Today (March 8th) is International Women's Day, a time to celebrate and highlight the role female musicians have played in advancing music.
INHEAVEN's Chloe Little never thought she'd end up as a musician - it is, after all, still largely a boy's club.
Yet a few sparks of inspiration helped those barriers to crumble, as she explains to Clash...
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I am fortunate enough to be part of a society where I have constantly been told and actively encouraged to believe that I can do anything I set my mind to. From the moment I was born I had no limitations placed on me, it didn’t matter to my parents if I was born a little girl or a little alien, they told me I could be anything I wanted to be…and that’s exactly what I did.
My musical journey began at the age of 12 when I stole Meat is Murder from my mother’s impeccable record collection and from that moment, I knew I could never feel the same again. I was 13 when I decided I was going to be in a band - now 13 years later that is finally a reality for me. It all started in a small suburban town in the south west of England, I was up late watching TOTP2 when they showed a re-run of Suzi Quatro performing 'Can The Can'. I realised there and then that I could do nothing else with my life but make rock music. It was the first time I had ever thought about doing more than listening to music - I could write songs like the ones that spoke to me on those stolen records, I could be part of a band, I could be the Mick Jones to someone's Joe Strummer, this was it!
As the next few years rolled out I spent all my time studying a plethora of incredible women who's work was readily available for me to access. Siouxsie Sioux was my next major inspiration, she changed the way I looked at conceptual art and how you needed to explore visual elements to your music. To this day she is the woman who made everything possible for me, I felt fearless even looking at her. Chrissie Hynde, Debbie Harry, Patti Smith - these women taught me to be courageous on and off stage. After playing in a few school bands, and bullying any guys in the music department to let me jam with them, I realised I couldn’t just imitate what they had pioneered - that was why they were who they were and I was still sat in school. I had to become an artist in my own right, I needed a voice and something to say.
But voices take time, not many women know what they want to say when they are girls - some do, but for me it was a very long process. I spent a long time trying out different disguises, not really knowing who I was a human being, and why I was forcing myself to be constantly rejected in such a brutal industry. I think to be a woman in music you have to really know from the depths of your soul the artist you want to be. Otherwise you are depending on the middle aged men who run these companies to make up a voice for you, and nobody wants that...
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The first time I saw Kim Gordon was in Dave Markey’s documentary 1991: The Year Punk Broke, before this I had only heard Sonic Youth on record, I didn’t even know what she looked like. Kim is a true artist, she’s a writer, a musician, a director, a mother, an all encompassing force of nature. If I had to pick anyone to write about today, it would be her. She’s got an incredible strength and integrity that most of us pale in comparison. Seeing the power she had in Sonic Youth was one of the main inspirations for me to move away from my past musical incarnations of trying to write songs and playing guitar in a very unsure way, to being the backbone of a band - the glue that keeps the other band members together. That’s who I wanted to be - I wanted to be glue.
Kim embodies everything that Suzi, Siouxsie, Debbie, Chrissie, Patti all did for women in music. She spoke to a younger generation of girls who needed someone to show them strength in other ways - you knew everything she projected came from inside her. No one told her how to dress or what to sing about [minus Geffen suggesting she stand in the middle of Sonic Youth to sell more records], everything comes from somewhere real. She symbolises everything it is to be a woman in the music industry - mostly that it shouldn't define you. I don’t let it define me, and nor should you.
She taught me being powerful isn’t being at the front of the stage shouting as loud as you can for someone to notice you - that’s not how you get your voice heard. Be strong, be understated, be unique, and most importantly have something to say. She was never just a ‘girl in a band’, she was an equal member of something truly unique. One day we will meet, and I will tell her how she changed the world - I don’t think she really realises what’s she's done for those who follow behind.
You will be reading this asking yourself who I am, why I’m writing this, and who are INHEAVEN...? Well, that’s what Kim and all these incredible women taught me. I have a voice, and I want to celebrate it on this culturally significant day. Soon you will know me and all my words will make sense, I am the glue that holds together a band that are about to change the world.
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