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An interview with Anteros – the bitter dream pop band making waves

Author:
640

By Sophia Simon-Bashall

I spoke to Laura Hayden of the band Anteros recently…

 

Hi! Can you please introduce your band to people who haven’t heard of you before?

Hi, we’re Anteros. We make bitter dream pop.

 

It’s nearly the end of 2017 – what have the highlights of this year been for you?

We feel like this whole year has been one big highlight with the amount of tours and releases. Supporting Two Door Cinema Club, White Lies and Blaenavon were great fun and we learned a lot. Then we got to record and release our Drunk EP with Nick Hodgson [Kaiser Chiefs], and then we got to tour that on our first headline. We had a summer full of festivals, and we recorded our double AA side during the gaps in between them. Working with Charlie Andrew [Alt-J, Marika Hackman] was also a highlight.

 

What’s your favourite part about performing your songs up in front of people?

Watching people connect; smile, dance, and sing along. It sounds cheesy but knowing our music and our shows can have that effect on people makes us really happy. That’s all we want.

anteros

What’s been your favourite you’ve done?

Community Festival this summer was definitely one of our favourites. London is home for us, so it was great to play to a big crowd of people who were dancing and singing the words to our songs. I don’t think we’ll forget that set anytime soon.

 

Is there anything you’d like to change about the music industry?

Where to begin?! Let’s start with equality. I wish there were the same amount of women as there are men working behind the music business. It’s still very much a Boys Club. It’s slowly getting better, but we just can’t wait to get to a point where the numbers are evened out.

 

Who do you look up to in music?

There’s so many great women in music, so the list is endless. Stevie Nicks, Janis Joplin, Gwen Stefani and Madonna are probably our top four. But you’ve also got to look behind the artists! We feel so lucky to have great women working with us at our record label.

 

Have you witnessed sexual assault at live music events?

Hell yeah, unfortunately! Just the other night I had to stop our set to ask two guys to leave. They thought it was appropriate to comment on my breasts during our set. Nobody says a word when guys take their shirts off on stage, but how DARE a woman wear no bra under a white tank top?!

However, it’s everywhere. Music events are just a fraction.

 

Do you have a message to those who have had that kind of experience?

Don’t be afraid to stand up and speak up. I was, for such a long time. But not confronting people about it means they think can get away with it. People around you WILL back you and stand up for what is right, but it has to start with you.

[If you are harassed or assaulted at a gig and don’t feel able to speak up, that’s okay. Girls Against and Safe Gigs for Women are here to support you.]

 

As a band, what do you think you can do to help combat the issue?

Speak up. Do everything we can to ensure our gigs are as safe as we can make them for everyone. We don’t tolerate abuse or bullying in any shape or form.

 

You can find Anteros on Facebook and Twitter.

Anteros’ song Bonnie is out now. The band will be in the studio in early 2018, recording their debut album…

Queer pop goddesses are dominating (and I’m loving it)

Author:
kesha

By Christiana Paradis

There are a fair amount of music snobs in the world and while I love many of them, I find myself constantly having to defend the amount of female talent that exists in current pop music. “Autotune? Ew.” “It’s just teeny bopper crap.” “Are there any real instruments in that?” “Why don’t you listen to real music?” First, I do listen to real music, but that’s beside the point.

We are living in a time where queer (and out) female pop artists have been stunning us with their impressive vocals for multiple years, but many are struggling to receive recognition for their talents. For those of you naysayers out there I have compiled a list of the top five queer and out female pop icons, so that you don’t have to spend even one minute looking (because that’s literally all it would take) for proof that we have some queer goddesses roaming around the world of pop. So, stop what you’re doing and read, watch and listen. (List is in no particular order).

