Serious Ladies of Art&Gigs
We’re back, a little later than planned, but better late than never, bringing you the amazing Issue 2 of Slag Mag! Issue 1 - WOW. We were overwhelmed with the response, so many zines sold, amazing Serious Ladies contributing, and so many people showing support. THANK YOU. If you’re new to Slag Mag then let us tell you what we are all about. We’re the Slags. The Serious Ladies of Art & Gigs. Music and arts has had the same narrative for too long. These industries have been dominated by men in positions of power and influence, which has made an uneven playing field. We want to promote and empower our local creative babes, to give them a platform and talk about issues that concern us all. We work fucking hard and believe it or not, we have opinions of our own. In fact, we’re experts at this. LGBT+, non-binary, trans, womxn, women of colour. Artists, writers, illustrators, musicians, business owners and everyone in between, we hear you. And we take you seriously. We want to be inclusive to anyone and everyone, we want all your voices to be heard. So join us in being the biggest Slags around. We need YOU! Join us as a contributor or become part of the core team or just one of our cheerleaders. Get in touch now - email@example.com To all our men/non identifying people reading this: if you are a feminist and an ally then we want to see you waving your Slag Mag around with pride & joining us at events. Show other men how to be better feminists and if you are unsure about how to deal with a certain tricky situation, ask us, drop us an email. We have plans in the pipeline for something a little different, if you are a true feminist & have issues or something to say email us firstname.lastname@example.org. Issue two: August 2019. www.slagmag.co.uk
Contents Our First Issue • 4 PinkAppleJam • 6 This Old Bort • 8 Liz Ilsley • 10 Review: ‘Ache’ • 12 Meet Beth Nichol • 13 Ask the Bad Girls • 16 A brief history of Riot Grrl • 18 Getting drunk with The Cosmics • 20 My belly’s never full • 23 Shiny Happy People • 24 Bryony Williams • 25 Review: Shonenknife • 26 Review: Bikini Kill • 28 Review: Lady Sanity • 30 Listings • 31 3
OUR FIRST ISSUE... a feminist zine! Our Slag Mag Issue International Women’s Day 2019. What a time to launch now you should know that we are By . 1 launch party fell deliciously onto Friday, 8th March & Gigs. Art of Ladies s Seriou reclaiming the insult ‘Slag’ to mean NB people! Firstly, we wanted to pay As a result we crafted an event filled with such ladies/ platform, and so we joined forces with a gals great giving y alread homage to Serious Ladies produced some incredible events have local DJs and promoters Bad Girls. Molly and Lauren a platform and raising money for music and art in n wome over the past few years, both giving n and more. local charities such as Women’s Aid, Safe Gigs 4 Wome , art-pop Sofa King (secretly debuting The line-up featured indie jazz ensemble Sorry Grace sets from ourselves and Bad Girls. DJ Kim’s Cold Food Co.) and soul singer Czafari, with Doyle and our Slag Mag logo creEmily l, Nicho Beth inson, Whilst local artists Dana Hodgk ator, Reenie Dogface sold their handmade creations. clock alongside Bad Girls Molly and On the afternoon of the event we worked against the r. When we opened the doors, we wonde and Lauren to deck out The Castle & Falcon in tinsel in hand! issues in, get to waiting y alread were gobsmacked to find people sold about 100 copies of Slag Mag, by Within no time at all the venue was full and we had The atmosphere was incredible, so the end of the night we were close to 150 copies gone. men and allies all joined toLGBT+ & cis many amazing women, womxn, trans, non-binary, gether for a night of loveliness!
Here’s to another issue and another launch party in August 2019
Images by Maddie Cottam Allan ÂŠ @maddiecottamallanphotos
Laura Watton-Davies: Journey of a comic illustrator I can never remember anything very well unless it’s written down, or in some form of graphic. It’s just how my brain works. Drawing was an escape from social complexities and anxieties. I got better the more I drew, but if I had developed an obsession with anything else, I’m sure I would have been good at that instead. Drawing is muscle memory. Seeing melodramatic visual grammar in Japanese comics, when they finally made their way to UK shores, was a joy to discover! Those weird exaggerated anger veins and sweatdrop graphics, it was easy to figure out what it meant. Exactly the same thing as you’d feel, because - news flash! - we are all the same inside. Nobody really understood manga at school, even though they watched melodramas on TV every day, whilst eating their tea?
babies” within five years. No room for women - we had to adapt. The Cute style we’d occasionally see in the shops, I purchased, or drew, I loved the kawaii when it trickled through to us in the 2000s. There was so much cute stuff in the 80s, and here we were again! Drawing comics made sense because it was filling a gap media had abandoned for young women in the 90s. The focus was on cartoons for kids and boys only. Instead of more series with fantastic females like She-Ra and Jem, girls had some lifestyle doll cartoons, and then suddenly, very little else. No comics for women? Even though girls' comics in the 70s outsold boys’ comics in the UK? Luckily, manga got back onto retail shelves in the 00s, and despite the credit crunch shrinking that somewhat, now the internet is presenting the old stuff to new generations of young women, who never watched it on their TVs but now on their tablets, getting inked and being inspired to draw their own magical characters.
