News

New track posted: I Built a Fort

Okay, so I got impatient waiting for the new EP to be ready to release and posted one of the track online early. I always feel like there are music industry rules about how much music you can share before you release it and how early you can share it, but I don’t really know what they are, so I’ve decided, fuck the rules.

I hereby present to you I Built a Fort, which, as I mentioned in my post about the new EP, is a song about dealing with the outright suckiness of the adult world in the most childish way possible. Enjoy!

Calling all UK feminist musicians, music fans and event organisers!

I have a new idea for promoting the music of feminist bands and artists across the UK and would love to hear your ideas about whether and how this could work.

In the last few years there seems to have been an increase / resurgence (?) in feminist-inspired music being made in the UK and elsewhere, and I’ve been thinking a lot about ways that independent bands and artists can build solidarity with each other and help each other out. Of course, there are already loads of great club nights, blogs, websites and social media accounts which are helping to get exposure for feminist musicians and build a sense of community, but we can always do more…

I often go to feminist conferences, festivals and events and think to myself that it would be great if independent bands and artists could use these events to share their music with like-minded people. Lately I’ve been thinking about starting up a little collective which would run stalls at feminist events which sell music by independent feminist artists of all genres. It would have an MP3 player and headphones where people could listen to things before they buy them, and of course be run by music fans who are familiar with all the music they’re selling and can recommend punters something they might like based on their tastes.

This wouldn’t be a profit-making enterprise – for me it’s more an opportunity to meet great people and share great music. There are some details to work out: for example, I would want all profits to go to the artists, but in some cases we would need to cover the costs of holding a stall, and so would need to work out a fair way to do this without becoming just another middle man who eats into artists’ revenues.

This is where you come in: I want to hear your views on whether you think this would be worthwhile and workable.

So, feminist artists/bands: is selling CDs/vinyl still important for you in the digital age? Would you send your music to be sold by fellow feminists at events around the country? Would you like to be part of a small collective running this? Or are there better ways of achieving the same goals?

Feminist music fans, would such stalls be a good way for you to discover new music? Do you still buy music on CD/vinyl? Would you be interested in helping out on the stall every now and then?

Conference/festival/event organisers, would you be interested in having such a stall at your event?

Any feedback would be really appreciated, and I’ll post again in a few weeks to let you know what the response has been like. Please send me an email or contact me on Twitter or Facebook. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Hannah

x

New EP release!

 

Studio by the river in the New Forest

Studio by the river in the New Forest

Hey everyone! Things have been a little quiet on this site for a while but there has been loads going on behind the scenes.

In June I spent a week in the New Forest working on four new songs for release on a new EP in the not too distant future. I mixed them recently with Oli Horton at Dreamtrak Studio, and am getting them ready to release ASAP, with artwork and videos all on their way.

The new tracks are all about navigating different aspects of every day life through a feminist lens. They are:

Stay Away From Me – a track about finally learning to stand up for yourself and get someone out of your life who is no good for you.

Good Guys – a song about dating men while feminist. Trying to reject societal rules about relationships without writing off love and romance completely.

Such a Girl – reflections on femmephobia and how patriarchal gender expectations which denigrate women for being ’emotional’ and require men to suppress their feelings really suck for everyone.

I Built a Fort – a song about responding to the stresses of living in a sexist, racist, homophobic and downright scary world by building a pillow fort and refusing to come out of it.

I hope to share these new songs with you very soon! In the meantime, you can listen to a cover I recorded of 100,000 Fireflies by The Magnetic Fields:

 

Sneak preview from my second album

As I mentioned in my last update, this year I’ve mostly been working on recording tracks for my next album. I have six or seven on the go at the moment, in various different styles. I’ve also just finally finished decorating my new home studio, which will make it easier for me to get on with writing and recording the new tracks at home.

These are all still works in progress, but I wanted to offer you a preview of what’s to come. So I’ve posted one of the new songs, Never Lost, on my Soundcloud for you to hear. I hope to post more early in the New Year.

Happy Christmas!

