An offshoot of the From Now On festival, The Future is Female is an event curated by Emma Daman Thomas of Islet and Shape fame and took place at Cardiff’s Chapter Arts venue on the 7th of October this year and featured a cornucopia of intriguing and boundary pushing female artists to tantalise every sense.
Currently pregnant with her second child Daman Thomas took her place alongside fellow musicians Gwenno Saunders (who chaired the discussion) and Lisa Jen Brown of 9 Bach and Public Service Broadcasting for a demystifying discussion entitled More Baby In My Monitor Please in the afternoon, speaking about female artists’ experience of motherhood in the music industry.
Arriving for Electronic producer Accü‘s set I am struck by how much her live sound has been beefed up and improved upon by her new band featuring local musical stalwarts Richard James, Eugene Capper, and Andy Fun. Framed by psychedelic visuals her elliptic melodies and ethereal synthscapes are now accompanied by a chunkier Krautrock footing, and her live show is all the better for that.
Kayla Painter has released records through respected local label Turnstile which has been home to Gruff Rhys, R Seiliog et al in the past and one can understand why tonight as she offers a spectacularly boundary pushing audio visual set. We sit cross-legged in awe in Chapters dark upstairs theatre as we are immersed in an aural and visual voyage through space, time and movement. Surreal almost sci-fi AV visuals frame Painter, her head bobbing as she manipulates her devices to craft quite the most intoxicating sounds; at times minimal glitch like trapped static of a radio, at others cascading synth loops nuzzle blipping beats interjected by brief spoken word snippets. The visuals meld and bend like a tapestry of patterns from the outer reaches of space to a view of the globe to male interpretive dance characters to a journey through terrain that reminded me of the graphics from an adventure game I played once on the ZX Spectrum. Quite an amazing show, I’d love to witness Painter once again.
Meanwhile downstairs at the bar area, bearded bellydancing Shrouk El Attar’s Dancing Queer is entertaining the crowds with an exuberant display of high energy movement. Amidst the frivolity we can’t help but wonder if the beard or the afro is real? Adwaith are perhaps the most traditional act on the bill but this West Walian group of girls show immense potential their bilingual set of tuneful and perhaps surprisingly (given their relatively short time together as a group) mature songs that stray from post-punk attitude to atmospheric to toe-tapping c86 sounds that artfully house a feminist message, depict vividly just why they are such a fast rising Welsh act.
Ushering in their set with a section of group drumming with each player wrapped in tinfoil including guests for the evening, Charismatic Megafauna are oodles of spiky fun leaping about in spray painted outfits their set bulges with attitude and playfulness. They even had a song called ‘Theresa May you don’t speak for us’ that consisted of that one line chanted over and over again as they delightfully beat the drum of sloganeering, mangling the sound of the Slits and Bikini Kill and delivering them on their own terms.
Lone Taxidermist is absolute riot dressed as a sexual organ decked out in garish DIY bondage wear, spurting forth some of the most absurd, challenging yet hilarious performance art to go alongside her barkingly brilliant orgy of creamy space disco from her new album Trifle.
Offering a much-needed redressing of the balance in what is still a male dominated music industry rife with sexism, The Future Is Female is a forward thinking event that champions unique female artists and brings them together for a communally supportive gathering, brimming with energy, fun and inspiration. If the future is female and looks and sounds anything like this then I say bring it on!
Photo of Charismatic Megafauna and Lone Taxidermist by Daryl Feehely