  • Lady Gaga: Since her first single release Lady Gaga has dominated current pop music. Though it took a lot of weird outfits to get much of the media to notice her, true monsters knew she was legit from the start. When she arrived on the music scene in 2009 she was openly out as bisexual. In the last two years Lady Gaga has rarely performed anywhere that she hasn’t received critical acclaim, but just in case you still need proof, check out Born This Way being performed acapella. Yeah acapella.
  • Halsey: Newer to the pop scene, Halsey’s start came from… YouTube. Though many of us have been there since the beginning or jumped on the bandwagon when Badlands released, a lot of people are most familiar with her song Castle which was used in the trailer for Snow White and The Huntsman: Winter’s War. Halsey, born Ashley Grangipane has been openly bisexual for much of her career and recently released her newest album hopeless fountain kingdom. Need proof her voice is flawless? Check out this stripped down version of the song Eyes Closed from her new album. Additionally, you can find plenty of queer friendly songs on her new album including Bad at Love and Strangers, which was recorded with Lauren Jauregui, also a bisexual pop star.
  • Kesha: Constantly lumped into the pop genre and reduced to “party music” at best, Kesha has long been underrated as an artist. Not to mention the ongoing legal battle with Sony Music after asking to be released from working with the producer who she has consistently claimed sexually and emotionally abused her. Despite many pop stars, including Kelly Clarkson, coming to Kesha’s defence it took several years for these court proceedings to come to an end with Sony finally beginning to nudge Dr. Luke out this past April. Throughout these series of events Kesha remained strong, she played at Pittsburgh’s Pride Festival as an out bisexual artist in 2016 and just released an anthem that has resonated with sexual assault survivors across the world in less than 24 hours. This is the Kesha we have seen all along and the one we’re glad the rest of the world is seeing now for the true artist that she is.
  • Miley Cyrus: Whether you agree with her tongue wagging or not, one thing is for sure you never quite know what Miley Cyrus may say or do next, but you can be assured she really doesn’t give a crap about what you think. Since her escape from Disney, she has continued to do what she wants and that has included being an out pansexual pop star that is not letting the rest of the world define her. Often seen as just another Disney star gone rogue, she has continually been reinventing herself over the past several years. She received a ton of positive feedback from her appearance on A Very Murray Christmas, and for her folk cover of Jolene. Perhaps it’s time we move on from her performances years ago and start giving Miley a real listen.
  • Sia: Though she first caught the attention of many during her performance at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, Sia has been stunning audiences for years. Breathe Me released in 2004 has been used in countless movie soundtracks not to mention the endless slew of songwriting credits she has earned throughout the years. Often getting attention for her ability to remain predominately unseen through various wigs, costumes, etc. Sia has long been a powerful musical force. Self-identifying as queer, Sia has being open about her struggles with alcohol and drug addiction and has released several songs that chronicle these addictions. With one of the most unique and haunting voices in music today, just close your eyes and let her voice touch your soul.

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys – A Review of Viv Albertine’s autobiography

Author:
Viv-Albertine

By Amy Callaghan

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys. According to Viv Albertine, guitarist of revolutionary all-girl punk band the Slits, this was a phrase expressed frequently to her by her mother during her childhood and adolescence, ‘Clothes, clothes, clothes, music, music, music, boys, boys, boys – that’s all you ever think about!’. On the surface, that’s what her autobiography appears to be about as well – Albertine’s memories and anecdotes are anchored in the clothes, music, and boys influencing her at the time. Yet her book is more than a whirlwind tale of the legendary punk scene, told through aesthetics only – it is an open and thought-provoking appraisal of Albertine’s entire life.

Albertine’s autobiography is, as punk fans would hope, an insight into what it was like on the inside of the punk scene in the 1960s and 70s, as well as what it was like to be a woman in such a world. However, this is not, in my opinion, the main reason why this book stands out as a radical piece of feminist literature. Rather, it is Albertine’s brutally honest assessment of her whole life, pieced together in an occasionally jarring order, which is the most striking and revelatory aspect of this book. From her childhood, raised by a single mother in North London, and her maintaining issues with her father until his death in 2009, to her battle with cancer, her desperation for a baby and her struggle to conceive, her time as a Hastings housewife, and how the deterioration of her marriage coincided with her increasing desperation to make music again, Albertine holds nothing back, and it is this (at times borderline alarming) determination to be completely truthful about her experiences as a woman throughout every stage of her life which makes this such an inspiring work.

Albertine’s completely frank writing is at times almost unnerving. She doesn’t care if the reader is made uncomfortable by what she has to say or how she says it – the entire book is like a declaration of ‘well, these are my experiences, I lived through this, and I’m certainly not going to sugar-coat it’. It doesn’t, however, read as intentionally playing on shock value. Above all, it is honest. It’s refreshing to hear directly from a woman on often taboo subjects such as menstruation, masturbation, crabs – Albertine refuses to fall into the cultural trap of preserving the modesty of a woman’s body, and writes about these experiences in the same reflective and honest way in which she confronts everything else. It is brilliant and defiant in its rationality.

She writes openly about an abortion she had in 1978 and about how she did not regret it until 20 years later, and has not stopped regretting it since. Still, however, she is emphatic in her support for the right for a woman to choose whether or not to have an abortion. This section of the book takes on a new significance when she writes, many chapters later, of her difficulties in conceiving, the babies she lost through miscarriages, the amount of money and effort poured into IVF, and her eventual success and joy in becoming a mother. Albertine’s writing here is emotive and powerful, and the reader cannot help but feel strongly for her life – for someone unfamiliar with Albertine’s personal life, one could almost begin to root for her as one does for a character in a fictional novel, were it not for her occasional italicised retrospective remarks from her current perspective.

