29 Jul 2012

Girls at their best?: Gender and performers at Indietracks 2012

By Daniel Novakovic and Jennifer Reiter

Here’s where the story begins: In November 2011, Ladyfest Malmö in Sweden began tallying men and women in bands performing at the various concert venues in Malmö as well as at the major Swedish music festivals. With Malmö placed in between capital cities Stockholm and Copenhagen there was a good number of bands passing through Scandinavia. The numbers that Ladyfest found were startling and rightly so: 80-90% of performing acts were male (see an explanation of what a ‘male’ act is under ‘methodology’). Some venues even went for months when only 100% male bands played. Ladyfest’s findings were published and written about in major printed newspapers and online media. Some venues reacted helpfully and promised to do better, some put the blame on the booking agencies and some went on the extreme defense. One such person was the booker of the Emmabodafestival - traditionally an indiepop oriented festival - who was quoted in Sweden’s biggest morning newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, saying:

"Håkan Karlsson, booker at Emmabodafestivalen, is unequivocally opposed to Ladyfest’s reasoning.

- We book only good artists. No, we do not think about the handicapped and crippled or whatever. We book what we like and what suits. We are doing a party for ourselves. This does not interest us at all. Honestly, I wonder who it is who really cares. It is not our task to look at that.

So you do not agree that you, the organizers, have a responsibility?

- No, not really. I cannot influence either. I cannot book a bunch of crap and sell 300 tickets. It is a strange approach to have to the music. I really respect the equality ideal, but it isn’t something I can put into my work and I am proud that I do not [our emphasis], says Håkan Karlsson." - Dagens Nyheter, 2011-12-19

After that interview, I followed every update from Ladyfest but felt that they weren't really looking at or describing "my" indiepop scene as most of the bands and artists were of the mainstream/alternative kind. Many, including the two authors of this blog post, have looked to the indiepop scene as being more favourable to gender equality amongst musicians. Some have even spoken out about this assumed equality. In mid-July, Kip Berman of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, was quoted in the Village Voice:

"Another aspect of indie pop that I believe allows it to have a consistent vitality is that it has the highest representation of female band members, club promoters, DJ's and festival bookers of any non-gender specific genre (riot grrl, queercore, etc.). Think about a generic list of "10 Greatest Rock Bands of the 1990s" in a mainstream magazine. It would be a list of all men, with maybe The Smashing Pumpkins' D'arcy, Tori Amos or Courtney Love as the lone exceptions. That's a list of 40 to 45 musicians, with maybe 3 being sexed female.

The hypothetical indie pop list of that era would probably have a third to one half of the bands comprised of women, and many in non-"pink collar" positions like lead singers, drummers and guitarists. indie pop still has a long ways to go towards true gender equity, but compared to what is out there in "indie rock," punk, hip hop, metal and hardcore, it has made the most progress in being gender-inclusive of any genre I can think of. The interesting part is, only mainstream pop and possibly folk comes to mind as places where female artists are represented equally to their male counterparts."- Village Voice, 2012-07-13

Kip is considering the gender of people involved in making records as well as performing, DJing and promoting. However, Ladyfest Malmö looked at and analysed who was performing on stage. Why? Because this is the picture that people often see of who is actively involved in making music. We see these performers when we go to gigs and we see them when we look at photos of shows online and in other media.These powerful snapshots provide an interesting document as to who is involved in making music.

So I decided to have a look for myself and investigate how Indietracks stacks up. I sent off an email to Ladyfest Malmö to ask how the process of tallying and analysing musicians on stage worked and asked Jennifer Colour Me Pop if she would help me as I knew she was attending Indietracks and has an interest in gender equality.

This is how we counted performers at Indietracks. The process is based on the Ladyfest Malmö method. EDITED TO ADD: A lot of people have reacted to this part. This method was chosen to be able to compare our numbers to those of Ladyfest who have counted about 6 venues a month plus festivals since November 2011. But no matter the method of band categorizing the second chart counting total of people on stage stays the same.

