The intimate ambience of the Hyde Park Book Club on a Sunday evening seems like the perfect setting for Her Music PR to showcase their mission statement which heralds equality and change for women in music. Tonight, they have paired up with Leeds label Come Play With Me to introduce their female-focused PR company and the bands they represent. The feeling in the audience is cosy and supportive and the bands on the line-up are passionate and enthusiastic.
In an industry where women still only constitute 16% of musicians, representation and exposure for female led bands is more imperative than ever. Emma Duffy and Rachel Lissenburg, co-founders of Her Music PR agency, are bravely putting themselves at the leading edge of a movement that could change women’s experience in music. But they are in good company. Their ambitious mission statement, ‘to be the change for all women in music, not only to change the way we are perceived but also to change the way we perceive ourselves’ is backed by a new-wave of equality driven initiatives in Leeds, including Girls That Gig and tonight’s co-hosts, Come Play With Me.
Joule, who describe themselves as ‘mysterious’, immediately break the enigma by joking about hash browns and hunger. The light humour is appreciated by everyone in the room and the invisible barrier between band and audience is quickly diminished, setting the tone for the evening. Vocally, their beautiful harmonies capture the hazy quality of an autumnal Sunday evening in Leeds without any sign of artifice. The jazz-pop duo effortlessly blur opalescent vocals with polychromatic electronic sounds that merge to a captivating crescendo in tracks such as ‘Honey’ and ‘Hurricane Trip’. Ellii Olivia delivers compelling high notes with a tone which is full of both clarity and power; but the highlights come when her voice is joined by that of keyboardist Jemma Freese. Jointly, their voices build to an effervescent blur which is stunningly complemented by Freese’s instrumental skill.
Next up is Hannah Brown, a supremely talented singer/songwriter from Birmingham. She warns the audience that she’s not much of a talker but she needn’t have worried, because as soon as she starts to sing we are all captivated. Her strong vocals ache with melancholy and her music is both emotive and self-assured. Tracks such as ‘Stay ‘and ‘My Home’ ooze a wistful longing reminiscent of Laura Marling, tinged with the pensive dream-like quality of bands such as Daughter. Hannah went on to cover the track ‘Go’ by Delilah. Her beautiful rendition was very much her own, exuding heartache and intensity. Hannah’s unique brand of acoustic folk-pop is enhanced by her accompanist Claire Humphries on electric guitar and the passion she brings to her live performance is evident in every note.
Tonight’s headliners are Leeds-based three-piece and Her Music PR’s first signing Luna Pines. This gig is also the launch for their latest single, ‘My Own Ceiling’, released on 29th September. Their mesmerising live performance of the track does not disappoint. Lotte van den Berg expertly balances echoey synth vibes with drumming that sounds like a hypnotic heartbeat. Ellie Flynn’s beguiling violin performance adds a strange surrealist texture which really lifts Luna Pines’ sound beyond ambient electro-pop and into something altogether more idiosyncratic. All of this is surmounted by the seductive, mellifluous vocals of Olivia Ferrara which manage at once to be both buoyant and contemplative. The band absolutely scream potential and their similarity to acts such as SOAK and London Grammar is sure to provide them with a sturdy platform to success on the alternative electronic music scene.
To round off the evening, Emma and Rachel discuss their own experiences as women in music and describe how this has shaped their indisputable dedication to empowering women to make and promote their own music. It is not an exaggeration to say that many of the women in the room today are changing the face of music, and this feels like a very exciting time to be part of the Leeds music scene.