My fave female artists from The Great Escape 2015

When I first shared the idea of doing Bird on the Wire, a radio show that would only feature music by women (boys are allowed on the show, but there has to be at least one female in the band) a couple of people suggested that it would be limiting; that I would run out of new music to play, find genres where women just weren’t as strong in the field as blokes. A quick glance at the NME, Pitchfork etc plus festival line ups seem to back up their misgivings: so few bands with women in them are featured, with so many men out there making great music, perhaps there just aren’t enough good female musicians? Wrong. If you listen to my show (and if not, why not?) you’ll know that there are masses of great female musicians, playing, recording and creating a new wave of music across all genres that is attacking every male music bastion and winning. The Great Escape Festival in Brighton was a gratifying live confirmation that I’m right.

At the festival I chose to see bands playing the smaller venues: I wanted to be as close as I could to the music, before the machine moves in and makes them stars (which in the case of some of them will definitely happen). It’s a big event with over 450 bands playing 30 venues over three days, so I saw what I could and hoped I got lucky. I did, and caught 17 bands in venues with capacities ranging from 100 to 500. After three days of fumbling about in the dark in the caverns on the seafront, arriving dazed at churches-turned-rock venues, and even finding myself in a hotel conference room – where I’m sure the danish pastries and coffees had been laid out for the Fitness Instructors’ Conference upstairs – I can say, without exception, every female musician I saw walk on stage had discarded all the manacles that the male-dominated music press has placed on female musicians – these weren’t girls in bands, they were just great bands.

The more women I saw playing, singing & creating, the less I noticed their gender – I felt I was on a seaside carousel of talent, because the hooks women have been hung on start to disappear when women are properly represented, they can be any number of things but their gender can’t be used to create pigeonholes to stuff them into. And that’s where you come in: listen to their music, get to their gigs, ask at venues which bands have women in them, start asking the NME et al to redress the imbalance that they have created. Women in music are legion and the next sound I wanna hear will be the champions of male music groaning under the stampede of people wanting to hear women play. Wake up to the fact that we’ve got a new wave of liberated musicians here and this time they won’t be kept in a Riot Grrl box.

Here are my faves from The Great Escape, my highly-commendeds and the ones I unfortunately didn’t get to see but know are great and here’s how to listen to Bird on the Wire


Triana Park




Queen Kwong






Pity Sex

The Big Moon

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