This Glasgow-based, female-centric business is breaking down the boys' club narrative one gig at a time
If you haven’t heard of Queens of Noise (QoN) then be prepared to fall in love. It’s a female-centric, gender-inclusive business based in Glasgow that is striving to eradicate gender bias within the music industry. I was lucky enough to have an interview with founder Kat, who, alongside Hannah, runs this sensational safe space for anyone and everyone who wants to pursue their dreams of working in the music industry without being pigeonholed or prevented from being their true self.
It started as a university project and led to Kat creating something unique that hadn’t been done before. Through going to conferences and exploring the music industry it was noticeable that there was a lack of women in roles of power and an absence of female empowerment in the music industry. Kat expressed that “the lack of confidence that I was feeling was echoed by nearly every woman that I spoke to”. This is what drove her to create a business that would provide a safe space for women in all positions of the industry. Soon after, the business began to snowball and the significance of a safe space for women to feel empowered was highlighted. Kat met her business partner and best friend Hannah after asking her to be on a panel and bonding over the feelings they both had of being unrecognised within the industry.
Through speaking with Kat it was clear that QoN was created on the realisation that gender manipulates their place in the music profession, “me and Hannah would love to do our jobs without our gender being considered”. This, along with the drive that both Hannah and Kat have to shatter gender norms, has created a safe space with a network of people who reject gender bias. The inspiration that QoN has grown from has already impacted many people and helped to create a coherent voice that advocates working together to “elevate women to a platform where they can grow and develop their professional specialisms”. It’s central to QoN that “everybody feels valued and equal”, and this is something rare within an industry that often values looks and gender over authenticity.
I discussed with Kat the issues surrounding the music industry’s approach towards women, emphasising how the work that QoN does is crucial to promote equality. Kat pointed out that “as creatives, especially as women, you’re set against each other because you’re seen as competition rather than friends.” This brings home the point that as strong and individual women we must stand with other women and set an example against the archaic norms that still populate the music industry. The sense that its one vs. one creates an even bigger divide which could arguably suppress the evolution of gender inclusivity. By working with other women “it’s so beneficial” and furthers the example for other women who may follow in their footsteps. By creating QoN, Kat and Hannah have set a precedent for advocating social change and provided the safe space to facilitate it, as Kat stressed, “everybody is welcome as long as you want to be involved in our supportive network”. The powerful message that QoN is for everybody, no matter what gender or ability, proves the philanthropy that the organisation is built upon.
Furthermore, the social activism of QoN is striving to “break down the boys’ club narrative that’s been around the music industry, and creative individuals as a whole, for decades.” It is clear to any passer-by that the music industry is rife with gender issues, from examples such as One Direction's Steal My Girl lyrics: “Find another one cause she belongs to me”, to reports that found empirical evidence, such as 78% of women in the US music industry feel they are treated differently at work because of their gender. QoN is working hard to prevent the ongoing discrimination faced by women in music to this day. In addition to breaking down gender barriers, QoN also tries “to eliminate imposter syndrome which is so common across the industry”. According to the Musicians Union, this affects 87% of creatives, with the persistent feelings of self-doubt or the feeling of lack of legitimacy for your own achievements. The aims of QoN are loud and clear as well as vital to the evolution of the music industry.
I had the chance to ask Kat what advice she would give to people wanting to pursue a career in music and she gave me some fantastic wisdom. Firstly, “find your biggest source of drive, grab that feeling and chase it relentlessly”. It was clear from my conversation with Kat that QoN was her and Hannah’s passion and this is what had propelled them to make such a difference in an area that they recognised as being neglected. QoN's drive to keep going was made clear by Kat, “to create a bigger, better space for everybody that comes after us!” Secondly, “once you find your people, hang on to them”. She shared how her and Hannah found that by surrounding themselves with like-minded people, they became more empowered and encouraged than ever and I believe that the community QoN creates emulates this experience of thrusting together like-minded and passionate people. QoN is an open group which celebrates individuals who are connected through pursuing empowerment and change within the music industry. Finally, “it’s really important to encourage each other and support other women around you; it’s essential”. I feel like this one speaks for itself and certainly encapsulates the aura of Queens of Noise.
If you feel like you want to find out more or join this amazing group of driven people, check out @queensofnoiseevents on Facebook or go along to their next two-day music convention on 4 April.