Femmes To The Front: A Series
Introducing our ongoing "Femmes To The Front" series, inspired by Kathleen Hanna's famous command. We present a collection of musicians talking the very women who have inspired them to create music.
Shot by Pam, we met with each person in their own homes and spaces to create these intimate photographs, and posed the question:
"As Love Letters is dedicated to femme/non-binary musicians, who would you say has impacted and influenced you to create the work you do the most and why?"
Florence Welch first came to me as a celestial being; her songs became my church and her lyrics became my bible. Yet it was her third studio album How Big How Blue How Beautiful that showed me just how human she really was. Her craft became so majestic in her previous albums yet it was her songs like 'St Jude' and 'Various Storms and Saints' that showed me how she could maintain those elements in the most vulnerable way. I strive to do the same in my own songs, it creates such an emphasis on the emotions a person can feel. I want to make people feel the same way about KOPANO as I do for Florence.
Bella Nicholls (Demon Days)
Growing up I found it hard to find vocalists that resonated with me lyrically as well as musically, so I took my favourite things from different genres and combined. Most of the female artists I love lyrically come under the umbrella of indie pop; bands such as TOPS, Florist, Frankie Cosmos and sales have been integral to my writing style. While musically I connect with them, it was their sometimes clever or humorous lyrics that drew me in.
Vocally my biggest influence would have to be Ella Fitzgerald. Her deep rich tone mixed with a sophisticated delicate side is something that I will constantly be chasing for in my development as a singer.
Yukimi Nagano has definitely impacted and influenced my work the most. The first time I listened to Little Dragon was when I was in Year 5 or 6 in primary school, and when I heard her sing for the first time in ‘Twice’ I was entranced. To me, her voice is very unique. Yukimi focuses on every note without belting them out, but rather sings in a soft and angelic way. Yukimi’s poignant lyrics really resonate in me, and that combination of her melancholic lyrics and the way she conveys them with her delicate voice has an emotional effect on me.
PJ Harvey. My Dad bought Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea when it was released. I was 9 at the time, and we would stay in on the weekends and listen in silence together. I started digging back to To Bring You My Love and 4 Track Demos - so visceral, powerful, angry, yet completely vulnerable. I threw myself into that in-yer-face gender fuck strength.
Ashlyn Koh (Calmly - fka Childsaint)
First and foremost Chloe McGrath, Rhian Todhunter and Jane Azzopardi who play in my band Calmly (fka Childsaint). Watching the creative flow in front of me and working to turn it into something solid has such an impact on my musical outlet and creative flair. My influences come from those who are close to me, whether it be friends who work in music, visual arts, film, photography or theatre; watching my friends work towards their passion and embrace it is such an inspiration.
Amelia Murray (Spacey Jane)
Courtney Barnett and Jen Cloher are my all-time fave musicians. They're both shredders on guitar and write grungey, clever songs. Not only are the experiences and stories told through their music relatable to me, but so is their image; they showed me you don't have to be pretty, flawless or fashionable to be a female in the music industry. Image and appearance don't seem to be a consideration for them, and they command respect and attention just wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
Jen and Courtney co-run the record label Milk! together and their genuine love for all the music and musicians they represent is clear. In this age of mass commercialisation, this is so rare and special. Their songs touch on many social issues that I'm also passionate about, the environment, gender and sexuality, and they both take this beyond their music.
Finally, to top it off, they’re the cutest power couple out, what’s not to love about these two?
Women that write truthfully and shamelessly about their sexuality, their emotions, their experiences, whether good or bad, illegal or frowned upon have always impacted and influenced me as an artist.
Lana Del Rey and Halsey do this beautifully. Whether it's Lana singing about her pussy tasting like pepsi cola, her unsettling relationship with violence and power or Halsey singing about her drug-fuelled sexual experiences and calling herself a fucking hurricane, both women's songs leave me feeling powerful and unashamed. I've often felt like I'm ‘too much' and I shouldn't write about anything that doesn't paint me out to be a perfect, unintimidating, stereotypical women. But their songs make me feel I can be big and crazy and powerful and write about the things others are too scared to, or don't experience.
JOY. has also influenced me hugely, being a young woman from Australia who's a bomb ass producer. I spent a lot of time listening to her tracks over and over, trying to recreate them while learning how to use Ableton. I owe a lot to her.
Originally published in Love Letters Issue 001.