SERIOUS LADIES OF ARTS & Gigs
Issue 3 SOFA KiNG
POETRY Hanna Lee Tidd
Ask Bad Girls
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The Serious Ladies of Art and Gigs is built up of more than just ladies. Not completely, don’t be startled. We’re still fighting the good fight. But, since our International Men’s Day party in November (raising money for CALM & awareness of men’s issues like male suicide), we realised we have a lot more allies than enemies. Slag Mag was never about us V them. After many conversations with people from all walks of life, women, men and those non-identifying, we realised that everyone has a story to tell, and we want to help with that. Being Serious Ladies of Art and Gigs is, and always will be, at the forefront of what we do. Those who are under represented in this multifaceted creative scene are still our primary focus. But we want to extend a hand to those who don’t identify as a ‘serious lady’ but still need a voice or platform for their craft. So join us in this next wave of Slags, a collaborative effort where we all welcome into the mix the queer arts, the mxn/non-binary who may have thought they weren’t femme enough and help to get started the important conversations that need to be had. Want to contribute to our website or upcoming issues? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Contents Last Issue Why So Serious F.A.T Silly Little Scribbles Silence doesnâ€™t mean consent Kaytee DeWolfe Pretty Grim Billy NoMates Getting drunk with...Sofa King Review: Boudica Festival Ask the Bad Girls Review: MeMe Detroit Review: Rosie Tee Listings
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Design by Rhiannon Davies (Instagram: @designsbyrhiannon) and Adam Kelly-Williams (Instagram: @handsprings) Illustrations throughout by Hanna Lee Tidd (Instagram: @hannahleetid)
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LAST ISSUE... A
s of writing this, we’re wrapping up 2019. We’ll save the cliches and round ups for the Instagram top nine posts, we can’t get sentimental and proud of our local Serious Ladies when we look back. In January 2019, we sat down in our office, and compared stories of when we felt we weren’t treated with same respect as others in the industry. We were noticing repeating patterns and felt more could be done to support people in the scene they were so passionate about. That same day, Bikini Kill announced they were getting back together, and it was a cinematic eureka moment when we both declared we wanted to make zines. Roll onto March, and the first issue of Slag Mag is out in the world with a huge party that was overwhelmingly successful. Sorry Grace blew us away with their jazz renditions, and our good friend Dianne debuted her new musical project Kim’s Cold Food Company. It was an incredible night where we sold over 150 copies, bringing together like minded people in a brand new environment.
Roll onto August, and even more people were showing their admiration, interest and drive in the magazine, it still stuns us when someone buys an issue, or a ticket to our events! We worked with local creative babe Beth Nicol, got drunk with The Cosmics, featured illustrators like PinkAppleJam and looked back on the riot grrl movement that started it all. The night saw our first ever poetry performance, and a big thank you goes out
Hayley Frances and Scarlett Ward for letting us hear their most personal and emotional words. Bryony Williams was a delight with her nostalgic guitar led indie, whilst Ruth Kokumu and the Ark brought some serious heat with their jazz fusion. As Slag Mag grew, and the recognition for it, our viewpoint started to change. We still have that fire in our belly to create something accessible for everyone, but we realised we were missing an important piece. So in November 2019, we created an International Men’s Day special - a chance to open to door to those who may have thought they weren’t included. At the launch party we featured poetry from Sean Thompson-DeWolfe and music from Felix Shepherd, Modern Literature and Brain Food all challenging toxic masculinity, whilst Ginger Dan was the cover star with his androngynous demons. Through ticket sales and donations, you raised £150 for CALM - a support hotline for men/mxn who need help in their worst moments, and for the grieving families of those who thought suicide was their only option. To think that 12 months ago, Slag Mag was a nice remark said over the typing of emails. Now, it’s three issues deep, with an army of people behind it to create a movement. A big shout out to everyone who submitted words, or pictures, designed our front covers, and performed on stage for us. Thank you doesn’t even start to cover it. Who knows what the future holds, but what we do know is that 2020 will be the year of the Slags.
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WHY SO SERIOUS? Being a feminist isn’t really that different to not being a feminist, apart from one big thing, you want equality, you want girls to the front, because they’ve been at the back for so so long. We want to achieve “the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes.”
But things aren’t that bad anymore are they? Erm actually, no, not everywhere, but somewhere definitely, most places, sometimes, often, right now and certainly more than enough that we need to keep fighting the fight. We get tired of correcting people, we don’t want to have to tell people to stop being jerks, but we do, because it’s just not ok. Readers should know this already - we are not man-haters, we are down with men and women, womxn, trans, non-binary, anyone can be a feminist. We are not down with hate towards anyone because of what their gender is or what they identify as, and how people present themselves physically or cosmetically is their goddamn business. We don’t condone anti-trans feminists because well, that’s not feminism is it? Things are better than 20 years ago, but not fixed, things still happen like they used to but more people are prepared to listen.
plants and lip fillers? Cool! Want to wear no make-up and grow your body hair? Cool! Are you a white feminist? Did you know that feminism is not just for white girls. Women of colour have a whole heap of different issues to deal with. Be prepared to listen and open to support, not save. Some of this might seem kind of obvious and repetitive; well yeah, but it’s needed. Finally, we are not serious ALL the time, like when watching Cher perform her final ever tour with starry eyes, gushing over meeting John Waters, screaming at the telly watching Drag Race, or warbling along to Cigarettes and Alcohol at an Oasis tribute night arm in arm with a bunch of random lads.
