Five Ladies Tearing it up in Austin
SXSW is historically a very dudely affair. Unless goers deep-dive into the brainmelting lineup, their experience will mostly include brosephs, beardos, and dude-producers-with-accessory-ladysingers.
But shrouded somewhere in the festival chaos are the ass-kicking, albeit underrepresented female acts who run the show, maintain their own empires, pioneer genres, and/or are rising prodigies the industry.
We interviewed the best female acts of SXSW, from all around the world. Scroll down, or click to Lady Leshurr, Fallulah, The Bombettes, Zuzuka Poderosa, and Emma Louise, and be inspired. Moveover, enjoy the music.
Click here for a full SXSW schedule, by artist name.
Hometown: London, UK, via Birmingham, UK
Genre: Hip Hop/Grime
The Facts: She her own clothing line; at age 17, she was featured on a Tinie Tempah mixtape; she has been compared to Busta Rhymes for her rapid-fire flow; she is self-admittedly tiny in stature.
What inspired her to make music: “I was a poet at the start. When I was young my mom used to listen to reggae, Bob Marley, hip hop. My brother listened to D&B. I was a so fascinated with the sounds…and then and I heard about Ms. Dynamite, who paved the way for female MCs today. She’s basically a legend in my eyes.”
What she wants out of SXSW: “Just trying to get the support a bit of a wider audience. I want to see how the audience is gonna take to the music and my accent.”
On being a lady in the industry: “It’s obviously a male-dominated scene…People just think it’s all about sex appeal for women artists, that they have to be sexy and beautiful. I like the fact that I can just be myself and people will comment on talent — well, 90 percent will comment on talent, and 10 percent on looks, and we’re all going to get the Nicki Minaj comparison because she’s the one “doing it” now….I just hope people see past that. It’s a bit frustrating on that side. But, I’m glad I’m a female, and not a male, because there’s a lot of male rappers. I feel like being a female is unique. Plus, I’ve got a distinctive high voice, so people just know who I am.”
Hometown: Copenhagen, Denmark
Genre: Indiepop, folk pop
The Facts: Her father was a Balkan folk dance choreographer; she studied dance in New York; she recorded her first song into a cell phone in a bathroom; she’s hit number 1 on Danish charts.
What inspired her to make music: “All we ever listened to in my home was Romanian folk music, so I was oblivious when it came to modern music….Definitely, what really changed me was when I found Fiona Apple, she completely changed the way I listened to music…her lyrics were so personal and I felt she was really brave. I wanted to write about myself and not censor myself. It grew inside me. I couldn’t stop it.”
What she wants out of SXSW: “It’s kind of a lottery, it really depends on who is showing up, who is in the crowd…you never know. I just hope it’s fun and a good experience.”
On being a lady in the industry: “I have to convince people more that I am actually writing my own songs. People have a hard time believing it. They think there’s a man behind you.. I’m really stubborn and I want to prove that I can do everything myself. I never took any favors from people, and it’s important to me to express that it’s all me.”
Hometown: Umeå, Sweden
The Facts: They formed in 2005, but as a band, are pretty new to the Internet; they prefer dropping 4-track 7-inches to albums; they’ve got new material cooking for this year.
What they want out of SXSW: “As anything else that we do, tours, recordings, shows — it’s all about the adventure. All about having fun with the best people in the world — ourselves. And of course networking is always fun and who knows what the future holds for us after this.”
What inspired you to form an all-female band? At the beginning we wanted to form an all-female group as a comment to the very male-dominated hardcore and punk scene in Umeå, walking in the footsteps of i.e Refused, International Noise Conspiracy and Abhinanda….Sometimes, it is sort of fun to play with the thought of having a male member in the band….but now – never.
On being a lady in the industry: “I mean, we have been mistaken for back up singers to two male friends who actually were our drivers during a short Sweden tour. Two guys, five back up singers – go figure. We are often mistaken for groupies. We have had reviews written where the main focus has been on the size of the drummers’ earrings instead of our music…All this shows how rare all-female constellations still are.”
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY via Espiritu Santo, BR
Genre: Carioca bass
The Facts: She is a self-proclaimed nerd; she is releasing her debut mixtape (below); she loves bow ties and high heels.
What Inspired Her to Make Music: “I’m a music connoisseur. I’ve been collecting records since I was 12 years old. my influences are not only baile funk — they’re Nina Simone, PJ harvey…dancehall…jungle…D&B…Brazilian classics…I had been a DJ…and one day I was just joking around in a studio in New York, and everyone was like ‘oh my god this is really good!’ And then I didn’t stop.”
What she wants out of SXSW: “What I’m hoping to get out of it this year is to make people understand what carioca bass is. I would love to shop around for labels, to promote my new EP and mixtape.”
On being a lady in the industry: “I handle myself all by myself against guys who haven’t respected what I was doing. I felt like it was all these guys against me, and I said ‘you’re doing this because I’m a woman!’ and I didn’t have anyone to back me up. But I handled it. In the end of the day, I succeeded, and then came the apologies. It’s very male-oriented, but there are so many amazing female artists, singers, rappers, and they’re just really blowing up this year. It’s strong.”
Hometown: Brisbane, AUS
Genre: Folk pop
The Facts: Her single “Jungle” topped Aussie charts and earned her a number of Queensland Music Awards; she is recording her sophomore EP; got recognized at age 15 for her songwriting; She is 19, and adorable.
What inspired her to make music: “When I was 12 my dad gave me a guitar and I started playing covers of songs. My friends told me that I didn’t do them very well, so I started to make my own and really fell in love with it.”
What she hopes to get out of SXSW: “I hope to get a lot more exposure to people in the US, meet lots of new people and to have fun!…I thrive inside my house, but I don’t mind.”
On being a lady in the industry: “I’ve had drunk people yell at me in rowdy gigs but I can deal with that and they don’t mean it in the morning…I really enjoy listening to female musicians…I think [as a female musician] it’s also really important not to compare yourself to other artists, because everyone is different and should develop their art from inside themselves.”