A reawakened political spirit has propelled many UK alternative bands to wider success lately. What makes this rowdy West London quintet so different?
After years spent struggling to make a name for herself in electronic music as a Black female artist and producer, Karen Nyame KG finally hit a brick wall of racism and misogynoir. “It was always, ‘are you palatable enough for a wide audience?’ ‘How can we monetize this?’,” she says looking back on that time in her life. “It really took a toll on my self-esteem and self-confidence.”
Wolf Alice didn’t exactly dream big at the start of their careers. They’re one of the biggest bands in the UK at the moment but despite reaching the heady heights of music stardom, they say they never really indulged many wild aspirations when they were young. “Ellie says she just wanted enough money to buy hot lunches every day,” guitarist Joff Oddie jokes, reminiscing about the 2010s, when Wolf Alice were a folk duo starting out in London.
When I was 11 years old, I saw my first live band performance, in our old gym at school. Some kids who were four years older than me had a band and they played cover songs: Weezer, Pearl Jam, Nirvana – lots of grunge music. I remember thinking it was a superpower because they could make people dance. That’s when I knew that was what I wanted to do.
The singer-songwriter recalls the life-changing joy of playing in an orchestra, the beauty of her first braids and being empowered by Eternal
Amid the BLM protests of 2020 came a call to make the music industry accountable on race – but while new initiatives are helping, real change is still slow in the UK
It is a year since two Black female music executives, Jamila Thomas of Atlantic Records and Brianna Agyemang of Platoon, called for the music industry to shut down for the day in protest following the killing of George Floyd.
If there’s one takeaway that Shabaka Hutchings had from last year’s summer of racial reckoning, it was that everyone needed to take a step back and reconsider what was important. “I remember in the time of the Black Lives Matter protests and George Floyd, there were lots of conversations going on online and I realised that a lot of people are full of s**t,” says the Sons of Kemet bandleader.
Although I thought Solange came hurtling into my world following the release of her seminal 2016 album A Seat at the Table, she has always been there. As a tweenage Destiny’s Child fanatic, I saw Solange danced alongside her sister Beyoncé when the group performed in Birmingham in the early Noughties.
Post Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, Solange was left without a label or a direction. Her album was a composite of the music she loved, but still she felt she had hit a glass ceiling in her attempt to communicate her style to a wider audience. Still, with a sense of acceptance from a fan base she loved, she ventured further and further beyond the R&B scene on a journey that would take her to the ironically cool world of the hipsters who ruled Brooklyn indie rock.
Beverly Glenn-Copeland takes Stephanie Phillips through the albums that fuelled his love for music over the years, from the soundtracks to secluded woodland trips to meetings with younger artists inspired by his work and how he found the work of Sting
In an exclusive extract from her new book Why Solange Matters, Stephanie Phillips explores the significance of appropriation in indie music.