Ok so here’s another one. You know you can be a feminist and listen to any genre of music you bloody well like? Enjoy any type of art? Dress how you like? Yep. Want to hide your modesty? Cool! Bare Being serious at the right time about the it all? Cool! Want fake lashes, breast im- right things is alright.
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F.A.T By Cl aud ia Kn ight
Being fat isn’t always about being the biggest person in the room. It’s about the awkwardness you feel crawl over your skin as the person on the bus squeezes up next to you. It’s the way the voice in your head tells you that the people on the table next to you are watching you eat all of that food by yourself. It’s eating that food and then blocking out the devil named Guilt as it tuts loudly at you. It’s finding the person of your dreams and slowly realising that you only see them when it’s dark outside, or when they’ve been drinking for nine hours. It’s sweating at just the thought of going jeans shopping and then literally sweating as you change in a cubicle with too many mirrors. It’s powdering or slicking your thighs in the summer to lessen the sting of the chafe that appears when you finally decide to wear that dress. It’s the paranoia that creeps in as you try to walk with confidence through a park during summertime full of people projecting their lack of it onto you. It’s the pink grooves left on your back, your groin and your stomach at the end of the day when your underwear has protected your softest parts. It’s being held by the person you actually feel okay with letting into your life and inside you, and wondering if they love your mind or your body.
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It could never be the latter. It’s slathering your stretch marks with oils and butters and swallowing the disappointment that rises in your throat in the morning when they haven’t vanished. It’s hearing your friends receive compliments on their various outfits for you to be told repeatedly that yours is ‘flattering’. It’s losing the will to point out that people’s concern for your health wouldn’t exist if your dress size were to be divided by two. It’s acknowledging the space you take up and truly believing that you are worthy of being there. It’s taking the time every evening to show yourself some love and appreciation because the world can be a cruel place at the best of times. It’s being loud and being quiet. It’s being dainty one day and being the bull in the China shop the next. It’s thanking both sides of your family for making you and moulding you. It’s learning and recovering and breathing and smiling. It’s being authentically you and holding your tongue the next time you go to apologise for it. Follow Claudia on Instagram @claude_knight.
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Silly Little Scribbles Slag Mag sat down with cover artist Hanna Lee Tidd, visual designer and managing director of PR & events agency Tiger Bam Comms. Have long have you been illustrating for?
Sometimes I’ll see a strange gesture or cute old couple and just want to capture it.
I’ve always been a scribbler! When I was a kid I used to scribble on every- Your drawings are well known for thing. Wallpaper, exam papers, books, being a single line, how did you my own arms and legs, everything. And I guess that just never really stopped! discover this process? But it’s only in recent years that I’ve started to share my little scribbles. I used to love dot to dot puzzles! The idea of an image revealing itself with just one line - that was always something What inspires you to create your that fascinated me. Like a little puzzle. illustrations? I also love artwork that is simplistic and minimal, and so trying to capture a gesPeople, always people! I’m an avid ture or movement with just one scribbly people watcher, I could spend hours just being a weirdo watching strangers. line seemed like a fun challenge.
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You always post detailed stories on Instagram underneath your images, they add so much to the drawing! What springs to mind when creating these posts? I think there’s a lot of pressure to put something meaningful or funny or interesting when you share your work online… so I just wanted to spin that on its head and post a load of waffle-y nonsense to take that pressure away! Because my work is usually based around one continuous line I like the idea that the pieces come paired with one long subconscious stream of whatever’s in my head at the time. The lack of punctuation and grammar does annoy some people though! But sometimes I forget to draw an arm or a leg in so you know, it could be worse.
What other struggles are there being a self funded artist? Sometimes I get into a mad fight with the guy in the post office about my handwriting when I’m trying to send a batch of prints out, but so far it’s all lovely.
What would you say to someone who hasn’t found their artistic flow yet? “Keep up the doodling” - David Brent, The Office. (Do though!)
You keep up illustrating along with a fast paced, full time job, do you find any difficulties in this? I’m super lucky that I get to do two jobs that I love, so I won’t complain! But yes, it’s hard finding the time to draw. I haven’t cut my toenails in a month.
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Follow Hanna on Instagram: @hannaleetidd 10 SlagMag_Dec2020.indd 10
SILENCE IS NOT CONSENT. TW: Rape and sexual assault
emma Lambe, a social worker who specialises in Trauma Recovery, explores the brain’s responses to sexual assault, and how this does not mean consent. When someone is silent, and has not given you verbal consent – do not violate their bodies.
It’s no wonder that victims of sexual assault are so reluctant to report crimes. Every year, approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men (aged 16-59) experience rape, attempted rape or sexual assault by penetration in England and Wales alone (Statistics from Rape Crisis UK).
