Earlier this week, we found out that David Bryne had a total of zero women in the production team of his most recent album, American Utopia. This begs the question: how do women fare in the music industry, considering they can be completely overlooked, when a team of 25 are put together to create an album that reflects America?
So then comes Thursday, International Women’s Day. Like a lot of young women on this day, I wanted to see some badass women doing some badass empowerment. Lucky for me, Four5Nine at the Rosemount Hotel was a venue to an empowering evening that sent an excellent message. Sass The Patriarchy is a night dedicated to not just sending a message, but promoting the change that is so often spoken about but never actually seen.
Organised by the women of This Way North, Aleisha and Cat have been travelling around Australia, picking up female artists in each city to perform and, indeed, sass the patriarchy. Although this would imply that the audience are a female majority, it was good to see plenty of men sitting alongside their female counterparts.
Artists such as Bell Harvey, Em Burrows and Flossy played along with This Way North and for the price of the ticket, not only did I see some awesome music – the women also sat down and promoted a panel discussion on the ins and outs of women in music.
The small and intimate venue made a welcoming environment to pipe up and ask questions. Education became an important part of the night as the women focussed on the idea that educating people in the music industry about how women can play and produce their music, just as well as anyone else would. Perhaps Sass the Patriarchy could have taught Byrne a thing or two about how 25 of the best artists and producers doesn’t necessarily mean 25 men.
Leisha Jungalwalla of This Way North said she had the idea for Sass The Patriarchy, after she noticed a whole lot of movement and momentum towards equality without much action.
“People are ready to jump on board, talking about it – but when it comes down to it, it’s a world of Apathy,” Aleisha said. Unfortunately, it really does seem to be the case in a lot of movement towards equality and not just in the music industry.
Another issue that came up when talking to Aleisha and members of the band FLOSSY (named after the endearing term myself and many other women in Australia have been called throughout their childhood) was the fact that a lot of shows and music conferences have ‘the token music chick’. Leisha says that while she was noticing these issues being discussed on panels, there would only be one woman at the desk, obviously there for the tokenism.
That topic went even further with sisters Sinead and Lauren O’Hara of the band, as they said they felt they’re often invited to play purely based on the fact they’re a female fronted grunge band – the key word here being female. Fortunately for these girls and their fellow members Steve and Tom, they do feel that the more music they play, the more they’re getting asked to play shows for the music alone as opposed to making up the gender count for the night.
The powerful lyric ‘she may be a quiet girl but hers minds a riot’ courtesy of FLOSSY, really captured the nights message on equality. Women need to talk more about these issues they often encounter in the hopes of educating others on them and therefore moving forward.
When asked if people take them less seriously when they say music is what they do, they said no – however, people will often assume they only sing and don’t play any instruments. Sinead is the bands bass guitarist and Lauren plays the guitar while Tom is lead guitarist and Steve is the Drummer.
Having asked Leisha the same question, she stated that although she doesn’t feel she is taken less seriously, if she stops and thinks about herself and her music before a show, she feels she has to work that little bit harder to prove herself to the viewers because she isn’t immediately assumed to be a professional, whereas she feels a lot of men do have that advantage.
It was great to see women supporting other women, even extended beyond to the art and music of others down at the merchandise table at the back of the bar. Good luck to our fellow female musicians and may one of you make it onto Bryne’s next production team.