As part of our poster collaborations, all this week we’re previewing our ‘in conversation with’ pieces which accompany the A2 posters. Second is Skinny Girl Diet…
Already endorsed by the likes of Neneh Cherry, Skinny Girl Diet are taking London as their own and changing the industries perception of all female bands while their at it. Formed in 2011 by sisters Delilah and Ursula Holliday in their early teens, later to be joined by Neuroscience student and bassist Amelia, the girl’s have garnered a reputation for their forthright attitudes and (glass) ceiling smashing live sets. Citing inspirations as far apart as The Powerpuff Girls and The Pixies, Skinny Girl Diet encompass the modern day young woman by refusing to be pigeonholed due to their gender, choice in musical genre, or taste in TV cartoons. Here we ask what makes the girls most angry, discuss new age activism, and debate the watering down of 21st century feminism…
I was going to ask you first about the comparison to Riot Grrrl. How do you feel about those comparisons’ now that the genre has experienced resurgence in popularity?
Delilah: I mean it’s really hard, I really respect Riot Grrrl, obviously it has its flaws in the same way it’s got its amazing side, but I don’t think we’re anything to do with it.
Ursula: When girls pick up instruments and play punk or grunge music together they instantly get a label of Riot Grrrl whether they want it or not. At an early stage we got that label.
Amelia: We still do, because it’s three girls in a band they don’t feel comfortable with us just being musicians. Journalists have to make a point about us having feminist sentiments, because they cant handle the fact our gender ouldn’t make a difference.
D: Any other band wouldn’t get questions about politics; it just doesn’t come up unless you’re all female.
U: I was thinking about this the other day and because of our name we did sort of bring it on ourselves, but it’s more than that.
You got your name from the pro-anorexia Tumblr tag right?
D: I used to just scroll on Tumblr and then this like girl with like a ribcage came up and it was grotesque. I looked into the ‘skinny girl diet’ hashtag and it’s such a contradiction because essentially everyone wants to be skinny or look a certain way. But this was telling someone to go further than the beauty ideal …
U: I don’t regret our name but I don’t want anyone to ever think we condone that behaviour.
D: We’re trying to take the piss out of it. I’m quite sensitive and even though I have trouble laughing at this stuff, sometimes it’s the best way to deal with the harsh realities of the world.
U: No for real, shoving it in people’s faces and making people realise they can’t hide away from the fact that this is happening.
A: I hope it does something good. If people are looking at this pro anorexia skinny girl diet stuff, and see us instead, I think that’s a positive thing that can come out of it.
U: Yeah like angry females making punk music, that’s such a better result I think.
Would you say you’re part of a community in London?
U: We have no friends!
D: Personally I listen to everything so I’m not sure. I go to rap gigs and go see loads of different types of genres. We’re influenced by everything. A lot of people want to put across this whole narrow perception of how they want to be viewed. So for me to say that I enjoy rap music would be lame in a lot of people’s eyes, but literally who the fuck cares.
A: We’ve been asked before about the current punk scene in London, but most line-ups are quite mixed and you don’t get specific genres on nights anymore. There doesn’t seem to be like specific crowds, there aren’t any scenes.
I think in London everything is such a mix now and you just don’t have groups that listen to one genre exclusively. I don’t know any girl our age that doesn’t simultaneously listen to 90s R&B and also punk.
D: I do know people that won’t admit it they listen to lots of different genres
U: yeah but they’re lying, they’re lying to be cool. I hate that.
A: if someone says they don’t like Destiny’s Child you have to question them as a person.
U: It’s the people who think they’re too cool for school who market their music in this really purist way. Like loosen up a bit, you’re not that great. Literally what makes you cool? The fact that you only listen to punk music, have long hair, wear crusty Doc Martens, and do a fuck load of drugs so you can’t remember anything? Like so what? That’s not my idea of cool.
Is music is still a valid form of activism?
U: No one uses it to its potential, they dip their feet in the political issues they like but then extract their support really quickly
D: Yeah like ‘I’m a feminist’,
U: ’but I love men and I’m not saying that I hate men’, when its actually about equality. It seems really vapid.
Amelia: I find it quite funny, we had an interview and the journalist said, ‘clearly your feminism doesn’t hate men’, and I was thinking wait when did I say that? Men can go fuck themselves!
