Ladyfest is proof that while the Riot Grrrl phenomenon may have slipped from the pages of the mainstream music press, its influence in the music underground is still strong.

Words: Steven Clark

f all the supposedly

‘hyped‘ music scenes of

the last ten years. the consistently influential and somewhat under—estimated spectre of ‘Riot-(irrrl‘ was perhaps the last one the male-dominated rock press wanted to see return. The truth however. is that it's influence has never gone away. infiltrating the music of the international pop underground and bringing like-minded women together to painstakingly create events like Ladyfest Scotland.

The inaugural Ladyfest ensnared the town of

()lympia. the spiritual home of Riot (irrrl. last August and one interested spectator who took its message to heart was Ladyfest Scotland organiser. Michelle Sloan. ‘Myself. Lee and Lynne (two other Ladyfest organisers) went to ()lympia last year mainly to see the bands that were playing like Sleater—Kinncy. The Bangs and Bratmobile but also to take part in the workshops. What we got was so much more. the whole ethos surrounding Ladyfest was to take the ideas away and make them relevant where you live. We feel that Glasgow and the music industry in general is desperate for something new to break through and Ladyfest does inspire you to start changing things yourself. no matter what scale or size.‘

Sloan and her co-organisers have excelled themselves by putting together an electrifying line-up that includes the Scottish debut of ex-Babes in Toyland leader Kat Bjelland‘s new outfit Katastrophy Wife. Brighton introspectives lilectrelane. the full-on garage of The Bangs. In addition. there is a vast array of local talent ranging from the minimal synth stylings of Pro Format to the battle—scared electro-pop of Bis. One of the most anticipated performances will come from original Riot-(irrrl pioneers. Bratmobile. whose drummer and label-owner. Molly Neuman. witnessed the original Ladyfest. ‘The sense of true community and common vision really was a tangible thing and made for a really special event. I think what can be achieved is the continued support and encouragement for girls


‘The sense of true community and common vision makes for a really special

Katastrophy Wife aspire to inspire

and women in the music and arts community to feel that there are people out there to hear and see them.‘ Bemoaning the continued lack of forums for female musicians. she adds. ‘I think that girl bands still have to try to be twice as good as their male counterparts in order to be taken seriously and we get a lot more scrutiny and criticism for non—music related issues. which is bogus..

Kat Bjelland of Katastrophy Wife concurs. "There is still prejudice. you don‘t really hear girl rock bands unless they‘re over-produced and on the radio. I could theorise as to why this is. but [just love playing music so i don‘t really think about it.’

The re—appearance of girl-rock icon Bielland will also provoke a huge curiosity. Are Babes in Toyland no more'.’ ‘Babes is on hiatus at the moment. Katastrophy Wife came about when my husband (also drummer in the band) and I lived together and had a rehearsal room in the basement. i still scream a lot. the rhythms a bit tighter but it’s still super-heavy rock songs.‘ The pair have a young child together but have recently separated. although their relationship in the band still holds. ‘We get along well musically. and it makes the name more interesting?. Bjelland is currently holed up in the studio producing Angelica. who also make a Ladyfest appearance.

‘I want women to come to Ladyfest Scotland and be inspired to do their own Ladyfest in their home- town and make their issues relevant and known to other women and men‘ says Michelle Sloan. A noble concept certainly. but how refreshing it is to see big words put into big actions. and with all proceeds to be divided between the Glasgow Women‘s Library and SAY Women (a support group for sexually abused women). Ladyfest is a unique opportunity for the community to make a real difference.

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