of her first single ‘Just Dance’, we first saw Gaga as a pop star with a kooky sense of style. As she spent the music video strutting around a chaotic house party in a disco ball bra and riding an inflatable whale in a children’s paddling pool, it was apparent that she was unlike any female pop star that had come before her. Her debut album The Fame, almost 10 years on, is still a masterpiece. The electropop-infused album displays some of Gaga’s greatest work to date. The album sways beautifully between incredibly fun and deadly serious. Songs such as ‘Paparazzi’ tell of her toils of wanting fame and love but coming to the sickening realisation that she cannot have both, whilst ‘LoveGame’ talks about a fleeting crush on someone in a club and how she wants to ride their ‘disco stick’. It was also a recordbreaking album. Hit single ‘Poker Face’ was the highest selling single of 2009 worldwide, with over 9.5 million record sales. The album as a whole was the fifth best-selling album of 2009. But while everyone stood gawping at how she flaunted herself upon a screen, the real meaning
behind ‘Poker Face’ was left hidden. In fact, the song is about Gaga’s personal experience with bisexuality. The iconic line ‘Can’t read my poker face’ being more than just a gambling reference. Since the early days, Gaga, who identifies as bisexual, has been a strong voice within the LGBTQ community. Creating the Born This Way Foundation in 2011, Gaga has been able to devise initiatives such as #HackHarrassment, Channel Kindness and #KindMonsters, to help end bullying of LGBTQ youth. She also the foundation to open the Born Brave Bus, a place where her fans could meet pre-show to discuss issues such as mental health and bullying. Gaga has also used her platform to call out President Donald Trump on a number of his discriminating motives, such as removing transgender soldiers from the American Army. She does not only stand up to those affected but educates those who are not. As Gaga said herself on stage last August, “you gotta stop throwing stones at your sisters and your brothers, cause it wasn’t that long ago that we were all just living in a jungle”. The charming thing about Gaga is that throughout her entire career, she has been nothing other than herself and the person she wants to be. Not at all swayed but what the media have to say about her, her authenticity and resilience to stay true to herself has captured the hearts of many. by Hayley Millross Artwork by Lizzie Capewell
Solidarity Not Silence Solidarity Not Silence is a group set up by women in the music industry who are facing a libel claim of defamation by Ethan Kath. The group consists of his ex-girlfriend and a group of feminist musicians who speak passionately about this case, and many others that are happening in the music industry. It’s not unknown that the music industry is one which is predominantly run by men and therefore cases like this are far too common. But finally, women are coming together in the industry in solidarity to ensure that their voices are heard and opinions counted. Kath’s ex Crystal Castles bandmate Alice Glass has been very outspoken about the project and was the first woman to come out and accuse Kath of rape. Since Glass’ post, numerous women have come forward with their own stories and allegations, including one woman who claimed that Kath started a relationship with her when she was 15. Kath categorically denied all the allegations and then filed a defamation case against Glass. On 23 February 2018, Kath dropped the case, leading to Glass tweeting, “I won in court today!! The defamation lawsuit against me was dismissed! Thank you so much for the love and support throughout this ugly process.” She later tweeted, “This is a victory for survivors of abuse and sexual misconduct in countries where abusers use the court system to further victimize and keep people silent. WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED”.
