Too Many Man: Where are the Women of Grime?

Since emerging from London in the early 2000’s, grime has been on a winding road to fame and success. However, it’s not been an easy journey and there’s been many bumps along the way. When thinking about the genre, the more recent achievements would probably spring to mind, such as Stormzy’s performance at the Brit Awards in 2018, or D Double E’s appearance on the IKEA Christmas advert in 2020. But where has grime come from, what’s it all about, and where is it going?

Rewind two decades. Imagine the towering council flats of East London, pirate radio stations, MCs spitting over experimental beats. Grime was inspired by inner city living and the sounds of London, blending a range of genres including Garage, D&B, Gub, Jungle, Dancehall and Hip-Hop, in particular taking influence from Jamaican sound system culture. MCs told us about the harsh realities of city life and the social injustices they faced, the intimacies of relationships and family life, and often they just cussed each other out. We heard raw, personal and sometimes humorous commentaries, unfiltered and unapologetic. It felt special because it felt like ours, it wasn’t America’s hip-hop, or Jamaica’s dancehall – it was Britain’s grime.

Grime is about community, self-expression and innovation. Those integrated in the scene would tell you that it’s more than a genre, it’s a culture. Grime has brought social and historical change, from MCs headlining major festivals, to artists forming the political movement Grime4Corbyn ahead of the 2017 election, which encouraged young people to vote. Now, the genre is celebrated and enjoyed all over the world, with events such as Side Grime taking place in Brazil and live radio sets popping up in Australia, Japan and Korea. Now, it’s difficult to imagine the genre faced such harsh criticism from the mainstream media, and hostility from the British government. It was only in November 2017 that Form 696 was scrapped. Form 696 was a ‘risk assessment form’ which was inherently racist and stopped many grime events from going ahead. But why am I telling you all of this, and where do the women feature?

Madders & Shan, MC & videographer

During my early teenage years, I was really into grime. It wasn’t until I started going to live events a few years later that I started realising how male-dominated the scene really was, both on and off stage. In 2017, I set myself a mission to find the women of grime. Searching online and offline for female MCs, DJs, producers, radio presenters, journalists, videographers – I was looking for those who helped shape the genre over the last twenty years. I knew of MCs such as Lady Leshurr, Ms Dynamite, Shystie and Lioness, and journalists Chantelle Fiddy and Hattie Collins, but there had to be more than just a handful of women. The more I looked, the more I found. In 2019, I released a photo-book titled Too Many Man: Women of Grime, named after the 2009 song ‘Too Many Man’ by grime MC, Skepta. Two years later, I updated the project with a second edition, including 50 women involved in the UK grime scene. Here in 2021, I still ask the question of why did I have to dig to find these women? Moreover, why were they not getting the recognition they deserved, and why were they not being given the same platforms as their male counterparts? Let’s hear it from the women themselves.

“I think for women in music, it’s not just how good you are, it’s what do you look like? Are you pretty? Would anyone want to fuck you? Are you swagged out? … A lot of the female MCs I started out with have dropped off because they didn’t get the recognition or support they deserved, and they felt they had to be someone other than themselves.” – Roxxxan

Roxxxan, MC

“Give me a music scene that isn’t male dominated… I think [grime] is rage, it’s anger, it’s pent-up aggression, and I’m not saying these aren’t things that females feel, but I think those are things that where we grew up they were largely an issue for men and it was like finding an alternative outlet for that rage that wasn’t violence… I think it’s a way of finding comradery and stuff, that maybe women could find elsewhere.” – Debris

Debris, writer and grime poet

“A lot of people try to put women against each other, which is the most annoying thing. There’s about 50 female MCs and rappers I can think of right now, and there’s space for us all. Look at how many males there are and they’re all doing their thing, so why can we not coexist?” – Lioness

Lioness, MC

“Although there have never been that many females in front of the mic, there’s always been a lot of really important figures behind the mic. Not just the Chantelle’s and the Sarah Lockhart’s, but also the mums, the sisters, the girlfriends, the best friends… A lot of women have played a huge part in grime, it’s just not in the ways people necessarily expect, or in the most visible ways. Without women, grime would be very, very different. I think women have been really key, and a lot of the time have steered the culture with very little or no recognition. Without women I think grime would be less developed and less interesting, I think we’ve broadened the idea of grime and given it more of an identity.” – Hattie Collins, journalist

Since starting the project in 2017, I’ve seen a huge shift in recognition and respect for women in the scene. Boxpark Wembley curated an event called Grime Ballet in 2019, which saw a panel of mainly women, and performances by Lioness and The Grime Violinist. Poet In Da Corner, a coming of age play inspired by Dizzee Rascal’s debut album written by Debris Stevenson, toured across the UK in 2020. Female DJs spinning grime are being booked for shows and festivals around and outside of the UK, and successful male MCs are actively making music with female MCs and producers. The women in the scene are also backing each other and working together on a variety of projects. Seeing this shift and unity over the past couple of years has been heartwarming, and shows that grime is learning and growing. Despite the popular saying, grime is not dead. It’s evolved past its infancy, and will too continue to develop for the next generation.