It seems like such simple logic, doesn’t it? Consent (or lack of) has been a hot topic in recent years, with campaigns using the metaphor of offering someone a cup of tea to explain the concept of consent. (Thames Valley Police – Tea & Consent).
Do those figures seem shocking? Well, what if I told you that those statistics are only 15% of the actual number of sexual offences? Many victims of sexual assault are too scared to report offences, for a multitude of reasons. They may be worried that they won’t be believed, or they know their attacker, they are worried about further consequences, or they are protecting loved ones from the shame and guilt that they feel.
However, sexual consent is unfortunately a very complex matter in the legal world. It is important to note that consent cannot be given by a child, or someone lacking capacity, but that is where the law ends. After that, it is left up to the Prosecution and Defence battling it out, and a Jury deciding the fate of the perpetrator and ultimately, the victims.
When we also consider that only 5.7% of sexual assault cases are prosecuted, the chances of the abuser even facing prison time is so low, you can understand why many survivors of sexual abuse decide to remain silent.
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After considering these statistics, now try and imagine that you have been sexually assaulted, but you think that it is your fault because you did not fight back, you did not scream and run. As far as you are concerned, you did not make it clear that you did not wish to consent. Or, maybe your abuser is telling you that it was your fault because you did not say no. Perhaps you confided in a friend or colleague, and they also made you question yourself because you did not say “stop”. This article hopes to give some strength back to anyone who has experienced sexual trauma and abuse, by categorically telling you that you should not have to shout “stop” or “no” when someone is violating your personal space. I also want to share why it may be psychologically impossible for you to do anything but freeze, or even flop when you feel your personal integrity and safety is threatened. By opening up the concept of consent further, and how the brain operates under threat. In January 2018, the Director of Public Prosecutions warned rape victims that if they stay silent during an assault, their attackers may assume consent was given and could escape being charged. An outrageous piece of advice, that does not in any way take into account the survival responses of a person who is being attacked.
When a person’s safety is compromised, the part of the brain which responds is the Amygdala (the most primitive part of the brain which deals with threat and has high arousal). The Amygdala then sends a message to the Thalamus/Hypothalamus (the switchboard of the brain). It is here that the brain will decide how to respond to a threat and whether to use fight, flight, freeze, friend or flop as a survival mechanism. The brain’s primary job is to keep the body safe. If the brain has scanned the threat and determines that fight or flight will not work, then it will use a more passive response such as freeze, friend or flop. ‘Freeze’ sends a message to the attacker for them to back off. ‘Friend’ is when the victim may attempt to befriend the attacker, in the hope this will make the attacker change their mind. ‘Flop’ (the response most often used in sexual assault cases) is when the victim’s body actually flops and yields to the attacker, because the brain has determined that the body will be in less danger if the muscle tension is drained away. This is in the hope that the attacker has less reason to use excessive force whilst they carry out their attack. Quite often, the brain will disassociate whilst the attack takes place. It is a primitive survival response, only concerned with keeping the body safe, not how you feel after the at-
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tack. it does not concern itself with guilt or shame. Just as we freeze when we are startled, or when we run from danger. Yet, we do not teach victims that they did not shout “no” or “stop” because they were psychologically unable to. One positive we can take from this, is that more and more research and training on the psychology behind consent is being delivered to the police and crown prosecution - with the hope that they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that consent was not given even when the victim was silent. Psychotherapist Zoe Lodrick is spearheading this research, and her work
can be found online for anyone who would like more information on this subject. I hope that if anyone reading this and has been in this position can accept when I say – it was not your fault, and it should never have happened to you. When are you ready to face the healing process, Rape Crisis UK have an online support service, for anyone who has been affected. www.rapecrisis.org.uk www.rsvporg.co.uk www.victimsupport.org.uk
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Kaytee DeWolfe — One Seriou s Lady of Art & Gig s
Credit: Denise Wilson
ART Kaytee DeWolfe paints and produces large, mural type work for business, private residence and live festival work, mainly using spray paint and acrylics. Having spent a chunk of her childhood on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona, there are a lot of Native American influences in DeWolfe’s work as well as a lust for Art Nouveau. “I’m fascinated with symbolism, merging the human form with animals and love the meditative tedium of intricate, repetitive pattern work. I tend to work with a monochromatic palette on top of midnight blues with shocks of metallic gold.”
sexy street-grime. Some of my photos would include a corner of someone’s wheat-pasted art or a close-up of peeling paint! People who follow #digbeth on Instagram would politely inform me who the artists were and so I started making connections. I eventually met up for drinks with some of the artists and got to experience my first ever wheat-pasting adventure. I was introduced to the local street-art scene, which is both diverse and won-
What started as a love for “bedroom” doodles evolved into something bigger through meeting street artists in Digbeth. “Back in 2013, I became slightly obsessed with taking Instagram photos of urban decay, rust and
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derful. What struck me most was that there was not a typical demographic for street artists and also how encouraging everyone was. When I explained that I just did small drawings in the privacy of my home, artist Lisk Bot encouraged me to try making bigger art. I made some of my own hand-drawn wheat-pastes and stuck them up in Digbeth; things like crows with intricate patterns in their wings, filigree-flowers and a large barn owl.” DeWolfe’s work was spotted by Becci from City of Colours on Instagram who promptly invited her to create art at the
Credit: Denise W
Since the first City of Colours, Kaytee DeWolfe has painted live for several other festivals, including High-Vis, Femme Fierce, Moseley Folk, and Mostly Jazz with her latest project being a set of horoscope illustrations, prints of which are available via her Etsy shop. “With art, I get really inspired by things related to the occult like tarot cards, god & goddess folklore, faerie-tales and the bizarre. I like sticking in symbolism where I can as well. If you see a flower in one of my pieces, chances are it’s been chosen for a reason (Thistles for Aries! Roses for Taurus!)”
