I’ve talked a bit previously about getting more women involved in the creation of music (to put it simply, get more women in your band), and some of the reaction that I’ve gotten was that that’s simply not an easy thing to do. I can’t really discount that, but I never said it would be easy. The process for filling vacated spaces with women is a very conscientious process, a deliberate acknowledgement of the fact that there aren’t enough women in music, and an effort to rectify that.
I was reading an interview with The Knife on Catch-Fire where Olof acknowledges making those same considerations:
“We worked with mostly male technicians on the tour and only male video directors. These were not necessarily people who worked with feminist issues either – they were into other things that we thought were interesting, but now we want to work with feminists and mostly women. So we’ve put together a great collective in Stockholm that is working with us on the live show and put together a predominantly female tech crew for the tour and I think that’s one really big difference from how we worked 7 years ago.”
The Knife collaborating with mostly women (feminist women, no less) is a deliberate act of solidarity, meant both to increase female representation and also endorse an ideology. It’s important to note when this happens, because it illuminates how much thought is typically put in to these decisions. Bands will continue to default to men, not out of deliberate maliciousness (hopefully), but because male musician is the norm. Acknowledging that is an important part of changing it.
The Knife aren’t the only ones who deliberately look for women to tour with. I can’t really talk about female touring bands without mentioning Beyoncé, who is perhaps the most influential and visible example. Her band, The Suga Mamas, were specifically auditioned to create a woman band, and she was very clear about why she chose to do that:
“When I was younger I wish I had more females who played instruments to look up to. I played piano for like a second but then I stopped. I just wanted to do something which would inspire other young females to get involved in music so I put together an all-woman band.”
Beyoncé and The Knife are far from the only ones to acknowledge this process. Kate Nash, who is very, very clear about she feels about feminism (strongly!), tours with a band that is exclusively women. It’s not limited to women, though. For his “What Part of Forever” tour, Cee Lo Green assembled a lady backing band called Scarlett Fever (Scarlett Fever would later open for Prince, and give charity performances at female-centered events), and Jack White played with a band of women, the Peacocks, for some of his Blunderbuss tour. (I have a lot of caveats about the reasons I believe Jack White chose to tour with women, however.)
It’s a lot easier to point to self-selected groups to show the conscientious addition of women, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t happen elsewhere, although that’s hard to quantify without the cover being blown on how that process works. Knowing about it is a good thing, mostly because it illuminates the fact that the rectification process is actual work, instead of chance.