Interview: Talia Andrea, Founder of FEMMESTIVAL!
We caught up with with Talia Andrea, Editor-in-Chief at STRAND Magazine and Founder of FEMMESTIVAL – an all-new, all-female music festival which seeks to close the gap women often face in the live music sector, by showcasing the women making waves in London’s local music scene.
We talk FEMMESTIVAL, the challenges facing London’s music scene, inspirations, new releases, and (of course) Things To Do in London!
Hi Talia. Tell us about FEMMESTIVAL – what sets this apart from other music festivals?
The first thing that sets FEMMESTIVAL apart from other music festivals is that our entire lineup is female. All of our volunteers and photographers for this year are also female or non-binary. In the context of the BBC’s recent statistic that only 13% of festival headliners in 2022 were women, it’s an initiative which seems more necessary than ever, and which I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to launch.
Equally, when the recent rise in live music ticket prices has been hotly debated, FEMMESTIVAL is also about keeping things affordable and accessible. It’s an event which has London’s local community at its heart, and it’s a celebration of the women who make up that community: whether they’re onstage, behind the scenes, or in the audience.
How healthy is London’s local music scene right now?
This is an interesting question. It’s true that London is known for its vibrant live music scene — in 2017 it was named Europe’s live music capital — but more recently, the term has shifted into Europe’s “music business capital”, which I think is more telling.
It’s a very expensive city for artists, promoters and sometimes even venues to operate in, which has created a kind of monopoly on London’s live music scene. Due to the very business-oriented nature of the scene, despite the vast diversity of artists in London (and of London as a whole), I think it’s very easy for a lot of smaller names to get drowned out. There’s also a lot going on in London, so it’s hard to get your voice heard above so many others. But that diversity is what makes London what it is; the city wouldn’t be the same without it.
Overall, I would say that London’s music scene is functioning well at the moment. However, I don’t necessarily think it’s ‘healthy’. A lot of gigs are also becoming increasingly difficult for fans to afford, which I think is a sign that something has to change — even if it starts small. So recently, I’ve been trying to seek out and really engage with local, grassroots events instead. There’s some amazing work going on in that space, and I think we need to pay it more attention.
Tell us a bit about your own background in the industry – what brings you to FEMMESTIVAL?
In my first year of university, I joined the student magazine as a writer for the Music section, and the rest was history! A few months later I became its Music Editor, at which point I was going to gigs and festivals in London regularly. Reviewing all of these events led me to think about what they were doing well, and what they weren’t doing as well, and what I’d do differently if I was to plan an event myself.
The more events I attended, the more I started to notice a lack of women around me at many of the shows — in all of the roles I could see, from artists, to AV technicians, to other music journalists. This was compounded with the news I was reading about the lack of female artists performing at festivals on a national scale, and half of the festivals sampled in the BBC’s study having no female headliners at all. This led me to start thinking about how I could do something for women in music like myself, in my own small way. FEMMESTIVAL was the product of all of these different influences!
Who or what inspires you in the work you do?
I’m really inspired by other local grassroots initiatives which do their best to change the music industry from within, despite having a limited budget and reach. There are some great female-led and/or female-focused initiatives which have done so much to spotlight female artists and other creatives: Pxssy Palace, Strut Safe, Loud LDN, Loud Women, Good Night Out, FEMZINE, and so many more. I’m sure there are some amazing ones which I haven’t even discovered yet — but which I’m very excited to.
I hope to collaborate with many in the future; collaboration is really important to me with FEMMESTIVAL, and I think it can lead to things which you’d never expect or be able to do alone!
What are you listening to right now – and who should we be listening to?
Great question! What I’m listening to is always changing, but one thing that has never changed is my love for 2000s pop! Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Missy Elliott, Nelly Furtado, Britney Spears and Destiny’s Child. At the same time, I also love discovering newer releases to listen to, and I don’t think this should be limited by language: so you’ll find everything from Isabella Lovestory, to Eftalya Yağcı, to KARD on my current playlist.
I think you should be listening to the top hits of FEMMESTIVAL 2023’s lineup! We have six amazing artists who’ll be taking the stage with us this year, so if you learn all the words to their songs now, you’ll be very well-prepared for their sets!
What are some of your favourite Things To Do in London (and beyond)?
For food, I’d definitely recommend Deeney’s in Leyton — it’s a breakfast/brunch café which makes amazing toasties. And for entertainment, Bad Moon Café is a lovely venue which has a great selection of board games, and which serves even better hot chocolate!
I recently also went to Grow Hackney for the first time, which is a super sustainable venue in East London, whose vision I really admire. I think it’s the way forward for the creative industries. The Common Press in Shoreditch is another venue which puts community at its heart: it has a great bookshop and events space. And speaking of Shoreditch, BOXPARK is also very cool.
And finally, as I touched upon earlier, I love finding new, smaller London-based events to attend and support. I’ve met so many amazing people through them; it really feels like you’re sharing the experience with the others around you, even if you’ve never met before. My sincere hope is for FEMMESTIVAL to feel like that for our attendees too.
FEMMESTIVAL takes over Signature Brew Blackhorse Road on Sunday 1st October. Book Tickets Here.
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like: nice pubs, film marathons, not doing real marathons, bad comedy, plays/musicals with shorter second halves, and the Oxford comma.