festival. “I went from drawing wheatpastes to painting an 8x8 board live in the garden of The Old Crown pub. It was amazing. It was thrilling. It was big! I loved it! Another great local artist, Annatomix, took me out for my first ever large-scale painting experience with cans and ‘showed me the ropes’ before the festival to get me ready. I owe a lot to her and Lisk Bot for their encouragement and tips.”
GIGS Kaytee DeWolfe writes, sings and plays rhythm guitar in local band Low Red Moon. “The project started after I split up with an ex, who I had been in bands with for years (Bi-Polar Baby & The Dark Retreat). I wasn’t great on guitar (still
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not that accomplished!) but knew that I would have to “up my game” to be more independent. From Christmas 2015 I started playing guitar a minimum of 20 mins a day, which led to me writing songs slowly over the years. I went from playing covers at open-mic nights to finally having a whole set of my own material, playing local venues around Brum.”
dies and general darkness! I also love to see a band who enjoy playing live, it’s infectious! Low Red Moon have so much fun on stage and it’s nice to see others having a great time too! I was and still am heavily influenced by 90s alternative artists like Tanya Donelly of Belly, Kim Deal of The Pixies & The Breeders, Bjork, Tori Amos, PJ Harvey and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth.”
Since then, Kaytee slowly accumulated a band who have made the songs into different animals, finely honing a gothic folk sound into something vaguely post-punk with surfer guitar.
“Through painting and gigging over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to meet many other like-minded women churning out music and art, which just feeds my fire more. Female-fronted bands are definitely on the rise! Also nice to see a better ratio of women to men at local paint-jams in Brum. Don’t get me wrong, we’re nowhere near balanced yet but hopefully the more us ladies get out there, the more we can inspire other women to have a go.”
“We’ve only just now started recording and have a couple of demo tasters online.” Kaytee has been writing and performing with her dad since early childhood, with the art influence coming from her mom not long after. “I get weak in the knees for female vocals, arpeggios, descending scales, minor/Middle-Eastern sounding melo-
Find, buy, listen: etsy.com/uk/shop/WolfemuthaArt facebook.com/wolfemuthaart #wolfemuthaart on Instagram soundcloud.com/kaytee-dewolfe
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PRETTY GRIM BY EMILY DOYLE
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Pretty Grim are a multi-faceted alt-rock trio forged from members of some of Birmingham’s noisiest acts. Emily Doyle caught up with bassist Anna Palmer ahead of the band’s performance at the Slag Mag Christmas Party to talk influences and alter egos. You’re playing the launch party for this edition of Slag Mag - what can the audience expect? Three drunk idiots laughing at one another. I hope you’ll forgive me for calling Pretty Grim a supergroup, but you’re all figures in the local music scene in your own right. How did this band come about? We’re just pals that love a good hang and have similar music tastes. We’ve flitted between bands with one another over the years but never actually played together all three of us. Our other pals at DIE DAS DER were putting on an all dayer in the summer of 2015 at the Wagon and Horses and we saw it as a good moment to spend a few days playing, hanging out, covering a couple of songs we loved and whatever came out of just a short few practices we’d perform at this gig. It was a lot of fun, so we’ve dipped back in once or twice a year since. You’ve all got your fingers in a lot of musical pies, how does Pretty Grim fit in? It’s pretty off the cuff at the moment. We get to it when there’s a free window, play some tunes, drink some beers, let off some steam. We’ve had fun doing a couple of shows of late so are actually trying to make it more of a thing that we squeeze in more often. What influences do each of you bring to the band? This band is mainly about indulging in our shared tastes as a trio. We’re all fans of punk, alt-rock, noise, electronica, loads of weird subgenres & experimental guff… the
list goes on. So this is the kind of thing we all collaboratively bring to PG. Why doesn’t Pretty Grim have any online presence? We just haven’t bothered yet as the band has just been for fun and none of us can be arsed with all that guff yet. And we’re quite enjoying it this way. Maybe we’ll give in soon but maybe not. Who knows? Let’s get some music recorded first, eh? And what else are you all working on at the moment? Bally heck. Well. There’s Kaila’s solo stuff which she performed for the first time at Kaleidoscope in December – some dark noisey electronica. Meesh has also started some solo noise improv shows and has a gig in Stockholm this coming week for Fizzle, she’s also working on bringing a new queer noise night to Brum on February 1 st called Ideas of Noise Festival (watch this space!) Me and Meesh are in Dorcha, we’ve been working on a new album this year which will be released Spring 2020. And I also have a couple of alter egos I’m performing as at the moment: Judy Brush (folk act) and Limpid (electronic stuff) - doing my first show as Limpid on December 11 th at The Hare for FOMA’s Christmas party. What does 2020 hold for Pretty Grim? We’ll probably release some music and do a little bit of touring. Depends how much beer money there is. Keep your eyes peeled for Pretty Grim music in the future. Follow Emily on Instagram at @oldbort. Image credits: Photos of Pretty Grim supporting Melt Banana by Sam Wood.
