Female Musicians I Wish I’d Known About As A Teenager

by Charlie Morrison

As a teenager my greatest joy was music. I consumed music hungrily, becoming deliriously obsessed with band after band. I listened to music like falling in love, passionately devoting myself to listening to everything I could get my hands on, watching interviews for hours on end, lovingly memorising the tiny details of each band’s history. All I wanted to talk about during a new obsession was that glorious band. My love of music put a substantial spring in my step, made me want to sing, to laugh at inside jokes in my beloved band’s lyrics, to wonder at their profundity; during a new obsession, I positively bounced from class to class through the hallways of my school, past bemused friends and teachers.

The first band I became obsessed with was The Beatles (a cliché, I know). I still consider my obsession with The Beatles as the thing that sparked my lifelong passion for music. They woke me up to loving music the way a first love wakes one up to romance – I assume, having had no romances throughout high school. But it didn’t matter because I had music! After The Beatles came a slew of other bands, mostly from either the 1960s or the 2000s: The Doors, The Kooks, Panic! At the Disco, The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, The Kinks. All these bands figured largely in my imagination as friends and crushes between the ages of about 13 and 19. I got into arguments with people who expressed a distaste for my band of the moment; this was a personal affront, so deeply connected was I to their music.

You may have noticed one thing that connects all of the bands above: they are all comprised solely of men. That is not a bad thing in and of itself; it may be in part because I was a little in love with the band members that I was so fervent in in my love of their music. But it wasn’t until my twenties that I started to learn more about the astonishing and talented women who were working in the same genres that I adored as a teen. I did have some female musician obsessions in my teens. The biggest of these was Florence and the Machine – and Janis Joplin, Laura Marling, Kate Nash and Marina and the Diamonds were all part of my circle of musical friends. I was also writing music as a teenager, dreaming of becoming a little known, but much loved indie hero one day (I’ve always had a vivid imagination). How wonderful would it have been for me to have seen more women doing the very thing I aspired to?

Learning more about brilliant women in music in the past few years has been an absolute revelation. The feeling I get from seeing a woman at a drum kit, or tearing up a guitar solo, or performing wildly on stage, or being sexual in a way that doesn’t cater to a male gaze is completely thrilling. With that in mind, I’ve decided to write a series about some of the brilliant female artists I wish I’d known about as a teen. The rules are thus: they have to have been around by the time I was a teenager (so I can’t include bands like Haim or Wolf Alice) and I’m going to stick broadly to genres I was interested in as a teenager: mostly rock and indie. What I’m saying is I wish that, in addition to my beloved male bands, I’d had a Kat Stratford (of the iconic film 10 Things I Hate About You) to introduce me to more “angry girl music of the indie rock persuasion”.

Watch this space for upcoming articles about badass women in music who haven’t yet been adequately venerated!


Image credit: Rick Kern/WireImage

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