Edinburgh’s Rock Goddesses and the Changing Landscape of Music

As a sixteen-year-old with a penchant for electric guitars, I naturally found myself drifting into the male-dominated world of the music industry. Like all girls who venture into this world, I was met with an array of challenges. As a teenager, my school peers thought it necessary to question my abilities. As a young woman trying to find my way on the scene, recruiting band-mates was met with difficulty; all too often the men who expressed interest in collaborating had ulterior motives and I soon learned that the classic “we should jam sometime” bared a striking similarity to the phrase “Netflix and chill” in its perceived meaning.

In the past, a female presence in bands – particularly of the rock genre – was scarce. There have always been exceptions though – women who ignored the absurd notion that the music industry was no place for girls. For myself, goddesses like Talking Heads’ Tina Weymouth and Bjork were inspiring and bad-ass enough to encourage my own musical endeavors. As I made my way onto Edinburgh’s music scene I found that equally creative, independent, powerful girls and women were all around me. From the honest, introspective lyrics of songstress Luna Delirious to Agony Ant‘s fierce riot grrrl punk, girls were doing their thing, and they were absolutely smashing it.

Some of the women I encountered came onto the scene through outlets for female artists such as Girls Rock School – workshops run by women for women wishing to pursue musical avenues. Others I found at nights celebrating female talent such as Grrrl Crush. Some were simply there, fearlessly floating around what was previously a male-dominated scene. They all had their own tales of the sexism and challenges of the industry, and they all brought something rich and vibrant to the scene.

agony ant
Eve King of riot grrrl punk outfit Agony Ant

Agony Ant frontwoman Eve King was one of many who came onto the scene through Girls Rock School.
“My introduction to gigging in the Edinburgh music scene was playing riot grrrl/feminist gigs so I found that environment to be a massive contrast to the largely male dominated punk scene. The punk/alternative scene has the potential be an intimidating environment for a young, female musician who is new to the trade, but only if you let it intimidate you”

As well as mentoring from strong females, support came from men and women alike.
“The vast majority of male musicians I have encountered have been very supportive. I feel that as a female musician there is more pressure as you will always be scrutinised to a higher degree, but as we progress as a society, the scene progresses with it.”

Despite the gender-specific hindrances that girls undoubtedly still experience, Eve, along with many others, maintain the view that the musical landscape is changing for women for the better.
“I am not over-looking the discrimination and sexism that was very apparent in the scene in the past. I think it’s refreshing to see such progression. I have faith in humanity and like to think that by the time our daughters are playing in bands, this will not be an issue.”

My own experiences are much the same to that of the many other bold girls and women smashing it on the scene. The challenges that we face as young women remain, but more and more women are doing their thing, nailing it, and are being celebrated for it.

Watch: The Grenade team discuss their favourite women in the industry.

To honour International Women’s Day, we compiled a list of just a few of the goddesses rocking Edinburgh’s music scene.

Read the full interview with Eve King here.

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