together in solidarity and ensure that these bands are not allowed to continue in the limelight. Glass and the Solidarity Not Silence group should be considered inspirations for victims to not stand for this abuse and not give into the intimidation tactics that are so commonly used by those who have been accused of sexual misconduct. There is still more to be done however, the fight for equality is far from over. It seems as though steps are being taken in the right direction but the fact that Kath used scare tactics and cost Glass thousands of dollars in legal costs should be very worrying. For now though, Glass should be championed for her brave actions and refusing to accept her mistreatment and go down without a fight. She should be considered an inspiration for victims of these crimes and her success will hopefully be the beginning of a new chapter of fighting against abusers who think they can get away with sexual misconduct. by Dan Phillips
Crystal Castles have continued without Glass with Kath hiring Edith Frances as the new vocalist. However, movement has been slow since the allegations surfaced in October 2017. They currently have no shows booked and haven’t been announced on any festival line-ups, and deservedly so. This is a step in the right direction of course but this is definitely an anomaly amongst bands who have been accused of such crimes. With bands who have faced serious allegations such as Neck Deep and Moose Blood still being allowed to play main stages at some of the UK’s leading festivals, what does that say about the music industry and the patriarchal society as a whole? It is time for women and men to come
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS – SCANDAL, SILENCE AND MONSTERS IN THE DARK When Alice tumbled down the rabbit hole she found a world beyond her imagination. A world full of strange characters; dark environments she never thought could actually exist. A world of utter madness. At this point in our understanding of the true extent of sexual harassment in our creative industries, we’re still following the white rabbit in our safe, tangible ‘real’ world. Despite the massive support for the #MeToo movement, with countless celebrities stepping up to draw attention to abuse they’ve endured, we don’t really know how deep this rabbit hole goes – especially in the questionably quiet music industry. In the fallout of the Weinstein scandal, with dozens of actresses accusing the film producer of sexual assault over the last 30 years, the music industry is comparatively less outspoken than its Hollywood counterpart. Interestingly, Courtney Love spoke out against Weinstein thirteen years ago, a year before the #MeToo movement was founded. The infamous Hole frontwoman advised young actresses in an interview by saying “If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in The Four Seasons, don’t go.” Since then the dark narrative has grown exponentially, yet, only a handful of artists have spoken out between 2005 and now. Of this small number, Kesha’s civil suit against Dr Luke has gained the most media traction. The singer accused the producer of “sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally” abusing her since the beginning of their professional relationship, in addition to drugging and raping her on two separate occasions and sending death threats to her and her mother; allegations
of him calling her derogatory names the rotten cherry topping this particularly revolting cake. The music industry’s response? Put Kesha on stage to perform her new single at the Grammys before an audience all wearing white roses. A nice idea, but is promoting Kesha’s music, albeit under the guise of feminine strength and unity, really a solution? And do the white rose adorned, rich, white men in the audience really understand just why they’re wearing the emblem tacked onto their Louis Vuitton tux? Do half of them even know that it’s their own toxic masculinity that casts the shadows in which monsters like Dr Luke operate can so freely? So why is it that such an obvious bogie can remain on the upper lip of the music business? One reason that perpetuates this rape culture is the sheer lack of women in the industry. In a recent study carried out by USC’s Anneburg Inclusion Initiative on the top songs of 2017 found that only 16.8% of artists were women and out of 2,767 credited songwriters 12.3% were female. They also discovered that the ratio of male to female producers was a staggering 49.1 to 1. The USC’s conclusion – women are absent in popular music. Perhaps another reason why female artists have been notably silent in contrast to their Hollywood counterparts is a contractual one. It’s easier for actresses to speak out against an abuser that they no longer have to work with given that they would usually only work with them on a film for a year or so. By contrast, record label contracts bind the artists for multiple albums, meaning that a victim of sexual
