2016 - what a time to be alive. The world over, the political and artistic landscape is shifting and morphing into something unlike ever before. With the bizarre United States presidential election, recent BREXIT vote, and now with the gut-wrenching closure of London's esteemed Fabric, a new era is dawning. The time to be pro-active as an artist, the time to make music that is true to the scene you love and represent is now.
Enter the British duo Violent Blondes and their brand new imprint: Civil Disobedience. Not ones to sit back idly, the Violent Blondes (Annabel and Nicola, who asked for their last names to not be disclosed) are taking action to express themselves and preserve the music they love. Rather than merely sticking to spinning and producing, they founded Civil Disobedience as an independent label to release "techno music of a socially and politically charged nature."
Last year we published a Q&A with the Violent Blondes in conjunction with a guest mix they delivered especially for us, and we've followed up to get an idea of where the past year has taken their career. Take a look at what they had to say below.
You have launched your own imprint, the aptly named Civil Disobedience. What are your intentions with this new label? It seems to be about so much more than releasing fresh, hot techno tunes.
To empower all gender identities in music and to push freedom of expression among all artists. We want Civil Disobedience to be a platform for experiments, risk taking, and making statements in techno specifically. The label is about more than just great music because we understand the power that musical messages have on individuals, societies, and culture. Some people don't like watching the news, don't like reading newspapers, but they listen to music.
Seeking ultimate equality in music will mean that people hear music they wouldn’t normally hear, from artists they wouldn’t normally see - this will mean even better music for the world to enjoy! The unexposed boundaries of discovery that lay ahead are insane as the music industry becomes more equal and, in turn, diverse.
What is Civil Disobedience’s and the Violent Blonde's role to play with this pursuit to empower all gender identities?
Our role is to help lead the pursuit for ultimate equality among artists in music alongside the other movements that are already doing a fantastic job - Discwoman, female:pressure, and SIREN to name a few.
We are ambassadors for equality and freedom of expression in music and we are on a mission to change the imbalance in the industry through practicing what we preach. Civil Disobedience aims to release music by men, women and non-binary artists, ensuring our roster leads the industry in terms of diversity.
What motivated you to pioneer this substantive musical ambition?
The motivation came from our own personal experience. It’s quite simple, what’s lacking is equality. The moment we knew we had a responsibility to do more was when we were invited to go and speak with a well-known record label in the UK about potentially releasing some music. They wanted to change a lot about us and who we are as Violent Blondes. They asked us to consider changing the name because they felt it was too fierce, too intimidating, we could be taken in the “wrong way.” We asked them why they had only one woman on their roster and they told us that women find it too hard touring because of their period. It sparked the fire, and we immediately knew it was time to change the way this male-dominated industry views and treats its women.
Now to focus strictly on the music, how does your recent "Queen of Bethnal Green" release tie into the larger ambitions of the label?
The point of the label is to release techno music of a socially and politically charged nature. It's techno with something to say. "Queen of Bethnal Green" confronts a social issue present in Bethnal Green that we believe to be a serious poison in East London’s party scene. We’ve witnessed firsthand the psychological damage that mephedrone abuse can cause its users and we want the EP to raise awareness and get people talking about what’s going on in different pockets of society.
Civil Disobedience provides a platform for artists to freely create music that speaks to people, which we believe will, in turn, inspire those people to care more about what is going on in the world outside of social media, as an example. Releases will take turns in centering around subjects and stories personal to the artists. Each artist has a different story to tell and way of telling it and we want this diversity to define the label's sound. We are working hard to create a musical safe haven for authentic diversity that is continually evolving.
Would you ladies like to comment on the current British political climate? Will there be any Violent Blondes musical response to the recent Brexit vote?
Brexit highlights a number of flaws with our political system. Traditional two-party politics doesn't suit modern life because it’s not diverse enough. People really struggle to identify as just red or blue and we believe Brexit marks the time for essential political evolution.
Take politics out of it, and what Brexit has also shone a light on is how broken we are together, as a society and as countrymen. Now, we can’t get down about this; we have to look forward and find ways to repair. New and improved politics won’t work on a broken society, so we have do what we can to connect with people. Music that makes people think about social and political webs and currents and opens up discussion on how to better our world as considerate, enlightened and unified human beings is surely one way forward.