Is this your first appearance at a Ladyfest event?
Yes. I’ve always been intrigued by Ladyfest but never played it before. I was invited by Ruth Barnes, who had included me in her slot on Tom Robinson’s BBC 6Music show. I want to see a bit of everyone on Sunday. I’m partial to ‘girl groops’ and noisy stuff at the moment. I’ll be taking a look at everyone’s guitar pedals I guess.
What would you say to someone who argued that Ladyfest is irrelevant these days?
I can understand how someone initially could deem Ladyfest to be irrelevant; mainstream pop culture creates this illusion that women are slaying it across the board so there is no need to create a niche. If this was the case then why are most music festivals still dominated by male artists? Independent radio shows, record shops, music industry jobs…it runs deep. I don’t dislike pop music but I can’t help think that the majority of women’s music outside of this is massively undervalued so it’s essential to have these kinds of platforms to draw our attention.
It’s exactly why I’ve always wanted to have my own label to release stuff on; old and new songs that would be ordinarily overlooked. I’ve been making and releasing music since the late 1980s and I wouldn’t say things have changed hugely because men still outnumber women in music. Those who think everything is fair and square these days haven’t got a clue.
There has been a clear re-emergence of a lot of obviously riot grrrl-influenced music over the past couple of years. What do you think are the reasons behind this, and who do you think is doing it well?
It’s a creative wave due to the ’80s revival so it’s trendy at the minute. But as I said before, things haven’t changed that much and I’m sure my eighteen year old musical self would still come across similar problems today.
Due to the digital age it’s much easier to find people, which is great. Years ago you would accidentally stumble across a support band or go into a record shop and have to ask…if you were lucky you would find someone who was willing to part with vital information rather than watch you squirm! I think, sonically, a lot of people are using their computers and phones as home recorders now and then posting the end result. That whole DIY ethic is so important as it’s probably the most honest sound you will get. It’s freedom, and there is something magical about spontaneity and the capturing of a moment.
I think Diane Cluck is always great. I’m listening to Dum Dum Girls and Best Coast currently.
How much has riot grrrl influenced your own music? In terms of style, aesthetics and/or principles?
At the time of riot grrrl I was in a band called Kill Laura. Girl bands were very inspiring to me at the time on every level. I’m down with that look, I like hanging around with those girls. I’d be at college in the thick of fanzines and DIY compilation tapes. I was lucky enough along the way to hear lots of American post-punk stuff, old and new. I sprayed my guitar lime green. Our best song was a punk number called ‘Murder The Sound’. It was exciting, it was heavy.
We released another EP, Unloverlike, featuring a huge close-up of my bloodied lip and teeth after being punched in the face by a guy. It still looks very shocking and makes me feel uncomfortable, but at the time it seemed quite natural to document my experience for all to see.
Ladyfest isn’t just about music but about celebrating all forms of female creativity. Do you have any other creative talents?
I used to paint and have dabbled with acting. I’ve also got lots of ballroom dancing trophies. I’m pretty good at sewing; I used to embroider patterns on the front of priests cassocks for the Liverpool Catholic Cathedral under the guidance of the wonderful Sister Anthony.
If you could curate your dream Ladyfest lineup, who would you include?
Emma Tricca, Magpahi, Beth Jeans Houghton, Le B. Plus a supergroup comprising of Fursaxa, Vali Myers, Diane Cluck, Catherine Ribeiro, Josephine Wiggs and Janet Weiss.
Do you have any general thoughts or issues regarding feminism in 2010? What do you think are the most pressing feminist issues at the moment?
I’ve got two young children. I did have this illusion that by the time I had a family I would step into this magical arena where I would be able to continue doing what I was doing quite easily and that it wouldn’t be anything like a scene from ‘The Stepford Wives’. How wrong I was. Childcare, family, equality; I don’t want to be discriminated against from any direction because I have a family and want to make music. You would think that the creative industry is more progressive about such matters. Y’know, it’s not a hobby…
What does 2011 have in store for you?
Book, new band, new album, new Bird Records compilation.
Jane plays the Sunday at Ladyfest, an all-day feast of music kicking off at 3pm at The Relentless Garage. The Sunday lineup also includes: Trash Kit, Wetdog, Viv Albertine, Tender Trap, Peepholes, La La Vasquez, Madam, Mary Epworth, Catherine A.D. and Marianne Lee.
A Sunday ticket will set you back a very reasonable £15, or you can get a full weekend music pass for a mere £10 extra. All tickets available here.