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With Billy Nomates
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If you follow Slag Mag you will have already seen us championing post-punk singer-songwriter Billy Nomates and her fantastic album ‘No’. We caught up with Billy ahead of her Birmingham debut show with Slag Mag on December 18th. How did you get started & why? I guess Billy Nomates started around Feb/March time this year, but I've always made music, either in bands or by myself. I tried to put another band together at the start of the year but it just wasn't happening and I eventually thought ‘sod it’. I grew up in rural Leicestershire, but have lived all over really, with various musical projects. Bristol was a big part of my musical education – being around creative people in my twenties definitely helped shaped who I am. I'm currently on the south coast with a flexible job that lets me study too. Where did the name come from? Have you really got no mates? Have I really got no mates? Haha. Not completely. But I've always been a bit of a loner in all honesty. Closer friends have families now, they've moved out of the country or just lead super busy lives all over the place. I’m quite a solitary person these days – but I've become a lot better at it. I think making real friends as an adult is a lot harder than it looks. The name came after a Sleaford Mods gig; I went my own. I was properly fed up after a messy breakup and hadn't left the house for a while, so I just went. Just before they came on a drunk guy came up to
me and went 'Are you Billy No Mates then?' I just said ‘yeah’ and quietly thought it was brilliant. How have you found being a Serious Lady of Gigs so far – has gender had any effect positively or negatively? I think it's a better time than it has been to be a woman in music or art. I think things are shifting a bit, but it is still dominated by white men. Billy Nomates so far has had some really positive reactions by men and women and by people whose work I respect – but – you can feel a slight air or something… If you present yourself strongly in anything as a female, you’re gonna upset someone – it weeds out the boys pretty quickly. Having one or two very strong women around me now, reminds me to pay zero attention to it, but yeah, I'm only human and I'm not made of steel. I’m annoyingly soft, to be honest. How did Sleaford Mods become fans? I'm not entirely sure how Sleaford Mods became fans but I started to put little clips of me doing bits on social media, I was following Andrew's music project at the time extnddntwrk, of which I’m a big fan. I think I mentioned him once or twice and he started following me… from there I guess it rippled and I started to get support from Claire and Jason. I was just making bits out of really minimal equipment and they all really got behind it – proper cool really, I didn't expect it at all. We're obviously different people at different stages of life, but I feel a bit of a kindred spirit going on. They're a really genuine bunch of people that reached out – I don't think there are many like that.
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What do you believe in? I believe in making a life for yourself as fulfilled as you can – whatever that means to you. If that’s having a family, making music or art, both or neither – honestly I believe if everyone could fill their time as much as possible with the stuff they feel full up on, nourished… well… things would be better. That’s something to aspire to. Are you a Tom Jones fan? What made you cover It's Not Unusual? What about Frankie Valli? Haha everyone loves a bit of Tom Jones, yeah? To be honest, god knows, I faff about with covers all the time. The weirder the better. I tend to fall for people who don't even know I exist a lot. Losing game, but not unusual? Franki Valli – it's just a belter of a riff isn't It – I’m a big Northern Soul fan. I just looped it and started speaking and singing late one night. I always meant to re-record it properly. Whenever I've got time on my hands, I just tend to do that for fun – expect a few more over Christmas! What is your music about/inﬂuenced by? My music about anything. Honestly. Dissatisfaction, love, lack of love, frustration, people and their circumstances… it doesn't take itself too seriously… every now and then though something comes out where there’s more levels to it. Influences are so vast – honestly if it’s good, I like it, it really doesn't matter what it is, Anderson Paak, James Taylor, Sleaford Mods… whatever the mood says.
How important is politics in music? I think politics in music works. You can overcook it, maybe. And it should never, ever be used without good reason. There are a lot of new bands using the political landscape to talk about stuff they haven't experienced. That’s fucked. Nobody needs these bands to do it for them – they need to sit down and allow for the actual voices to come through because they are there. These bands aren't doing anyone a favour by talking about it from a height. If I could change one thing about the UK? Get the fuckin’ Tories out. They've done so much damage to normal people. More homeless young people than ever before. It’s fucked and makes me angry as hell. Tell us one Serious Lady of Art or Gigs everyone should check out: Everyone should check out a duo called Hysterical Injury – Annie Fronts the band with her echoey lush vocals – she's lovely and looks ace on stage. Billy Nomates album ‘No’ is available to buy and stream now. Follow Billy on Instagram @iambillynomates.