abuse can be locked-in legally to a company for multiple albums, potentially over several years or even decades. Any kind of accusation could lead to the artist being dropped by the company, particularly if the perpetrator holds a powerful position. Singer Lily Allen took to Twitter earlier this year to draw attention to this specific issue: “Say you’re on album one of a five album deal. Music industry is a boy’s club, especially at executive level, if you report something and it goes nowhere, as is the case mostly, there is a strong likelihood that your abuser will be connected to someone who [has] direct control over your future.” “Most people are very young and impressionable upon entering the music industry, a lot of people around offering ‘advice’,” she continued. “Those people often stand to benefit financially if victims keep their mouths shut.” But artists aren’t just the victims. Some of the world’s most idolised rock gods have skeletons in their closets that the public seemingly choose to ignore. Glam icon David Bowie allegedly raped a pair of 15-year-old girls, whilst Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page is said to have kidnapped a 14-year-old and raped her (both incidents described by Lori Mattix in an interview with Thrillist in 2015). God father of rock and roll Chuck Berry was convicted of transporting a 14-year-old indigenous girl across state lines for sex. Yet these are the men that pop-culture
champions, our modern-day deities that can apparently do no wrong on the merit of their art alone. Surely, we can all agree that making good music should not be enough to excuse rape. The wheels are in motion to change this though. Last year the chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group Jody Gerson, who in 2015 became the first woman ever to run a major global music company, issued a doctrine within the corporate giant to, “not knowingly sign an artist who has committed a violent crime against women, or anybody else.” This is a big step, issuing a statement so explicit and bold that there is no room for loopholes or alternative interpretation. However, it’s disturbing that this is such a recent policy when it should have been the case from the start. We still a very long way to go before sexual abuse is eradicated in the music industry. Hopefully one day our grandchildren will look back in disgust at how such rife misogyny could have existed in these companies, and with even more distain at how we allowed this cancerous tumour to not only grow, but thrive, for so long. But, we’re still chasing the white rabbit without any real comprehension of what will happen next. It’s not going to be easy and there will certainly be more casualties along the way to finding out how far this rabbit hole goes. by Lucas Eveleigh
Artwork by Nela Ilic
Ezra FurmanTransangelic Exodus Label: Bella Union by Dan Phillips Released: 9th February Chicago’s favourite rock ‘n’ roller Ezra Furman is back with his fourth solo album, Transangelic Exodus, three years after his critically acclaimed LP Perpetual Motion People with backing band the Boy-Friends. As Furman so often does, he has rebranded his backing band as the Visions, although the line-up has not changed. Album opener, ‘Suck the Blood from My Wound’ sets the scene with strong themes that are apparent from the get-go. Imagining going on the run from an oppressive anti-LGBTQ+ government with his new lover, explaining the backing band name change. The lyrics for this uplifting track make no effort to hide Furman’s desire: “They’ll never find us if we turn off our phones/we’re off the grid, we’re off our meds, we’re finally out on our own.” The to-the-point lyricism is a familiar aspect of Furman’s songwriting, and is also a clear middle finger to the aforementioned government and his peers: “To them we’ll always be weird,” Furman alludes to with the difficulties of being accepted because of his open bisexuality.
feels empowering; a coming of age, you-andme-against-the-world song which cleverly avoids becoming a cheesy, overproduced pop song. Transangelic Exodus is not simply a nostalgic borrowing from rock ‘n’ roll’s bygone era though. There are glimmers of a contemporary digital sound, particularly on ‘Compulsive Liar’ and ‘Maraschino–Red Dress $8.99 At Goodwill’. Furman perfectly balances nostalgic and contemporary instrumentation whilst exploring key issues that members of LBGTQ+ community face whilst trying to love, something which has been an issue throughout the careers of Furman’s idols. Transangelic Exodus is certainly Furman’s most uplifting, powerful and successful record to date. The instrumentation from the Visions helps build a base for Furman to build his tenacious vocals. The anecdotal nature of the lyricism works flawlessly, Furman ensures that you reminisce on teenage years and desires to run away with your lover. This euphoric record is the soundtrack to a new age of LGBTQ+ positivity, and will be most enjoyed racing down the highway escaping the world with your lover.