Of course, Albertine’s experiences as a woman in the 1970s punk scene is a substantial section of the book, and incredibly revelatory in itself. The Slits were a defining band in post-punk, and a massive step forward for representation of women in punk as well as in the music industry as a whole. When she writes of the complete lack of representation of any women doing what she wanted to do in music – Albertine couldn’t see any female punk guitarists so firmly believed for a long time that her only access to that world was through the men she associated with – it hammers home the lack of representation women still face in the 21st century. The fact that a girl with no musical training was determined enough to pick up a guitar and play, particularly in such a trailblazing band as the Slits, is nothing short of inspiring.

In an interview with Paper magazine 6 months after the book’s UK release, Albertine expressed her surprise that anyone was inspired by the book. ‘I wanted to show the flipside of someone who looks like they’ve got their life together and what is really underneath it all, so I wrote all the downsides, and yet people found it very inspiring.’ she said. Yet it is difficult to see how Albertine’s book couldn’t be inspiring. Albertine’s experiences, while at points completely distinctive to her era and generation, will hold familiarity with women across every generation, and her publication of this honest confrontation and assessment of her life is an incredibly brave decision.

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys was recommended to me as a feminist and music lover. But I would recommend it to anyone, regardless of their interest in music. Even if you’ve never heard of the Slits, never been into punk or any kind of subversive culture, there will be something in Albertine’s book that will resonate with you and your own experiences. And even if there isn’t – her life is bloody interesting enough to have you hooked regardless.

Boybands are the best

Author:
Zeyn

By Sophia Simon-Bashall

(DISCLAIMER: I use the term ‘boyband’ loosely. I do not think of 5 Seconds of Summer as a boyband in the same way that I see One Direction as one. However, I believe that many of the objections to this labelling of them stem from a problematic place. I do not use it derogatorily – to me, there is nothing derogatory about the term ‘boyband’.)

I used to think of myself as too cool for school – or rather, too punk rock for ‘meaningless, mind-numbing’ chart music. I had special disdain for fangirls, for people who loved particular pop artists with any degree of intensity. I believed that my devotion to my favourite bands was different – superior even – because the bands that I loved wrote their own songs, and their songs MEANT something. I laugh at the irony of that now, considering my favourite band has written songs with the titles Poppin’ Champagne and Stella – the latter of which is indeed a song about beer. OH THE DEPTH. Alas, when I saw groups of girls wearing their JLS hoodies, I scoffed and rolled my eyes. I told anyone who would listen that those girls were zombies with no opinions of their own, that they were completely brainwashed. I said that these artists were not in fact artists, that their music was not ‘real’ music. Oh yes, I was one of those people.

Fast forward a few years, and you’d have a hard time believing that was ever me.

I am someone who sobbed for hours on the day that Zayn left One Direction, someone who was highly sensitive to the terrible ‘Two Directions’ joke that seemingly everyone came out with in the weeks following. I am someone who has read a considerable amount of Larry Stylinson fan fiction. I have even written a little. I am someone who goes to see 5 Seconds of Summer concerts and takes 100 blurry pictures, and later captions every single one with HEARTACHE ON THE BIG SCREEN. I am someone who’s lock screen is of Michael Clifford, someone who stares lovingly at said image periodically throughout the day. I am someone who thinks about Michael Clifford constantly, someone who frets over his sleeping patterns and stress levels, as if I am his mother. Oh yes, I am one of THOSE people.

Once upon a time, I despised boyband fangirls. Now, not only am I one myself, but I love the others immensely. I actually think one of my favourite things about being a fan of these artists is the other fans. I recently went to see 5SOS on the UK leg of their Sounds Live, Feels Live tour, and it was amazing. The boys themselves were, of course, fantastic, but it was the way that they connected me to the thousands of people – predominantly teenage girls – in the room that made the night so special. The New Broken Scene is no empty sentiment; it’s real – in our screams and joy and boundless passion, we were united. I had never met the girls next to me before, but we danced to Hey Everybody together, and delightedly screamed “OH MY GOD” in each other’s faces whenever our faves did something OMG worthy. (FYI, OMG worthy actions include breathing. Have you even lived if you haven’t witnessed Michael Clifford breathing IRL though???)

Band

 

It’s funny to me that having a fanbase of predominantly young girls is deemed a kind of condemnation – surely, by now, the history of pop music has taught us that teenage girls are the most powerful people on the planet. It is teenage girls who launch musicians into success, even into icon status. If you’re a middle-aged man dismissing 5SOS because they attract excitable and emotional teenage girls, you might want to remember who made the Beatles’ career.

With the rest of the world’s disdain for teenage girls, the boys of boybands are a relief – they understand how incredible we are, they appreciate us, and they remind us constantly of how awesome we are. Their affirmation of our existence and worth is significant to us – it’s nice to have someone who doesn’t treat you with scorn. It’s also nice to have somebody with power advocating for you – another rarity. The action/1D campaign was arguably the best thing of all time, because the values and opinions of teenage girls were respected and listened to on a big scale, rather than undermined or dismissed.