Growing up when the UK actually had an animation industry, wanting to make short toons but having no access to equipment, to existing as an arts graduate in a weird post-recession, pre-Web 2.0 era, without support, no website After Uni, I went back to making comics for or agent, after paying for the first tuition fees myself plus got an admin job to pay rent, bethe UK introduced... I felt lost. cause it was a way of living and supporting myself to produce the sort of art I personally Animation was now all outsourced, and UK believed in, without needing anything more arts received funding cuts. Japanese anima- than pens and paper, and occasional access tion went from “the stuff for pervs” to “stuff for to a photocopier (I used my dad’s machine at 6
All artworks supplied are copyright Laura Watton 2019 / www.PinkAppleJam.com
work). I drew freelance illustrations for print publications as I had one or two fantastic, random opportunities come through, and yet I still felt like a failure, purely just because I was not doing this full time. Even though I was doing art for publications, and getting paid for it! I still don’t do art full time now, because it’s very rare I got autonomy to input into pieces when I *did* do it full time! So I work in publishing now too, and I really enjoy it. What about the holistic side of art, pure enjoyment? As art is subjective, so, doing any art it in itself is a punk thing to do. I think I took art to university level because it was all coursework and no exams for me. I doubt I would have been able to get over the anxiety to actually sit Uni exams, but Uni is not for everyone, especially the ethos of changing what I drew under the guise of developing it. It was more like ‘derailing’, for me. I wanted to develop the skill set I had, and I don’t think I got to do so. So I re-developed skills in my spare time after, and any income I ever made through freelance work has been for the way I drew, before and after Uni. Not during. Academia still hates comics. I still love getting things into print, whether I publish the piece or someone else does. Even through periods of being chronically ill for years, up and down health resulting in not having energy or focus, making art has still been what I would get to do when I felt better. Luckily, that cycle rolled round again. I think a lot of creativity is purely to do with sheer grit and patience. I will always try to encourage everyone to draw, even if they think they’re not very good, purely because of the feeling of enjoyment. I hate that society only considers art and creativity deemed “worthy” if it is only classical or academically quantifiable. Arts cuts will have detrimental effects on the wellbeing of students to come. Please draw! Website: www.BiomechaComic.com Instagram: PinkAppleJam Etsy: PinkAppleJam Patreon: Patreon.com/PinkAppleJam Facebook: PinkAppleJamArt Twitter: @PinkAppleJamArt
This Old Bort. Born from a desire to make commercial printing accessible to new artists, Old Bort’s Sticker Club was formed at the beginning of 2019 and has since produced seven limited edition stickers featuring over twenty-five creatives from Birmingham and beyond. Old Bort, aka Emily Doyle, is a designer and illustrator based in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. She favours tactile mediums like lino, embroidery and painting. As a way of filling the minimum orders needed for custom vinyl stickers, volume 1 of Sticker Club was split between 5 artists, and quickly overflowed into volume 2. Since then, collaborators have ranged from friends of Slag Mag Beth Nicol and Reenie Dogface to notable street artists Ginger Dan and Foka Wolf. Emily was most recently spotted making the most of the open bar at Babs Collective x Fever Dream’s sticker party in the Custard Factory, so more collaborations are certainly in the pipeline... Old Bort’s Sticker Clubhouse, an art showcase of Sticker Club contributors, is coming to the Birmingham School of Art’s Margaret Street campus this September. Right now, Emily is also working on a submission for another local collaborative art project, the Holodeck’s Risobook, which is expected to launch its second edition this Autumn. She has recently produced ‘Diary of a Short Lived Drag King’, a fanzine centred around Birmingham’s vibrant drag scene, which is coming soon on Review Publishing. When she’s not collating new sticker packs, Emily also plays in art-pop group Sofa King and country-noir project The Devil and Joe Joseph. Follow Old Bort on Instagram @oldbort.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
I am a painter, a print maker primarily! I also design for collaborations with fashion brands and do a lot of advertising on Instagram if that counts? I got started as soon as I began university, once inspired by Patti Smith’s book ‘Just Kids’ I painted a jacket that I bought from Salvation Army, put it on Instagram and got work offers ever since and haven’t looked back.
HOW DOES MUSIC COME INTO IT?
Music inspires my art mostly at the moment, pop culture docs and books, followed by conversation with friends, if something really funny is said I’ll write it down in my phone for inspiration later when writing. Over the years I’ve taken inspiration from Tracey Emin, Patti Smith, Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Courtney Love... more recently Cate Le Bon is the object of my admiration, I listen to her music every day and she makes me want to make new work. She works in the same was as I do... solemnly. I’ve always been into music from an early age, mixing old tunes with new records, I’d be the one with the playlists for friend’s parties and trips away so it only feels natural to have got into DJing. Myself and my best pal Jonny join forces and made ‘Cherry Bomb’ so we can all have fun on a night out and not take ourselves too seriously. We want to develop it more now with different genres and play more.
HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED ANY DISCRIMINATION?