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Photo credit: @evolvedstep
getting drunk with... SOFA KING By Sophie Hack
Sat on the floor of an empty upstairs room in the Prince of Wales pub on Cambridge Street, encircling a candelabra, the only light source, whilst talking about the ghost of John Lennon and drinking red wine. It can only be an interview with art pop aficionado Sofa King. “Nostalgic, but now” according to Nick Albrook (Pond), Sofa King is the brainchild of lead singer, guitarist and sometimes keyboard player Dianne Velvet, brought to life with the help of Chris Rooney on drums, Emily Doyle on Bass, Rose Davies on guitar and Eden Calgie on keys. It’s a lineup that pulls from many different talents - Rose
with her school-musical background, Emily being in several bands and Chris with a clinically diagnosed too-high stomach. It’s a real mix bag. “I’ve been playing music, and music with Chris, for a long time. We were in a band… that I won’t name. Then I started playing in Juice, just playing bass. I decided I wanted to flex creatively, and so for the longest time this was going to be a solo bedroom project. Then, Lily Williams heard it and was stoked about it and said: “You need to take this live”. I wasn’t even going to sing originally, it was going to be this Drugdealer sort of thing” (like the band, not in a trench coat kind of way).
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Now, Sofa King has released Smac n’ It becomes its own joke, like the matSneeze - a nine track mixtape full of ing call on 30 Rock.” the gloopyest art pop, static riffs and “I don’t want to make it ‘The Dianne flurries of avant garde ideals that prod Show’, [the tragic comedy] is just and poke at the comfy and mundane for me. I’m a big fan of Jackass and alternative music. watched a bunch of interviews and After convincing the above ensemloved their improv. I never want to be ble to relearn a new set for every gig, stuffy.” which includes the 180bpm ‘Gucci Anyone glances at Sofa King will see Lemon Square’, Sofa King has bethe ensemble is anything but stuffy. come a bit of a satirical enigma. The band gel so naturally, with Chris “If you’re just standing there, playing and Dianne being lifelong friends, the music, headlining the institute, it’s Rose looking for a creative outlet (“it great. But I’ve got 30 minutes to imwas the best slacking off work I’ve press someone ever done”) and Photo credit: Ewan Waddell and hopefully Emily branching make a new fan.” out from other Instead, Dianne genres including stares off into the Christian country distance through rock. twinkling inter“I love it” Rose vals, microphone adds. “It’s a delimp in her hand fiant statement akin to the lead in itself to put character of an out music for the aging sitcom on sake of music a static-filled TV saying ‘I made screen. And then this, here it is’. at once the song Even songs that climaxes and DiDianne says she anne snaps back isn’t the biggest into the real world with an improv “Why fan of, she puts them out anyway, doesn’t daddy love me anymore” like that’s really fucking cool.” at the end of ‘Tamagotcha’, sending “It’s gutsy.” Emily chimes. “Sometimes off each song with the remark: “It’s we will just be presented with a load good, but it’s not of new songs to learn and its great, ‘Tubthumping’ by ChumbaWamba.” I’ve been in bands where we play the “My dad is great, just for the record” same set over and over again, but this Dianne confirms when discussing this music pushes you.” newly imagined ‘Tamagotcha’, “but There’s no underestimating Sofa King, that is just part of that sitcom, that they are defiant, but not on purpose. tragic comedy. I think people respond It’s authentic and political, but unintento the word Daddy as well… the [‘Tubtional. Dianne affirms this: “I’ve never thumping’] joke is that it keeps going. set out to make a statement. I’m not
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John Lennon setting out to change the world… or Ringo Starr on MS Paint. There’s being political and then there’s political art, which hasn’t been very good. I don’t think guitar music is very urgent.” According to Dianne, the spirit of punk isn’t in the guitars. It’s in drill and trap. “If we take the ‘mumble rap’ discourse to heart it’s dismissive. It’s the same way that NWA were treated with the FBI. We look back on punk and jazz but we fail to recognise these achievements in our time like Stormzy playing Jools Holland. We don’t need this urgency from a middle class white woman like me.” An unassuming statement from most, but a surprise coming from an artist with such bold musical ideas. Dianne is aware of her privilege in society, but isn’t afraid to call out a scene that can sometimes push her down. “I’m very aware of it, especially in a music venue. There’s a lot of “alright mate?” when coming into a venue which is just the start. But as a trans musician I try not to think about it. I read an article about Kim Petras, the youngest person to ever transition at 16. She said “I don’t want to be a political act. I don’t want the reason for people to come out and see me is because I’m trans.”” Rose agrees: “I know for me, I love listening to music made by trans people. There is definitely some catharsis
in that. There is space for that and it should be celebrated. But it’s a choice to let it define you or not.” Having two trans members in the live band of Sofa King shouldn’t, and isn’t, the band’s only merit. It’s the fine tightrope to walk between being vocal and representing your marginalised group, and being inauthentic creatively as ‘the trans band’. Dianne is aware of her platform, and of course would love a more welcoming scene, gender neutral toilets being a great start, along with more queer music venues. Certain spaces are familiar, but there shouldn’t have to be extra hurdles to jump just to play a gig. For Dianne and co to explain themselves, be it musically or politically, would miss the point entirely of the surreal sitcom of Sofa King. Dianne’s music stretches and warps boundaries, each set is filled with uncertainty and the cogs are always turning with new ideas, even mid song. “Dad rock and the trans agenda” may be Sofa King’s tagline, but Sofa King have no need to prove themselves worthy to anyone. Smac n’ Sneeze is available to stream now, and “eventually on Soundcloud and Bandcamp, when I stop being lazy.” Find Sofa King on Instagram @Sofakingqueen.