U: I don’t necessarily agree with that because there are some nice men out there
A: There are some nice men but I feel like I’ve been disappointed by too many. Like you know when you make friends with a guy and you’re like, “you’re really cool”, and then they just say something stupid, sexist, or turn out to be a rape apologist and you’re like “I believed in you!”
D: No I don’t hate men, but it’s a weird one, I’ve had so many awful experiences with men that would make me hate them, but you’ve got to have that slight bit of hope.
A: We like the self aware ones!
U: The worst thing is when guys lie and say they’re feminists to get in your pants! What the fuck is that about?
D: No avoid them. If any guy says there a feminist just avoid them. Stay away. If he’s got to tell you then there’s something wrong.
U: Why are you trying to seduce me with that?
How do you feel about feminism being popularised recently?
D: I liked the way it was a dirty word, it’s kind of pissing me of that saying, ‘yeah I’m a feminist’, has lost it’s meaning.
U: yeah and they do it in a very cutesy way, they don’t really have a backbone.
A: A lot of the time the feminism is white middle class centric and I just think there are other issues, equal pay is an important thing but it’s not the only inequality we face as women. The worst thing is the girls who are like, ‘I don’t need feminism’, because it’s just like well done for you! I do!
D: That argument is valid in a way though. There’s that whole argument of, ‘I don’t believe in the word feminism because its just segregating us even more’, I understand that but to say that you don’t believe in feminism is wrong.
U: I just think its just equality cloaked in a fancy word that’s been appropriated by popular culture, and if you strip it back then we still aren’t achieving equality. But the re-appropriation of the word ‘feminist’ has almost honey coated the cause. Instead of the word feminism I think it should just be equality.
A: But then the danger of just calling it equality rather than feminism is that it is important to focus on woman’s issues, because that is the issue with the whole ‘I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist’ thing, they don’t actually focus on equal rights. But obviously feminism isn’t a united front because women are from all sorts of different backgrounds and will therefore have contradicting opinions.
D: It’s just weird. It was simple before, “I’m a feminist, fuck you!” was a biting thing to say. I think its cool though that more people are getting on board. I’m glad actually.
A: It’s good but it is a double-edged sword, because there are people who genuinely wouldn’t have been included in it before. Intersectionality is a big thing now, and not having to dress a certain way, like if you want to have hairy armpits if you don’t its all good. The focus on choice I think is a good thing, but there are a lot of people who are taking up the feminist mantra without really considering what it means.
I think it just needs to get its bite back. The newest wave of feminism initially brought girls together, into communities and collectives and zines, and I think now should be the time we use that community to make a difference.
U: Yeah and we’ve got it so much easier, we have phones and technology so we should be doing something more. We were talking to Liz Naylor and she was like “we didn’t have technology to keep up to date with who was playing where”, they had to literally get a pen out of their pocket and write on a receipt or something and write addresses down and try and maintain some sort of communication. But they still managed to get a whole movement together, so we are actually being lazy.
A: Things are happening but it’s not enough. I feel like you hear about things happening and you’re like that’s really good and then nothing comes of it.
Or you hear about something being really shit so you sign a petition and then you feel like ‘that’s checked off my conscience now’
D: I’m definitely guilty of that. I go to protests but I don’t go to enough or as many as I would be happy with myself doing.
U: I don’t think there’s enough protests for equality. How are we supposed to maintain all of these views when we don’t have anywhere to express them except for blogging? Because that’s not going to get you anywhere, one blogs not going to change the government.
D: I think everyone just takes the easy way out of being an activist.
A: Another big problem is the audience of these blogs. With the band it’s a bit different because we do get all sorts of people listening, but with blogs and a lot of feminist communities on the Internet you’re just preaching to the choir. You’re not going to change anything by telling people things they already know and believe in.
D: That takes it back to the question about whether music is still an activist tool, with music you force people to listen to your message.
U: Because imagine hearing a track and being like, ‘ooh I really like this’, and then you realise it actually says something to you, says something about the world around you, makes you actually think about life. That’s so much more interesting than writing a very obvious blog about feminism.
D: I think that blogs are still needed though.
U: But we are actually trying to do something with the band. Maybe through people coming to our gigs we can become friends and do something together, and try and save humanity!
Words and styling by Ione Gamble, photography by Jim Turnbull Walter, makeup by Robyn Fitzsimons
Skinny Girl Diet wear archive Clio Peppiatt, Saccharine Shrine and Sasha Louise.