In our next Industry Spotlight, we chat to the driven individuals behind Hull’s Make Noise collective, aimed and empowering young womxn, and non-binary individuals within the music scene, and wider industry. This interview features members: Jazz Harbord, Rosie Collins, Yasmin Watson, Katie Hayes, Philadelphia McAndrew and Megan Thundercliffe.
S] How did you all come together as a group?
Rosie] I went out for a few drinks with Meg in November last year, and she was really interested in bringing a similar initiative from Leeds into the Hull scene, after hearing and experiencing negative stories about harassment and assault at local venues. There wasn’t a great interest in expanding from the other group and we were so excited about making this change here after meeting with the other girls that we didn’t want to let it fade into the background – so Make Noise was born!
Megan] Me and Rosie discussed starting a campaign which involved preventing sexual assault in music venues, she got back to me a few weeks later suggesting we should go to the Warren to plan and work on ideas, which is where I met Ysabelle and Jazz who both work at the Warren. We discussed our ideas for a while and ended up bringing other woman in, that we know also have a passion for this subject and want to make a difference within the music scene, such as Philly, Katie and Yaz.
S] Individually, what experiences do you bring to the team?
Katie] I think one of the things that makes Make Noise so wonderful is that, really, most of us have very little experience of running an initiative like this. We come from varied backgrounds and we all have our own strengths – we’re really lucky in that we’re all creative in our own ways, which has helped us loads. We’ve all had common experiences within the local music scene that have made us so passionate about implementing change, and I think those shared experiences have brought us closer and helped us to focus our goals. We’re still learning and I think that’s a nice thing.
Rosie] We’re lucky enough to have Jazz on our team, who is an absolutely brilliant illustrator. She makes most of our graphics and branding and runs it through the group and does it all totally free because she’s so passionate about it! I’m quite into social media and marketing and I’m an artist too so I chip in where I can and mostly run our Instagram.
Philadelphia] As has been said, we are all passionate, creative and artistic people who bring different skills to the team. I am a film student, so a lot of what I contribute to the group is informed by my knowledge of visual and sound aesthetics and I am able to share my practical skills if and when they are needed. I mainly run the Facebook page and we all chip in with the work when and where needed.
Like Katie said, we’ve all had similar experiences within the local music scene, even if just as a gig-goer. I play the guitar and always wanted to be involved with a band but was deterred from starting one or trying to join one and I know a lot of women have had this similar experience. I feared the level of scrutiny placed upon my ability because I am femme and thus I left myself a small margin of error and dared not play in front of others. As women and non-binary people, we are not given the space to make mistakes through practice, even if such restrictions are formed subconsciously from external pressures from our society. The confidence of being able to pick up an instrument in front of people and just have a go, is an ability of many men that I don’t think they are even aware of.
Megan] We have weekly meetings were we discuss future ideas of what we can do to improve the music scene, and make it more female/non-binary friendly. Our goal is to investigate women’s thoughts and feelings on the music scene, and make the change they want to see, happen. Ysabelle is such a great person to have in the group, as she’s always motivated and can guide us as she has great experience, due to her time working at The Warren.
Yasmin] Personally for me, the experiences I have are what me and so many non-male individuals have had to put up with for too long. It’s why I’m thankful to be part of Make Noise because I’m really optimistic about us making some positive changes in the future. I know Meg and Philly are dipping into learning new instruments and refining their skills so I think it will be exciting to watch, because more and more girls are being confident in who they are and are ditching the gender norms in the music scene and soon hopefully we will have a variation of funky female fronted bands in Hull, something which there is definitely a lack of.
Jazz] After graduating in illustration from Leeds last year, I came back to Hull because I felt passionate about the music and arts scene here and how it was evolving. My visual work has always had a crossover with live music, and getting involved with 53 Degrees North last Summer just solidified that for me. When the opportunity to get involved with Make Noise came along it was something I knew I had to do. It’s so important collectives like these exist, and being a part of such a strong and wonderful group of womxn is so empowering. I think it’s great that we’re all involved with the scene here in difference capacities, it gives us the ability to view the issues we have from different perspectives, and the more varied they can be, the better we can tackle the issues at hand.
S] How has the mission statement changed and developed since the project first began?
