We are in February – it may still be middle of Winter but we are posting the hottest bands on the circuit. Today`s entry is double special. In recent days a blog showing lack of women on major festivals bills written by music journalist Lucy McCourt went viral. Now the biggest heads of music industry prove left, right and centre the sheer hypocrisy of almost complete elimination of female artists from this year`s festivals. The average % of places for women is 4.75% for UK and 54% for European festivals.
Things need to change but they won’t unless the women themselves will have a voice. So we went and asked Jessie Scarlet Robinson – the vocalist and leader of Scarlet. to tell us how it is. And she had few words to say!
We are blown away by Scarlet. in general – the band have been rocking the circuit since 2014 and every year they get better, stronger and louder. Please have a read – Jessie is truly an incredible conversationalist – clear, well prepared and straight to the point. Exactly what one would expect from a strong female voice from the world of rock and roll.
Abbie McCarthy of BBC 1 called the band “a massive powerhouse”. Please introduce Scarlet. to the readers of Indieterria.
Jessie Scarlet Robinson: We are Scarlet. a 4 piece band from the North West of England: Jessie on vocals and guitar, Laura on bass, Cai on drums and Adam on guitar.
You have been a strong part of the indie circuit since 2015. You debuted with an EP “FISHES” which gained a lot of attention from music professionals and journalists alike. It was like a breath of fresh air and Scarlet. were quickly regarded as the first band to announce revival of Riot-Grrrl movement. Where do you see yourself as musicians and artists?
Jessie Scarlet Robinson: You’re very flattering for saying this, we have been around for a while yes and we were at the beginning of this whole female “riot grrl” revival. We were doing our thing as Wolf Alice’s old demos were being passed around… I think I personally see myself as having grown massively over these years and I see myself more now as an “artist” than I did in my late teens/early 20s. I feel like we’re developing a craft. I say all the time if we had the money and half a chance, we could headline Glastonbury tomorrow
Scarlet. has also received strong backing from national radio stations – you have been played on multiple BBC Introducing chapters, BBC 6, BBC Radio 1, Radio X among others. Your music has been described as “phenomenal”, “revolutionary” and “groundbreaking”. It’s hard to keep up with all compliments but is there any particular review (good or bad) that you remember the best? If so, who was it and what was said about you?
Jessie Scarlet Robinson: I got told I sound like an “ex Disney star that just discovered an electric guitar” once. I think it was meant to be offensive… but I mean, I love Disney… I can only ever dream of being as kick ass as an ex Disney star… Miley me up baby, I’m ready (laughs).
Ready to take on the world
In 2016 you have released your debut album “Effigy” to universal acclaim. At that time, in an interview with “Fresh On The Net”, you said that this is “probably the best music we will ever make”. Looking back on the record, how do you feel about it now? Is there something you’d like to change or do better? Are you still proud of it?
Jessie Scarlet Robinson: Yeah that was a completely naive comment to make. At the time that album was everything to us. We took it so seriously. And looking back, it’s still something to be proud of and it got our music over to Japan and South Korea, so it was a very important piece to create. But we have so much more to give now. Better tracks, more experience. We are in general a much better band than we have ever been before now.
To finance “Effigy” you collaborated with Pledge Music. Can we ask about your experiences working with the fallen giant? Did you receive all the collected funds? Were there any red flags?
Jessie Scarlet Robinson: I don’t want to go too much into this but I will say there were lots of let downs and hidden costs/charges. They kept a huge portion of the money we raised and paid us in random instalments making things very difficult to pay for and keep track of. There was lots of keeping professionals and fans waiting. In the end we didn’t have as much money as we thought (because of the charges) and had to sacrifice some of the ‘pledges’. We weren’t guided in what we were doing, we couldn’t afford funding the album and the pledges without the full raised amount. It was a learning curve and I hope we made it up to people that got stung by it. We always said we wouldn’t do anything like it again. To be honest I felt it was my fault. I felt like I hadn’t researched enough or tried hard enough or raised enough…Then all of this information came out about them and I was like “Ohhhhhhh OK, so this wasn’t just me. This is a thing and it’s happening to everyone involved”. That felt like a relief. I’ve never forgiven myself for not being able to do it all 100% properly. I had to borrow 2000 pounds from my parents just to get what we had promised done. I still owe some people some bits I’m sure. There wasn’t any clear record of pledges so it was all in a big jumbled spread sheet in the end. Madness!
Two years later, In 2018 you released a standalone single “Bones” that cemented your reputation as one of the indie circuit’s heavyweights. The song is four minutes of fury set to a surprisingly catchy melody. Tell us something about the track and the story behind it.
Jessie Scarlet Robinson: It took us 2 years to recover financially from the album (laughs), it was hard graft like. The story is centred around a “kamikaze bichon fries” dog. In reality the dog is a metaphor… for an ex “boss” of mine that was all cute on the outside and vicious as hell on the inside destroying people that wanted to be good to her. She totally tore me a new one and I was very angry about it. What better way to get over your anger towards someone’s attitude than turn them into a bad dog and tell them off in a song!