Back in the studio

Things have been a little quiet on the Gaptooth front for the last few months, as you may have noticed. That’s because I’ve been busy moving house and travelling with my day job. Frustratingly, because of the house move most of my musical equipment is in storage at the moment, but fear not! I’ve recently been back at Dreamtrak Studio in Hackney recording two new songs called ‘Never Lost’ and ‘Stay Away From Me’. They’re not ready for your curious ears yet, but as soon as they are I will post them up here! Album number 2 has officially begun…

Songs of 2013

It’s fair to say I haven’t bought a huge amount of new music this year and there’s been little of it that’s really grabbed my attention. In fact, for the last few months I’ve mostly been just listening to the Chvrches album on repeat. That said, there have been some clear highlights. I’ve picked five top songs of 2013:

Connections/Departures has landed

In the time it took to make my debut album, I lived in seven different houses in four towns/cities and travelled to 14 countries on five continents. I earned two university degrees and had eight different jobs. Friends, relationships and family members came and went. I had six feline companions (no, not all at once). Much of it feels like another world now, but the making of Connections/Departures is the one thing that holds it all together.

Today, I’m proud to say the album is finally out. Connections/Departures is available for download from iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Bandcamp and loads of other download services. There are also CD copies available exclusively from Bandcamp for (£7 plus postage). I’m posting reviews of the album up on the press page as they come in – expect a few more over the next few days. There’s no big launch party as I don’t have the budget for it but I plan to organise some gigs over the next few months.

I’m grateful to everyone who has helped out, whether through helping to record the album, making videos, driving me to gigs, coming to see me play live, taking photos, writing reviews, sharing contacts, offering advice, providing moral support, buying the singles, posting on social media or in any other way. Your support means a lot.

For a limited time only you can stream the full album on Soundcloud – after that you’ll just have to buy it!

The best part about finally getting this album out – apart from the fact that you all get to hear it – is that I can now devote more time to making the next one. A have a few songs on the go already – let’s hope this one doesn’t take quite as long to record…

Music, sexism and the Miley debate

In recent weeks there has been an upsurge of debate about sexism in the music industry, from Sinead O’ Connor’s open letter to Miley Cyrus and Amanda Palmer’s response, to Britney Spears declaring that she feels pressure to be too overtly sexual in her videos, Annie Lennox calling for age restrictions on music videos with sexual content, Charlotte Church’s lecture on sexism in the music industry and Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches’ speaking out against sexist abuse online. I’ve been quietly watching this debate and the responses from feminists.

One major premise of these conversations – which is hard to disagree with – is that women in the music industry come under strong pressure to market themselves by submitting to and/or actively promoting their own sexual objectification. (I was going to say by marketing themselves on the basis of their sexuality, but it’s often not clear whether it is really their sexuality or someone else’s.) The focus of much discussion has been on female musicians and how they should respond to this pressure.

To crudely summarise the debate,  some – such as Sinead O’Connor – argue that women should resist this pressure, both for the sake of their own wellbeing but also because when high profile women participate in this objectification it sends a message to the world that it’s acceptable and even desirable. The argument goes that women in the public eye – especially those who are role models for young girls – have a responsibility not to perpetuate sexism. Commentators differ in the extent to which they blame (usually male) record company execs, video directors, agents, managers. etc. for feeding this narrative of women as sex objects or the women themselves. Meanwhile, others – such as Amanda Palmer – argue that women should be allowed to express their sexuality freely and make their own choices, and that these critiques amount to little more than slut-shaming. These different positions reflect a much wider, deeper debate within feminism about sex positivity and the commodification of sex which is beyond the scope of this blog post, though much of what I have to say applies to the wider issues beyond women in music.

My own view is that, while valid points have been made on both sides of this argument, the focus of the debate is all wrong. To argue over the behaviour of women in pop music and how they should or shouldn’t respond to a system which is oppressive and exploitative detracts attention away from the system itself, why it’s in place and what can be done about it.

