What would happen if you put an experienced artist like Beth Orton in a room with seven of the most exciting female artists in the North? It’s time to find out…
Beth Orton’s reputation precedes her. The Norfolk-born songstress is riding on the wave of a 26-year career that has defined the folktronica genre. She’s living proof that women can not only hold their own in the music industry, but also help shape it – and that’s exactly what she’s doing here. In a 5-day residency at Leeds College of Music, she’ll help seven of the most promising female artists in the North to find their sound and you can hear the results at a one-off gig on Monday 11th March 2019.
In an industry dominated by men, women have to shine brighter
Of the millions of people working in the music industry, only 32% are women. And when it comes to registered songwriters, that number drops to just 14%. Getting in the door, getting records out, even just getting your voice heard, it all feels a little bit harder for women, which is why Brighter Sound created Both Sides Now, a 3-year programme designed to support, inspire and showcase women in music across the North of England.
“We support young and emerging musicians, just starting out in their career, but we realised a few years ago that most of the musicians applying to take part in our projects were men, I think only 25% of applicants were women, so we decided to do something about it,” Lucy Scott, Both Sides Now Programme Manager, explained. “That’s why Both Sides Now was launched. It’s about taking positive action, it’s about reframing perceptions of women, challenging stereotypes and influencing change going forward.”
This will be their second residency in Leeds. The first was led by Shiva Feshareki last year and opened Sounds Like THIS Festival. Now Beth Orton will take over the mantle in what will also be her second residency with Both Sides Now, after an initial run in Manchester with a completely different set of artists – and it’s fair to say that she’s as passionate about it as they are.
“I was shocked to discover that there are so few women writing their own music,” Beth explained. “One of the many theories is that we women can suffer with imposter syndrome, and in a particularly male-dominated environment, it can become difficult to speak with confidence for fear someone else in the room is bound to know better. I want to be a part of this project that is encouraging and supportive to the women amongst us who might need some additional help to speak up and express themselves to discover their abilities above and beyond what they already know.”
Five days of experimenting, one incredible night of new music
The exciting thing about Both Sides Now is that it will culminate in a night of all new music, written and composed over five short days. They’ve brought together an eclectic mix of female artists, all from different backgrounds and genres, to create a melting pot of creative talent. From classical violinists to electronic producers and folk vocalists, the line-up is so diverse that even Beth herself doesn’t know what to expect.
They’ll split into small groups to work through their ideas, collaborating and experimenting as Beth moves between them to offer her own thoughts. It’s intense and all-consuming, but it’s also an empowered safe place where mistakes can lead to incredible breakthroughs. By the end of the 5-day residency, everyone will have worked with everyone else, and their music will have merged in the most unexpected ways.
These women are all different, they all have their own experiences and approaches, so this is a unique opportunity to learn from their peers and develop as artists, all under the watchful gaze of Beth Orton. But she’s not doing it alone, she’s bringing acclaimed composer, producer and DJ, Afrodeutsche, aka Henrietta Smith-Rolla.
“Hen is the perfect example of a woman holding her own in a particularly male-dominated corner of the music industry and she does so with a no bullshit humour and grace,” Beth explained. “Whilst Hen works predominantly with electronic beats, on our last residency, she wove her sound with such subtlety and integrity that the most acoustic of songwriters were inspired and elevated by what Hen brought to their work.”
See 7 exciting new acts in one night for just £10
This is going to be an incredible night of music and you can see seven incredible artists all in one go. The line-up has now been confirmed, so we can exclusively reveal who will be taking part in the residency and the showcase on Monday 11th March 2019.
Sarah Watson has returned to music after a 20-year hiatus and her honest folk tunes are inspired by everyday experiences. Now in her forties, she juggles songwriting with motherhood, so this residency is a rare opportunity to focus on craft. In contrast, Florence Rutherfoord-Jones is a second year classical and jazz violinist at Leeds College of Music. She’s currently touring with folk-punk band Waterside, but this is the very start of her journey and she’s still discovering her sound.
They’ll be joined by Hannah Ashcroft, an alt-rock artist who produced her first album, ‘The Quiet Kind’ in Melbourne last year, and Liina Turtonen, a music producer, songwriter and sound engineer who experiments with electronic sounds. Louise Quasie-Woode adds cathartic new age pop into the mix as she explores the depths of emotion and Fuzzy Jones brings soulful folk to the party. Astraluna, aka Jennifer Pugh, completes the set. She’s a multi-instrumentalist whose ethereal soundscapes combine haunting vocals with ukulele and guitar.
With such a diverse set of artists, it’s hard to imagine what will come out of the residency, but you don’t have to because you can get tickets for just £10. And with Beth Orton guiding their hand, you can rest assured you’re in for an incredible night of music. There’s no doubt that this is the perfect way to open Sounds Like THIS, a festival that is dedicated to showcasing new, emerging and groundbreaking talent. So what are you waiting for? Get your tickets now, before they sell out, and while you’re there, why not check out the rest of the line-up?