Text and photos by Ellie Ramsden

All photos and interviews from Too Many Man: Women of Grime V2

www.ellieramsden.co.uk

@ellie_ramsden

Favour The Brave Record’s WREX Brings Out Smashing New Single

George Donoghue (left) and Mae Seaton (right)

WREX are a newly formed band, made up of the perfect duo bringing Posi(tive) Pop-Rock back with their new single ‘Wide eyes’. Mae and George first met at a Rock show in their local town of Brighton. Their mutual love for music brought them together to create WREX at the start of 2020, making the most of the lockdowns we have endured this past year. You will hear Mae on vocals and George on guitar, bass, vocals and drums.

Both Mae and George have been writing independently for various other projects prior to WREX. Their writing process for WREX tends to start with Mae bringing a very basic version of a song into the studio. She goes on to say, “Usually this will only go as far as chord progressions, lyrics, melody, and maybe a few rough ideas for harmonies and hooks, and as if by magic George turns this into a full band set up, playing all the parts in, fully writing the drums, guitar and bass parts – I am yet to find something he can’t do! After that we’ll both put some vocals in and find a synth that makes your lips curl!”

Preview of single ‘Wide Eyes’

Playing, writing and producing their own stuff makes it easy to respect and appreciate what they do. The lyrics of their new song ‘Wide eyes’ are beautifully written and extremely catchy. From the moment I heard this song it was on replay for the rest of the day in my head. George has freelanced in being a musician, record production, mix engineering, songwriting and specialising in Alternative Rock/Pop and Metal for over 5 years. His works reached No. 1 in the Independent Music Charts along with plays on BBC Radio 1, Radio 2, KROQ, Planet Rock, Kerrang Radio and many more. To date, George has contributed to over 5 million Streams across his collective works.

Pictured: George Donoghue

Both coming from a musical background it has made it easy for them to understand what makes good music. They go on to describe how they first got into music. 

Mae: “This has definitely got to be my Dad, he was and still is in bands, and I grew up watching him write and perform, and naturally I wanted to follow in his footsteps! I think the first time I started singing, I was really inspired by Amy Lee (Evanescence), I already owned a few of their piano sheet music books already and loved the idea of the delicate piano and her operatic voice being brought to life by rock music.”

George: “My dad ran an indie label as I was growing up, I’ve always wanted to make music for as long as I can remember.”

Pictured: Mae Seaton

They both grew up listening to the same style of music including Pop, Rock and Punk/Alt-Rock.

Mae: “It was a mix of pop and rock. Artists that stand out in my memory are The Red Hot Chili Peppers, ABBA, and Dido, and I’m still into all three! As I grew up I steered more towards the rockier end and became pretty obsessed with Evanescence, Papa Roach, and Bullet For My Valentine – which was my first “proper” rock gig my dad took me to when I was 13! I think it’s the energy behind this style of music that kept me wanting more, being a shy child it was almost an escape for me, which hopefully I’m bringing into the music we write now.”

George:  “I grew up listening to mainly pop punk/alt rock, but contrasting that, I would also listen to soul and motown. It taught me that great songs can be timeless!”

The message they want to send to their listeners through their music is to “Enjoy life and share that happiness with everyone around you! Be yourself and love yourself!” A great message, for a great band.

‘Wide Eyes’ OUT NOW on Spotify.

They have several tracks lined up to be released over the next coming months, with the plans of creating an album over the next year. You can find them on various platforms including Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to keep up to date.

Artist and Producer 3RVD Makes Kicks to enter your Playlists this Summer

3RVD ie. 3 Raptures, Victories and Defeats is a talented North London based artist who evolved his love for playing guitar in front of his school assemblies to creating some great original electronic music. His music includes influences of Dance, Garage and a little Rock. His talents extend far and wide, by being able to play multiple different instruments including guitar, bass, drums and jamming out to a bit of keys. Writing all of his own material; he produces, mixes and masters all his own songs, making us music nerds just pop out of our seats.  