I haven’t had any discrimination against my gender with DJing, if anything it’s helped me! I’ve had more shite off women on nights then any man. Sadly. Most of my mates DJ and nearly all of them are male, considering my girls are really creative and musical there was and still is a massive imbalance. I’ve had tons of help and encouragement from male DJ mates but maybe if it wasn’t such a novelty for a girl to DJ that wouldn’t be the case. With art I’ve had grief with some of my prints and people misinterpreting them as submissive when in fact they’ve read them completely wrong! It’s all about switching the male gaze to the female. That and the odd perverted message off a random geezer on Instagram but who doesn’t get that these days? YOU CAN FIND EVERYTHING ON MY WEBSITE elizabethilsley.co.uk Keep your eyes on @elizabethilsley on Instagram as there’s loads of new work and events coming up in Birmingham and
ANY ENTERPRISE THAT EXPOSES RAW EMOTION IS AN ENTERPRISE WORTH TAKING. Depression is a misunderstood feeling, but Scarlett Ward’s aptly named poetry book ‘Ache’ successfully paints it into earthly landscapes we can all recognise. Using tongue-tying language that isn’t restricted by rhyme or rhythm - although it does appear often - she undoes her emotions softly with deep analysis and consideration, meaning the reader can either get right inside her heart or peer at it from a distance. Split into four parts, the book curves through healing, endurance, love and recovery, with each section acting as a layer of skin she is shredding to find a reason worth growing for. We are invited into this sense of discovery by Scarlett’s ability to effortlessly thread sounds from the natural environment through her stanzas. The breaking of wood, the rustle of dead leaves, the wisp of sand and dust and the rumble of exhausts all become the sound of the shred as she consistently uses nature to process what it means to be human. This traditional approach to writing welcomes the reader into the pain, and we are gifted with flowers, sounds of the forest, high tides and beach foraging. At times the poems bite you, chewing away at your imagination as you let the words take over and embrace Scarlett’s raw, intimate consciousness. There are many parallels between what is nature and what is man-made and as readers, we are pounded with references to the teeth, jaw and mouth in what I believe is some wort of sub-conscious ritual embedded in the poetry to help communicate the themes out of her body. At other times you are rapidly lifted into the 12
perilous urgency of lust and new love, the kind you experience for the first time with someone you’ve fancied for ages. As you remember that feeling, you find yourself re-reading her poems to pull yourself back to reality. Hard hitting and difficult to read at times, this book is an important piece of self-reflection that is essentially a really personal and intimate expression of dark sorrow and new love. Although this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I would encourage you to read it if you are trying to understand your own ill-mental health or have someone close to you struggling with something almighty. ‘Ache’ gives you an accessible step inside these raw emotions where you may be able to get some grasp on the energy that exists in many of us. Scarlett has managed to pull together a thoughtful analysis of her human experience, and what resonates most is that she defied expectations. As a reader you are not introduced to depression, instead you are side by side with it and ride the fall and climb in a short 60 pages. Review by Hayley Frances @hayleysword
A Brilliant Birmingham Bab: Meet Beth Nichol Birmingham is known for many admirable things: The Bullring, Ozzy Osbourne and – if you’re a bit of a creature at heart – Snobs. Adding to the city’s list of credentials is artist, illustrator and “generally nice person”, Beth Nichol. From sex toys to sausage rolls, Beth’s work is for the masses, touching on everyday thoughts, objects and scenarios, providing the opportunity for everyone to feel that little bit less odd. With her colourful artwork gracing the cover of issue two, it only felt right to take a dive into the world of Beth.
biggest inspirations from and how do these show in your work? I draw a lot of inspiration from pop culture and current events, and then make the sort of art I think I’d want to see. I love bright colours and questionable humour and always try to incorporate a tongue in cheek attitude. In terms of other artists, I really admire Sarah Taylor Silverwood. I love the way she takes illustration off the page and into other mediums. I’m also a fan of David Shrigley.
Hey, Beth! How did you get into art and illustration? Was it something that came naturally to you? As cliche as it sounds, I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember! My mum keeps finding my old sketchbooks in the attic and making them into cute but slightly embarrassing birthday cards. Saying that, I didn’t really develop my ‘style’ until relatively recently – it kind of emerged during my final year of university whilst I was drawing loads of sex toys... Have you always received positive feedback from friends, family or even strangers? For the most part, yes! My family have always been kind and supportive, and strangers are generally gently constructive. I’ve had my work described as “crude” and “oooh... very, um, unusual...” but one nice old lady described it as “refreshing” which was nice to hear fromsomeone outside my usual target demographic. When starting out on a new project, do you have any rituals or routines to get you in the headspace to create? A lot of my work is done in front of the TV on a rare afternoon off from work and university, so I guess my ritual is Midsomer Murders and coffee. Apart from a bit of homicide in the countryside. where do you draw your
What are some of the biggest challenges you face when publishing your own work be it personal, practical or as a female artist? To be honest, motivation and money. Being busy is great but sometimes it’s overwhelming trying to constantly switch between art, a day job and education, although realistically at this point I need to maintain a semi-stable job to pay the rent which is the unfortunate reality of being a creative. Of course, in the long run I’d love to be able to fund my lifestyle from art alone, but it’ll definitely take a few years of grafting first. I’m sure that’s something many readers who are trying to pave their creative way can relate to, but certain things make it all worthwhile. What has been your proudest moment so far? Last year was very successful both person-
ally and academically! I graduated from my BA with First Class Honours, started a Masters degree and was involved in the release of a nationwide ale packaging design (Purity Session IPA- it’s really nice!). I also got my little shop off the ground (BethOnTwoLegs on Etsy, if anyone’s interested), started taking commissions and putting my work out there a bit more. How did you find out about Slag Mag and what was the inspiration for your artwork for issue two? I actually found out about it through Facebook and then got chatting to Sophie at Kaleidoscope! She and Maz kindly invited me to sell my art at the launch event and it’s just kind of gone from there really. The cover art for issue two is based on the amazing Erin from The Cosmics. As someone who has lived and studied in the second city, do you think the Birmingham creative scene has a bright future? Absolutely! The scene in Brum has evolved and emerged so much even in the 5 years that I’ve had the pleasure of living here. Birmingham has such a rich creative history and I think it’s increasingly providing an accessible platform for emerging artists of all disciplines. There’s a lot going on in the world at the moment but Birmingham boasts a diverse and accepting community that paves the way for collaborations of love and acceptance. For other female/fxmale creators who might be hesitant about pursuing something they love, what advice would you give? Keep going! Chances are things won’t be handed to you and sometimes it’s not easy, but hard work pays off so just keep pushing. Small things turn into big things so stay focused and keep gathering momentum. Be loud, ask the question, send the email, take up space and be heard! Follow Beth on Instagram and shop her Etsy: BethOnTwoLegs By Claudia Knight
BAD GIRLS Alright, babs! We’re Bad Girls - your local disco and glitter loving mates trying bringing the females of The Midlands together, one big party at a time! Here’s the low down on what we’re loving, hating and living for!