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Girls to and girls
unning for its third year, Boudica is a festival that is still unlike any other I have attended. Located at The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry, the venue screams contemporary with its high ceilings and white insides; offering a different type of vision to festival culture. Though a more radical difference that stands out for Boudica is its primary ethos of showcasing womxn and non-binary artists throughout its line-up as a political statement that exhaustingly needs continuous action in order to challenge the norms of the male-dominated music industry. This not only refers to the artists, but also to other areas of the industry such as sound engineers, lighting techs, promoters and more. Boudica retaliate to this by ensuring its overall team of personnel are mainly those of female-identifying persons, which as an avid live music goer and musician also, is a refreshing scene to observe when even as a musician of five years and counting.
the front behind the A review of Boudica Festival 2019 By Bryony Willliams
This year’s Boudica festival was the first time I have ever had a female sound engineer, yikes! This just goes to show how important Boudica’s ethos really is! And now the cat is out of the bag… because yes, I did also perform at this years Boudica, and what a fantastic experience it was. Not only was it the best rider I have ever encountered. I mean, compared to 2 cans of Red Stripe, the standard isn’t exactly that high, however Boudica, props to you! (Sour cream pringles and red wine? Say no more...) But I was psyched to be joining the lineup with fellow acts like Virginia Wing, GHUM, Los Bitchos, Tusks and more. The line-up in itself goes to show an array of genres which further decimates typical festival boundaries and instead enforces empowerment from a range of womxn and non-binary musicians, whether that be electronic pop to dark grunge and everything in between. A new feature Boudica introduced this year is their Music Video Competi-
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tion which gives the opportunity for womxn to explore their works in front and behind the camera. The shortlisted entries were screened during the festival, while DJ and music coding workshops happened all around. Again, showing the incredible initiatives behind Boudica in celebrating womxn creatives. However, there is one observation that disheartens me about Boudica festival and that is its turnout. Similar to its second year where Let’s Eat Grandma headlined, the festival still wasn’t a sell-out despite Boudica’s relentless efforts and crazy affordable ticket prices. Sadly, this observation does not create enthusiasm for fellow Midlands promoters to book acts other than all-male bands. Yet this does encourage individuals like
you and me to be the change we want. Anyone can be a promoter/ an activist if we truly want to - which is exactly what Boudica is about. So, make a note of Boudica 2020 and show your support. Heck, even volunteer! And let’s get the representation we damn deserve! Find Bryony on Facebook @bryonywilliamsmusic. Find out more about Boudica festival at www.boudicafestival.co.uk.
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ASK THE BAD GIRLS We’re Bad Girls - your local disco and glitter loving mates trying to bring the females of the Midlands together and we are back for our second edition of #AskBadGirls!
Q: As a young woman, I’m trying to pursue creative projects but every time I go to start, my head is filled with self-doubt. How do I take that first step and get over the initial fear of failure? A: Our advice is here is simple, but effective. You need to just do it! Take one step, no matter how small and see how you feel from there… If you’ve been out of the creative process for a while, we completely understand how scary it must feel. We’d feel the same, and we bet most people would. Remember that no one else is judging you as hard as you are on yourself. Rather than focusing on the end project, which is pretty daunting to anyone, focus on the small bits you can do to achieve it. From experience, creative endeavours don’t really tend to ever go the exact way you planned, but that adds to the creative process, meaning you learn and grow. Why not set yourself a goal for a small task you can do to get yourself on track? You could try to write an ideal timeline of how you would like your project to go or dive in and do one tiny aspect of it. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, as long as you keep trying. Remember: nothing good ever happens in your comfort zone. Fear is good, so feel it and face it!
WHAT’S HOT Music: @witchfever
We’ve been big fans of Witch Fever for a while now and if you haven’t heard of them already then we couldn’t recommend them enough. Four badass bitches hailing from Manchester, with Birmingham’s very own Alex Thompson, these ladies are the new females of punk and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. Their most recent gig at the Dead Wax launch party left everyone wanting more and it undoubtedly was one of the highlights of the evening. Loud & unapologetic, it was everything punk should be.
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If you are looking for a piece of jewellery to buy for someone special this Christmas, then you need to check out Gemma Stanley’s minimalistic designs. Gemma is an award-winning artist and jeweller, who creates pieces using materials such as concrete to produce out of the ordinary designs that are all uniquely their own. Not only is Gemma a great person, but her innovative designs make her one to watch. There are big things waiting for this girl! We’re always on the lookout for female talent to celebrate and collaborate with! If you would like to be involved in any way then drop us an email at email@example.com!
Campaign: @crisis_uk Homelessness is a massive issue all year round, and we have so much respect for the work Crisis do to support those in vulnerable positions. Did you know that there are currently 160,000 homeless households in Britain? This is expected to rise in the coming years too. This time of year is horrible for homeless people, but Crisis are hosting Christmas centres to help those in need this Christmas. Head to their website www.crisis.org.uk to see how you can help.
