A Safe Space Of Our Own: Siren Calling Wants To Change The Festival Landscape

A Safe Space Of Our Own: Siren Calling Wants To Change The Festival Landscape

Founder Kelly Chard writes for Clash...

For years now many of the top music festivals have been happy recycling the same male headliners year in and year out. This so called ‘Boys Club’ have been hogging the glory and limelight while sweating half naked on stage, parading around their territory and walking in their own spit.

Now it turns out that girls like freedom too (who knew?) and can hawk back just as much saliva while rocking out as the men can. We’ve seen a massive growth in female rock musicians in the last couple of years and they are finally respected enough to be put on stage and written about for their talent rather than what they look like (for the most part).

However, we’re still seeing the majority of male bands at the top of the festival bills with the odd female act or musician routed at the lower end of the poster. The female acts that do manage to smash their way to the top give mind blowing performances and you can see how hard they’ve worked to get there (see Lizzo, Miley Cyrus and Christine and The Queens at Glastonbury 2019).

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Some new festivals are doing a great job (see Primavera Sound who featured more than 50% women at this years fest) but we’re still not where we need to be and in order to get there this needs to happen ASAP.

Reportedly 45 international music festivals have pledged to achieve a 50/50 gender balance by 2022, but why is it that they need this time to start booking a fair amount of women? If a big festival like Primavera are able to right now then so should they.

After being a promoter for over three years and working with a plethora of female acts I thought it was about time I started my own festival, later to be named Siren Calling. I feel determined to make the event bigger and better each year so that I can expand the amount of women I get to put on stage at different point in their career.

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This year the fest will be held at Studio 9294 in Hackney, a new venue owned by LNZRT which has already seen the likes of Idles, Goat Girl, The Coathangers, Metronomy etc. It’ll be an all day event on August 17th that will start at 12:30pm and end at midnight.

The line-up consists of Tess Parks, She Makes War, Thyla, Madonnatron, Calva Louise, Valeras, Wyldest, The Cosmics, Junodef, Something Leather and Dead Naked Hippies. There will also be an acoustic terrace outside by the canal with REWS, Hero Fisher, Polly Money and Petsematary, plus DJ’s throughout: Goat Girl, Nova Twins, Flying Vinyl, Portsmouth Psych, Get In Her Ears and Noise Noir.

Each band contains at the very least one female member, with the percentage looking 50/50. We will also be enforcing a safe space so everyone at the event feels as comfortable and safe as possible.

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As much as I wish numbers weren’t important and I didn’t even have to consider gender when putting together a line-up; the industry is never going to change until these stats are looked into and improved. There’s space on those pedestals for women too and they deserve to be up there just as much, if not more.

We’re not looking to bring down all men, we’re just making space for women too. There’d be no world without women and there’d be a very dull music industry without them indeed. 

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Words: Kelly Chard - Founder, We Can Do It/Siren Calling Festival

Siren Calling Festival takes place on August 17th at Studio 9294 in London - grab your ticket HERE.

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