WHAT’S HOT Periods are definitely not hot, that’s a fact. But now can finally rejoice on behalf of school girls who can now access free sanitary items from their schools! The government will now provide funding for sanitary products for girls in secondary schools. Whilst this is a move long overdue this is a huge step for campaigners and females alike. After all, we enjoy having periods just as much as the government has previously enjoyed funding them!
WHAT’S DEFINITELY NOT You know what’s definitely NOT hot and to be honest, we doubt has ever actually been? Women/wxmen being made to feel uncomfortable at gigs - both musicians and gig goers. Men still objectifying female musicians is not cool. Just because a musician is a pretty female doesn’t mean they deserved to be heckled or inappropriately touched, yuck. It’s not ok and we salute the people like Girls Against and Birmingham based Not Normal, Not Ok that call this sloppy, archaic behaviour out. We salute you!
We’re living for...
Now this girl is certainly one you need to watch out for. A Producer/DJ who is taking the circuit by storm, Roman Candles sets any club alight with her disco and house full sets. She’s recently supported the incredible Honey Dijon and has graced the stage at a number of festivals this summer. If you are lucky enough to catch her, we couldn’t recommend it enough!
@Selexterhood Whether you’re an aspiring DJ or just want to spend the evening with like-minded wxmen (who doesn’t, hey?), then Selextorhood is a must! Learn to DJ in a safe space at Café Artum and network with others in the music industry. We love the sense of community and encouragement these events give and we’re so happy to see it happen here in Birmingham. Let’s hear it for the girls!
@TheGirl To say we’re huge fans of The Girl is an understatement. Her hand-painted leather and embroidered clothes are every bit as bright and fun as the legend behind them, Georgia. In fact, you may have caught her at last year’s Bad Girls Presents: The Designers, remember? Having recently branched out into colourful hoodies, now is a perfect time to get your hands on one her unique pieces!
ASK BAD GIRLS We want to hear from you! Having accumulated enough mistakes and embarrassments over the years (believe us, there’s a lot) we feel it’s only right to lend a helping hand. Send a message to email@example.com (can be kept anonymous) and we’ll give you all the advice you ever need. We’re always on the lookout for female talent to celebrate and collaborate with! If you would like to be involved in any way, whether it be music, art and everything in between, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
STAY CLASSY & GET SASSY 17
X0%#*&!??£@&0X*% ?!@X#?&$£?*&X&!0 Whether loud riffs, crashing cymbals or overt use of the words “Fuck You!” are your thing, the riot grrl movement has influenced the way all female artists can express themselves. Prior to the mid-90s, the punk scene was heavily dominated by white men (and some may say still is), with women only being punk by virtue of dating a man in a punk band. Even artists like X-Ray Spex and The Slits were overlooked, despite being influential in punk’s development and popularisation.
feminism and anger at the fact they were excluded from the music they loved. It was called Bikini Kill. This fusion of “do-it-yourself” culture with punk and feminism was unlike anything seen before. Riot Grrl became a form of feminist performance art. Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill regularly wrote words like “cunt” and “slut” on her stomach, to reclaim the words and take away their power. Her vocals were not shy or timid. She cared not for being pitch perfect.
Fugazi’s 1998 song “Suggestion” highlights the way the punk scene excluded women and made it an unwelcoming place for both artists and fans. By the mid1990s, women had had enough. Third-wave feminism was in its infancy, as too was the internet; and Anita Hill foreshadowed what was to come for Christine Blasey Ford. In Washington state, an underground zine movement had blossomed, and four women decided to make a zine to express their
Bratmobile; another seminal band, famously refused to listen to other punk bands in order to create their own sound. Being appealing to mass media wasn’t part of the mani@reenie_dogface festo either; and By Reenie Dogface watering down the messages in their lyrics wasn’t an option, even if it meant being lambasted by the media. Sleater-Kinney founder Corin Tucker recalls that lyrics addressing sexual violence were actively ignored in reviews, being more concerned that riot grrl
A Brief History of Riot Grrl
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%$?X€#!@£?€#$% 0?&#!X*?%$!#?!%$ was simply “women on stage in our underwear”. The riot grrl sound is loud, abrasive and cathartic. “Rebel Girl”, considered to be THE riot grrl anthem features a soldiering drum beat and distorted guitar riffs amplifying Hanna’s lyrics. The sound is classically punk; in-yourface with catchy riffs and chorus. Voices break under emotion. It’s hard not to shout along. Soon, the riot grrl movement spread globally, and women were finally taking their place in the punk scene. But it wasn’t to last. Most had disbanded by the late 1990s, and part of this was attributed to the “watering-down” of their movement. The Spice Girls didn’t invent “Girl Power” at all, and the commercialisation of feminism for corporate profit was directly at odds with the original manifesto. This wasn’t the only issue with riot grrl. Being entwined with feminism, it also suffers the same criticisms; that women of colour and trans individuals are not welcome.
Hanna’s new post riot grrl band Le Tigre, infamously played a transphobic festival in the early noughties; though Hanna has recently expressed regret and support for the trans community. Even though many of the original bands seem to have gone quiet, riot grrls haven’t. It empowered women in all music scenes; from calling out sexism and violence at gigs to simply being “angry women” in their art. And more than ever, women in punk are staying political about everything from mental health to racism. The scene is more inclusive day-byday; with Tuffragettes releasing “ Tu f f r a g e t t e s Against Terfs” and calling out homophobic and transphobic promoters, Peach Club tackling White Feminism and Big Joanie recently releasing their amazing LP “Sistahs”. With women’s and LGBT rights seemingly going backwards in some places, we need loud, angry punk women more than ever.
