Are we facing a new wave of sexism in the music industry?
Does anyone else find it cool that there is not only one, but two lovely ladies in Harry’s band? Claire Uchima and Sarah Jones make up a large proportion of Harry styles’ backing band. Now I bet you’re all wondering why I’ve brought this up? Well I can’t be the only one who found it surprising to hear of a female drummer. It may just be my ignorance, but female drummers are definitely unique, and there are very few in the popular music industry today, as we know of.
Although not many will admit it, the music industry is patriarchal. The 1970’s saw the first all girl rock band, ‘The Runaways’, and break through artists like Suzi Quattro. Music was very much a man’s world, and I’m concerned that we are regressing to that again. When I think of female artists in 2017, I think of Taylor Swift, Adele and Dua Lipa. All of these artists are predominantly known for writing songs concerning heartbreak, or quite emotional issues. Moreover, these artists are all under the Pop Genre. My Issue is what happened to females in rock?
To find a female rock artist in 2017 is like playing ‘where’s wally?’. There definitely seems to be an absence of female rock artists. April High attempts to provide an explanation for their absence; a key factor she mentions is that women are stereotyped as ‘bad rock performers’. High continues to state that the lack of female rock artists means that future artists struggle to find inspiration. I can understand this as not everyone wants to sound like Joan Jett or The Runaways, but with very little choice out there, it’s hard to be inspired by something that doesn’t exist.
With the lack of female rock performers on the increase, I want to look at why there are so few female drummers. In an attempt to answer the question, Jim Davis states that to play the drums requires the most aggression within a band, requiring testosterone. In the same breath he also claimed that his answer wasn’t sexist. I’m sorry Mr Davis but when did hormones become a key factor of whether or not you can play an instrument. I understand that the drums are a key part of a band, but surely it doesn’t specify a certain level of testosterone! I argue that passion is what drives a musician, not how much aggression you can channel. In an article on I-D, Sharon Steel informs readers of the mission Mindy Abovitz is on, who claims that ‘female drummers are a way to rework the media and change the music industry’! Women shouldn’t just be associated with a guitar, behind a mic singing about their most recent heartbreak, they should be an inspiration for future drummers, pianists, instead of just vocalists!
With Abovitz inspiring young women to pick up the drum sticks on a low key level, Sarah Jones is inspiring young ladies in popular culture. Harry Styles’ band is definitely an expression that there should be change. The integration of females in the band is unique, but in 2017 it shouldn’t be unique! According to OK magazine, Sarah is also a solo artist, creating electric pop, and Claire Uchima is a pianist and vocal coach who posts YouTube covers. Harry has taken two people, who are impeccable musicians but haven’t been recognised in the industry. I’m sure Styles would have had his pick of the best, but to choose two amazing females makes a huge statement.
Looking at Styles’ band reminds me of Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie make up a proportion of the British/American rock band that was popular in the 60s and 70s. They still have a huge following today. Like women in music recently, Nicks and Mcvie had their struggles especially with the sexist opinion of the decade. An article in the Guardian by Tim Jonze exhibits the ridiculous views of women in music. A song titled Rhiannon that was written by Nicks about a ‘welsh witch spread rumours that Nicks dabbled with black magic and witch craft’. Stevie adds that, ‘paired with her style,( black floaty outfits) the song reinforced rumours that she was a witch’. Yet Mick Jagger wasn’t labelled satanic with the song sympathy for the devil?
I am a strong believer that Harry is a unique artist. Even his merch dons a message of kindness, which is often forgotten in the generation of technology. I believe that Fleetwood Mac have inspired Harry, hopefully not by the obsessive drug taking or the dramatic break ups, but his respect for female artists. This is obvious in the video of his performance with Stevie Nicks at The Troubadour (I’ll attach the link its worth a watch). As a feminist, I don’t want the battles that were fought in the music industry decades ago to be forgotten. Women shouldn’t be restricted to singing love songs. Be like Sarah and Claire, be badass.
Girl Prob Blog
Here’s the Video:
Why Are There so Few Rock Artists? – April High (02/15)
Why Are There so Few Female Drummers? – Jim Davis (01/16)
Why Are There so Few Female Drummers? – Sharon Steel (01/16)
Who Is In Harry Styles’ New Band? Sign Of The Times Singer’s Bandmates Revealed – Hanna Flint (04/17)
Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie and Christine: ‘We Were Like Rock and Roll Nuns’ – Tim Jonze (12/13)