More recently, Ashton Irwin of 5 Seconds of Summer proved that he was, quite frankly, better than everybody else. The band were asked in an interview about fan fiction. People in the spotlight are always either uncomfortable with this topic, or ridiculing of it. 5SOS, refreshingly, made jokes entirely at their own expense, complaining only that the romantic standards typically present in these fan creations made them look bad. They didn’t mock the creators, they mocked themselves. This in itself was astonishing to me, but when Ashton continued to discuss it, I was seriously amazed. He said that he thinks it’s cool that young people are creating things, and he loves that fan fiction is a window into our minds – it is a way of understanding what we think about, and the way we think. This was the first time that I’ve ever heard a famous person acknowledge the value of this form, the first time it has been understood. As someone deeply invested in fan fiction, this mattered a lot to me – so much that I may have even shed a tear or two. It was through fan fiction that I finally discovered last year that there is a name for the way I experience sexuality; that I am not defective; that there are other people like me; that I am whole. It was in fan fiction that I found my voice again after losing it, that I was able to let loose creatively, and it is fan fiction that I turn to again and again when I am struggling to write fiction but feel a desperate need to. Fan fiction is a huge part of fandom for me, a huge part of life in general. I am deeply touched that Ashton appreciates this thing that matters to me so immensely.

In summary: boybands are the best thing in the whole world. Other than teenage girls. But boybands definitely come in a very close second. There is no shame in loving them – in fact, I believe that it is something to be proud of. Your passion is beautiful, and it is a part of something big, something extremely powerful. Embrace it.

Tonight Alive are Limitless

Author:
Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 4.16.47 PM

By Sophia Simon-Bashall

It’s no secret that I love Tonight Alive. If asked to name just one woman who inspires me, Jenna McDougall would be the name on my lips, without a doubt. I could write endless essays on her – and the band’s – significance to me; I have found so much empowerment in listening to them talk, listening to their songs, watching them perform, watching them interact. There’s a special energy about this band, there’s something about them that makes them so much more than a band. Tonight Alive are a movement.

I saw them at the Birmingham Institute recently, introducing their new album Limitless. The moment that they walked on stage, and the first verse of To Be Free – my current ‘power boost’ song – began, I felt a shift in my body. My smile widened, and with it, my entire being expanded. Throughout that show, I grew and grew. This band take me to spiritual places that I struggle to access otherwise.

That is the undeniable power of Tonight Alive. They don’t just encourage growth, they demand it. You don’t go to a Tonight Alive show without leaving with questions, with new ideas, with hope. They expose uncomfortable truths, they make you want to be better. They show you that it is possible to be free, and they remind you that “you always have a say”. They ask you what you are so scared of, and convince you that there is no need to be – after all, you have oceans inside of you, you can take on anything.

Their last album, The Other Side, is everything to me – I feel every second of every song 100%. When it came out, it felt like Jenna understood me, which was incredibly important at the time. And I am certain that nothing will ever matter more than hearing the song Hell & Back live – that song is my happiest place. TOS allowed me to grow and heal and I am endlessly grateful that it exists.

I did not believe that TOS could be matched, let alone surpassed.

But Limitless has come at me with force and screams I AM THE GREATEST. Literally.

I’ve always thought of Tonight Alive as a pop-punk band. But this isn’t a pop-punk album. And I’m not sorry about that at all. The band has grown, and I respect that. I love that, in fact. Pop-punk is a genre of a strange mixture – parties and complaining – and it is not one that fits the ethos of this band. This is a band with a vision, a purpose, and the epic proportions of this album correlates to that.

Jenna’s voice soars above everything, and is the strongest I have ever heard of. It’s stunning. It’s powerful and confident. On The Other Side, she pleads for respect, she begs to be heard, as with Say Please. Here, the respect and validation comes from within. This is a young woman who knows herself, is comfortable, and doesn’t need external forces to solidify that. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is.

Limitless is bursting with affirmations, and I have already cried screaming them into my pillow approximately 50 times. They are things that I have needed to hear, and am desperately trying to believe. The stand out track, for me, is Power of One, which opens with “I exist with a fierce intention”, and closes with “The one thing I’ve learned, it all made me who I am”. It’s this album’s Hell & Back, it’s the song that I need more than anything right now. Tonight Alive always seem to do that – be exactly what I need at any given moment. I am so grateful to have had them over the past five years of my life. I am so excited to grow and heal even more with them, as I know I will. That’s what Limitless is all about, what Tonight Alive are all about.

This album will wake you up, if only you let it.

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