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Interviews are always a little bit awkward, arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t they? So we cut out the middle man and get our interviewees (consensually) drunk, this time we met up with Erin Grace of The Cosmics. By Sophie Hack By Sophie Hack 20
You’re quite good... for a female bassist.
opefully reading those seven venomous words masked as a sincere compliment made your eyes roll back into your skull, and hopefully you never have to hear them ever again. Unfortunately, it’s another day in the office for Erin Curran. Fronting the family punk trio The Cosmics, Erin gets her fair share of raised eyebrows and questionable remarks; you’d think women owning musical instruments and having opinions was a completely avant-garde idea in the 21 st century. “There have been incidents where guys have come up and said ‘you’re good for a female singer’ and I’m like ‘What do you mean? Do you mean a singer?’ There’s other times where people are like ‘Oh! I never see a female bassist’ and they’re shocked. Welcome to the fucking 21 st century bitch!” Erin slams down her drink in the smoking area of Kong’s. You can see the ferocity in her eyes, she’d had enough of the labels. “This isn’t the medieval times any more, women can get on stage and say what the fuck they want! I think that it’s a combination of a... potential generational issue. Not saying all the people older than us are sexist. I’m saying there are some who have been brought up sexist because of their cultural upbringing, its engrained in them. I think that more people are learning now, but it is still an issue and it needs to be addressed.”
sexist review of one of The Cosmics’ gigs. Although unintentional (the writer persists) it was a prominent example of the culture of slapping the word ‘female’ in front of anything and using so to create a sense of otherness. To paraphrase, the writer said Erin “oozed adolescent magnetism” and would make a perfect “poster on a teenage boy’s bedroom”, commenting on her outfit choice and physicality and not once mentioning talent, skill or lyrical viewpoints. “When I initially read it, I thought ‘what the fuck is a poster girl? I’m a musician!’ but also he never spoke about the male musicians in any of the other bands the same way he spoke about me. I felt a bit pin-pointed. I understand he was trying to compliment [me] but it wasn’t necessary. There’s no need to sexualise something that wasn’t intended to be sexy. I felt like he didn’t take me seriously as a musician. So I called him out on it, and I’m glad I did. He did say sorry.
I feel like it’s important to call these things out because if you don’t people are never going to learn.
The Cosmics, comprised of cousins Erin Curran, Danny and Conor Boyle, nestle somewhere between four cornerstones: grunge, punk, noise and psych. At the time of (drunkenly) inter- The result? An interstellar whirlviewing, Erin had just created a wind of heavy bass lines, searneeded fury by responding to a ing and screeching lead guitar
shreds, crashes of cymbals and encircling drum beats that just about keep a lid on it all: “Garage is such a blanket term. We’re kind of a combination of 60s influences, garage rock crossed with punk and psychedelia. I’ve always been obsessed with the 60s” Erin adds. “Its kind of happened so naturally, almost meant to be” Erin reminisces over the band’s forming.
Conor started learning guitar and Danny drums in Primary school. I started singing in Secondary school and one day we all just came together and just jammed. Years and years ago when we were kids, we’d play covers together and that evolved into writing our own songs, that progressed and progressed. Changed band names, changed styles and then we became The Cosmics.” And what fucking whirlwind it has been for the three. From gaining a cult following in the thriving Birmingham music scene after a mere few gigs, to playing the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury in 2017. In June of this year, The Cosmics had just released their debut (self-funded) EP on vinyl, toured across Europe and supported the likes of Surfbort, Feels, White Fang and Brummie’s own Table Scraps. “I’ve loved it, I regret nothing. Glastonbury was a top highlight, but I feel like most festivals we play are always a highlight. This year’s highlight was playing with Surfbort at The Moth Club in London because Surfbort are fucking sick, I just love their whole vibe and attitude and they’re really nice people too! Sometimes it’s just
kind of like a journey, the people you meet on the way, the cities you go to… it’s all just one big incredible journey…” As you can tell at this point Erin’s drink of choice (a small prosecco) is getting to her head, but Erin never loses her headstrong sensibility. When asked the ageold question of her thoughts on Birmingham’s music, she astutely replies: “It’s ying and yang.” “I feel like it’s happened naturally, and we all support each other. Everyone’s grown to their instruments and bands, I can’t complain about it at all, everybody’s doing the music that’s real for them. My personal favourites are Table Scraps, Cherry Pickles, Robert Craig Oulton, Sugarthief, Violet… there’s a load of music coming out of Birmingham. I love it. It’s a gem.” “I’m happy to see more bands with women in coming out of Birmingham, I read a stat from Fender saying that around 50% of new guitar players are women… it’s definitely progressing. It’s always been a bit of a sausage party in general. With line ups, if we’re ever in control of
them, we try and get a band with at least one female in!” Something that sounds so simple, but can be a difficult feat, especially with the inundated sexualisation and otherness created.
Some people may not even realise that saying ‘female fronted’ or ‘female bass player’ can actually be patronising and even damaging.
“Some people will lead with we’re a ‘female led band’ but why are we not just a band? Why don’t people say ‘male led band’ ‘male singers’? Why do they never say ‘the male bassist leant over’ I question that. But I don’t feel like a novelty. Theres so many bands out there, I mean look at Wolf Alice, they’re badass. No one calls them a woman led band. I think people are learning now, but it still needs to be addressed.” So, what’s the next step to conquer this outwardly small, but inwardly damaging bit of stigma for wxmen in bands? Erin presents a valid option: “Just review women for their music, and not their looks for a start! Encourage women who are friends and can play instruments to jam. Not just women actually, any gender or whatever you identify as. Just have fun and jam! Why the fuck not? You’ll have a great time and learn something new.”
Photo credit to Helen J Ingram @helenjingram
MY BELLYâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S NEVER FULL I try to digest the whole world, it always comes up in pieces. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s at war in my belly, nowhere near ready to satisfy my empty beast.
