Heavy Music Awards is proud to support Safe Gigs for Women, an initiative set-up by volunteers with the aim of creating a safer environment for women at live music events.
We caught up recently with co-founder of Safe Gigs for Women, Tracey, to chat through everything from the power of Twitter to their admiration for Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes.
HMAs: Whilst your work within the music field is largely recognised, for those that may not know, what is the message that Safe Gigs for Women is sending to the public?
Tracey: That live music is a community, festivals are a community. The force of music that we love should transcend something so base. We need to own our music scenes – venues, festivals, promoters, bands and music fans to proactively take on the issue of sexual harassment and assault in live music.
HMAs: Social media has enabled you to connect to people all over the world and create a community that promotes and shares the ethos of Safe Gigs for Women, but do you feel that the attitudes on social media are always beneficial to the cause?
Tracey: Social media is a massively interesting, but sometimes controversial tool. It has contributed to how we work, in that bands and artists have never been as easily accessible as they are today, so in sharing experiences with bands, and with women being able to share their experiences with us, it’s fantastically useful.
HMAs: Do you think that the behaviour at festivals and concerts is worse now than they were in the past, or have we just become more aware and outspoken on the matter?
Tracey: I’m don’t think that this behaviour is new, or necessarily worse that it has ever been. What has changed though is that there are more opportunities to go to gigs and festivals than ever before, and a change in audiences too. Once upon a time, gigs and festivals, festivals in particular, were an outsider thing. Now they are an event, a thing to do. Which , so with more people attending festivals than before, we now have more people talking about these issues.
HMAs: In response to the recent incidents at the Swedish music festival Bravalla and its subsequent cancellation in 2018, do you feel those in charge of these large events are taking sexual assault more seriously?
Tracey: I think Bravalla will be a turning point. I hope that we will see many live events thinking what they can do to prevent things getting that way here. Large events should be considering the impact of the fall out from Bravalla, in terms of bad publicity, impact on attendance and think about the possible impact on their events. Take proactive measures now, talk to organisations like us that love music and want to see live music flourish, but in an environment safe for all.
HMAs: How do you think that partnerships with music events such as The Heavy Music Awards will help promote your message to the music industry and fans?
Tracey: It says the industry is beginning to see that action is needed. Woman are potentially 51 per cent of your audience – take us seriously and make our role in music matter.
HMAs: A growing amount of musicians have become involved with the fight for safer environments for women, do you think that being involved with The Heavy Music Awards will help increase this as new audiences are being reached?
Tracey: Any time we have engagement with bands, we have a huge step up in followers. And this is why it is crucial that we have bands involved in supporting this cause. After the assault that happened to me that led to the creation of Safe Gigs for Women, one of the things that really stuck with me was that the band that I had gone to see would in no way of condoned what happened to me – anyone familiar with that band’s history would know that. If bands don’t want this behaviour in their moshpit – speak up, be proactive!
HMAs: You are heavily involved in the music scene and have been lifelong music fans, is there anyone that you are hoping will do particularly well at The Heavy Music Awards this year?
Tracey: 2000 Trees, for sure. Such an amazing, fan led festival who we were working with this summer, and it’s fantastic to work with a festival wanting to take a proactive stance against sexual assault. It’s amazing to see a festival where the division between “artiste” and festival goers is almost non existent, where you see bands watching other bands, milling around the campsites, crowd surfing to acoustic sets.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes for Best UK Band and Best Live Band makes perfect sense to us. One of our team is still recovering from seeing him at 2000 Trees. And his work on gig safety whilst still having a completely involved crowd, with pits and crowd surfing makes for one hell of a gig.
And being London based and spending a lot of time in Camden, the inclusion of the Black Heart is great to see. It’s a fantastic venue for promoting music as a community. And this is exactly what we want to see, a greater discussion of music as community, and that we maintain and look after that community.
HMAs: You say that your aims are to reach fans, bands and venues and that change cannot be achieved without all three of these groups involved, how can each of these get in contact with you and help the cause more?
Tracey: They are the three vital components to gigs, one cannot exist without the other. They have to come together to work to stop sexual harassment and assault. You can find us online at www.sgfw.org.uk, and on Facebook and Twitter to find out more about where we are and how to contact us.