  • A female act is an act where the majority of band members are female
  • A male act is an act where the majority of band members are male
  • A 50/50 act is comprised of half females and half males or equal members of males, females and trans people

Some illustrations and clarifications:
  • Allo' Darlin would be categorised as a male act because there are predominantly males in the band (3 males, 1 female)
  • We have counted those performers who self-identify as trans or genderqueer
  • We have counted only those who performed at Indietracks 2012 (not those who play with the band on record or with the band at other gigs)
  • We did not include impromptu or merch tent performances at Indietracks

To start with, we looked at band photos and read band credits on record and online to discern who may be playing in the band at Indietracks. Final numbers were confirmed by Jennifer’s eagle-eye at Indietracks and by looking at photographs taken at the festival.


  • 56 acts were booked in total.
  • 38 were male acts
  • 7 were female acts
  • 11 were 50/50-acts

The female bands were: Golden Grrrls, Liechtenstein, Robberie, Rose Melberg, September Girls, Tender Trap and The Werewandas.

The 50/50 bands were: The 10p Mixes, Bart Cummings & Pam Berry, Go Sailor, Minibar, the School, the Smittens, The Spook School, Summer Camp, The Sunbathers, Veronica Falls and Young Romance.

Of the 38 male acts, 23 have at least 1 female member, 10 of which are lead vocalists. Similarly of the 7 female acts, 4 contain at least 1 male member of which 1 is a lead vocalist.


  • 226 people on stage
  • 159 were male
  • 64 were female
  • 3 trans or genderqueer.

Having followed the reactions and comments after Ladyfest published their findings, we’d like to emphasize that we didn't conduct this analysis to put blame on anyone, in this instance the good Indietracks organizers. This discussion is not to point fingers to any individuals but rather to start a conversation about how to move toward a more equal music scene. We know the reasons more women aren’t involved as performing musicians is complex and nuanced. Hell, even my own female fronted club wouldn't be 100% female if I counted musicians involved, but something is askew when such a disproportionate amount of the people on stage are men.

Looking at the numbers it’s hard to argue that our indiepop community is approaching gender equality in terms of musicians and performers when only 64 of 226 (28.32%) of all performers at Indietracks 2012 are female. That figure might increase if we included the organisers and those who ran the workshops but we’d argue that the change in figure would not be statistically significant. Additionally, we wanted to emphasize the striking visual picture that is documented when the majority of people seen on stage are male. We were surprised and saddened by these findings. Maybe you are too (or maybe this is no surprise to you). Read on for some questions to get us all talking and moving toward gender equality in actively making, not just consuming, indiepop.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (please respond in the comment section below)
1. What can our indiepop community do to encourage more women to take active roles as musicians in indiepop, particularly ‘lead’ roles? (e.g., lead guitarist, songwriter, arranger)

2. What can promoters, bookers, musicians and fans do about the inequality in representation of gender (sex) amongst indiepop musicians?

3. Celebrate steps towards equality! In the comments, share with us those female and trans indiepop musicians who are taking the lead into their own hands and making music.

Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution (“...a rousing inspiration for a new generation of empowered rebel girls to strap on guitars and stick it to The Man.”)
Sexing the Groove: Popular Music and Gender (particularly the introduction and the chapter ‘Women and the Electric Guitar’)
Women and Popular Music: Sexuality, Identity and Subjectivity

Willie Mae Rock Camp For Girls and the Girls Rock Camp Alliance

23 Jul 2012

David Feck of Comet Gain DJs in Stoke Newington 27 July

Super stoked about this night! As soon as news reached us of a filled to the brim, homemade box of records with "good songs from around 79 to almost now, but largely mid eighties" put together by Comet Gains David Feck, we immediately persuaded him to bring all these records and let them loose on the decks at the Waiting Room.

The Box. Photo by Jon Slade(?)

Packed with "..you know… Postcard, Creation, TvPs, Blue Orchids, June Brides, McCarthy, Chills, etc…" and combined with the love for pop references in Comet Gains own songs we expect this to be a fantastic journey in independent pop on the dance floor at Londons finest Indiepop and Soul club.

