“The artist and his muse,” has long since been the traditional place for women in the arts, with their own endeavors often overlooked in favor of the men they associate with. In literature, we see Sylvia Plath reduced to being simply, the troubled muse of Ted Hughes, we see the words of Zelda Fitzgerald stolen, read as lines in the works of her more famous husband. That is why months such as March, Womens History Month, are so important for women working relentlessly to break into the arts in their own right.
Womens Month is therefore not only a time to support women and their creative endeavours, but also a time to celebrate and talk about the women who inspire us and our art.
We spent Internation Womens Day talking to 3 artists we love, about the many women who have inspired their art.
“I think 80% of music I listen to is women.” Ci Ci Lara is a London based creative who’s R&B music inspires a sense of growth and reflection. Rising from your own ashes to revel in self-love. Surrounding herself with strong females everyday it is the strength love and stories of the women in her life which she draws inspiration from.
“Solange as a full creative is a big inspiration for me, not only because of her music, but her direction, art, fashion and strength.”
When asked which cultural figures have impacted her most she notes Frida Khalo
“for her mind, art, representation of a women, style and politics.” and artist Sevdaliza. “I found her so strikingly beautiful and powerful and her lyrics and words so open and reflecting. For me also her strong physique and her artistic approach to her image and sound.”
ALICE AND THE BUGS
From Christine and the Queens to Dolly Parton and SOPHIE, South East London 5-piece Alice and the Bugs were overflowing with inspirational women to share with us.
For Alice and the Bugs it’s all about representation, self-expression and resilience.
“Torres” says Lucy, “She’s such a powerful figure. With songs ranging anywhere between utterly heart breaking like ‘honey’ to genre defying anthems like ‘skim’. She is a fearless guitarist and her live shows are a spectacle. With a humorous and witty touch, she constantly questions ideas of gender and sexuality.” She quotes, “I am not a righteous woman, I’m more of an ass man.”
Zhane talks about actress, activist and presenter Jameela Jamil. “I love her message of self-acceptance and body positivity, watching interviews of her talking about this makes me feel empowered.”
For Lily the honest, empowering way in which Christine and the Queens express sexuality through their music is particularly inspiring.
“They’re all super innovative and use true expression in their work in different ways, it makes me feel great” she says, Bridie agrees, “They discuss really important topics on gender expression and challenge the ideas of both what femininity and masculinity mean.”
They talk about the way in which “She also gives important queer representation in chart music and inspires me because she produces her music herself. She’s very open about the issues she encounters and as queer women and is talking about topics in mainstream pop music that no one else is bringing to the surface.”
Finally, Alice lists a number of prolific artists, from Patti Smith Kim Deal and Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Ella Fitzgerald, Dolly Parton, Florist and Nina Simone. “I really can’t choose one” she says, “because each of them has such distinct voices and styles when it comes to songwriting and performance.”
An area of the music industry in which women can feel very underrepresented and isolated is music tech, and Alice is quick to mention engineers and producers like Grimes, Marta Salongi and Margo Broom who inspire her “to become a better engineer and producer.”
It is not just musicians who have influenced this artist however as she goes on to mention several writers, “Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood and Harper Lee have taught me to be brave and question everything.” And to close, “ My mum because the taught me to be resilient.”
JENNY EVA – ZLUTS
“Whenever I’m asked about who my influences are the person who always come to mind is Ellie Rowsell,” Jenny Eva of Chewing Gum and Alternative Duo ZLUTS tells us of how the frontwoman of Wolf Alice taught her not “to be afraid of rocking out and shouting all over the stage.” It was these lessons which took her from being 14 years old, just starting out in music, to the confident, zealous performer she is today. “I really pride myself on my stage presence and performance skills and I owe a lot of that to her.”
More recently however it’s her close friends and family she has turned to, “I’ve been very inspired by my friend Harriet. Her general attitude is the best accessory which is saying a lot because that girl’s sense of style is next level. Also, obviously, my mum and my sister have inspired me to be strong and kind every day of my life so far, and they’ll continue to do so forever.”
Young girls drawn to music and the arts often have to search to see themselves represented in music, yet the female voice is rich, with so many incredible stories to share. It is only by sharing and celebrating all the women of art that we can start to build a creative industry in which women can flourish and excel. When women struggle to be heard it is not just other women, but the whole world who miss out on an eclectic mixture of stunning music and art.
Words by Megan Ridgway – here’s 7 of her favourite female artists:
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Image via Wolf Alice