It’s that time again. International Women’s Day falls on Sunday. What better way to celebrate it than to head down to Peckham Audio for a show put on by We Can Do It, a collective run by Noise Noir singer, Kelly Chard. It was my sublime pleasure to co-steer our interview boat through the choppy waters of gender equality issues which We Can Do It hopes to lend a positive force. What is the main aim of Sunday’s event?
Kelly: Celebrating women. We go through a shit load regularly and yet there are still so many incredible women achieving amazing things. The line-up is full of those women, and they are going to be put on a pedestal and bowed down to for their greatness.
It must mean so much to the bands involved to be able to have another promoter that they can rely upon to level the playing field. What marks out We Do It as different from saying, Loud Women?
Kelly: I guess just the type of music. I generally like rockier stuff, and I’m starting to book a bit of electronic too. Obviously, there’s no competition at all. Real women support women.
How long has We Can Do It been going for now? And how much change – if any – have you seen in the way women are treated in grassroots events?
Kelly: It’s been going for just over 4 years now which is mad. There’s definitely lots more female acts being booked. Still, some seem to think it’s enough to have only one woman fronting a band or there are others that still have mostly lads with a female act opening up the show. I also see a lot of all-male bands who continue to only book male supports for their shows. I love when bands do a tour and take a whole load of bands with a great mix of gender with them. That’s how you stand up for gender equality. You can talk the talk about being a supporter of feminism, but you have to actually do something to be one.
Do you think that these bands who are effectively co-opting the feminist agenda ought to be called out, or do you think such a move would be counter-productive?
Kelly: I’d love for people to be called out more. I think it’s important to say if someone isn’t doing enough. We all have a lot going on in our lives, and some obviously have it a lot harder than others. But to reach equality, we need to be able to say ‘that’s not good enough.’ A lot of women are scared to speak up about inequalities or worse…abuse. And that’s because men have been able to get away with a lot for a long time. Abusers can also hide a lot behind how they present themselves to other people. Just because someone seems like a nice person and says the right things doesn’t mean they are.
The important moments in any social struggle will always ruffle feathers of the establishment. The unique item in this particular conversation is that were I to let out my inner Jeremy Paxman and ask you to name names, we’d essentially be calling out bands that don’t have full-time musicianship to fall back on. If these bands (touring as they are but not financially independent) were approached confidentially first, would that be a constructive idea?
Kelly: I mean it doesn’t need to be done in a bitchy way. You can give anyone constructive criticism and then it’s their choice to take it onboard or not. It shouldn’t need to be an argument or debate. If you want to help feminism, then do something real. It doesn’t necessarily need to be done publicly. I guess it depends on how big the band is. If they’re a bit bigger, then they’re unlikely to actually reply to a private message. There’s always the fear though that if you do you’ll be hounded by fans who think their kings can do no wrong.
Some salient points here and trepidation on calling people out in this context is perfectly human. Perhaps it’s the fear of the fans mentioned above that can keep mouths firmly shut?
Kelly: It’s been ingrained in us, but it shouldn’t be human. Humans should help and support each other no matter what. There are obviously lots of great examples of humans being great. Still, there’s also a lot that shows them as being pretty disgraceful. For the amount that people talk, you’d think it’d be a given to call out things that are wrong in the industry, but because of the control a lot of men still have it makes it a lot more complicated. Men have been put on a pedestal for a long time no matter what they are actually like as human beings and that needs to stop. Perhaps then we’ll feel more able to call anyone out if needed.
Good point well made. And so, to resolve this issue of bands using the appearance of gender equality to improve their brand (and continue to blaze a trail), would your agenda be best served in naming these groups in a way that isn’t ‘bitchy’? Not doing so relies on hearsay and the hope that enough of such talk reaches the band and promotes them into taking action. Keen to know your thoughts on what is becoming even more progressive/intriguing than I initially suspected. So, thank you.
Kelly: It could literally be a tweet mentioning the band saying would you consider [insert female band names] for your next supports to help create a gender-equal line-up? But definitely, the more people are talking about it together, the better it’ll be too.
Now that sounds like a constructive idea. I look forward to seeing such a tweet. Back to Sunday, Noise Noir are playing. How much is it a head fuck to be running a show and performing in it too?
Kelly: At the moment while we’re usually the opening band, it’s not quite so bad. I can put my promoter hat on for sound checks, take it off for our set and then put it back on once we’ve finished. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity for us to support Honeyblood and play with our friends The Pearl Harts. Plus I’ve wanted to book Ghost Car for ages too so really happy to have them. It’s going to be an entertaining show!
It’s gonna be an easy sell. How much are tickets and can you tell Noise Noir fans who might be making up their minds reasons why they ought to come and check out the other acts. Here’s your promoter’s hat mate!
Kelly: Tickets are £12 plus booking fee, but some limited cheap tickets are flying around for the support bands fans for £7 which you can get with special codes. Check their socials for specifics. For anyone that loves Rock ‘n’ Roll, you’ll have a great time at the show. Ghost Car and The Pearl Harts are both incredible bands, and this will be Honeyblood’s first-ever solo show in London which is really exciting. It’ll be a great chance to see her as the fantastic songwriter that she is. Polly Miles from Acid Box will also be DJing who is a super badass and does some awesome shows in Brighton.
Well, that’s pretty damn good promoting there. This is the first We Can Do It show at Peckham Audio. Any particular reasoning behind the choice of venue?
Kelly: I wanted to do something a little special this year, and Peckham Audio have had some fantastic shows in the short time they’ve been around. I also hear that the sound is incredible there, so I’m really excited to give my ears a little bit of heaven.
One final question: We Can Do it had a wonderful mag that came out not too long ago. Will it return, perhaps in an online version?
Kelly: It’s definitely been on my mind to start doing some online articles on the website so it could happen in the future! I haven’t had much time to do another magazine yet. Still, I’d definitely like to do the occasional physical one at some point too.
And we at Public Pressure look forward to it. Thank you for your time Kelly and may the slayer be with you.