Hayley Frances is a performance poet once shortlisted for Birmingham Poet Laureate two years running. She has performed at festivals all over the country including Glastonbury and Bestival and has recently had her pamphlet accepted at the National Poetry Library. Her poems explore what it means to be a womb-man while analysing the existence of feeling. Hayley Frances @hayleysword
Shiny Happy People Amy and Kat are an events and interior styling duo, creating decor for weird and wonderful events and venues all over the city.
stigma associated to our physical ability. We'll be the first to admit we cannot lift everything! Everyone however, is equally able until proven different.
How did you meet?
What is your dream project?
We met on the event design course at BCU and our friends were putting on parties in Digbeth at the time so the obvious progression was for us to start decorating for these. Student nights like Tektu gave us the creative freedom and opportunity to grow. We have the Digbeth family to thank for the OG support.
Anything big budget with the freedom to experiment! We love nothing more than seeing people enjoy what we do, festivals are amazing for this. Glasto would be pretty great. What do you want to shout about?
We're a proud part of The Melting Pot, a co working space in Digbeth - women (and men) that inspire us the most are the creative bunch we see everyday! SomeWe’ve had the pleasure of working with ITV, Virgin, Harvey Nichols to name a few one else important to mention is our mentor Richard, we met Richard through and have worked on great festivals and the Princes Trust - for years he's supportshows with our mates. From putting up decor in minus figures in the Alps to mak- ed us through the ups and downs of self ing miles of bunting and paper chains, it’s employment and for that we owe him a lot. Support in this industry is key. always something new and exciting. Tell us about your work?
Have you encountered any discrimination? www.shinypeopleevents.com Instagram @shinypeopleevents We've been lucky as we've always been Facebook @shinypeopleevents well supported and respected in our Twitter @shinypeople_ industry but unfortunately there’s still a Words by @mazzysnape
Bryony Williams talks heartache, red stripe and independence. By Emelia Eagles Bryony Williams is an independent soloist and song writer. Her hobbies include-inhaling cans of red stripe at the Sunflower Lounge, the occasional spot of Tinder-ing, and most importantly, writing songs that would make Jeff Buckley cry. As she was part of Slag Mag’s Issue 2 launch party, it was only right to have a cheeky little catch up and see what she’s all about. ‘Silhouette’, which you released earlier this year, feels like a really personal yet powerful song. What’s the story behind it? Brutality. It’s the potentially the most brutal song I’ve ever had the pleasure writing. The lyrics speak for themselves, but for a bit of backstory, I wrote it back in 2017 after flying back home from America following a very heart-wrenching break-up. She was over there for university, but it just fell apart while I was out visiting her. I returned very confused, angry and lost it’s a total state of dystopian heartache and the song is a document of my emotional process. Although it’s taken me nearly two years to revisit the track, during its release to the world I realised that this chapter of my life had come to a close and that I am officially over it – which is a very surreal process in itself. What about your sound? It’s powerfully unique... Where did that come from? Essentially, its heartache of personal trauma; the emotional lability it incites. But musically, the likes Chastity Bell, Hazel English and PJ Harvey, plus Anna Calvi is my ultimate idol. Someone once described my vocals and guitar playing as the lovechild of Jeff Buckley and Sharon Van Etten… that was pretty complementary! ‘Grrl Groannn’ is your intendant label and your own zine. How did that come about? It came about because the industry is male dominated. I wouldn’t deem that as a barrier, but I fear that it conditions people into the mindset of accepting a music industry ruled by men, particularly in the indie underground scenes. Since my first performance with Field Harmonics back in 2015, I’ve been surrounded and advised by men on the scene. I’m not opposing that, as I very much love most of them, but as a young, influential woman, it can be subconsciously damaging. For instance, I still have yet to come across one female or non-binary identifying sound engineer in Birmingham (although I know there are in Coventry!) All this feeds into why I set up Grrl Groan-
nn. We need to produce and fight for consistent representation which males in the music industry get automatically. I’m a big girl now. I can think for myself. But in my late teens, I struggled. I guess I want to offer guidance and support to other pioneering female identifying musicians. I feel things would’ve been very different if I’d had similar support then. I guess creating your own label is naturally complementary to Birmingham’s independent music scene, which is growing in national notoriety. What’s helped? BBC Introducing in the West Midlands has been outrageously important in promoting local artists. Alex Noble and Tim Senna are really passionate about promoting independent production and creativity. I think also local promoters are starting to realise the off-putting nature that a sausage fest of performers has, so there feels like there is more of a drive to have female performers, but we definitely need more female headliners. So, who would you like to see more of propping up the bill? Tehillah Henry, The Cosmics, Table Scraps, Sofa King, and whatever Joe Joseph and Emily Doyle are up to (The Devil and Jow Joseph) because whatever they do is fucking awesome. What’s next on your agenda? Well, I officially finish my Masters degree this September (exclamation mark times infinity…) so I’m very much focusing on the excitement of that. Vague plans following that are recording another EP’s worth of music which I’d like to aim for a vinyl release in 2020, then maybe some light hearted gallivanting around the planet. It’s been a while. Any parting words of wisdom for aspiring performers? Of course! If you’re in the early stages of your music career on the DIY scene, come seek me out. I can drown you with my words of wisdom, whilst supporting you with practical stuff like press and management. But overall, in the grand scheme of things: Do whatever you want to do. You want to wear only nipple tape on stage? Go for it. You do you, hun. You. Do. You. Find Bryony on Facebook @bryonywilliamsmusic 25 and on Instagram @thelifeofbryony.