SO TOUGH! SO CUTE! - Indiepop, Soul, Pop Punk & Girl-Groups
Guest-DJ: David Feck (Comet Gain)
Friday, 27th July 2012
The Waiting Room (downstairs of the Three Crowns)
175 Stoke Newington High Street, N16 0LH, London, UK
Door: £4/3 with flyer or striped/polka-dotted shirts&skirts
Facebook event

Bus Links, 149, 76, 67, 276, 393, 73,
Train Links Liverpool St - Stoke Newington

22 Jul 2012

Photos and Playlist from Too Cute To Puke

That was a weird one. It filled up quite nicely, Ylwa our guest played great tunes, everybody danced and then... and then the power went out. And we couldn't get it going. We made futile attempt to DJ through the internal sound system but that overheated after a couple of song. Ah well. We had fun and by the looks of it so did you.

You can see what we played after these photos - as always many more in the Facebook photo album. The next one is a party in London together with David Feck of Comet Gain. See you in Stoke Newington!

Here's what we managed to play:
Molly Nilsson - I Hope You Die
Au Revoir Simone - Shadows
The Cranberries - Animal Instinct
Marine Girls - Honey
Aggi Doom - Boys Are Boys (And Girls Are Choice) (Monks cover)

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
Chain And The Gang - Free Will
The Rosy Crucifixion - Winners
Malaria! - Your turn to run
Jessy Bulbo - Maldito

Algebra Suicide - Little Dead Bodies
Golden Grrrls - I Don't Want You Anyway (Look Blue Go Purple cover)
Les Calamités - Toutes Les Nuits
Two Nice Girls - I Spent My Last $10 On Birth Control And Beer
Katina - Don't Stroke My Pussy

Eva Smart - Upside Down
Althea & Donna - Uptown Top Ranking
Luise Cordet - I'm Just A Baby
Teri Allen - In The First Place
Aunt Sally - subete urimono

The Spurtz - I Won't
The Clash - Hitsville U.K.
Sonic Youth - Bull in the Heather
Marnie Stern - Put all Your Eggs in one Basket and Then Watch That Basket!!!
Electrelane - The Partisan

Shrag - Ghosts Before Breakfast
The Spook School - Are You Who You Think You Are?
Tiger Trap - Supercrush
TacocaT - Spring Break-Up
Slant 6 - Soda Pop-Rip Off

Dum Dum Girls - Jail La La
Bratmobile - Gimme Brains
Kleenex/liliput - Die Matrosen
Bärchen Und Die Milchbubis - Muskeln
Andreas Dorau & die Marinas - Fred vom Jupiter

Slow Down Tallahassee - Down The Alleyway
X-Ray Spex - I Can't Do Anything
Allo Darlin' - Capricornia
Vånna Inget - Jag ska fly tills jag hittar hem
Breeders - Huffer

Hanna Hirsch - Som Det Är
France Gall - Nous Ne Sommes Pas Des Anges
Sandie Shaw - Pourquois Ne Veux-Tu Pas De Moi
The Summits - Hanky Panky
Rita Chao And The Quests - Hanky Panky

The Beas - International Girl
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Dancing In The Street (Single Version)
Samantha Jones - Surrounded By A Ray Of Sunshine
The Cinderellas - Baby, Baby (I Still Love You)
Supremes - You Can't Hurry Love

Little Eva - The Loco-Motion
Velvelettes - Needle In A Haystack
Kim Weston - Helpless
Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made For Walkin'
Shirley Ellis - Clapping Song

Shangri-Las - Give Him A Great Big Kiss
The Rev-Lons - After Last Night
Claudine Clark (As Joy Dawn) - Hang It Up
Aretha Franklin - Respect
Lill-Babs - Leva Livet

Shirley Ellis - Sugar, Let's Shing-A-Ling
Eloise Laws - Love Factory
Gloria Jones - Tainted Love
Dusty Springfield - Am I The Same Girl
Betty Everett - The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)

Nai Bonet - Jelly Belly
Jocelyne - Nitty Gritty
Irma Thomas - Break-A-Way
The Detroit Cobras - Bye Bye Baby
Those Darlins - Be Your Bro

Le tigre - Deceptacon
Helen Love - Debbie Loves Joey
Veronica Maggio - Jag Kommer
Abba - Ring Ring (English Version)
Shampoo - Trouble

