Is this your first appearance at a Ladyfest event?
It’s our first in London, however we played in the summer in Oxford…it rocked muchly.
Tell us more!
It was joyous. The mixed audience was very appreciative and enthusiastic, and then analytical and inquisitive afterwards. Am not sure how we came to the attention of the Ladyfest team there. They seemed to think it was some review in Pitchfork or something like that.
Who you are looking forward to seeing the most at Ladyfest Ten?
Am looking forward to the day we are playing. It is a mini dream team. Mary Epworth, Catherine A.D., Viv Albertine? Errr, all right then! All beautiful music, dangerous and nocturnal.
When did you first become aware of the Ladyfest movement? What does it mean to you?
I remember begging the Ladyfest booker at Goldsmiths to let us play an event when I first knew about it, but she said no as there were men in my band. I work in isolation mainly, not aware of any scene I might be part of. Being asked to be part of this collective of spirited mavericks is a great big massive gorgeous honour.
What would you say to someone who argued that Ladyfest is irrelevant these days?
I would walk away and play outrageously, monstrously loud guitar and not waste my words on such a fury-making argument.
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?
The DIY aspect of riot grrrl and other independent movements is genius. I think the way music is so accessible is brilliant; information so easily shared is liberating. The fact that YouTube and Facebook links make visuals wildly important is exciting. The reasons are simple I guess – that the music industry doesn’t understand the appetite for women/girls who have more to contribute than a small outfit and a hump of a mic stand.
How much has riot grrrl influenced your own music?
I find the whole riot grrrl aesthetic quite complicated. Reading their manifestos in the ’90s, sometimes I thought they were self-defeating. Stuff about “letting” the girls down the front of gigs just seemed strange, as if they were still engaged with a culture of male permission. I want to rewrite everything and approach music and the music industry with complete equality. I enjoyed riot grrrl stuff a lot but it still doesn’t resonate with me properly.
I guess I’m not interested in the nurturing expected of my gender. I want to explore the power and the glory, the danger and the slyness, the quick double thinking, the strategists, the secret keepers, the mysteries of our oppressed gender. Sinéad O’Connor is not cute; PJ Harvey is not cute; Kim Deal is not cute; Kristin Hersh, Courtney Love, Patti Smith…they are strong and make outstanding music. So when riot grrrl was first around I was more fascinated with these other artists. I guess I have more in common with them as I am the driving force behind the music my band make, and the whole idea of a collective in music is strange to me. Thats a wildly interesting question…
Ladyfest isn’t just about music but about celebrating all forms of female creativity. Do you have any other creative talents?
I think very visually and make pictures. I’ve been involved with collaborative projects with filmmakers and in theatre as an actor. I curated a gallery space for a while. I write film scores (‘Hush Your Mouth’) and collaborate with other recording artists and co-write with them – Hollowblue in Italy, Silent Strike in Romania – lots of stuff all the time.
If you could curate your dream Ladyfest lineup, who would you include?
Missy Elliott, Ronnie Spector, Marlene Dietreich…
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?
How to even approach this question is breathtaking. This unfair world ruins my thinking, so how I deal with it is this…I think that the suspicion encouraged between women, the competition between us all, is completely destructive. I think the way forward is to disengage with this and get on with supporting our projects, support ourselves, women promoting women, make a positive change. We should make choices to support female-led businesses and arts, vote for women politicians, make ourselves powerful. Do not ask permission because we are equal, just have a powerful revolution of choice.
And close down all those fucking hideous lap dancing clubs and ban their disgusting advertising. Leave our lovely brazen sexuality and glamour out of complicit and devious business. Educate straight men to respect and celebrate proper women, and understand the consequences of sex and power and love. There! Vote for me and all will be well, haha.
What does 2011 have in store for you?
Gone Before Morning, my new album out February 14. I am releasing it myself – a complete DIY project with a massive amount of goodwill, favours, support and encouragement from a huge amount of people. I’m having a big album launch on January 21 at Kings Place – please come! I am collaborating with an amazing company called Blip Creative who make stunning light installations. We will make a beautiful show for you. Then more writing of songs and a third album, possibly recorded in New York. Am up for adventure as I have my strength back after a body blow of a year.
Madam play 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, Jane Weaver, 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.