Shonen Knife AND Cave Girl Bring Sweet Candy Power to Birmingham It’s July 24th, Boris in now PM, and it’s so hot outside, it feels as if the entrance to hell has opened. Irregardless of the scorching temperature, a near sell-out crowd descends upon the Hare and Hounds for Shonen Knife, curated by This is Tmrw and Kushikatsu. Shonen Knife, hailing from Osaka, Japan, are veterans at the punk rock game and was formed by sisters Naoko and Atsuko in 1981. You can clearly see the path they have paved, and are credited as being a huge influences on a number of punk and grunge legends; I promised myself I wouldn’t mention the ‘they were one of Kurt Cobain’s favourite bands’ anecdote, but it’s hard not to with such a claim to fame. The night begins with a sizzling showcase from Birmingham based quartet, Cave Girl. They kick off their set with ‘Missing’ - kick being quite literal, as front man Ed Quigley throws wild kicks and sultry shapes with androgynous abandon. They charge head first into their next song ‘The Duffer’, and by two songs in you can really tell what Cave Girl are all about: Blending 70’s glam, garage rock and psychedelic vibes, with every song sounding fresh and new with a vintage familiarity. Cave Girl continue into a slower number, ‘TV Drama’, with bright and ethereal keys from Matt Holford, and a driving yet smooth 26
groove of a bass line from Richie James. It’s the intro of ‘Red Leather Boots’ that gives Alex Moulton time to shine, with the full bodied, atmospheric drum intro building to one of the highlights of their set. They take a more tongue in cheek turn with ‘Greasy’; Ed’s ode to the time he did the unspeakable with a fry up. They close the set with their first single, the self-titled ‘Cave Girl’, proclaiming “gender is over, gender is dead”, with this anthemic song perfectly summarising why these four lads are certainly ones to watch as the branch out of their home city this year. The crowd re-amasses to the sound system of the Hare and Hounds pulsing with a synth heavy pounding drum machine track. The atmosphere is rising, as a mixed crowd of clearly die hard Shonen Knife fans and more casual music fans stir in anticipation of the arrival of ultimate Girl Gang. The enigmatic trio make their way to the stage through the crowd. They step on stage displaying their matching outfits; exuberant Mondrian-esque block coloured shift dresses which we later discover were made by the Bassist, Atsuko. Shonen Knife kick start their set with ‘Jump Into The New World’ which sets the pace of their entire set: Upbeat and punchy bass lines with bubblegum-sweet vocals and harmonies. The song is lit up by a classic sounding pop punk solo, which is only to be expected when emanating
from the entirely glitter encrusted guitar of Naoko. They fire straight in their second song, ‘Lazy Bone’, the crowd taken by their infectious smiles, swept along with the care free love they clearly have for what they do. The now thoroughly warmed up crowd are now treated to three tracks from the upcoming new album, ‘Sweet Candy Power’. They launch full gusto into ‘Party’, paced well with an immense drum beat down to end the track. Seasoned pros, they know how to get a crowd on side; as if they weren’t already, when they continued with ‘Dizzy’ helped along with some clap along audience participation which was freely embraced with childlike glee. Recently introduced drummer Risa takes to lead vocals on ‘Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches’. This song, though still leaning heavily into their iconic punk sound, is less heavy, and uses a call and response structure, which sees all three members gleefully contributing to this roughed up but cutesy track. Shonen Knife
continue through their set of short, snappy (and bloody catchy) tunes, and the addictive ‘Capybara’ is no exception to this rule. With a vocal melody reminiscent of ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’, but mixed with the continuation of the ‘Rock on’ hand gestures and power stances. If these women had not charmed and enchanted thus far, they proved themselves to be show stealers. ‘Like a Cat’ and ‘California Lemon Trees’ follow along with a declaration for a love of good beer. Shonen Knife then return with a huge and well-deserved encore, including ‘All You Can Eat’ about a buffet – a track that tipped of their set perfectly. Fun, frivolous, yet with an iconic and perfectly executed punk rock performance that you would only expect from a group that have been rocking their style for over 30 years. By Hayley Ellis Illustration by Beth Nicol @bethontwolegs
Feminists to the front! Bikini Kill at O2 Academy Brixton By Reenie Dogface @Reenie_Dogface
It’s not often that you get the opportunity to see live a band that shaped so much of who you are as a person, from your appearance to your musical tastes. None have inspired so many as Bikini Kill. They are the archetypal Riot Grrl band, who blend femininity, feminism and punk to inspire millions into political activism and music. After two decades they are back, and while it is joyous to finally see them perform live on June 10th, it’s just as bittersweet that their feminist lyrics are just as relevant as they were in the 90s. Often, as a woman (and I imagine it’s the same for trans & non-binary people too) a music venue feels an unsafe place: groping men, separation from friends, unsympathetic door staff and so on. So, a trip to London to a 5,000-capacity venue would normally induce anxiety. But not this time at the O2 Academy Brixton. The security staff are warm and friendly, and even being searched prior to entry doesn’t seem threatening. The bar staff all have smiles on their faces and seem to be just as excited to see the headliners as the rest of us. It’s a reminder that this is what all gigs should feel like, and I suspect the majority-woman/wxman crowd has something to do with that. Prior to Bikini Kill, Big Joanie warmed up 28
the crowd. Part of the new wave of feminist punk bands, they have a formidable stage presence. Their recently released album ‘Sistahs’ is something everyone should own, and these stripped back but distorted sounds are just as powerful on stage. The self-proclaimed “Black Feminist Punk Band” speak out to the people of colour in the audience, and drummer Chardine encourages black queer people to pick up an instrument before putting on a new twist to Kathleen Hanna’s original call: “Women of colour to the front!”. Their set flows and builds from the quieter ‘Way Out’ up to the more punky ‘Fall Asleep’. Seeing a young, queer, black punk band shows how the scene is evolving, not just in Riot Grrl, but in punk as a whole. The atmosphere is electric for Bikini Kill once those first chords of ‘New Radio’ begin. The band are playing even better than they did twenty years ago, with new guitarist Erica Dawn Lyle slotting into the band perfectly. The standout is Hanna’s vocals. They are just as clear, powerful and loud as they ever were, and the lofty Brixton O2 Academy amplifies and echoes them to perfection; it sounds like Hanna is singing right next to me. At times, the cymbals and parts of the guitar are somewhat lost, likely due to the echoey sound in the venue, but it doesn’t
detract in any way from the songs. Even on their quieter tracks like ‘Feels Blind’ the four-piece work perfectly together. Hanna speaks in between the songs, often providing anecdotes for how these songs came about over 20 years ago. A stand-out moment is when Hanna herself acknowledges the sadness at their songs still being relevant. And it’s true; the Trump-precedency ruining the USA, Brexit increasing racism and bigotry across Europe, queer women being beaten in London on a bus only days before. Hanna herself acknowledges the cathartics in singing hers and part-time vocalist Tobi Vails’ lyrics. It’s reminiscent of myself, screaming Bikini Kill songs while practicing Hanna’s trademark kicks and dancing when younger (and still, unashamedly, now.) Vail’s vocals are just as beautiful, even if she doesn’t perform the acrobatic dancing like Hanna and she remains the ‘library of feminism’ for the band. She talks about how the band didn’t care about being perfect on their chosen instruments, and how that hasn’t hindered their music or creativity. She also mentions how the changing of instruments live on stage was part of them learning and experimenting. And it works.
