Tuesday, 27 October 2015
Creative, independent women in music and art
There are some interesting people out here in the ether (which is where I live too) – an otherworld of creativity and originality waiting to be discovered. Some by chance, some by design, some by good marketing and strategy. Many never even appear on the radar – certainly not on everyone's radar, at least. Some sit there, like the sirens on the rocks, waiting... waiting... waiting to mesmerise you, only ever hoping, by chance, that you'll come their way at all. Quite content to lie where they are. Basking. Shining. And when you do come their way, you'll be unable to leave.
Compelled to stay.
Until you're consumed.
Creativity – that's the easy part, if you're that way inclined. It's getting everyone to hear what you created that's difficult. Gigging can be a long, hard haul. I've done all that. Not done with, I just mean I've been there. Many times. But what if you don't play live and, if you do, it's certainly not all over the world, or not often enough to make a difference. What if you don't gig at all but create wonderful music solely in the studio or in your own room? Maybe at the moment it's not something you could play live.
You can sit on your rock, or (in many cases) on your 'Cloud'. Basking, relaxing, comfortable – but in reality, whether it's admitted or not, most would like to be noticed. To be acknowledged and recognised, given affirmation and encouragement. " If you're living this vicarious life, that's alright". But don't most of us want to be the doers and not the viewers?
So here are some of the artists who are off the general radar and perhaps prefer to be, but could (and should) be up there with those who are lauded and praised, recognised and idolised.
And 'I'm talking about women, man. They don't have to hit me to make me know it's there.'
I'm not sure if it is a male dominated medium nowadays in music – maybe on the business side, but here I'm talking about the creative side, the artistry, the originality. The business side neither concerns me or interests me. But it seems to me that women are very much to the fore in music nowadays. The all-conquering Taylor Swift (who'd have thought?), Katy Perry, Rhianna, Madonna (even now), Lady Gaga, Adele, FKA Twigs, PJ Harvey, Florence, Brittany Howard, Annie Clark... and so on. I could google more to remind me but I'm just improvising here. Don't nitpick. Yes, a lot of these we would categorise as pop – I could easily name more in the rock/indie genre but most of those are in a male dominated band environment. Those I've listed there are all women who are successful on their own terms, not puppets, not even puppets pulling strings. I'm not naming them for their style of music but for their individuality and power and autonomy in the 'industry' (hate that word applied here).
But what about the female artists who most people don't know?
The ones in the ether, on ‘the cloud’ – the sirens.
I love female singers and writers. They have a different perspective, a different voice. A sensitivity, a sensuality, a sexuality, a sensibility, all of which draws me in, the sailor adrift and weak. Buckled and suggestible. Voices like Elizabeth Fraser, Lisa Gerrard, Marianne Faithful, Nico, Brody Dalle, Chan Marshall, Laura Marling, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson, Patti Smith, The Slits, Chrissie Hynde, Siouxsie Sioux, PJ Harvey, Lucinda Williams, Joanna Newsom, Bjork… you can add your own, there are many more but you get the picture. I don't even necessarily mean 'voices' as in Aretha Franklin, nobody would say that Nico sang like Aretha, but I mean a voice of their own.
So here are some of my personal favourites. Women in their own right. Self sufficient and/or unique enough to stand out. Some here are truly supreme – better than most (in some cases all) of the stuff out there in the world. Some you may know, some you won’t.
This is by no means a definitive list but I intend to build on it, as time permits (I don’t allow myself much as it is) and please feel free to lead me to others who you feel should be in here in the future monthly(ish) playlists. At the moment I’m compiling from the women on Soundcloud because it’s such a hub, a hive, a community, but it can also be that Cloud of which I spoke, where people can become so comfortable lounging in its fluffiness that they have no intention of going or inclination to be anywhere else. So I’ll tell you about them and you can go there yourself and visit. Maybe we’ll never see you again, so lost you'll become.
I’ll attempt to do this monthly(ish), in playlists of ten to twenty. These I’ll then add to a main playlist which eventually can be a great body of work from some of the most original, unique, exciting female artists from all over the world. Not from all genres, as wide as my tastes are, but from a broad enough spectrum. Nothing bland or anodyne, nothing banal or twee, no karaoke nor from the horrorshow world of Simon Cowell, nothing obvious and predictable. There’ll be some pop, sure, but I like a lot of pop music - indie-pop, intelligent, witty and knowing... and also there may be some easy listening in there but only if it’s the best. Burt Bacharach's easy listening but also clever and unpredictable. But, over all, this will be my list of women who I think everyone ought to hear at least once in their lives.
And most of them won't be pop. Ohhhh no.
We'll get into art later.
Here's this month's playlist. Is it crass of me to call it The First Period?
Click link to play.