Katie] Our mission statement hasn’t so much changed as become broader- at our first open meeting, the feedback we received from local women and non-binary individuals really opened our eyes, as there were so many things we’d not yet considered that were brought up. For example, we’ve been made aware of issues like ageism and ableism, and we’ve made a conscious effort to consider these factors when setting our goals. I think it’s really important that we keep this dialogue going, as we’ll never be able to consider the music scene to be inclusive until everyone feels safe at gigs and events in Hull.
Rosie] I think after our Open Meeting in February we learned so, so much about what the women and non-binary people of Hull actually want, which was the goal all along. We didn’t start out with a clear idea, our idea was literally “let’s ask everybody we can and go from there”. We know we don’t have the total say on the local scene and don’t know all of the intricacies so it was important to hear viewpoints from all walks of life.
Philadelphia] The general aims of the mission have remained the same, they have just become more detailed and informed. We want to make Hull’s music scene more inclusive and safer, and celebrate the women and non-binary artists and bands within it. The open meeting, we held in February and the questionnaire we circulated online meant voices of women and non-binary people in Hull were heard, which was crucial to developing the specifics of our work and what changes those in Hull’s music scene actually wanted to see, as the seven core members of Make Noise don’t speak for all; intersectionality is a core principle that the group holds. We wanted an open dialogue, rather than dictating to people what we thought was needed.
Yasmin] I think originally we had an idea of what we wanted to happen and what needed to be changed but the Open Meeting brought so many things to light, as Katie mentioned ageism and ableism. The open meeting was actually a huge help for us as many women and non-binary musicians brought to our attention that it’s hard to for them to find other likeminded artists to form bands with or just meet up with and jam, and we had suggestions – which were currently in the process of creating, an online page to help unite these talented musicians.
Megan] Like the others have said, mission statement has only grown and developed over the past few months, we all learned so much from the Open Meeting we hosted in February. It was inspiring to hear other womxn express their views and was astonishing to see how passionate everyone was, I know the open meeting has just inspired us to be greater. There’s nothing better than getting that support from other womxn.
S] What are the future goals as part of the project?
Megan] Our future goals right now mainly involve what we heard from the womxn at the Open Meeting. A lot of the people who attended wanted more safe spaces and even more Open Meetings, they wanted more as a lot of the women just wanted somewhere to talk and communicate about these sort of issues.
Katie] Our future goals are always changing, as we like to adapt them to the feedback we receive, so it’s hard to boil it down to a few points! But I definitely think our core goal is to create change in our local music scene to help it become safer and more inclusive. We want to see more more non-male bands and artists – and for them to be taken more seriously – as well as support local venues in implementing a system for preventing and handling issues of abuse or assault towards gig-goers. Additionally, we want to create more opportunities for non-male identifying individuals to hold management, promotion and technical roles.
Rosie] We want to work more closely with local organisations and venues, which has been going really well so far. It’s all behind the scenes at the minute because it’s such a delicate area, and we always want everything to be really concise and thorough when we announce anything.
Philadelphia] We have very recently launched two Facebook groups: Make Noise Community is for people to share releases, gigs, and opportunities and to look for work or collaborations, and this is open to all. Make Noise Gig Pool is exclusively for women and non-binary people in the area and is for people to find people to go to events with, have discussions and find people to jam with. From these groups we hope to see more women and non-binary people being active in the local scene and for some good collaborations to emerge. A lot of things, as Rosie said are behind the scenes but we want to make sure that opportunities are being created and seized by women and non-binary artists in all aspects of the music industry, not just for artists and musicians. We want to change the culture of the UK’s music scene and continue the progress that has already begun in other cities across the UK and accelerate it here in our hometown, Hull.
Yasmin] We want womxn and non binary people regardless of age to be able to pursue their aspirations in a safe and welcoming environment. You may have seen us promoting some amazing workshops on our Facebook page that have been held over the past few months. We’ve spoken about school and how exposure to the different music careers is a MUST for younger girls, and that it’s okay to be a girl and to want to be a guitarist, a sound engineer or a tour manager because we certainly wish we had that reassurance and support growing up. Working with schools and the younger generation is definitely something we’re looking at doing in the future.