These themes of sexuality are key throughout Furman’s newest project, something which he has never shied away from talking about in interviews; In a 2015 piece in the Guardian he wrote, “This behaviour is not just part of an onstage persona, nor is it a gimmick to get people’s attention. Gender-fluidity is very much a part of my life offstage... I am proud to exist in an ambiguous, undecided state.” Older fans should not fear, as he has not lost his nostalgic rock ‘n’ roll sound. The influence of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground can still be heard throughout this 42-minute record. Furman makes no attempt to hide his adoration for Reed’s work- he is currently working on a book about Reed’s Transformer. This is particularly apparent on ‘God Lifts Up the Lowly’, a track which is built around Furman’s haunting, lonely vocal performance. “No Place” is another highlight of the record, the powerful, caveman-like drum pattern
Artwork by Lizzie Capewell
HOW TO SOCIALISE & MAKE FRIENDS By Chloe Gorman
CHERRY BABY EP By Charlie Conibear The activist riot girl band are back shaking things up with EP number two; firmly putting naysayers in their place with this heavily punk driven record. The four-piece hailing from Norwich express anger and frustration with a menacing manner. Following a year of misogyny that is present in the music industry has produced a new wave of feminist grunge punks; Peach Club may be one of the best talents to come from this movement. The EP opens with ‘Venus’, which isn’t the typical shouting angst that is associated with Peach Club, however it certainly has attitude. The songs explore sexual frustration as the humorous lyrics demonstrate how they’re not the “Delicate flower” women are depicted to be, but more like a “Venus fly-trap”. The self-titled track takes you down a darker path in the depths of this EP. Whilst the music doesn’t match the lyrics in terms of its sinister narrative, the character of “Cherry” is a sad tale of a girl who wanted to be a star, but found herself in a toxic drug fuelled relationship. It’s clear that vocalist Katie Revell doesn’t like being told what to do, and why would she? Rebellion is a key theme to this EP and is heard clearly on tracks like ‘Bad Bitch’. Midway through this song they incorporate their own rendition of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’; although it’s rather unorthodox, the patronising rewrite of the nursery rhyme works. As Revell emphasises how much of a “bad bitch” she is. This EP doesn’t sit still and is hard to pin down, but that’s what Peach Club are. You could try and tell this band to do one thing, and they would do the opposite to prove a point. This EP demands to be heard and grabs the attention of the listener with both hands. Political and powerful- exactly what good punk music should be.
Melbourne punk trio Camp Cope don’t care for conforming to typical social norms. They’re not your average all-singing-all-dancing girl band. When faced with the challenge, making a stand against sexual abuse and misogyny in the music industry, their second album How to Socialise & Make Friends is making a bigger statement than flaunting a white rose at an awards show. ‘The Opener’ is an insight into the struggles of the punk scene today. Bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich carries the song, whilst singer Georgia McDonald brings her empowering vocals to the forefront creating something that screams boldness and bravery. Coming after the #MeNoMore movement, ‘The Face of God’ brings home the harsh reality of a gruelling experience that many women around the world have to live. The opening line from McDonald, “I had to leave because I had to say no and stop more than once”, addresses the struggles that women go through when being victims of sexual abuse. To see it demonstrated so bluntly is compelling, but the word “no” still means “no” - despite some men still think otherwise. Closing track ‘I’ve Got You’ is a poetic tribute to McDonald’s late father. The simple use of the acoustic guitar is enough to pull on anyone’s heartstrings. McDonald’s delivery of lyrics like, “I’m so proud that half of me grew from you, all the broken parts too,” are not only grief stricken but also commemorative of her father in a poignant and relatable way. Not only have the trio conveyed a message to women worldwide, but to the music industry as a whole. It shows that change needs to happen to create an environment that is not only more trustworthy, but safe to all those in it. How to Socialise & Make Friends is a perfect example of why Camp Cope are a force to be reckoned with.
ABOUT U: ONE YEAR ON EP By Dan Phillips
EVERYTHING DIES By Joey Butcher
It has been a whirlwind year for California’s MUNA, they’ve opened for Harry Styles on his North American tour and released their debut album About U, to critical acclaim. To mark the year anniversary of the record, the self-proclaimed ‘queer-band’, have released a three-track acoustic EP of the three singles from their debut effort.
The ‘second album syndrome’ has long been a staple part of any mildly successful band’s diet. With expectations high amid the cult heroics of Nervus’ debut album Permanent Rainbow, the Watford quintet appear to have done what many artists before them have failed to achieve in their own attempts; produce an album that is a continuation of good form.
‘‘Crying nn The Bathroom Floor’ was already regarded as a favourite amongst their fans. Katie Gavin’s lyrics are a moving anecdote of young heartbreak and the struggles of growing up queer. All three songs on About U: One Year On are carefully constructed and detail the need for LGBTQ+ safe havens, particularly following the horrific Orlando Shootings of June 2016. ‘I Know A Place’ is something of an LGBTQ+ anthem and although it was written before the shootings, it has taken on a new meaning following the atrocities.
