Meet the Members

Ayah Marar

Ayah Marar – Dance Music Artist

A bit about you:  I am a dance music artist specialising in Drum and Bass but have also made some moves in pop music and written for and collaborated with some well known artists.  I have an extensive collection of reggae 7 inch records which I used to play at Herbal, an East London club in the mid 2000s.

Greatest career success to date: My collaborations with Calvin Harris, an old friend whom I met at Uptown Records in the early 2000s.

Most significant challenge: Finding my feet in the industry after having a baby.

Women’s Day Shoutout: My incredible friends, Melissa and Micallar.  Melissa is a champion of the rights of disabled people and raising the perception of their equality within society, and Micallar has just founded a company promoting Black artists in the film industry, Dark Matter.  Both massively inspirational humans.

If you could make 1 change in how the music industry supports women, what would it be? Less sexism and more support for upcoming artists especially when selecting managers, agents and lawyers to insure they are well looked after.

 Hopes for the future (for you or for women in music more generally): Having a voice that’s heard, using our power for good and making music that makes people feel good.

Hollie Cook

Hollie Cook – Musician

A bit about you: I am a UK reggae singer and I used to play in the reformed line up of female punk band The Slits

Greatest career success to date: I kind of see every moment of navigating my way through life as a musician as a success.    

Most significant challenge:  Honestly it’s probably myself and what I go through mentally in order to create or get onstage. I generally have a lot to overcome as far as my confidence as a performer and musician is concerned.

Women’s Day Shoutout: My fellow bandmates. They inspire and encourage and support me through every process.

If you could make 1 change in how the music industry supports women, what would it be? To employ and include more women across the board. Every aspect of the industry could do with more women!

Hopes for the future (for you or for women in music more generally): That after everything that’s happened in the last year I get to carry on being a musician.

Ruth Patterson

Ruth Patterson – Musician

A bit about you: I am a singer, composer and disability activist based in Newcastle upon Tyne. As well as writing and performing as a solo artist, I am also the lead singer of folk-rock band, Holy Moly & The Crackers, touring internationally and playing loads of festivals. One fun fact about me is I am obsessed with donkeys and I always try make sure touring schedules include a day off at one of the donkey sanctuaries is in the UK. Maybe I should just play to the donkeys instead?!

Greatest career success to date: A song that I cowrote with my bandmate Rosie was used as the title track to Ocean’s 8 and we got invited to go to the film premier in London. That’s gotta be the biggest highlight of my career so far – bombing down the red carpet behind Cate Blanchett but too star-struck to ask for a selfie. Still feels like some bizarre dream!

Most significant challenge: Access! I feel like I will never be able to stop campaigning for better accessibility in the music industry but my hope is that at some point I won’t have to! We definitely need better provisions for disabled artists and audiences and that is always my biggest challenge. 

Women’s Day Shoutout: Massive thanks to Lauren Sadler for inviting me to become Sage Gateshead artist in residence – she gave me the confidence and support to embark on a solo project. Another huge shoutout to Helen Walkinshaw for offering me loads of guidance over the past couple of years and I’m so happy that she has now become part of the Generator team which is a great talent development organisation based in the North East.

If you could make 1 change in how the music industry supports women, what would it be? Stamp out lad culture when it comes to green rooms and backstage areas! Some venues have it spot-on with access to mirrors and separate areas for getting changed and clean toilets with doors attached and toilet rolls and bins for sanitary products etc but others really need to update their facilities for womxn. I’m pretty sure men would welcome some of these things as well! You wouldn’t be expected to pee or get changed in front of your colleagues in any other workplace!!

Hopes for the future (for you or for women in music more generally): I would like to see the music industry more inclusive in general but one of my hopes is that it becomes more like other industries in terms of supporting mums and performers who have children. Sometimes it can feel like a choice of either pursuing a career in music and performance or “settling down” and having children. When I got married, a lot of people assumed I’d be popping out kids imminently (which is personally not on my radar at all at this point) but I heard people talking as though I’d obviously have to give up music if I did start a family. It’s certainly not something that anyone ever expected of my husband even though we’re both musicians and it got me thinking about what lack of awareness or support there seems to be for musical mums and this expectation that womxn will always be the ones to sacrifice what they want in some way. I’d like to see that change in the future.

Simone Butler

Simone Butler – Musician

A bit about you: Musician (bass player) live and session player. DJ, radio host, slight obsession with typeface and all things art and design. An extra fun fact – I’m a qualified ice-skating teacher.

Greatest career success to date: I’d say much of my whole career I’m grateful for and don’t take for granted. Playing the pyramid stage at Glastonbury supporting The Rolling Stones is definitely up there. Also for not passing out just as I was walking onstage when I was on the verge of a whitey years ago …that was a close one. Leave it till after the show.

Most significant challenge: To constantly improve in what you do and keep raising the bar with your own capabilities, talent and hard work. Never think you know enough 

Women’s Day Shoutout: I’d like to give a shout out to Sybil Bell the founder of Independent Venue week. She works tirelessly for IVW and really celebrates other women from all sides of the industry encouraging them and giving them opportunities in various areas of music and performance. She does what she does because she believes in it and I have a lot of time for that. 

If you could make 1 change in how the music industry supports women, what would it be? One change l’d make in how the industry supports women is not a light-hearted one. In the many cases of sexual misconduct and other kinds of abuse I’d like to see cases taken seriously and not brushed under the carpet because the man in question has some sort of legendary status. That may be so but very talented people can do terrible things yet one does not justify the other. This isn’t exclusive to music by any means but the cases which come up seem to be brushed aside as quickly as they arrive. Women seem to be silenced and forgotten.  I’d like women to not feel scared and threatened if they ever find themselves in such a situation. 

Hopes for the future (for you or for women in music more generally): For the future I’d like to hear the question ‘what’s it like being a female musician?’ a lot less. It’s not a novelty, it’s not a gimmick, we get into music for the same reason anyone else does, i.e because we love it and it moves us. Because we want to create it and not just listen to it. It’s like Carol Kaye said ‘a note doesn’t have a sex’ I guess I have more of an altruistic approach to it all because I’ve never felt I can’t do something I love because I’m a woman. I also don’t really care what anyone else thinks, it’s not my concern and we aren’t here to appease others. I want any young woman to feel they can pick up any instrument and join a band for their own ability and merit and because they want to and to do it with a degree of professionalism, grace and determination. I’m all for anyone doing just that, whatever gender or sexual orientation someone is. Music is to be heard, felt and experienced and that’s the magic of it all.