One reality of being a woman in music is that we often find ourselves to be the only woman in a room full of men. With women making up only 21.7% of artists, 12.3% of songwriters, and 2.1% of producers, this is hardly surprising. For Leeds based collective, Girl Gang, however, it’s all about tipping the scales the other way. Girl Gang found popularity on Instagram as a platform to raise the voices of women and non cis-gendered people in the creative world. This week I caught up with team member Kaz Scattergood about what Girl Gang does and why it’s so important.
How would you summarise Girl Gang’s mission statement?
We’re a creative community at heart – so we’re all about bringing people together and building meaningful connections, through platforming talented artists and creating welcoming spaces.
How would you define a ‘welcoming space’ in the context of nurturing a creative community? What is it that makes a space welcoming for artists?
It encompasses so many things! We focus on marginalised genders, we’re fiercely queer-friendly, we use venues with robust safer spaces policy and good accessibility. In terms of artists and creatives specifically – it’s about making space for people who don’t always feel heard. We create an environment where cis men aren’t the norm – on the stage or in the crowd – and that’s a powerful thing!
Was tipping the ratio of cis men one of your major motivations in starting up this platform?
A lot of things motivated us to start up the platform – but I’d say we started way smaller than that, and didn’t actually anticipate the size and scale we’d get to today. We were focused at a more individual level – like opportunities for people to make friends, and for individual artists/ creatives to collaborate. Hosting big events with that groundwork and having full music line-ups and big venue crowds reflecting those values are pretty much a dream come true – although they’re still not perfect, work at this scale is harder and we’re constantly learning.
How have you found adapting your activity to the current climate?
It’s been a very weird year for us! We’re usually so busy flitting from one event to the other, so it’s given us a chance to do things differently. We started by diving right into online events, which was fun! We hosted a quiz, a book club, even live music events which streamed via Intstagram which allowed me to book my DREAM acts from over in the US like Mannequin Pussy and Diet Cig. However since then we’ve been quieter and focussed on more online content, developing really genuine content for the IG account (especially around the BLM movement, and our post for Leeds Pride).
We’ve also taken the time to rethink ourselves and our values – which we’re normally just too busy to do. It means some big changes ahead, new team members, new everything. I can’t say too much, but as sucky as this year has been I’m grateful that it’s given us the time to pause, reflect, and do that work.
On the flip side, do you have any favourite memories of GG events from the before times?
I’m proud of so many of them! We’ve had some amazing artists perform for use through the years. I think my favourite was probably our last before lockdown, our 3rd Birthday Party. Rather than a usual all-dayer of bands, I tried something different with the lineup and mixed in some poetry and spoken word artists and some of our
favourite artists/ illustrators had stalls there, it was just a really beautiful event. It felt like a best hits of the amazing people we work with. It worked really well and definitely made me want to do more events like it… Maybe one day!
What can we do as readers to uphold the ethos of Girl Gang – can you recommend any educative resources on things like Black and trans rights, for example, or highlight any IG accounts that strive for similar goals to you? And what is the best way to support you as an organisation?
Oh absolutely! We’ve worked with some amazing local organisations led by creatives of colour including @femalemagik, @pennycress.zine, @onbeatzine, and @thesundaypractise, I always recommend @hellomynameiswednesday as an amazing educator on non-binary, trans, and queer issues (they’re also an AMAZING illustrator) – for events post-covid I’d love to shout out events orgs and promoters like @fanclubnotts, @decolonisefest, @loudwomen and @amateurpopinc!
We’re really grateful for any support people can give us, usually that might translate to buying tickets to events so we can pay artists, buying from independent makers at our art markets, etc. At the moment it’s as simple as connecting with us, helping battle against the Instagram algorithm, and engaging with out posts! If we share something you think might be useful to someone else, please share it with your friends. And support artists! If we share an organisation, and artists, an illustrator, whatever it might be – please give them a follow and consider how you can give them support directly.
Find out more about Girl Gang here: linktr.ee/girlgangleeds/