Thelma Houston - Junpin' Jack Flash
Blondie - Hanging on the Telephone
Thee Headcoatees - Teenage Kicks
Dolly Parton - 9 To 5
Primitives - Crash

Language Of Flowers - If It's Not You
Heavenly - Nous Ne Sommes Pas Des Anges
Breeders - Buffy Theme
Millie - My Boy Lollipop
Ronettes - Be My Baby

ESG - Dance
The Slits - I Heard It Through The Grapevine - Rough Mix
X Ray Spex - Oh Bondage Up Yours!
The Grown Ups - Nick and Nick
Girls Aloud - Teenage Dirtbag

Hole - Celebrity Skin
Cat Power - He War

19 Jul 2012

Too Cute To Puke #15 - Weekend Dreams

Listen up! We know you're busy doing nothing but hanging on the beach, eating ice cream and drinking rosé but we've got two exciting things this weekend so give us a minute and we'll tell you all about it!

First up is Too Cute To Puke on Friday where we'll play all girl pop tunes together with Ylwa Skywalker. We'll stick in a extra few Bikini Kill tracks to celebrate the news that in 2012, the year of their 25 year anniversary, they're setting up a label to re-release the Bikini Kill records, demos and side projects. We're really looking forward to that! Apart from that you'll hear girl fronted bands ranging from jealous girl-gangs to angsty indie gals.

Too Cute To Puke - Strictly Femme Fronted Music
Friday 20 July
Moriska Paviljongen - Bistron, Folkets Park, Malmö
22-03 | 60kr | 20 yrs (email us to get on the under-20 list)
Facebook group for those of you in Sweden
Facebook group for those of you in UK (Next one is on August 25th!)
Twitter @toocutetopuke

Then on Saturday we set up our gear at Tempo Bar & Kök and play some punk and pop tracks. Since we just finished re-reading Our Band Could be Your Life we decided to play a couple of tracks from each band featured in the book. Should be noisy and fun!

B'dum B'dum - Our Band Could be Your Life and Punk special
Saturday 21 July
Tempo Bar & Kök, Malmö
21:30-01 | Free

EDIT: Sorry, we had to cancel due to other commitments. We'll try and do this at another date.

11 Jul 2012

Go Sailor!

Now this is unbelievably cool! Go Sailors Rose Melberg played with a guitar with two of our stickers on it when they played the Lexington in London!

Sure the guitar belongs to our friend Kajsa but still! So totally rad! Go Go Sailor!
And on top of that it
 was also used by awesome band Gold-bears.

Photo taken by Tom of the cassette label Fika recordings (check out their shop!) with edits by us.

6 Jul 2012

Too Cute To Puke #15 at Moriskan in Malmö 20th July

Violent girl-gang pop, heartbreaking soul and arty feminist punk. Come dance to keep from crying.

Too Cute To Puke - Strictly Femme Fronted Music
Friday 20 July
Moriska Paviljongen - Bistron, Folkets Park, Malmö
22-03 | 60kr | 20 yrs (email us to get on the under-20 list)Facebook event
Facebook group for those of you in Sweden
Facebook group for those of you in UK (Next one is on August 25th!)Twitter @toocutetopuke

1 Jul 2012

Photos and Playlist from Too Cute To Puke in London

What a fantastic turnout! We had so much fun doing this! Ylwa, our darling guest-dj blew the dancefloor away and the dancefloor blew us away back with bruised knees, sweat, singing along to Lola by the Raincoats, more sweat, dancing and shouting to Bikini Kill. So many happy people! Thank you everyone! You can see what we played after these photos - as always many more in the Facebook photo album - and don't forget to join our club to get invited to the next party in London and follow our new twitter at @toocutetopuke. Much love!