‘Space that Works’ – 3RVD.

Scrolling through his majestic and mysterious Instagram page, you never know quite what you’re going to stumble on to. He shares his creative process throughout many instagram live feeds, where viewers are able to devour his experimental music live sessions. You can witness his creativity by watching him cover songs. An example being Twenty One Pilot’s ‘Level of Concern’. 3RVD aka Brad, uses various instruments, a Loop Station and his MacBook to create his own version of a great song. You just can’t help but nod your head and shimmy your shoulders, whilst appreciating the magic being made. Check out the video below to understand exactly what I am talking about. 

Growing up in North London he first got inspired by his Indie rocker next door neighbour who was constantly playing throughout the day, making his 8 year old self crave to be able to rock out just like him. Picking up a guitar at such a young age was a form of escapism being able to create a world within the form of music. As many other 90’s kids growing up in the UK, 3RVD grew up listening to Garage and Metal, making it understandable why his style of music is the way that it is. He goes on to say: 

Linkin Park was a huge favourite when I was younger, and still now of course. I mean Rock music, with a DJ? Back then was like wtf! And then collabs with people like Jay-Z. It’s what I love, and what I try to do. Make stuff that’s never been heard before.”

Make sure to keep an eye out for 3RVD in the next coming months, with schedules of singles being released. Single ‘Margaritas‘ coming out on the 31st May and ‘Trying‘ coming out on the 25th June. He is also hoping to get a few live shows on the way, of course that is Covid permitting. 

One of my favourite questions to ask artists is the message they want to portray to their listeners, as I think it can show what the artist stands for. 3RVD goes on to say: 

The whole point of my name 3RVD is to try to help people overcome difficult situations mentally. To help people focus and move forward.I try to write music that encapsulates Raptures, Victories, and Defeats in life.

For example when I have an anxiety attack, or I am depressed I try to use ‘3RVD’ to help regain focus and bring myself out of it. By thinking about 3 things that truly make me happy in life (Raptures), then 3 things I have been successful at in life (Victories) and 3 things that I want to overcome or improve on (Defeats), this helps me push on, starts to make me feel better about myself or the situation, and also gives me a goal and drive to move forward.

I made a cringey video about this on YouTube a while back if anyone wants to understand it a bit more. It helps me, so I thought it might help others. If it doesn’t float your boat then I hope you at least like the tunes, and if you don’t like the tunes, better luck next time (haha).

That’s why I will drop a happy sounding or positive tracks but the next will be a melancholy sounding, that’s how life is right.”

I think it’s fantastic to see artists spreading mental health awareness and tips on how to handle difficult situations. It isn’t talked about enough and great to see new and upcoming artists being 100% real and relatable to their fanbase. To better understand and deep dive into the 3RVD world, you can check out the youtube video he is referring to here:

We have an exclusive preview of 3RVD’s newest song ‘Margaritas’ being released on 31st May which you can check out below. It brings me summer vibes chilling on the beach. Make sure to get the full version on his Distrokid on the 31st May.

Margaritas out on 31st May.

Check out his various platforms on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Youtube Music, Deezer, Tidal, Napster, Bandcamp, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Twitch and of course don’t forget to support artists through this pandemic by buying some Merch, the T-Shirts are hella fresh!

Spirituality and Music, Can they be mixed? Interview with Opvious

Opvious he may be, but not so obvious to all. Upcoming spiritual Rapper, Producer, Podcaster, Youtuber and what I would like to call a TikTok teacher.

This year has been one of those years where the world has been turned upside down. Everything as we know it now has this “new normal” tag stuck to it. Some have survived by baking bread and buns, some have survived making TikTok videos, I survived this year by exploring and expanding my knowledge to the unknown. By this I mean the indefinite probability of the thought that humanity is not the superior race in the cosmos. The chance that in fact we are souls taking our body’s for a ride for a 90 year lifespan (if we are lucky). The understanding that everything in your current reality is made up of either low, moderate or high vibrational energy. High vibrational being the source to your happiness.

This time last year I had reached a phase in my life where I knew I needed change. I had spent the previous 5 years in the vibrant, cold but fun city of Copenhagen, Denmark. Falling in love, falling out of love, working jobs that didn’t fill my full potential, it was a life that wasn’t living at my highest vibration. From one day to the next I decided to leave my life behind, start new. I moved back to the UK, to a quiet coastal town, to study my final year of university. I started to take chances, choose paths and got rid of anything that wasn’t benefitting my life to its maximum potential.

