It’s the dead of winter – literally and figuratively, as the tumbleweeds blow across The Airborne Toxic Event landscape. Even the ever-trusty Anna Bulbrook has gone quiet of late – though we do have a bit more Girlschool coverage to catch up on. But first, my 15-seconds of fame…
TIN Hits the Radio Waves
A couple weeks ago, my fellow British Columbian (represent!) Tim de Monkey gave me the heads up that CBC Radio was looking for stories about bands that are tragically underrated. One thing led to another and before I knew it, my letter was being read on air, as a lead-in to “Sometime Around Midnight.”
If nothing else, I think we converted Stephen Quinn, the program’s host, who tweeted: “The letter was brilliant. Thank you! I know them but will now dig deeper.” And on having to cut the song short: “So pissed we had to fade it under. My note for the early fade outcue was, ‘No! Don’t do it!'” Agreed, Stephen!
Anna Bulbrook’s Girlschool: Smashing Barriers, Smashing Success
Anna Bulbrook’s little festival grew into quite a big news event, generating an impressive amount of coverage – universally positive. There is clearly a thirst for what she is doing for the female music community.
As the festival opened, Dazed published an insightful interview with the founder. I had to laugh at her response to the question of whether it’s harder to collaborate with women than men; I assume she had her Airborne bandmates in mind when she said:
I think I semi-expected that to be true, because it’s a stereotype that exists. But I have found collaborating with women on writing music for the Bulls, or working with my crackerjack team at Girlschool, to actually be a far more free and direct process than some of my recent collaborations with men. Men have their own dynamics, egos, emotions, and politics as well. Everyone does! Making art is emotional, whatever gender you are, and bands are emotionally supercharged environments.
On the subject of the sadly still sexist music industry, Anna had some pointed comments, but also an inspiring vision.
Why aren’t there more women artists graduating from their local scenes to the next level? We supposedly “handled” this back in the 90s!
I think that music should be a safe space for everyone. Period. So I think standing up for what’s right – whether it’s standing up for yourself or someone else – is a good place to start. I also think creating intentionally positive pathways or environments for music, which is what we are trying to do with Girlschool, is another answer. And by the way, these pathways don’t have to be “female-themed” to be positive, either. There are myriad ways we can increase consciousness in our art form and the industry that surrounds it, and to make the world a more safe and free space for everyone.
I say: if the world doesn’t reach its arms out to you, then make your own, better one! And after a while, your new world will maybe grow to become the real one.
Anna also sat down with Take Part, with whom she shared a disheartening but unfortunately unsurprising truth about what she’s faced at times as a member of The Airborne Toxic Event:
“In the alternative rock world, there are very few female voices… There are also very few female side members in bands… People would think I was a girlfriend, or they would think I was the singer,” Bulbrook said, noting that as a classical violinist who began playing at the age of four, she has the most professional music training of any of the members of the Airborne Toxic Event.
“I’ve been in the position where I was sort of asked to dress a little more provocatively to get a label executive to consider us more seriously,” Bulbrook added.
Like she said to Dazed, you would like to think we’d gotten past this kind of garbage, but clearly there is a long way to go – which makes her efforts all the more important.
“I call this the vitamin gummy approach to feminism,” Bulbrook said of creating an event stacked with a lineup of talented female musicians. “You make something that looks delicious, tastes delicious, but it also just happens to be really good for you.”
Live Nation TV combined their own interview with Anna with coverage from the first night of the festival. Asked about the future of the collective, Anna says there is definitely more to come.
We couldn’t plan this weekend without talking about all the other things we want to do. Unless lightening strikes, there will be a future for Girlschool. What that exactly entails, we’ll probably start planning it 24 hours after this weekend.
Finally, to tie a bow on our Girlschool coverage, here are a couple photo galleries worth checking out. LA Record provides a glimpse inside the event, while Jen Rosenstein took striking portraits of each Girlschool artist.
Missing Mikel? Us too. Remember that time he took the encore out to the street behind the venue?
Glen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.