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On The Importance Of Female Friends In The Music Industry


The truth is that women in the music industry get a bad name. The myth is that they’re not business-minded, they rely far too much on image rather than musical prowess to get by, and they’re not tough enough to survive on their own. However, this is only a proportional representation. Just as many men are exactly the same – it’s just that there are far fewer women than men who work in the industry, so it’s harder to notice the women who do have what it takes to succeed.

I’m lucky enough to know one. My bandmate Mishkin Fitzgerald inspires and encourages me every single day and the reason I’m writing this blog is that I wish more women who are setting out to make it in the industry knew someone like her.

Mishkin has been running Birdeatsbaby for ten years. She is beautiful and talented but that is just a tip-of-the-iceberg prerequisite for being a singer in a band and not something that I personally feel is worth admiring anyone for. What I do admire is her strength, the fact that she's tougher than any man I’ve ever met, the way she can write such deep, hauntingly sensitive lyrics and in the next breath deal with any problem she faces with the utmost coolness. She owns a van, has been booking international tours for years, designs all the Birdeatsbaby merchandise and despite having every hour of every day scheduled into some productive task, still finds the time to be an amazing friend to the many people in her life. The fact that when we’re on tour with a crazy schedule and a fucked-up routine, she still finds half an hour every day to practice her accordion.

Birdeatsbaby are doing really well at the moment and I am really proud of this band. Because I have only been a member of the band for a short while and I don’t have many responsibilities within it, I don’t feel like I can take any personal credit for any of the success that’s been coming our way but I am certainly learning a lot from it, which was the main reason I decided to join the band in the first place.

I cross paths from time to time with many kickass female musicians who I wish I got a chance to know better, but we’re all just ships in the night – busy doing our own thing and don’t have much time to invest in forming new relationships. When I first met Mishkin, she was one of those people in my life. Our bands would occasionally share a bill together and I remember messaging her once to suggest meeting for a chat, but we both always had other priorities. When she asked me to join the band, I hesitantly said yes, not sure about how it would work for me schedule-wise to be running my own band and be a full-time member of another. However in retrospect, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Over the last two years, I’ve learned so much from Mishkin’s example about what it takes to survive as an artist and, more importantly, I’ve realised that it is actually possible to do so (something which I had begun to doubt). I’ve had countless setbacks over this period and there have been so many times where the heartbreak has been too much for me and I’ve just wanted to give up. That’s where working closely with my best friend is the best thing in the world. Every time I feel a sense of despair, I look at Mishkin and all the things she’s managed to achieve and without fail, it fills me with fresh inspiration. Every time someone lets me down, I call her and she is able to talk me down off the ledge. And I listen to her and take her advice on board in a way that I wouldn’t with anyone else, because I know that she completely understands me and that she knows what she’s talking about.

As a woman in the music industry, we are surrounded by so many men that we just take the lack of women for granted. Sure, we all have our role models, but for the most part, they’re probably someone unreachable like PJ Harvey. For me, it’s an amazing thing to have found a peer who I can look up to. It's really cool to be right there for all the small achievements, and witness how every little thing influences the bigger picture.

To all my musical compatriots out there – it’s really fucking tough being a female musician and can often be very lonely. Having male peers and role models is just not the same and trying to battle forward alone can be exhausting and disparaging. However, whether or not you have had the time or opportunity to form any close relationships with other female musicians along the way, know that there are many strong women with a real work ethic out there and we are all in solidarity with each other. I have a lot of you on Facebook as acquaintances and we communicate from time to time but we are all into our own mission and, as people who are constantly thrown into social situations and meeting new people, I would imagine that none of us have much energy to go out of our way to form new relationships. But when we do, it's a wonderful thing.

Here's a song I wrote about Mishkin. It's called Warrior and will be on my next album Waiting To Burn.

You can murder while you smile

But my girl, yeah she's from a different tribe

You can fake it till you die

But my girl, yeah she'll bring a different vibe

She's Brighton rock, and you're candyfloss

Yeah, she'll take it on, while you fuck it up

She'll liquify through your every clot

She's moving on, she's moving on

She's a warrior

And she don't need you at all

What she's fighting for

Oh, it's beyond your control

She's a warrior

You can tell me what you like

But the cracks, yeah, they shed a different light

You can take it in your stride

But it's there, though you keep it out of sight

Does the feeling rise when you close your eyes?

Ain't no sleepless nights when you're dead inside

And I see her glide through your every guise

She's moving on, she's moving on

She's a warrior

And she don't need you at all

What she's fighting for

Oh, it's beyond your control

She's a warrior


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