1. For those readers who have not seen or heard of your collective yet, can you describe it in 5 words?
Promoting womxn in new music.
2. Can you tell us about what brought you together, your mission, and the purpose that drives you today? Why is this cause important?
Mari, Tash & I met while writing for another music blog, but over time we realised that we had the credentials and the passion to start our own platform. We’ve created a radio show, two live nights, and a website dedicated to promoting and supporting women and non-binary people in new music. We want to show the music industry that female musicians work and perform as fiercely and skilfully as their male counterparts, and we’re committed to pushing these girls and women to the front. It’s a non-profit organisation and a total labour of love, and because of that we’ve managed to build a small but dedicated DIY community that makes us feel safe and supported in all that we do. That’s important on a personal, and a professional level in this industry.
3. What is a challenge you've had to overcome so far as a collective? What has been the response of the London community?
The London community has embraced us completely. From kind emails and social media posts, to bands and gig-goers talking to us at gigs – we feel loved and appreciated as people and as a platform in this city.
Collectively, I’d say our biggest challenge is finding the time to promote all the new music that comes our way. Get In Her Ears is a non-profit organisation, and we all work full-time jobs – so it’s hard to reply to all of our messages and to promote everyone that deserves to be on our platform.
4. If you could pick anybody to collaborate with, who would you choose and why? Are there any other collectives who inspire you?
There are so many inspirational women and allies in London, it’s hard to name them all. You should look out for Loud Women, DIY Thursdays, Decolonise Fest, Girls Rock London, Safe Gigs 4 Women & We Can Do It Records. They are all great initiatives that promote the work of women & non-binary people in the music industry.
In terms of collaboration, again – that’s a hard one to answer! But any kind of collaboration with the organisations above is always welcome.
5. Looking back, can you tell us about one of your collective’s favourite projects to date? And looking forward, what is something you are currently working on that you are excited to share with the world, and where we can find you over the summer?
I know for Mari it will be continuing to put on free monthly gigs at The Finsbury pub. She’s been organising our line-ups at this venue for three years now, and it’s wonderful to see how much our crowds enjoy the bands she selects. She works so hard!
Collectively, I’d say producing our weekly radio show and booking guests such as Big Joanie, Nova Twins and ESYA (Ayse Hassan of Savages), and Bengi Unsal (Senior Contemporary Music Programmer at Southbank Centre) has been an ongoing favourite project!
And some Industry insight…
6. What is your favourite aspect of the music industry and why? Conversely, if you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
My favourite aspect of the DIY music industry is meeting people who have a similar passion, and who want to help you thrive with no agenda of their own. It’s wonderful when you meet genuine people striving for the same things as you.
If I could change one thing? Sexual harassment at gigs. If we could eradicate that completely, life would be so much easier!
7. A 2018 YouGov survey reported that girls are much more likely than boys to say they enjoy studying music (48 per cent against 34 per cent). Yet, in 2013, Creative & Cultural Skills reported that the divide across all music industry related jobs is 67.8% male to 32.2% female. Why do you think this is happening?
There are so many reasons as to why this is happening – financial, social, personal – so it’s hard to give a concrete answer. I can only go on my own experience, and that experience is that the studying of music or the “technical” aspects of music are usually conversations dominated by men, and I find that off-putting. Whether it’s my male friends talking about it at a gig, or an interview I read with a male rock star online – it’s a different language to me, and not being able to understand it intimidates and frustrates me. I wouldn’t be surprised if young girls opted out of courses because they didn’t want to appear like they were inferior.
Having said that, I know a handful of female sound engineers in London who are all dedicated to not giving a fuck about the patronising comments men routinely make to them – so that gives me hope!
8. Amongst the 75 female songwriters and producers interviewed by the University of Southern California in 2019, over 40% admitted their colleagues dismissed or discounted their work or skills and 39% have experienced stereotyping and sexualization. Have you ever had a negative experience in the music industry specifically because of your gender? Alternately, has it ever been an advantage that has worked in your favour?
My colleagues are Mari & Tash – and they are a continued source of love and support, so I’m lucky I don’t have to directly deal with that.
I know lots of womxn in bands who put up with condescending comments or abuse about their image or their music, particularly on social media. That can grind you down after a while.
I try to focus on the good things and not get weighed down by the negativity – if I’d listened to the random guy that called me a “dumb chick cunt” for writing about Joy Division, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today!
9. A 2019 study (University of Southern California) examining the Billboard Hot 100 chart between 2012-2018 found that women only made up 21.7 percent of artists, 12.3 percent of songwriters and 2.1 percent of producers. Some advocates have promoted gender quotes as a means of placing external pressure on promoters to book more female artists and to ensure more inclusive programming. Do you agree with this? What more could be done to reduce sexism and create more balance in the industry?
There’s nothing wrong with pointing out a gender imbalance on a line-up and pushing for that to change – whether that’s on a small or big stage.
The wider industry needs to accept that womxn are not a minority in music, even though they’re treated like one. Then line-ups will be more balanced and sexism will be reduced. Until that magical day though, we’ll continue supporting womxn through Get In Her Ears and building their confidence so they feel valued, and confident when they eventually get to headline the stages the industry has tried to keep them from for so long.
10. Any parting words of wisdom for folx out there looking to pursue careers in the music industry?
These two quotes help me think straight when I’m struggling with anything:
“Don’t agonise, organise” – Florynce Kennedy
“Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum (don’t let the bastards grind you down)” – The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood.
Come meet Kate & the Get in Her Ears crew in person at our Femme Summer Fête taking place at Grow, Hackney (E9 5LN) on Friday 30th August, 6pm-2am!