Women in alternative music – Create your own scene

By Danielle Wilson

“If you’re not part of a scene, you create a scene.” – Natalie Papa

With the alternative music industry growing over the last three decades, you’d expect to see as many female artists dominating the scene as there are male, but why don’t we?

Joan Jett resiliently spent over ten years to make her mark in music. When she did, she helped bring on the Riot Grrrl movement which changed the view of women in alternative music forever.

joan jett
Wikimedia Commons, author: ceedub13

Yet, two decades later, females in the industry are finding it hard to find fame, without being victims to prejudice, or being targeted as the ‘token woman act’ on festival line ups.

Lead singer of Liverpool rock band Raised By Wolves, Liv Johnson, said: “You can see it in gig listings or festival line ups, there’s a massive disproportion of men to women.”

“Although personally I can see it shifting and see women gaining more viability in music, a lot of the time I’m the only woman in the line up.”

“Or it’s a ‘female fronted’ evening, which is crazy itself. Imagine marketing a male only night!”

It’s not only indirect prejudice which Liv has faced: “Of course there’s other kinds of prejudice, people just being creepy and crude, which I feel like a lot of women deal with every day.”

“As a woman you feel incredibly vulnerable.”

On the other side of the industry, Julie Weir, who has worked in music for over 20 years, believes that challenges that women face are being overcome because people are now encouraged to speak out.

In her experience, Julie, who is now head at the Music for Nations record label, experienced more challenges due to her young age when she started in the industry, not because of her gender.

One band that chose to speak out because of a negative experience caused by prejudice are Natalie and The Monarchy.

During their performance in Zanzibar, in November 2018, Natalie and her two backing singers were the only women to be on the stage that night.

The girls were heckled during a sexually explicit song: “Girls aren’t suppose to sing songs that are so rude and explicit.” said Natalie in their Instagram post.

“Dudes in rock bands can sing all they want about screwing and throwing away women but as soon as I do the same it’s perceived as an invitation for 38 year old washed-up douche bags to stink up the room. So this time, I called them out.”

Miss Johnson continued: “When I was looking to getting into music, there were so many ads for bands looking for ‘male singers’ because a female ‘wouldn’t fit’ their sound. There’s this ‘boys club mentality’.”

“I can only speak as a woman in the rock scene, but it can be disheartening trying to find a ‘place’ within the genre.”

“In the almost four years I’ve been in this band (Raised By Wolves) we’re starting to see this amazing wave of people not standing for under representation. People pulling up their favourite festivals on why they aren’t booking more acts with women.”

“It’s absolutely incredible to see this making its way up to mainstream media.”

Check out Raised By Wolves HERE.

Check out Natalie and The Monarchy HERE.



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