I took drastic changes in my life and started practicing meditation, reading about alternative world theories and studying symbols of the past. Opvious is a rapper who basically describes what I have invested the majority of my time in this year, which is why I resonated with what he does so much. He incorporates spiritual meaning to his songs, spreading the message and attempting to widen people’s minds. “Music is such a powerful tool to connect with people and I want to inspire as many souls as I can while I live here on earth. Incorporating spiritual meanings in my music, it helps so many people heal and learn more about themselves. I believe that it’s one of the most important meanings that could be in a song.

Opvious’s latest self produced single Danny Phantom.

His songs talk about different teachings that used to be explored in ancient civilisations. Interpretations of messages that were discussed in the past, and exploring the ability of astral projection. The phenomena is achieved by going through an intentional extreme state of relaxation to induce an out of body experience and therefore visit the astral realm. The Astral realm is a plane of existence beyond this physical reality. Its limitless in actions, the realm’s time is no longer linear and anyone can succeed in doing it with practice. It can be achieved through the practice of many different techniques, including meditation, mantra, lucid dreaming and the not so favourable near-death experience.

In order for someone to even believe this kind of thing, generally you have to go through a spiritual awakening. The person stuck in a 3 dimensional mind frame of life which is purely an eat, sleep, work repeat routine. Generally, you won’t have the capacity of understanding that something like this can be a possibility. Which is nice to see a different form of art expression including these teachings. Through various distribution channels like Youtube, Spotify and TikTok videos. You can check out his TikTok channel below.

What about Opvious’s awakening? “My life turned around once I learned about the Law of Attraction and astral projecting. I was immediately fascinated that those things exist, and wanted to learn how to astral project. I began learning everything there was to know about these topics and by doing this I started to learn so much about other spiritual topics as well. My whole life dramatically changed as I found out the significant impact that my thoughts had on my reality and how everything in life is all connected.”

I first watched the movie The Secret when I was around eleven or twelve years old. It dives into the law of attraction which is the philosophy of how one’s thoughts shape your reality. Being able to control your mind to the point where you can filter out negative thoughts with positive ones will therefore give you good things in life, whereas negative thoughts will attract negative experiences. A similar philosophy to this is manifestation, the main difference being that with manifestation attributes to something that does not exist, whereas the law of attraction you attract something that already exists. What makes this topic even more interesting is that the CIA have released documents expressing that manifestation is in fact real. Take a look at the CIA small clipping shared by @youarecreators below.

This led me to understand consciousness, this is merely the awareness of yourself. Like the taste of that Mojito you drank on Saturday night, or the lust you felt on your first date, the memory of you falling off your bike at 6 years old, your thoughts, sensations and environment. Your own individual awareness is unique to you, if you are able to describe something in your own words, that is part of your consciousness. Being self aware allows you to therefore connect to your higher self. The ideology of higher self is being able to connect to the eternal, omnipotent, conscious and intelligent being of ones true self.

How do you practice connecting to one’s higher self? Opvious goes on to say, “Meditation is number one. When I learned to meditate it helped me separate the ego from my higher self. I believe that the higher self operates from a dimension of love, so by meditating continuously, I am connecting with my higher self. Astral projection is another thing that has helped me connect with my higher self because the communication between me and my higher self becomes much clearer.”

The first written evidence of meditation was found in The Vedas religious texts originating in India around 1500 BCE. It is a practice that has been around for a long time, and has many benefits. It allows you to manage stress, increase self awareness, being able to focus on the present, reduces negative emotions and increases your imagination and creativity (last one great for practicing astral projection).

How can you incorporate spirituality in your day to day life?
“We always have thoughts and decisions that we can make in our day to day life. It’s called being alive! By incorporating spirituality and focusing on love, I’m able to make decisions that are love-based. These love-based decisions are ones that enable me to manifest greater things. Decisions made from the energy of love are extremely powerful! It also helps my relationships with everyone around me because the recognition that all is one, means that I will be spreading more love to the people around me- knowing that they are me and I am them. It gives me a better outlook on things, as I am kinder to myself and others.”

You might think that love based decisions are common and easy, but if you actually take a step back and actually ask yourself why am I making this decision? The most common answer amongst the population will be for self gain, greed, other’s opinions, other’s approval. Out of the millions of actions that you take in your day, which ones are taken out of pure love. Something for you to ponder over.