Jazz] A lot of our core goals have stayed the same, to tackle safety issues / concerns by working closely with venues, and trying to promote more visibility of womxn and non-binary people within the scene. But the way we’re tackling these goals have broadened; we’re holding workshops, setting up facebook groups, curating gigs and getting the dialogue about these issues started. A conversation is such a simple but vital first step in making some people even aware of these issues. We’ve got so much more planned, and we just launched our takeover night at The Sesh in June, that’s going to be an amazing gig. I’m so excited!
S] How has Hull been supportive of your work?
Katie] Working with the Warren has obviously been incredibly helpful to us- without them we wouldn’t have known where to start! Additionally, the people of Hull who attended our first open meeting were incredibly supportive of our goals, and gave us so much thought-provoking input. We receive tonnes of supportive messages from local people who want to see our plans implemented, which I think really motivates us. Loads of local businesses and venues – such as the Polar Bear – have been kind and helpful towards us from the start which we’re so grateful for.
Rosie] We’ve had massive interest from local colleges too, which is very cool, we’re so interested in working on developing the younger generation of girls to pick up their instruments and find an outlet.
Philadelphia] The collective holds its weekly meetings at The Warren Youth Centre, who have been so supportive of our group. We held our first event at the Warren. Some local venues have already been supportive and eager to work with us to combat issues on safety, which is so encouraging to see. As soon as we launched back in January we got a great reception, we appeared on Radio Humberside, we were interviewed by the Hull 2017 City of Culture website and appeared in Browse, as well as support from local people. We received a lot of grateful and excited messages from a wide range of women and non-binary people who were glad to see something like Make Noise being set up in Hull. It confirmed to us that this is something Hull needed and people were craving.
Megan] Like Philly mentioned, working with The Warren has been super helpful. It’s allowed us to have so many opportunities and to be introduced to some incredible people involved in Hull’s music scene, which is super helpful. We have also had such a positive response from the womxn in Hull, which has supported us the most, and encouraged us to keep working and going until we see change.
Yasmin] The Open Meeting alone was just a massive show of support of Make Noise and we’re still incredibly grateful for that. It was amazing to hear so many suggestions, ideas, stories from so many like-minded people and we’re still overwhelmed by the turnout, it was lovely.
Jazz] The support we’ve had from Hull has been amazing. From the womxn and non-binary people who attended our first open meeting, to organisations such as The Warren Youth Project and Hull 2017. A lot of venues have been hugely supportive, Daniel Mawer and Mark Page from The Sesh have been super keen to work with us from our launch, and local and regional press support such as this and Browse magazine have helped us spread out message. Alongside Rosie’s ace social media of course!
S] What are some of the challenges you face on a daily basis?
Katie] I think that the challenges we face on a daily basis are representative of the challenges non-male individuals face all the time. Some people haven’t taken us seriously, or have questioned the need for an initiative like Make Noise. I think these comments just further prove how important it is that we keep going with this – we need to prove these people wrong by showing them what a truly inclusive music scene looks like, and that it will benefit everyone. We do also face some practical challenges too, as we’re all young women with additional commitments. I do think it’s important to point out that the positive responses we receive vastly outweigh the negative, though!
Rosie] I have so much fun doing this, but like Katie said I think it’s hard sometimes when we’re all so busy. Nobody is being paid to do this and we don’t have specific funding for our project because we just don’t have enough time to apply at the moment, thankfully through the Warren we have been able to use some of the funding from Can Do when our events are educational, which has helped us massively.
Megan] I personally don’t find that we face that many challenges as we’re such a great group and all support each other! We’re all so talented in our own ways, but if I had to pick something I would agree with Katie, in that some people don’t take us seriously & it can be quite frustrating and undermining. However, it motives us to show them all the incredible things we’re capable of!
Jazz] When people ask why an initiative like Make Noise is needed, I think the vast support we’ve had answers that question. The women of this scene face so many challenges on a daily basis, and there was previously nowhere to really talk about those issues. When you start a movement like this there will always be people that protest its value, and that’s why we need to continue to do it.
S] What other artists and groups in the area motivate and inspire you?