Charged with distorted guitars that move freely between subtlety and complete noise pollution with the grace of a well-trained ballet dancer, Everything Dies announces Nervus’ return to the emo scene. A scene, in which they are seemingly becoming more and more revered with each release. Although praise towards the band has not been gifted without good reason, Permanent Rainbow performed well in the UK indie charts, with a limited-edition release of coloured vinyl copies of the album sold out on the band’s Bandcamp page.
This however, is where the positives stop on About U: One Year On. The acoustic guitar on ‘Crying on The Bathroom Floor’ is too quiet and quickly becomes tedious. The song lacks the uplifting nature that worked so well on their debut. ‘If U Love Me Now’ lacks punch and doesn’t demand attention like their electronic dark-pop sound should. ‘I Know A Place’ is more of the same. Each song is practically indistinguishable; It’s impossible to tell when one song finishes and another begins, the EP as a whole is too ‘samey.’
Everything Dies sees the band incorporate a far more delicate, personal approach to their songs than their debut. The vast majority of the songs are sprinkled with melancholic lyrics rooted in the desire to be accepted. No doubt this owes to singer Em Foster revealing that she identifies as a trans woman. Words like “physical form has determined you, your name, and who you should grow up to be”from the opening track ‘Congratulations’, are effortlessly coupled with tender piano riffs throughout to create a truly sombre atmosphere. Strip this record of its roaring guitars and powerful drumming, and Adele’s title as ‘music’s biggest heartbreaker’ has a new challenger.
MUNA are onto something with their powerful, uplifting, dark-pop sound and they should definitely stick to what they know works best. Although the lyrics and messages of LGBTQ+ struggles are carefully constructed and delivered, the instrumentals are too boring, slow and ultimately each song sounds the same. MUNA need to listen to Nirvana’s ‘Unplugged In New York’ and Ben Harper’s ‘Fight for Your Mind’ and then try again.
One could be forgiven for getting so lost in the maturity of Foster’s lyrics that the music quickly becomes secondary. But the band’s music is growing up just as fast. With its pop sensibilities and fragile themes, Everything Dies is not to be snuffed at.
PUSSY RIOT United by feminism and empowered by protest, Pussy Riot have refused to be silenced in a nation plagued by censorship The name Pussy Riot has become synonymous with balaclava-clad women screaming in cathedrals, the faceless women of Russia embroiled in a never-ending war with their government and the forces of intolerance. This war, with casualties ranging from spraypaint attacks, kidnappings and a hefty prison sentence for two members, has bolstered their place not only as activists, but as global and cultural icons no longer bound by the censorship of their home nation. Their birth in August 2011 was followed by a wave of guerrilla performances across Moscow, culminating in their most famous and controversial moment – the storming of the city’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in February 2012 to play anthem ‘Punk Prayer’. This statement landed the two faces most associated with the movement - Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova – a two year sentence in prison for ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’. The world’s media latched onto these modern day Joans of Arc, and since then their words have been heard across the planet, and their music and performances have adapted gloriously to that. Simultaneously targeted by the government and shunned by an unsupportive public, the women of Pussy Riot (ranging from ten to thirty or forty members) aimed their sights at the international stage. In 2015 they released their very first song in English, a tribute to Eric Garner and “all those from Russia to America and around the globe
who suffer from state terror - killed, choked, perished because of war and state sponsored violence of all kinds - for political prisoners and those on the streets fighting for change. We stand in solidarity.” ‘I Cant Breathe’ is a calm and solemn reminder that the challenges that Pussy Riot face are not confined to one country. The Russian government’s intolerance of the LGBTQ+ community is well documented, and Pussy Riot stand tall at the helm of the protest movement, including the Gay Pride March 2011 that was cancelled by the Russian government, and ended with the detainment of two members. Their cultural presence, a thousand times larger than when the movement began seven years ago, now provides a platform for their criticism that is high-end and well-funded. Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow fame has produced for them, their videos filled with outlandish concepts have been made with quality cameras and style teams, a million miles from their earlier videos like ‘Putin Will Teach You How to Love’ and ‘Like a Red Prison’ four years ago. They played at street artist Banksy’s Dismaland festival, and Maria and Nadezha even featured in an episode of House of Cards, using the pseudo-political world to once again plaster their message of resistance across the biggest streaming platform on the planet. The fight against Pussy Riot has immortalised them within the realms of activism, the imagery and sound that began with neon tights and pure punk has evolved into a sophisticated battle cry and now touring the USA, they have found a new cause – Donald Trump and post-truth America. Good luck to them.
