There's been no hotter topic in the music industry in the last 12 months than gender equality, and one of the biggest voices in the conversation is Leisha Jungwalla, performer in This Way North and organiser of Sass The Patriarchy. We spoke to Leisha ahead of her show @ The Aardvark on Friday 08 March about all things sass...
So for those who don’t know, can you give us some background about Sass The Patriarchy and what punters can expect on the night?
Sass the Patriarchy was started by myself and my partner/bandmate Cat. We first ran it in Melbourne in Feb 2018. We then bought it over here to Perth, then took it to Auckland, New Zealand and Canada in Edmonton and Vancouver. It's a night where people can come and listen to a really diverse and rad line up of artists, check out the art exhibitions and listen to some short but empowering discussions about improving gender equality and diversity the music industry. The feeling is always so amazing, with everyone there to support the cause of equality which always means there are powerful performances by the acts and a general feeling of awesomeness!
What’s the goal of your event - what outcome do you want to see from putting on these shows?
We want to be another cog in the wheel of improving gender equality and diversity in society; the entertainment industry in Australia has the biggest gender pay gap of all of the industries so it's really clear that we have a lot of work to do in this area. During the discussion element of the night, we choose to specifically only focus on strategies to improve the music industry for gender equality so that everyone can take something away to readily help improve the industry straight away. So the goal is that we can continue to spread the strategies that will action change and continue to steer the industry towards equality.
Are you starting to notice any results from all the gender diversity conversations that have been happening in the music industry over the last few years?
There have been some wonderful improvements in the past year that we have been running these events but there have also been some very clear indications that there is still a huge amount of inequality in the music industry and in society in general. So we'd like to continue to help change these issues in a positive way. There are some wonderful festivals and venues that are committed to improving diversity on their line-ups but there are still many in the industry that are yet to change the way they go about supporting gender diversity. It's about speaking up and educating these people and giving them strategies to help them improve.
Tell us about 5 artists (international or local) that are important to the STP movement.
1. Well, our last event in Melbourne this February we were lucky enough to have Thando play. She's such an empowering performer and woman who is holding true to her beliefs and knows the power and the platform she has to speak up about these issues and uses it for a positive influence.
2. I actually think Alicia Key's is helping women and having a positive impact by showing at the highest level that you can be comfortable without make-up and that it's not all about image but about the artistry behind it.
3. Sampa the Great, I saw her perform at The Age Music Victoria awards at the end of last year and she has this incredibly powerful presence during her performances where she speaks about equality and the importance of gender and cultural diversity on our stages in Australia. She is gaining a lot of attention and she uses this for positive social change.
4. Camp Cope have been bravely outspoken about gender inequality in the music industry and some of the issues faced by women when it comes to assaults at venues and music festivals. They have spoken up even when it's meant that they face super harsh scrutiny from the public and potentially jeopardising their career in some ways; but they are staying true to their values and beliefs and that's super inspiring.
5. Axe and Ness from 'The Tommyhawks' and 'Axe Girl', this band is one of our WA Sass artists this year. We met them both at the end of 2017 and they were planning their Cannonball event that they've been running over here. We got chatting about events that help showcase and promote gender diversity in the industry. They are such amazing, supportive and welcoming musicians, they work so hard in so many projects in the WA music scene and are always up for helping out in anyway.
What’s coming up for STP? Where do you see it in five years time?
Well, we are currently planning our 2019 Canadian Sass shows in July and August, when This Way North heads over there to tour. We are in talks to take it to Hobart and a few other places and conferences this year. I think it will continue to grow and morph into an event that is for everybody and that continues to make a positive change whilst having amazing musicians perform. In 5 years time I would love it to just be about showcasing gender diverse acts rather than the discussions because it would mean that we have equality in the music industry!!!
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