• 6 days of music and arts events across 7 city centre venues in Leeds celebrating creativity, diversity and promoting gender equality.
• Over 100 events in all; with more than 25 bands and music artists, 25 dance and theatre performances, 20 workshops and a multitude of arts exhibitions and even more to come
The main music events of Ladyfest Leeds will be based at Josephs Well (Chorley Lane, Leeds, LS2 9NW) from the Friday (13th) to Sunday (15th) of April. Ladyfest Leeds aims to reassert British women’s influence in shaping contemporary UK music culture and showcases the diversity and transgressive nature of women’s musical creativity, which is often overlooked in mainstream culture. There will also be six days of art exhibitions, dance, theatre performance, comedy, workshops, films, spoken word events as well as opportunities to meet local community groups and get involved. Full details of all events will be available at www.ladyfestleeds.co.uk as they come online. Look out for more news soon about events at the two other principle festival venues, The Carriageworks and Holy Trinity Church as well as other venues in Leeds.
Ladyfest Leeds has a DIY ethos: all the organisers and participants have come together as volunteers to showcase the very best of what Leeds can offer. All proceeds will go to charities which support gender equality. This is the first Ladyfest to be held by people living in Leeds, building on the heritage of over 100 Ladyfests around the world since 2000: non-profit, feminist events organised mainly by women and platforms for the talents of female artists and performers. The events have been focused mainly on encouraging the talent of women and girls, but are open to everyone.
Headlining the music events at Ladyfest Leeds will be The Raincoats (www.theraincoats.net), who were formed in 1977 by Ana da Silva (guitar and vocals) and Gina Birch (bass and vocals) and became an all-female post-punk band in 1978 with the addition of Palmolive (drums) and Vicky Aspinall (violin). The Raincoats went on to release critically acclaimed albums garnering the adoration of many including Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. Ana da Silva and Gina Birch have also enjoyed successful solo careers as well as being involved in other projects. Since 1996 The Raincoats have only performed for special events such as Robert Wyatt's Meltdown festival in 2001 and Chicks on Speed's album launch in 2003. As solo artists Ana and Gina have played at previous Ladyfests (in Olympia 2000, London 2002 and Madrid 2005), but will make be a unique addition to Ladyfest Leeds through a performance as solo artists as well as together as The Raincoats.
Gina Birch said “We are really excited to play Ladyfest in Leeds. It is a brilliant idea and all the Ladyfests we have been involved in have been great so far… a mixture of film, art, poetry, humour and music and lots and lots of women doing their thing! Vive les femmes!!”
Ana da Silva said: “An event like this does the most important thing: it's INSPIRATIONAL. And it doesn't stop with the final performance. It will ripple forever and enrich life itself.”
Topping the bill from Yorkshire is Sky Larkin (www.myspace.com/skylarkinskylarkin), an up and coming band who released their debut single ‘One of Two’ on Whiskas’ (Forward Russia) Dance to the Radio record label. Sky Larkin create guitar and keyboard-based joyful pop, with harder edges, and have shared stages with The Gossip, The Organ and Broken Social Scene. Other bands from Yorkshire include queer electro-pop duo Jean Genet (www.myspace.com/jeangenet), post-punk feminist group Baba Yaga (www.myspace.com/yagas), post-punk-funk-myth inspired Fake Tan ( http://www.myspace.com/faketanrock), as well as newcomers The Furious Bears and Sailor Tongue (www.myspace.com/sailortongue).
International artists at the festival include Rae Spoon (www.raespoon.com), a young artist armed with influences, such as Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams. Rae’s cowboy-folk twang and prairie imagery is borne out of his history as an Albertan and his lyrics stem from his own unique life experience as a person who is transgendered (born female now identifies as male). Phoebe Kreutz (www.phoebekreutz.com) grew up in New York’s East Village and found her home in the anti-folk scene there, playing prominent venues such as The Knitting Factory and winning hearts worldwide. Phoebe also works as a puppeteer on Avenue Q and has won an Emmy award for her involvement in Sesame Street. Surrender to the southern Spanish sound of trio Hello Cuca (www.rompepistas.com/hellocuca.htm) whose relentless guitar-led garage misfit surf rock is infectious and inspiring.
Genres of music often missed out of conventional Ladyfest rosters such as hip-hop will also be in attendance. Based in west London, The Guardians of the Ancient Wisdom (www.the-guardians.co.uk) are a duality obsessed hip-hop crew/psychedelic band whose lyrical inspiration is drawn from varied fields of interest, including mythology, beat poetry, the occult and evolution.
But that’s far from it! Other bands included in the festival include:
• Brighton’s The Polly Shang Kuan Band (www.myspace.com/thepollyshangkuanband), true aural ugsters for people who like their 'music' really broken. Joyous, hysterical, fucked up, primitive, drunken and just plain 'out'. They laugh in Deaths face and spit into the eye sockets of skulls. Wire said of them recently: "mindbendingly intense live shows which habitually find the trio howling like lost souls in a maelstrom of feedback and noise; the group's notoriety is expanding exponentially”. Also up from Brighton will be singer song writer Lianne Hall (www.myspace.com/liannehall), whose voice John Peel described as “one of the great English voices” and who has co-written a track for Paul 'Orbital' Hartnoll for his forthcoming solo album as well as recording a duet with The Cure's Robert Smith. Another Brighton act, Shrag (www.myspace.com/shrag), will be there, and are releasing 5 seven inch singles on Where It's At Is Where You Are which will become their debut album next year. The first single, Pregnancy Scene/Mark E. Smith, sold out via Rough Trade
• The Smears (www.myspace.com/smearsuk) from Nottingham with raw, loud and abrasive all girl punk action, Cardiff’s queer punk fiasco Drunk Granny (www.myspace.com/drunkgranny) and The Duloks from London (www.myspace.com/theduloks) with their comedy electro indie rawk sound
• From Manchester, Sophie's Pigeons (www.myspace.com/sophienelson) - solo artist and pianist Sophie Nelson got her wish for four more feathered musicians to join the musical nest – complete with glockenspiel, melodeon, harmonium, violin, extra female vocals. Vile Vile Creatures from Manchester too (www.vilevilecreatures.co.uk) with noise guitars (Birthday Party, Bikini Kill) along with bouncy bass lines (Erase Errata, Joy Division) and infectious drums. Also from Manchester is Cooties Attack (www.myspace.com/cootiesattack).
DJ's from various women-run club nights from across the UK and beyond, with hip-hop, house, electro, riot grrrl, soul, punk and more will also be taking part. So far lined up are Djs from Leeds’ own club night Suck My Left One (www.myspace.com/suckmyleftonedisco) and Doll Parts (www.myspace.com/dollpartsleeds), Sheffield’s Ms Ova Ree (www.myspace.com/shibbadelic), Robotmagique (France), Manchester’s Killing Fantasy (www.myspace.com/clubkillingfantasy), York’s Queens Amongst Idiots (www.myspace.com/ninjaqueens) as well Londoners Pottymouth ( http://www.myspace.com/potty_mouth) and Sian Dada ( http://www.myspace.com/sian_dada).
Advance festival passes are on sale from 2nd March for £25, which give entry to all festival events and can be booked through the Leeds City Box Office at The Carriageworks by phone on +44 (0) 113 2243801 and in person at The Carriageworks in Leeds. A range of individual event tickets and day passes will go on sale from 26th March. Enquiries about tickets can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.