Interview with Kohla – Gender Inequality in the Scottish Music Industry

This week, I caught up with alternative R&B singer, Kohla to discuss female inequality in the Scottish music industry. This is a very relevant topic that needs to be addressed more as although there has been some improvements over the years, woman are still being unfairly represented in some parts of the Scottish music scene.

Have a read below to hear what Kohla has to say about being this issue, why she decided to start Popgirlz, a platform designed as a support network for female musicians, what advice she would give to female musicians starting off in the industry and much more…

1. How is it being a female artist in Scotland in 2020? 

There’s still a lot of inequality we’re dealing with but I think all the girls are a lot braver in speaking out about the issues. We tend to chime in with support for each other – we put in a lot of work in last year to socialise, so now for 2020 we’re pretty strong and optimistic

2. There’s still a clear inequality with women in music (clearly seen within a lot of this year’s festival line ups) why do you think this is? 

I think it’s just dated views that gatekeepers are clinging on to. LOTS of women make music and LOTS of women are selling out shows – so obviously they are turning a blind eye to this.

3. What do you think can be done to improve this? 

I think the first step is speaking out. If you see a festival without a 50/50 gender split then talk about it. Tweet it to the promoters. Give them an example of a successful show or festival involving lots of women.  I also don’t buy tickets for festivals without 50/50 splits – I’d much rather spend my money on watching some quality female acts.

4. You started ‘Popgirlz’ on Instagram, how did this start up? 

I had lots of different online chats with groups of different women in music, so I decided to create a private Facebook page with all the girls I knew, and encouraged them to add others. I think we’re nearly at 25 now and it’s only been going for a month or two. Its a hub for support and finding new friends to attend networking events and gigs with. I decided to make a public Instagram account (which we all have access to) to promote ourselves as well.

5. What was the influence behind starting it? 

It’s really daunting being a young female in music – when I was first starting out there were countless times I’d play a show and be the only female on the lineup, or go to a gig and being one of the few females in the venue. There’s also been times that I’ve found myself in situations feeling very uncomfortable being surrounded by the males in the industry, so it’s nice to be surrounded by female energy.  It’s also useful to be in a group of women going through the same experiences as you, whether that’s getting feedback on songs, discussing equal pay, record labels, promotion and so on.

6. Have you personally felt there’s opportunities in your music career, you’ve not gotten because of your gender? 

I’m pretty early on with Kohla but I’ve definitely felt there’s been an issue with a lack of respect for my work because of my gender. I’m very self reliant on getting my work done, especially to a standard that I’m happy with. I write and produce every single day. I also dance and paint/draw my artworks. Yet I still get comments ‘who made the music for her?’ and ‘who’s her team?’. Would that be asked if I were male? It shouldn’t be a surprise that a women can have talent and be hard-working.

7. What advice would you give to female artists / bands starting out in the music industry? 

Looking back, I wish someone would have told me to be persistent with standing my ground. Don’t feel like you have to please anyone – know you’re worth and the worth of your art. It’s good to say no to things – if you’re not offered a decent ticket split, if you’ve been pushed around by a promoter, if you ever feel as though someone is taking advantage of you then speak out.

8. Last year, Trnsmt festival had their own stage dedicated to female artists called ‘Queen Tuts’. This actually caused a lot of controversy – what are your views on this? 

They just should have put the girls on the Main Stage / King Tuts stage.

9. There’s so many female musicians who are smashing it at the moment , Who are your favourite female artists / bands in the Scottish music scene? 

There are literally SO many that it’s a struggle to pick just a few! However, Lisa Kowalski, SMUT and I went along to meet/watch Kleopatra last month and we were all completely blown away. She has a dynamic stage presence; watching her act in character of an android is incredible and unlike any other gig. We predict she’s going to have a massive 2020. She’s also such a kind and intelligent girl too – I thoroughly recommend getting a ticket for her upcoming shows. I think SMUT is going to have a breakout year as well – she’s a singer/writer/producer and has so much going for her. She dips into hip hop and alt r&b, so she’s right up my street! She’s got a really fresh perspective on contemporary music – she’s too cool for Spotify though so you’ll need to locate her on Soundcloud!

10. Let’s end in a positive, What improvements have you seen over the years to combat female inequality in the Scottish music industry?

It’s really evident to see how the feminist movements has filtered in to the Scottish music industry. Not only are the female artists speaking up, but we also have lots of support from women in different areas of the industry. Tallah Brash, the music editor from The Skinny and Arusa Qureshi, the editor from The List are always finding new girls to support, along with Nicola Meighan and Vic Galloway on BBC Radio Scotland. My record label Last Night From Glasgow makes a conscience effort of signing a 50/50 gender for their roster, and I know for Wide Days this year they are having a 50/50 gender split, too. There’s also lots of women’s rights initiatives helping out – Scottish Women Inventing Music just spoke on BBC Radio Scotland with Janice Forsyth and Jen Imrie last week talking about festival line ups. I think the effort that everyone is putting in is having a really positive effect, and we’re really grateful for it.

Popgirlz Feature (Alphabetically)

Amy Lou

Anna Sweeney

Aylee

Baby Taylah

Chuchoter

Deni

Elizabeth Elektra

Elle Exxe

EMIAH

Hannah Slavin

Josephine Sillars & The Manic Pixie Dreams

Kleopatra

Kohla

Lilura

Lisa Kowalski

L-Space

Missy Mcanaulty

Riley

Siights

Shears

Shuna Lovelle

SMUT

Tamzene

Zoe Graham

Popgirlz Instagram Page: @popgirlzscotland

A Playlist created by The Music Files of all the incredible female musicians that are currently smashing it!

Kohla’s Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kohlamusic/

Twitter: @Kohlamusic

Instagram: @Kohlamusic

Cover Photo Credit to Tammy Stewart

Check out her Instagram here: @txmmyrapunxel

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