Gloria Steinem made this point well, arguing that “…given the game as it exists, women make decisions… we need to change the culture, not blame the people that are playing the only game that exists.” That game is set up so that, however women choose to play it, they can never really win. If you show some cleavage you’re accused of betraying the sisterhood and demeaning yourself, but if you choose not to you’re prudish and unmarketable. Either way, you can’t win. Every time I go on stage or do a photo shoot I fret about what to wear – is this skirt too short or this neckline too low? Is this modest or just frumpy and unflattering? Occasionally I like to wear corsets, just because I like the way they can look – but others (rightly) point out that they have been a symbol of women’s oppression. Deciding what to wear should be a simple decision, but every choice is political. Let’s face it, it’s not just female musicians – in fact, this isn’t about music at all. All women face these dilemmas to a greater or lesser extent, although we differ greatly in how much thought we give to the politics of these decisions.

Men don’t have to worry about these things, and that’s the way it should be for everyone. And yet, by focusing on the choices women make when faced with a rock and a hard place we only increase that inequality. Male musicians are never expected to represent their entire gender, and yet for female musicians in the public eye it’s as though responsibility for the liberation of all women everywhere is placed on their shoulders. If I, as an obscure artist who is playing to small crowds, feel the pressure of these questions, then it is immeasurably worse for those playing to TV audiences of millions who also demand that they be a role model for girls all around the world whether they asked to be or not.

In an ideal world, women would be able to be sexual without being sexually objectified. Our patriarchal world makes that virtually impossible. Even when women choose not to portray themselves as sexual beings they are still objectified: that is, they are still judged and (de)valued based on how well they ‘succeed’ (or in this case ‘fail’) in achieving a normative standard of sexual attractiveness and availability. They just don’t benefit from their objectification in the way that women who use sexuality to promote themselves do. So even if we try not to play the game, our names are entered for us, and we’re almost bound to lose. So instead of giving women a hard time based on how they choose to lose, we should be asking why they have to play this fucked up game in the first place.

As people, as women, as feminists, we all sometimes compromise our principles for pragmatic reasons. We all have different ideas about what is a compromise – whether it’s wearing high heels, taking our husband’s surname, letting a sexist joke pass without comment or buying clothing made by women in sweatshops – none of us, however committed in our feminism, can claim we have never gone along with sexist ideas and practices. Many of those things – like wearing make-up or dancing in a sexually suggestive way – wouldn’t have us tied up in knots if it weren’t for the backdrop of entrenched inequality of which the objectification of women is a part. That context can’t be ignored, but why blame the players for the rules of the game? Instead of laying into each other for trying to live within a flawed system, let’s put our energy into changing it.

Pre-order Connections/Departures on CD!

Good news – CD copies of my album have arrived! They will go on sale on 18 November but you can pre-order your copy now on my Bandcamp page for just £7 (plus shipping) and it will be sent to you on the release date. When you pre-order the CD or the mp3 album you will immediately get a download of the track ‘Tigerstrikes’, which is exclusive to the album and is one of my favourite tracks on there. You can also now listen to a preview of the album (one minute from each track) on my Soundcloud page.

 

Because my releases are fully self-funded from my own pocket, I ordered all the parts separately and so assembled all 250 copies myself in front of the TV (watching Lilo & Stitch and Four Lions – two of my favourite films of all time).

Promotion of the album is still on-going, mostly involving long evenings in front of my laptop sending emails to people who receive too many emails about new music. Self-releasing music involves a lot of this sort of work – making spreadsheets, pricing things up, checking artwork proofs, stuffing envelopes. It can be quite isolating, but it’s also gratifying when people buy your music, listen to it online, turn up to gigs, or write nice reviews. That’s when all those hours staring at a computer screen really start to feel worthwhile.

Connections/Departures iTunes pre-order available today

From today you can pre-order Connections/Departures on iTunes, for it to be delivered to your hard drive on 18 November. You can also add it to your wishlist on Amazon, although they aren’t doing pre-orders.

If (like me) you enjoy buying obsolete formats and you’d prefer a CD copy then hold your horses! The CDs are being manufactured this week and will be available through Bandcamp from 18 November.

In the meantime, I’ve posted some photos up on the live photos page of my gig last weekend at Pussy Whipped in Edinburgh. It was an awesome night and the crowd were lovely. Special thanks to these lovely folks who, after I commented that they looked like a panel of judges at the side of the stage, rose to the challenge!

Pussy Whipped audience members, September 2013