by Maddy Hardman
Troye Sivan Over the past five or so years, there has been an uprising in the LGBT+ community of support and allegiance from those ruling social media platforms and the music industry. Anyone who’s familiar with the YouTuber community will have at least heard of Troye Sivan at some point. The actor, known for playing young Wolverine in X-Men and John Milton in the Spud trilogy has dabbled with vlogging, creating videos with established names such as Zoella and Tyler Oakley. Despite this, his long-term passion lies with music and aims to pave the way for young LGBT+ people so that they can have an idol to look up to unlike he did growing up. Now looking up to the likes of Madonna, Cher and Lady Gaga, Troye wanted to be an artist who wouldn’t be afraid to be himself when it comes to his music and his career. Covering sensitive issues such as heartbreak, naivety and running away, paired with his male love interest-based music videos, Troye has been dubbed a ‘gay icon’ of the music industry for positively portraying LGBT+ relationships. “I will never understand the struggles of a trans woman of colour growing up,” he told Wonderland, explaining why he politely rejects the term as he feels he cannot take the pressure and “would never put that on myself”. Troye came out to his half a million YouTube subscribers in 2013, and now boasting over
four million, he feels as if a weight has been lifted from his shoulders. “Hiding my sexuality meant that I hid a lot of my identity as a person,” he admits. “It’s not something anyone should be ashamed of, so why not share it with all of you guys?” he explains in the video of him sharing his secret with his fans. With the success of his critically acclaimed 2015 Blue Neighbourhood EP, Troye has been applauded for his dramatic production of ‘Talk Me Down’, a spine-chilling anthem about the effects of homophobia. “I’d rather fuel a fantasy, than deal with this alone,” he sings, putting his feelings on his sleeve for the world to hear. After being disregarded from the Blue Neighbourhood track list, hidden gem ‘Strawberries & Cigarettes’ gained its recognition by landing on the soundtrack of upcoming LGBT+ coming of age film, Love Simon. Joining the wonders of The 1975 and HAERTS, the single is reminiscent of one of Troye’s past loves, how he was messed around but couldn’t help but feel as though he was in love. Troye aims to keep his music positive with what is going on in the world regarding current politics and hate crimes, saying he doesn’t know “if the world needs a sad gay album right now”. Working on his upcoming and currently unnamed second album, singles ‘My My My’ and ‘The Good Side’ give an insight to what we could be in store for, with a promise of a collaboration with Ariana Grande already confirmed. by Emily Young
WHEN GIGS GO SOUTH 21st March: Dream Wife @ Heaven, London 23rd March: Dumb Lovers @ Heartbreakers, Southampton 31st March: Anteros @ The Old Blue Last, London 31st March: Dodie @ Concorde 2, Brighton 6th-10th April: Sam Smith @ O2 Arena, London 12th April: GIRLI @ The Joiners, Southampton 12th April: The Orielles @ The Garage, London 15th April: Louise Distras @ The Joiners, Southampton 19th April: Girl Ray @ The Haunt, Brighton 20th April: Dua Lipa @ Alexandra Palace, London 20th April: Hinds @ Concorde 2, Brighton 21st April: Goat Girl @ The Haunt, Brighton 21st April: Queen Zee @ Heartbreakers, Southampton 27th April: Kele Okereke @ Heartbreakers, Southampton 19th May: Peace @ Engine Rooms, Southampton 26th May: Ezra Furman @ Brighton Dome, Brighton 31st May: Beth Ditto @ Concorde 2, Brighton 2nd June: Patti Smith @ Concert Hall, Brighton Dome, Brighton 6th June: Courtney Barnett @ Roundhouse, London 13th June: ROSTAM @ The Haunt, Brighton 15th June: HAIM @ Alexandra Palace, London