WHAT’S NOT Two words for you: Boris. Jonhson. At the time of writing this, the election is yet to happen. However, no matter what the outcome, he is not our prime minister.
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MeMe Detroit Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind Well, funk me sideways. MeMe Detroit is back with a new single and it’s an absolute powerhouse of a track. By Emelia Eagles
fter a few line up changes, MeMe Detroit are back, beefed up by drummer Kallum McEwen and bass player Steve Hildebrand. 2019 has been far from unkind on MeMe Detroit, with the band having been heavily featured on BBC Introducing and Kerrang! radio whilst delivering some pretty memorable performances at the MotoGP and Birmingham Academy, along with a heap of UK festival performances thrown in to boot. ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind’ hits you with serious, raw energy, with influences of Ladytron and Nine Inch Nails bubbling under the scenes. Released on SoulRock Central Records, this sultry little number is an ode to the power of love and obsession. Everything you want and more from grunge pop, and reckless in all the right places. MeMe’s rambunctious sound, combined with her on stage persona of intoxicating rage is the ultimate answer to the riot grrl Brum has been waiting for.
With prominent chunks of grunge and indie being hugely evident, ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind’ comes highly recommended to those nostalgic for the late 90s grunge and power that it brought with it. A shimmering effigy of blood, sweat and tears, MeMe, as always, has put her heart and soul into this latest offering, with her never ending passion and motivation for her craft unrelenting and admirable to the point of sickening (but a nice sickening - like when you’re off sick from school and you get to watch Supermarket Sweep with a bottle of Lucozade and a Wham bar). ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind’ is the perfect track to wind up what’s truly been an incredible year for MeMe Detroit. Get yourself over to MeMe’s Spotify page and give it a listen, be sure to check out her back catalogue whilst you’re there, and check out MeMe Detroit’s Instagram page @memedetroit for candid live performances, show announcements and general MeMe Detroit related tomfoolery.
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Withering Heights Rosie Tee treats us to powerful ambient art jazz with her latest single ‘Wither’
By Emelia Eagles
Birmingham based Rosie Tee writes ful vocals mix effortlessly with subtly and performs her own compositions placed electronic sampling and a juxtawith her quartet completed by Piera position of jazz beats, giving a musical Onacko on keys, Kai Chareunsy on vibrancy that reflects the central focus drums and Dan Cippico on bass. A of colour and image. Smooth Sunday genre-challenging mixture of jazz and vibes, tender vocals and soft jazz incontemporary pop, fused together with flections, ‘Wither’ deviates outrageousRosie’s visions of colour and image, ly from the norm. Fluctuating notes in creates what has aptly been branded verses and almost syncopated vocals as “grown up art pop” by The Unsigned gives us Birmingham’s answer to PorGuide. She’s already generated some tishead. pretty impressive noise ‘Wither’ demonwhilst completing her strates Rosie Tee’s degree at the Birmingdeveloping artisham Conservatoire, tic bravery, stephaving been nominatping away from the ed for Best Jazz Act minimal sounds of at Birmingham’s March 2019’s debut Unsigned Awards EP ‘Chambers’, and and contributing as embracing boldness a female composer in sound. Tee’s confiat BBC Three’s InImage by Ellie Keopke dence as a composer is ternational Women’s coming along leaps and day. bounds, with ‘Wither’ being a teaser of This latest offering sees Tee invoking what is sure to be a magnificent future. the power of imagination, her own distinct warm and inviting on stage perso- To listen to ‘Wither’ and other great na further developing her unique style, songs, head on over to Rosie Tee’s a welcome addition to a vastly expand- Spotify and Bandcamp pages, or ing range of Birmingham’s hidden tal- check out her website www.rosietee. ent. ‘Wither’ is an eclectic, passionate uk and social media pages (Facebook composition on par with Rosie Tee’s @rosieteemusic Instagram @rosietee previous offerings. Poignant, power- and Twitter @rosieteeuk) for upcoming events and shows.
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Listings DECEMBER GIG: December 20th Harry Jordan + Special Guests @ The Dark Horse CLUB: December 20th Hooker Club X Voyage Presents: Cinthie @ Hare and Hounds GIG: December 23rd The Cosmics @ Black Mekon + Outlander @ Hare and Hounds
JANUARY ZINE: January 10th Grrl Groannn Zine 3 Launch @ Centrala GIG: January 18th Amy Winehouse tribute by Marina Coombes @ The Night Owl
FEBRUARY COMEDY: February 2nd American Woman with Miz Cracker @ Glee Club GIG: February 7th Kim Petras + Special Guests @ O2 Institute GIG: February 14th The Night Owl Valentineâ€™s Party with Respect to The Divas @ The Night Owl DANCE: February 23rd The Gilded Merkin Burlesque and Cabaret @ Glee Club GIG: February 18th Girl Ray + Special Guests @ Hare and Hounds GIG: February 27th The Mysterines + Special Guests @ The Castle and Falcon
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