Katie] A massive inspiration to us is Girls That Gig. They’re a Leeds-based collective that have very similar goals to us, but they’ve been going longer. We were lucky enough to have two members speak at our first open meeting, and what they had to say was so relevant and articulated excellently.
Rosie] Honestly, all the girls and non binary people in this scene inspire me. They put up with so much unspoken baggage that people don’t always see looking in from the outside. I love those girls who will put everything aside to help someone they’ve never met before escape unsafe situations at gigs, and those girls who tell it like it is when other people are getting harassed. We all just need to band together.
Yasmin] The women and non-binary people who are creating a name for themselves, in this tough and if not, daunting scene – we at Make Noise are here for it and are living for it, it’s ace. As Rosie said about the girls looking out for other girls on nights out, it’s sad we have to stick together but it’s good to know that you can rely on someone you’ve never met before to have your back and help you out of an unsafe situation. It’s amazing
Philadelphia] I get inspired by everyone in Make Noise, it feels so good and empowering working with all of them and something we’re all so passionate about. As well as many local women and gender non-conforming people I am privileged to call my friends in the scene who are talented, confident and don’t tolerate bullshit. It is great to be able to surround yourself with people who inspire and challenge you to be better, and we want to be able to create a space where women and non-binary folk can experience this within a music setting. There are so many talented artists and artisans, not just in music, who inspire and motivate me. Cosmic Femme are a fantastic creative collective who produce and share fab works that pertain to the varied experiences of femme individuals and Ground is a great collective/gallery/studio based on Beverley Road who have a great ethos and have recently started opening three days a week to offer a space for local makers and artists.
Megan] All the womxn, non-binary folk and trans women involved in the music scene inspire us, seeing how successful they have been and how much enjoyment they get out of the music scene makes me feel comfortable to be in it, and when something goes wrong they inspire me to pick myself up, and get back out there.
S] What is your message as a group to young women in Hull, and the UK as a whole?
Katie] I think that our message as a group is: don’t give up. We’re listening. We’re working hard to do everything we can to change the way things are. It will get better. And also, don’t give up on your passions! Don’t be afraid to pick up an instrument, or put yourself out there. You got this!
Rosie] I think so much of Make Noise is about confidence. The confidence to speak up when you’re mistreated, the confidence to pick up an instrument and not care if you’re shit ‘cause you’re starting out, the confidence to take the music you’ve been hiding away in your bedroom and throw it into the world, and the confidence to make friends with all of these cool, like-minded people so we can all look out for each other.
Philadelphia] We want to tell them that their voices, experiences and art is valid. Hold people accountable for the negative actions and opinions. To persevere with their interests and share these talents, even if it is just with your friends with the confidence to make mistakes. Take up space and make noise – pun intended.
Megan] I agree with Rosie in that we just want to encourage women to be more comfortable within the music scene who aren’t already. There’s been so many awful situations I’ve been in whilst I’ve been in music venues, and I avoided getting involved in music all because I was too scared to stand up for and believe in myself! I’ve found it’s hard to feel confident and comfortable in an environment that’s so male dominated, but I regret letting myself get so controlled by that. Do what inspires you and don’t let your fears prevent you! Make Noise has luckily helped me realise this, and working with such amazing, talented womxn has allowed me to finally be more relaxed and confident.
Yasmin] Speak up. Speak up when someone is using your gender against you, speak up when opportunities aren’t been given to you because of your age, speak up when you’re being treated like shit for no good reason. You have a voice and it’s meant to be heard.
Jazz] Never doubt your worth or your talent because of your gender. Don’t ever undersell what you do because if you’re fucking good at it then they should pay you for it. You are more than the words of others, and you are stronger than you know. Your passion is your power, now use it.
S] What events do you have coming up in the immediate future?
Rosie] There’s so much that I can’t say! We have an amazing Make Noise curated gig coming up at The Sesh on the 12th of June with an absolutely banging femme-centric lineup – Finno, Pink Kink and Polo. We’re so proud of our picks and Polar Bear’s team have been so proactive and interested in linking up with us and finding ways to make their venue more welcoming. It’s really exciting.
Yasmin] Get in touch to be added onto our mailing list to be alerted of any upcoming events!
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT: https://www.facebook.com/makenoisehull