“What I don’t get is that it’s just music. Would you not watch something on TV because it’s a female director? If you enjoy something you enjoy it, regardless of gender. Everyone listens to music. All we’re doing is playing music.”
Sweat trickles down my cheek as I climb the stairs of The Pavilion on a very sticky Tuesday evening. Euphoric sound rebounds off the walls of the second floor as my eyes are met by two females standing behind the decks. Introductions are made, we grab a drink and sit down.
I’m here to chat to Marion Hawkes and Claire Hall on their new venture GIRL.
The concept is one born out of several elements. There is, obviously, the inequality element. It won’t be a shock to anyone to learn that the music industry is extremely male orientated, however, that isn’t the only reason behind the birth of the GIRL. Marion and Claire simply love music.
Marion got into music thanks to vinyl and Pete Tong’s radio show. This, alongside an obsession with underground magazine Jockey Slut, became a recipe for a passion that would never cease.
Claire began running nights in Edinburgh and was part of an indie outfit named Third Man Theme. Most of the events she organised were band orientated, but she began running a club night with a friend called Sean.
“We named it Go Bang after Arthur Russell’s track and we did them in little places like The Red Barn Gallery. Through DJing at those nights is how I met Marion actually. I had no idea, but Marion really liked our stuff at Go Bang, so we were like, who the fuck is Marion Hawkes? She likes all our stuff!”
As we sip our drinks our attention turns to inequality. Of course, as mentioned earlier, this is not the only source of inspiration for GIRL, but it remains an issue that must be addressed. Claire first experienced personal inequality within the music industry as part of Third Man Theme.
“I noticed it when I was in the band. We did this amazing gig at Radar one night. It was the first night we’d had proper monitors and a proper soundsystem so we went for it. Then the review came out and it just focused on the guys. I remember taking it really personally and thinking it’s cause I’m not doing anything, but then I realised that even within that band scene it was boys watching boys and boys being inspired by boys.”
Now, an important point. More than often when gender discrimination within the music industry is spoke about it is assumed that it’s people working in the industry that are responsible for the discrimination. Whilst this is true in some cases, Marion points out that everyone she has worked with has been extremely supportive; it’s another segment of the industry that are provoking inequality.
“I haven’t experienced it myself from any of the guys that I work with or are in our circles. I think it happens more in general. It’s more the general public that don’t take you seriously. All the guys I work with are very supportive and they give you your dues, but I think in general people are quite shocked to see a girl DJ’ing. Guys don’t really get critiqued on the way they look. A lot of male DJ’s aren’t stunning, but then guys will nerd out on their mixing and the technical aspects, but why not do that for girls too?”