Queer electro-FLASH duo, they describe their music as 'fun, political and fluro'
How would you describe the Shiny Shiny live experience?
Well the live shows are always a new experience each time! There is always a lot of fluro and new costumes and funny antics, sometimes there might be games of elastics, or the audience might be on the stage, once a bunch of women jumped on stage and ripped their tops off! It's always something unexpected! Our material is very queer and women-centric, songs about the marriage equality debate in Australia, or disposable white goods, or picking up at the dole office, generally a bit of politics wrapped in a lot of humour and some hot beats.
As female musicians and performers, how often do you experience sexism?
We have both been performing for years in other bands, Patty used to drum for Bertha Control, an all-female reggae band, and there are heaps of stories! There is the usual comments by idiots like "oh yeah I like women playing guitar because it pushes their tits up", then there is the sometimes tedious relationship with the male soundie who can either make or break your gig depending on whether he will comunicate with you or not. Once we had a shocker where the manager of the bar came up on stage, turned our PA down and shouted us to stop going on about our homo shit.. which was confronting, but encouraged us even more to continue doing so!
Recently I have just really been aware of the general underlying sexism that's always there, even if it's not recognised. It shows it's head in the context of top 100's and music magazine articles that women just don't make it into. It's difficult because this is the stuff that is really hard to budge.
There were apparently nine acts that made it into the top 100. There were quite a few articles about it following that weekend. It really just signals what we already know, that the music industry, and you know the world in general, is basically skewed towards the male population, whether that is conscious or unconscious. What to do about it? I don't know, maybe next year I will call everyone I know and get them to vote for the women that deserve to be in those charts? It's like the group 'Female Pressure' points out- it's not that there are not heaps of women out there, making great music, producing, engineering, running all this amazing music stuff,, it's just that they don't get recognised or promoted.
Rolling Stone is not much better, according to their top 500 songs list less than 2% of the best songs ever were written by women, and no women at all made it into their 100 best guitarist list. Women have only been on the cover of NME (which comes out weekly) twice this year (Karen O in April, and Haim in January). Why do you think this is?
Really, 2%? What about all the songs women have written that men take credit for, like all of Johnny Cash's stuff? I'm sure there are plenty of June Carters out there that could take credit for a good chunk of the other 98% of songs! This is why I don't buy those mags! I really think that if we don't have representation, if we are not visible, then there is nothing for the next generation to aspire, or connect to in order to keep pushing for our equal space in the world.
So tell us about your Ironing Maidens side project. How did it come about?
The Ironing Maidens is Shiny's new project.. It came from a lot of things in the pot all at the same time. Patty was getting into circuit bending, I am into sampling old movies and adverts, we are always having feminist conversations about women's place in the world and how to change that perception, a friend left a hilarious old book from the 50's at our house - called "becoming a woman", written by a man of coarse, which is an entertaining read, basically how to be a good wife and avoid becoming a lesbian! Our friend Cate gave us the name when she heard what we were cooking up.
We also just wanted to create a new show that paid homage to the women who have come before us in the music and technology field, the times they lived through, how they pushed forward to the tops of their field. Women like Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire and others who have influenced electronic music. And then we added our own stories, some great new music, it's very theatrical, visual and colourful. It's all still in development, about to burst out into the world later this year. We are really hoping to tour it to America and Europe next year, fingers crossed!
Any chance of coming to the Edinburgh Fringe festival?
We wish! Maybe next year!!! We are planning on being back over that side next year!!
To sum up, what what you say about the general state of the music industry?
I think that the current western music industry has so many elements of both exciting and annoying really. I find the concept of 'professional or successful musicians' referring to those few with top 40 hits, mentions in Rolling Stone etc and being signed to a label, to be limiting to the industry as a whole, and particularly for women. I think people should be encouraged to play music for the sake of their own health, for engagement and commentary on the social and political landscape and because it's fun! I think a successful musician is someone who has written something that has helped them understand something, that has touched someone else, or has kept a story alive. In other times and cultures, music has been used a tool of social change, and employed by everyone, I like that collective ownership of music, songs and stories.
On the other hand I feel like I have more access to different music and the ideas and concepts of the global music world now, more so than I did with the couple of cassettes I was given by a neighbour when I was nine. I get to access more women's music now because I can search it out on the internet. I can also learn things more independently now, finding online tutorials etc, where as when I was young and wanted to learn guitar in a small town I had only the option of the one male guitar teacher who stared at my tits the whole lesson.
What do you think would have to happen to improve things?
I think to improve things in the music industry..well.. I would just sack all the men running the industry and replace them with women, or even better with people under five years old.. seriously the kids know what's good.. if they dance, it's good!!!.. ha ha ha.. wish I could!