All in all I think combining music and spirituality is a great way to expand people’s mind into the unknown. To plant seeds into people’s consciousness and therefore encourage people to only exist on a frequency of love is the type of music that I would want to support. Opvious will be releasing his new EP with Bizmark soon called “Retrograde Divine”. Make sure to look out for it on his various platforms Youtube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, also available in iTunes.

Interview with Sony Music Paralegal: Olivia Lewis

The music industry isn’t only glitz and glam, singing and dancing. One of the most important aspects of the music scene is having a good lawyer, knowing your rights as an artist and gaining a great deal. Without a lawyer you could sign your life away without really knowing what you’re getting yourself into. Today, I am introducing Olivia Lewis, a Paralegal at Sony Music and future trainee at Clintons.

Olivia had the music industry in her blood. Her Grandad had been a tour manager for the likes of The Jackson 5 and James Brown. Her Father also followed in his footsteps with a career in artist management. So it was inevitable for Olivia to have a thirst for the entertainment business.

Like many who have gone into this industry, it isn’t always as straightforward as you think. Her journey first started by studying a philosophy degree at university, but soon after realised that her true passion was to study law. During this two year period, she worked for a Prisoners’ advice charity and built up her experience within the Criminal and Media sector of law. She then moved on to Sony a month after graduating with her law degree and has been there ever since. She goes on to say “I was very much raised with the ‘you get your own job mentality’ and the root to my current role was through a recruitment company. I feel proud to be the first women in my family to work in the industry and proud that a woman is carrying on the legacy.” Admirable it is. It takes courage to firstly identify your passion, dedicate your time and put in the hard work to get where you want to be. Olivia is definitely a role model that I would look up to.

Her motivation for going down this rewardable career path started as a child, her ambitions whilst growing up, although very different, were to become either a professional dancer or a lawyer. She goes on to say “I did in fact initially want to be a criminal barrister, and although criminal law is still a strong passion of mine, I know that media and commercial law is right for me. Human rights are and will always be at the foundation of why I have chosen to be a lawyer.”

For those who are in pursuit of a career in music law, I wanted to find out a typical day within it. “Working in Legal within a company, you are essentially the support to all the departments. One team I work with a lot, is the sync department. They may ask me whether we are able to use a certain artist’s song for a certain project. I would then have to refer to the contract and look at ownership, as well as checking if there are any restrictions (it is common practice in the industry to need to check with the artist before placing a song in for example, a violent film). Another big part of my job is drafting remixer agreements. I will go back and forth with management and lawyers, as well as the A&Rs and MDs within Sony in order to get these negotiated. Like every job, there are also the not so exciting admin parts – making sure people get paid, filing contracts and setting up formalities for new artists.”

The sync department within music refers to the process of songs being combined with moving images. For example, the use of songs in your favourite Netflix series, or the intro to your favourite Sunday lunchtime TV show. A remixer agreement entails the creative process to make a remix of a master song with the rights being retained by the artist, with a fee also being paid to the producer for their contribution. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes, in which your standard music streamer bobbing along down the road with their headphones wouldn’t have even thought was a necessity. Which is what makes this side of the industry so interesting, and what makes lawyers so important.

Olivia has worked with some pretty big artists within the industry including the likes of Little Mix and J Hus. She says “I think my most memorable artist would have to be Koffee. I worked on her very first EP and knew as soon as I heard it how amazing she was. Getting to go to her first ever live show is something I will always remember.”

Personally, one of my favourite things about talking to people about music is being introduced to new music. I appreciate talent, culture and skill even if the genre of music might not be my go to. Koffee is 20 year old female Jamaican singer, songwriter, rapper, guitarist, with an obvious talent for creating music. Check her out below.

Check out Koffee here.

If you have read some of my previous articles you know that one of my favourite questions to ask in these interviews is about the challenges faced within the music industry as a woman. It’s not only for the benefit of my primary research for my dissertation (haha) but also out of pure interest of what I will have to face after I graduate in May. She goes on to say “I would say that my personal experience in the Music Industry hasn’t been too bad. I think this is largely to do with the fact that there are many female lawyers at Sony. I know unfortunately that this isn’t an experience that everyone shares. One thing I think is which often overlooked, is that there are many women who suffer in indirect ways. For example, not being invited to the football match where they are all discussing business or having to turn down a networking drink because you are not 100% sure of the person’s intentions.” It’s encouraging to hear that not every female within the industry has had a bad experience. Take note ladies and gents, Sony is a diverse workplace.