Let’s get a bit of political for a moment. It is a festival season and some festivals give women and mix gender band just 10 – 30 % of slots. Where do you place yourself on the issue? Should it be as some say – based on a talent or do we need the 50-50 split? What seems to be a rule in Europe is harder and harder to find on festivals in the UK.
Jessie Scarlet Robinson: Before I say anything, I’m gonna highlight, I love men. I have two men in my band. Boys are mint. And there are loads of really fab friends in all boy bands and I want them to be supported too. Here goes the rant. Of course we need 50/50 split. The only difference between say Scarlet. and the many boy bands that we’re at the exact same level as us but they surpassed us is two things.
Opportunity and money.
The boys work hard and were given opportunities. Like playing certain shows and festivals. It should be the same for women too.
Why does it seem so easy for men to stay at the forefront but women seem to get used up and cast off? For example, Kate Nash… have you seen her documentary? The way she was used up and spat out? Why does this ring so familiar within the female circle while men get to be part of the “lads lads lads club”? Certain radio stations play 90% male music and festivals booking 90% male acts…
There are so many female headliners I could list. It’s lazy promoting, lazy booking, lazy broadcasting, huge lack of effort and lack of push by everyone higher up than a grass root band.
If the girls don’t get the opportunities, they simply can’t make the money to grow their act and get bigger opportunities to get more money and the cycle continues.
What a total cop out it is to say “the female pool isn’t big enough” or “there aren’t enough females in the industry”…. COP OUT!!
Every band – male or female – starts off the exact same: a bunch of nobody’s in a room with their mates. The only things that determine a bands success is hard work, money and opportunity. “Talent” doesn’t really come into it does it? It does a bit like, but I feel it’s all how something is marketed.
Having the money is crucial to release plans. Do you know it would cost us £300 per day in a studio to record. So let`s say: we want to record 4 track EP. Maybe 4 days will be enough, we could do a song a day. That’s £1200. Then it’s £300-£600 for a decent video made by a grass route level videographer. £700 for a national radio plugger. £700 for a good regional radio plugger. £500 upwards for a press agent… that’s £3700 for a 4 track EP before we make physical copies! Now take into consideration the cost of touring and little extras like music websites charging you to put your own music up online… You need money to market something properly. You need opportunity to make money. GIVE THE GIRLS SOME OPPORTUNITIES! GIVE THEM SOME MONEY AND THEY WILL BE ABLE TO STICK AROUND!
It’s like with radio. Why is Annie Mac the only well known DJ on Radio 1 for playing actual grass root bands… STOP PLAYING GEORGE MICHEAL AND QUEEN AND OASIS and CALVIN HARRIS AND BEYONCÉ ON YOUR RADIO STATIONS AND START PLAYING PEOPLE ON REPEAT THAT ARE UPCOMING AND GRAFTING LIKE MAD! ESPECIALLY FEMALES because we have the shit end of the stick!!
Jade Bird, ZuZu, Black Honey, Dream Wife, HINDS, Hands Off Gretel, Natalie McCool, White Horses, Bugeye, Tiger Mimic, Berries, A Void – the list of female fronted kick arse acts is so long! Why is it that all the already huge and established acts are getting all the opportunities? Why do these females get to a certain level, and then disappear from the public eye? As though they are a novelty act, a phase for everyone to shout about females in the mainstream music media, and then poof… gone and moved onto the next one… Even worse, the guys that are constantly shoved in our ears eyes and up our… noses… all play each other’s line ups!
Because they have money to buy onto each other’s shows? I don’t get it! Noel Gallagher, did you really need to support Smashing Pumpkins? What did that achieve for you? I mean come on dudes… they can sell thousands of tickets to make promoters money… it’s all about money guys. I’ve gone off on one here and I know there’s “no simple answer”… but there is though! Book a fair gender split. Play a fair gender split. Fund a fair gender split. Work with a fair gender split. Men in big bands, get girls in smaller bands up on the big stages with you. Just do it.
Jessie Scarlet Robinson rocking on stage – another day in the office.
According to your recent social media posts, you have three brand new songs ready to go. Is it possible to bribe you with something to learn more details or are you going to keep the secret until the beginning of the tour?
Jessie Scarlet Robinson: The songs are brilliant. There’s an energy to them- a bounce. That’s all you’re getting out of me! Come to a show and you tell us some more details
Talking about the tour, you are ready to hit the road very soon. Where are we going to see you?
Jessie Scarlet Robinson: Everywhere. We have loads of shows to announce and are going to try to get everywhere we have seen any sort of craving for us. If your nan likes us and wants us to play in her front room for her, all you gotta do is ask!
You can follow Scarlet. on the socials
At Indieterria, we will always support strong female voices and bands that we think will conquer the world. Big kudos to Jessie for talking to us and dedicating us time despite her busy schedule. Hopefully we will see you on tour this summer. At a major festival! Pyramid Stage? Why the hell not!