We played:
Saint Etienne - Over the Border
Camera Obscura - Honey In The Sun
Tom Tom Club - Genius of Love
Katina - Don't Stick Stickers On My Paper Knickers
Nora Dean - Barbwire

Grimes - Devon
Magnapop - Slowly, Slowly
Tiger Tape - Sunday Walks
Kenni Woods - Back With My Baby
Minisnap - Whistler

CocoRosie - Rainbowarriors
The Gay - Opulent Canine
We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It - Rules And Regulations
Swearin' - What a Dump
Waitresses - I Know What Boys Like

Angelica - Liberation Is Wasted On Me
Slutever - Pussycat
The Pandoras - That's Your Way Out
Marnie Stern - Put all Your Eggs in one Basket and Then Watch That Basket!!!
Grass Widow - Goldilocks Zone

Slowcoaches - Gimmie Fuck Ups
Slow Down Tallahassee - Tricks
Golden Grrrls - I Don't Want You Anyway (Look Blue Go Purple)
Distractions - False Jesii Part 2
The Fall - The City Never Sleeps

Stag - Pop Song
Comet Gain - Hideaway
Modesty Blaise - Carol Mountain
The Velvelettes - I Know His Name (Only His Name)
Parcels - Snappy New Haircut

Oh-Ok - Brother
Neo Boys - Time Keeps Time
Max And The Makeups - Zerox
Katty Line - Un petit peu d'amour
Astrud Gilberto - Black Magic (A Gira)

Allo Darlin' - Northern Lights
Duane Eddy & The Rebelettes - Your Baby's Gone Surfin'
The Organ - Brother
The Honey Cone - Girls It Ain't Easy
Miaow - Sport Most Royal

Joy Lovejoy - In Orbit
Claudine Clark (As Joy Dawn) - Hang It Up
Family Fodder - Savoir Faire
All Girl Summer Fun Band - Samantha Secret Agent
Pretenders - Stop Your Sobbing

Nikki & The Corvettes - He's A Mover
Standard Fare - Fifteen
Liz Anderson - Never, Ever
Fat Tulips - Confession Of An English Girl
Charlottes - Are You Happy Now?

Seapony - Into the Sea
Sexy Kids - Sisters Are Forever
Pipettes - Guess Who Ran Off With The Milkman?
Eternal Summers - Pogo
Alice Dona - Les Trois Couleurs DeL'Amour

The Breakaways - That Boy of Mine
Electrelane - I'm On Fire
Eliza Doolittle - Skinny Genes
Summer Camp - Better Off Without You
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero

Cat Power - He War
PJ Harvey - Dress
The B-52's - 52 Girls (7" version)
Elastica - Stutter
The Go-Go's - We Got The Beat

Mika Miko - Capricorinations
The Downbeats - Radiates That Charm
Thee Headcoatees - Ca Plane Pour Moi
Allo, Darlin' - Henry Rollins Don't Dance
Helen Love - Debbie Loves Joey

Blondie - Call Me
Kenickie - Punka
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Scattered Pearls
Le Tigre - Deceptacon
Breeders - Buffy Theme

Primitives - Crash
Shampoo - Trouble
Runaways - Cherry Bomb
Girls Aloud - Teenage Dirtbag
Bow Wow Wow - I Want Candy

No Doubt - Just A Girl
Trash Kit - Natascha
Super Wild Horses - Fifteen
Bleached - Think Of You
Angels - Wow Wow Wee (He's The Boy For Me)

Third Tuesday - Third Time Under
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Nowhere To Run
Dusty Springfield - Only Want To Be With You
Siddeleys - Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
The Shangri-Las - Hate To Say I Told You So

The Crystals - Da Doo Ron Ron
The Pipettes - Pull Shapes
Beat Happening - Noise
Bikini Kill - Rebel Girl
Bratmobile - Gimme Brains

The Breeders - Cannonball
Times New Viking - Fuck Her Tears
Talulah Gosh - Break Your Face
Bobbi-Pins - Why Did You Go?
Supremes - You Keep Me Hangin' On

Josie Cotton - He Could Be The One
Blondie - Hanging on the Telephone
X-Ray Spex - Oh Bondage Up Yours!
Wetdog - Lower Leg
Garbo's Daughter - Private Party

Funstix - Funstix Party
Those Darlins - Be Your Bro
Hole - Celebrity Skin
Mika Miko - Attitude
Shop Assistants - I Don't Wanna To Be Friends With You

Fat Tulips - Chainsaw
La Sera - Please Be My Third Eye
Ronettes - Be My Baby
Kirsty MacColl - A New England
The Raincoats - Lola