One of the highlights is hearing Vail scream out the lyrics to ‘Hamster Baby’. Throughout the set, classic songs such as ‘Reject All American’, ‘Lil Red’ and ‘No Backrub’ continue to hype up the crowd. But, we are all waiting for it. And then it happens. The stomping drums, the distorted guitar…They finally play ‘Rebel Girl’. All at once it seems like everyone in the venue is dancing like Hanna, strangers are singing at each other in synchrony. We’ve waited a whole generation for this moment, and we enjoyed every second. After a brief pause, the band returns for the encore, complete with a new sequin encrusted dress for Hanna. Building on the euphoric atmosphere, Hanna launches into ‘Double Dare Ya’ and ‘Suck My Left One’ before they end with a heartfelt and emotional performance of ‘For Tammy Rae’. The euphoria spills out onto the streets after the show, and even the next day I keep bumping into people from the gig, still high on the experience. Their lyrics may be more relevant than ever, but their voices are louder and it’s inspiring us too. Feminists to the front!
“Too much noise” Lady Sanity has been making waves in the Birmingham unsigned seen for quite some time now. The self-taught guitar player released her first independently produced record in 2014, entitled ‘Construction’. She’s gone on to release an impressive catalogue of tracks and also bagged a couple of well-earned awards on the way, including ‘Best Solo Female’ at the first Birmingham Music Awards. Impressive. Lady Sanity’s eclectic influences of Jazz, RnB and Blues, can be heard in all of her productions, and she certainly has a unique sound that spans her current library on Spotify.
Lady Sanity talks truth about embracing positivity in her follow up to January’s ‘Focus’. Ends’, who are massive fans of her work. ‘Noise’ is out now and you can stream it on her Spotify and band camp pages, but also head over to Facebook and check out her promotional videos and live spins of it on BBC4. There’s also loads of awesome clips of her various performances, including her recent appearance at MADE and Wireless Festival. Expect to hear big things from this pioneering woman, and if you haven’t already, head over to her socials and check her out.
As an artist, she’s not shy when it comes expressing herself, evidenced by her outspoken, brazen lyrical stylings - ‘Noise’ being no exception ‘Noise’ is an unbridled declaration of zero tolerance to all the negativity in the current social climate, - using poetic justice to reflect the upon metaphorical ‘noise’ of ‘Bad vibes and distorted views’: “The world is full of distorted views and truth. Muting out the noise is crucial for peace of mind’. Musically, the independently released track itself has all the markers of a fruity grime number with its minimalist style and liberal amounts of dark bass, but its Lady Sanity’s unique vocals that really make the track stand out from the crowd. ‘Noise’ has already received positive Listen on Facebook, Spotify, Bandcamp and appraisal, being hyped on Blatantly Blunt, Apple Music, or head over to her and played live on BBC radio 4’s ‘Loose YouTube channel: @LadySanity Words by Emelia Eagles @clockworkmargaret 30
ART: 3rd September - It’s not you, it’s me. MA degree show @ Birmingham City University School of Art TALK: 7th September - Malorie Blackman in Conversation @ Town Hall &amp; Symphony Hall GIG: 12th September - Seamonsters + Special Guests @ The Sunflower Lounge GIG: 17th September - Zuzu + Special Guests @ The Sunflower Lounge COMEDY: 16th September - Redhanded with Suruthi & Hannah @ The Glee Club COMEDY: 18th September - Bodyposipanda - Never Say Diet Club Live @ The Glee Club CLUB: 20th September - Selextorhood & Leftfoot presents Jayda G + Eclair Fifi + Ruby Savage @ Hare and Hounds GIG: September - 23rd Camp Cope + Special Guests @ Hare and Hounds
GIG: 6th October - Mount Pleasant (Supporting The Mystery Lights) @ Hare and Hounds GIG: 8th October - Thyla + Party Hardly @ The Sunflower Lounge FILM: October 11th - Suzi Q Documentary @ Mockingbird Cinema &amp; Kitchen GIG: 18th October - Ibibio Sound Machine @ Hare and Hounds GIG: 19th October - Boudica Festival w/ Tusks + Virginia Wing + more @ The Herbert Art Gallery Museum Coventry CLUB: 19th October Club - Fierce V Hooker Club @ Quantum Events Centre GIG: 23rd October - Little Simz + Special Guests @ Mama Roux’s GIG: 25th October - Honeyblood + Special Guests @ Castle and Falcon GIG: 28th October - Charli XCX + Special Guests @ O2 Institute 31