Which leads me on to the question of what advice would you give to other young female’s aspiring to be where Olivia is today. She says “You have to stay 100% dedicated. I did every extra curricular when I was at university, as well as pro bono work. Even when I had my full time job, I was constantly trying to progress, attending networking events, building contacts and starting projects, all with my career goals in mind. I have had to sacrifice and invest a lot to get where I am. Last year I didn’t even spend Christmas with my family as I had to prepare for my exams. I spent all my savings on going back to university and going to law school (and started a side business to try help). Not everyone’s journey is like this, but I’ve never heard anyone say it was easy! I truly believe you have to be willing to fight for it with everything you’ve got.” Nothing in life comes easy, and nothing in life will just appear for you without you putting in the work. I know that because my dissertation still hasn’t written itself, even after asking the Divine Universe to leave me a copy on my desk.

Olivia’s future endeavours include her moving onto to an actual law firm where she will be able to expand her practice to cases such as defamations (libel), privacy, TV and family. I learnt about music defamation cases within my law module of my music business degree. A defamation refers to a person making a publication of a statement that causes serious harm to someone’s reputation. There have been many famous artists who have sued for defamation in recent years. According to a JMW solicitor defamation cases have risen by almost 90% since 2018, with a lot being linked to social media outbursts. Yeah, you best think closely before typing your angry tweet, Facebook status or Instagram post, because you could get sued. If you’re interested in finding out more, you should definitely give defamation cases a search on google, you’ll be surprised by how many of your favourite artists have had run ins like this.

So what advice should a new and upcoming artist in 2020 take from Olivia before signing a music deal? “I think the best advice I could give is to get advice! Hiring a good lawyer is key. This is your hard work and talent, a lawyer is one of the best investments you can make.” You heard her gang.

Olivia’s projects don’t only consist of a wonderful life of a lawyer, she also runs an instagram page called The Free From Black Book. Here she provides content and works with brands to help those that are gluten, egg, dairy free (as well as plant based). As a vegan myself this page has been a great find, it allows me to explore what’s available for us environmental saviours. You can also find her on Twitter. You should take a read and give her a follow.

The Wonderful World of LULALONG Band

Interview with upcoming artist Lula of the unsigned band Lulalong gives an enticing insight into her music, her background and her values.

Lulalong is a London based artist, originally from Barcelona, Catalonia. Known for her signature pink hair and catchy melodies. She has her favourite song of all time ‘How soon is now’ by the Smith’s tattooed on her arm.When she was 18 she bought a one way ticket to London and never looked back. Her music career began from a very young age. She started by playing piano at 4 years old which intrigued her to study classical music until the age of 15. Her teenage years introduced her to music that steered her away from the classical composition that she was used to. Like many of us 90’s babies with an inner rebel ready to come out, she spent her days listening to strong female artists like Avril Lavigne and Blondie. She says “I decided Classical music wasn’t for me, I didn’t want to sit down peacefully, I wanted to play rock and jump around a stage like there was no tomorrow”. This led her to start performing live gigs in the bustling city of Barcelona by the time she was 16.

Lulalong is an active member of the LGBT community identifying herself as queer. A lot of her music is written about women “I want my listeners to be comfortable with who they are and their sexuality”. According the Human Dignity Trust there are still many countries across the world that criminalise same sex couples. The map shows that there are 72 jurisdictions that criminalise male same sex couples, 44 jurisdictions of female same sex couples and 11 jurisdictions that have the death penalty. I think by having bands like Lulalong, who aren’t afraid to release songs on being LGBT, is admirable. It works towards building a world without hate and normalising love for all. Being a part of LGBT community myself I have seen first hand what inbuilt homophobia can do to a person. Quite frankly, life is too short to not embrace who you are. The more love we spread, the better the world will be.

I feel that in this day and age, portraying strong female musicians is vital. The music industry lacks female representation still. Especially the type that go against the norms of society. So many female mainstream artists are confined to a box. Having to dress a certain way, sing a certain way and go against their own values and beliefs in order to achieve success. Therefore, we need to take it upon ourselves to widen this box and give credit to artists that excel at rebelling against the tide of normality.

