London-based alt-pop band KIN are ones to watch this year! They recently released their dreamy new single Cosmos, which received a sneak peek preview on BBC Introducing AND have more new music on the way. You can catch them live at The Grace in London on the 29th March, supporting The Zangwills.
As part of our International Women’s Day 2022 celebrations, we caught up with vocalist Grace Strickland De Souza to find out her views being a woman working in music…
What women in the industry inspire you?
The greats, Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson, Patti Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, to name but a few. Rachel Portman who was the first women to win an Oscar (in 1996 too, which is ridiculous and long overdue!). Delia Derbyshire and Ethel Gabriel who were trailblazing producers which, unsurprisingly, most people haven’t heard of. The industry is full of them but too many are under the radar and not being celebrated in a way that they should be.
What women inspire you in general?
I’m really fortunate to be surrounded by so many power women and role models. My family is full of them! My mum, sisters, aunties, cousins. Not forgetting my other badass bandmate and friends too. Each of them are unapologetic, headstrong and independent. They are ridiculously talented and constantly inspiring me and making me look at things with a new perspective. It’s amazing to be surrounded by human beings like that.
Tell us your current top 3 favourite female artists? And favourite tracks of theirs?
I’ve just discovered Iranian artist Sevdaliza who is really interesting and pushing the boundaries of visualised music. Her song High Alone is my favourite. I’m absolutely welcoming the return of Warpaint. Their new song Champion is on repeat for me at the moment. A friend introduced me to Japanese Rock/Experimental Pop band CHAI and I can’t get enough. From the moment I pressed play on their Tiny Desk video and saw dance moves and matching outfits I was sold. I love their mixed sound and everything they are doing with their energy and aesthetic. Their track THIS IS CHAI is ridiculous (in a good way).
“WE NEED TO STOP QUESTIONING A FEMALE MUSICIAN’S KNOWLEDGE AND TALENT, LESS MANSPLAINING PLEASE!”
How would you describe your experience as a woman in the music industry?
It has been nearly all positive and I’m fortunate that I’ve never really been treated anything other than just being a musician. But the fact I have to say I’m fortunate because of this is obviously a problem! It does still baffle me how it isn’t the norm to see women on a line-up, the majority of the time I am the only woman playing on the bill. The majority of people I’ve worked with, producers, promoters etc. have been men and it definitely feels like it’s a male dominated industry from the inside. It can be daunting and intimidating sometimes, particularly sitting in cramped green rooms backstage surrounded by men. There has also been a time where another drunk member of a band heckled when standing in the audience to watch our set. This obviously wouldn’t have happen to a man, so it does feel like there is still an inequality and shift in opinion when females are in bands and an increase in inappropriate behaviour, which is encouraged or not called out because it’s seen as a norm.
What needs to happen within the music industry to make it better for women?
We need to come together to create safe spaces where women can watch, work and play without judgement or fear. Promoters most definitely need to stop being lazy and to put line-ups together that include female artists. They are out there. They do exist. They are just not looking hard enough. We need to stop questioning a female musician’s knowledge and talent, less mansplaining please! Less “well name 5 of their albums if you’re wearing the t-shirt” then, please! We need to be calling out inappropriate behaviour or abuses of power. When I say “we” I mean everyone, of course. There are so many amazing outlets such as Get in Her Ears, Loud Women, Saffron, Music Production for Women, Safe Gigs who do this already so supporting them is a great thing so they can help more people too.
“YOU DON’T EVER NEED TO JUSTIFY OR PROVE YOURSELF. AS LONG AS YOU BELIEVE IN YOUR WORK, YOU’RE EXCITED BY WHAT YOU DO AND YOU’RE HAPPY TO BE THERE, THEN YOU SHOULD BE.”
What advice would you give to aspiring female artists?
You don’t ever need to justify or prove yourself. As long as you believe in your work, you’re excited by what you do and you’re happy to be there, then you should be. Do things on your own terms. Don’t second guess yourself too much. Don’t be afraid to ask or question things or be angry. Use the power of being female in your work but remember that you are more than just your gender and shouldn’t ever just be defined by it. More than anything you’re an artist. Not a female musician, not just female-led. We never describe male-led bands as that so don’t let it define you too much and detract or shift focus from the amazing work you do.
Any inspiring words you’d like to share to all women this International Women’s Day?
Not inspiring words, but I’d just like to say that women are great. Truly. Thanks for being strong and determined and inspiring. Keep fighting the patriarchy and supporting one another and taking off your bra if it’s too uncomfortable and eating whatever you like and complaining about your periods, and anything at all really.
What track of yours would you recommend we listen to in order to feel like empowered women?
Out of all the songs we’ve releases so far, L.O.V.E is about the joy and love you feel being open and loving freely too. It could be seen as a bit of an anthem to being alive and being happy with yourself. Plus, it’s my mum’s favourite! As a side note, a lot of the songs on the new EP we will be releasing this year are about female empowerment and I can’t wait for you to hear them.
Check out L.O.V.E below: