Putting on a show or starting a band can be intimidating for women at the best of times, particularly in scenes where men – onstage and backstage – far outnumber women. Loud Women founder Cassie Fox decided to address this when she formed the collective in 2015, to better promote and increase the number of female artists from the UK’s underground scenes. “Loud Women started as a gig we had planned as a one-off,” explains Cassie. “Now we run regular events and festivals, a blog, a monthly e-zine and we release compilation records celebrating female musicians that we love. Our aim is to help raise the profile of female-led bands who play our shows and are featured in our media work. No festival booker should ever have the excuse of saying, ‘There just aren’t that many female musicians out there.’”
Loud Women encourages women onstage and beyond. “Our growing community provides a great way for female musicians to meet other musicians and find other promoters, and gives them a platform to share their music with a music-loving audience,” says Cassie. “Girls are conditioned from an early age to be self-effacing and told not to show off. We say the opposite – be proud of your talents, love the spotlight and show the world the awesome music you can make!”
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Loud Women promotes increasingly diverse genres, including those from metal’s most extreme corners. Member Vicki Thompson, of black metal band Formicarius, found them after becoming disillusioned with all-male line-ups at extreme metal gigs. “Until the last few years, there were incredibly few women in my genre,” says Vicki. “It’s finally getting better, but I got involved with Loud Women in the hope of inspiring and helping more women to take to the stage. I’ve been told by other women who come to my extreme metal shows that they’re proud and inspired to see another woman playing ‘proper’ metal and taking no bullshit from anyone. That sort of thing makes all the shitty experiences I’ve had in the scene more bearable, and makes me more determined to be the example these women need me to be in my genre, for the music we all love.”
Elsewhere, initiatives exist to demystify the music-making process. London’s First Timers festival, now in its fourth year, encourages “new faces and voices in bands”, in order to “do something about the lack of diversity in the music community”. The festival organisers welcome bands from all alternative genres – last year included metal band Blood Moon, complete with pentagrams and candles – who meet the entry requirements listed on their website, and they encourage all female metal fans to come and meet likeminded beginner musicians. Also, musicians of all genders, backgrounds and skill levels are encouraged to teach, lead workshops and help out at events.
London punks Dream Nails – who have previously featured as one of our sister site TeamRock’s new bands of the week – are part of the teaching team this year, and would encourage all learners to get involved with the festival. “When I first started learning guitar as a teenager, I felt intimidated and put off by all the boys at my school who seemed to have more swagger, confidence and skill than me,” says guitarist Anya. “I desperately wanted to be in a band but I hardly knew any other female musicians my age and I felt really alone. That’s why First Timers is so important. Making music shouldn’t be the preserve of the pale, stale and male brigade. Me and Mimi can’t wait to help get guitarists from different backgrounds up and running and I’m excited to see what new bands are formed out of this year’s cohort.”
“We’re really excited to be a part of First Timers and grateful for the space DIY Space For London is providing,” agrees bassist Mimi. “It’s a safe and supportive environment to learn guitar and make mistakes without any judgement. We’re here to help and share our experiences.”