Lula gives an in-depth answer to her worries and challenges in the music industry as a woman. “I hate how women are seen as too old from a very very young age in the music world. The biggest female pop stars all started from an insanely young age. Only a few start a career when they’re older because the music industry doesn’t see it as commercially viable, whereas when it comes to men, age doesn’t matter that much. I’m only twenty-two years old and already feel like I’m getting too old to be an upcoming musician, which is heartbreaking because it shouldn’t be like that. The only way to overcome this is saying ‘F#!k it!’ and go for it anyway, not caring about the music industry standards. Although it is getting better, women are still seen as a pretty face who don’t know about the music business including behind-the-scenes (producing, engineering, etc). The amount of times I get to a venue and the sound engineer talks to my bandmates (who are men) instead of me is hilarious; the same with contracts and deals. They try and explain everything in a very simple way so I can understand it. I overcome this by politely confronting them, making them aware I understand the music jargon and how the industry works.”

Lula writes all of her own songs, and makes sure to write any little idea that pops into her head down, whether it’s on her phone, an audio recording or a restaurant napkin. Her creative process includes taking these ideas and jamming with the rest of the band to find a badass arrangement. The other members of the band include guitarists Umar Ganai and Calum Lockie. As well as the bassist Kieran Fergusson and drummer Tosh Mihalev.

I asked Lula which are her favourite songs that she’s released so far, she said “I feel a strong connection to all my songs, since they all come from real life experiences. As much as I love to play Goddess live, I think my favourite one is Black Vespa. It’s one of my most personal songs, the lyrics tell the story of someone I dated and it went wrong. The bridge of the song features that girl’s voice. FUN FACT! After releasing the song I sent it to that girl, and she is now my girlfriend! Winning! What a love story.

One of my favourite Lulalong songs that have released so far includes ‘Goddess’ and ‘Your side of the bed’ which you can follow on her Spotify. The lyrics to Goddess are saucy, provocative and captivating. The guitar solo, rocky vocals and lyrics have made it one of my top favourites on my Ladymusicbiz101 introducing playlist. Check it out.

Her musical influences growing up were very vast. “I listened to loads of different music growing up. From Catalan pop like the band Manel, the famous Avril Lavigne (especially her album ‘The Best Damn Thing’), my dad’s rock influences like The Chameleons. I remember going on road trips with my family singing the words to Manu Chao’s album ‘Proxima estacion: esperanza’ to the top of our lungs. As you can see, I had influences from loads of different genres, cultures, languages and eras; and I think this shows in my music, I do rock music but you can easily hear those influences.”

You can hear these cultural music influences in her song ‘I made Mona Lisa smile’, where she sings in Spanish. I lived in Barcelona for a short while, and it’s amongst one of my favourite cities. The lifestyle is chilled, the parties are insane and the alcoholic beverages are mostly alcohol mixed with a tiny amount of soda. There has been an ongoing movement in Barcelona to try to gain independence from Spain to become the country of Catalonia. The first Catalan Independence party was formed back in 1922, but the unrest dates back to the mid 19th century. If you ask a local whether they are Spanish, their instant reaction is no. I love Spanish music, the language itself is sexy and mysterious. . It always adds 10 points for me when an artist can switch languages. It also boosts Lulalong’s appeal to a wider market.

Go check out her EP Lover’s I don’t love and engross yourself in her music. Give her a follow on her social media accounts (Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to keep up to date with her new projects and releases planned for the future. Also check out her merchandise shop and help support artists through this pandemic. Because we sure as hell know that Boris isn’t.

Oz the new Alternative-Pop Music Sensation

Born and bred in Croydon, South East London, this singer/songwriter gives alternative-pop music a new name. I just can’t stop playing her music on repeat, and I bet you will too.

Photo Credits: Natalie Sakstrup.

I am constantly on the prowl to discover new music that is actually worth listening to. I first stumbled across Oz’s music a couple months back whilst slumming it in my pj’s and munching on my local shop’s finest 65p bag of popcorn. As I recall, it was like the music heaven’s had opened and shone down a rainbow of delight to my ears. Her voice is unique and identifiable, her melodies are edgy-pop with hints of badass rock elements. Her image is very femme fatale, the type of girl my mum warned me about. Who doesn’t like that?

Check out her latest release Jupiter here.

To gain a better understanding of the wonderful world of Oz, I managed to ask her a few questions. Currently based in the sunny seaside town of Brighton, this 20 something year old artist spends her days writing music for some pretty big names and her nights focusing on writing her own. She has written for the likes of Ella Hendersen, Gabrielle Aplin, Sam Feldt, Sody to name a few. Her talents are not only limited to singing and writing lyrics. In her own words she said “I play guitar, bad piano and even worse clarinet”. This made me chuckle. I play bad guitar, bad piano and a great triangle, we clearly have a winner here.

Her music inspiration came from her Fathers’ love of music, which over time influenced her to go down this path herself. When asked about her music taste in her younger days she said: I have a very eclectic music taste. I grew up listening to all kinds of music. Nothing was ever genre specific, so I think just having that freedom in my music taste has allowed me to be more experimental perhaps and that is a huge part of the music I make.

One thing that I can’t wait for after this pandemic passes, is to go to a live gig again. I miss the crowds of people joining together over their mutual love of music. The incredibly loud sound systems, leaving my ears ringing after exiting the venue. I miss the group adrenaline rush and excitement kicking in as soon as the artists step on stage. The act of being just a few meters away from the person that you have been listening to through your phone for months. Something you would never think you took for granted, until 2020 happened.

It’s not only me who misses it, when asked what Oz enjoyed most about performing live she responded with There’s an energy you can only get when playing live to an audience. When there are people staring up at you singing your lyrics and you’re all having the time of your life. It’s a feeling that can’t be recreated in any other place. That’s what makes it so magical.”

I hope to be able to see Oz live once venues start opening up again. One of my favourite songs that I can’t wait to be performed is Foot Down. It starts off slow and simple, then at 40 seconds in, the drums kick in and this powerhouse voice starts belting the chorus. There I am in lockdown, head banging at my reflection in the mirror singing ‘So foot down, cutting no slack, nothings gonna hold my big time back’. Have you got one of those songs? A song that just fills you with power? Yeah, this one is my current one.

Photo Credits: Natalie Sakstrup.

Being new to the music scene myself, my research has led me to constantly hear about the challenges that women are facing within the industry. It’s the problems that female management and female artists are encountering. Is it the lack of female representation? Or the common stereotyping and sexualization of women that holds talented women back in this industry? Is it that women that are significantly underpaid compared with their male counterparts? This topic is an article in itself, but I was interested to know the challenges that Oz has faced and how she was able to overcome them. Her comment on the topic was:

“There are almost too many to pick from. I think it’s the stereotype that people feel. Because you are a woman, you must always be thin, pretty and well dressed before being recognised for your talent, intellect and boldness. So instead, I just started doing what I wanted and felt good in myself, so when others had an opinion on me it didn’t bother me. That’s something that is quite specific to female artists.”

I think it’s so important to have female artists within the industry doing what they love and powering on through even if it goes against the flow of the archaic values of this industry. We need more of you Oz.

Being an aspiring A&R manager myself, I was interested to know what Oz would change about the music industry. She said I think it’s such an ever changing beast, I wouldn’t even bother choosing something as it would be different in a year anyway ! Haha. I think more A&Rs should take risks. The public is bored of your choices. Do something different!” I think this is common amongst many professional musicians whose wings have been clipped. Now I have my first task as soon as I graduate; to shake sh#t up!

Photo Credits: Natalie Sakstrup.

Oz has been ploughing on through the pandemic, working her magic in her home studio setup with the company of her rescue dog, Otto. Spending her down time chilling, watching movies, eating, missing friends and family. Similar to the rest of the world right now. If she could choose any other artist/band that she could collaborate with at this present time it would be Foo Fighters as she has the utmost respect for Dave Grohl’s inspiring creativity and talent. It’s an obvious answer but he’s a legend so why not, haha.” Obvious it may be, but Foo Fighters were the holy grail of my teenage years, so I get it.

I think one of the best questions you can ever ask anyone, is their favourite all time song. Not that you should ever judge anyone on this. I know my favourite song of all time 6 years ago is very different to what it is now. But you can definitely depict the type of person one is based on their answer. She said Favourite song of all time. That is so hard because there’s so many. My favourite song of all time today would be Last Goodbye by Jeff Buckley.” Having only been introduced to that song today, I’d say that Oz is a pretty cool lady. Would probably put my favourite song of all time ‘A little respect by Erasure’ to shame. But hey, it’s a classic, and I love a bit of cheese.

Finally, what are we to expect from Oz in the future? She is currently finishing up her second EP, you can listen to her first EP ‘Jupiter’ here. You can find her on multiple platforms including Spotify, Apple, Deezer, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I asked her what is the one thing that you want your fans to take from your music? She replied “Be bold, be honest and be true to yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you no!” I hear you sister. Can’t wait for the new EP, she also mentioned there are going to be little surprises and extras to come. So make sure to go and follow her to get all the latest!

Peace out!