INTERVIEW: Heather Story | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Bugeye

It’s hopefully not escaped your notice that it’s International Women’s Day on 8th March; amongst the clutch of celebrations in the region, it comes as no surprise that GRL stands out as one of the most diverse and supportive events. Taking place at Middlesbrough’s Base Camp on Saturday 7th March, the event builds on last year’s successful debut, and this year it’s being masterminded by Heather Story under her AMPT moniker, which attempts to raise awareness of the mental health benefits associated with music.

Heather jumped at the chance to expand the brand. “Instead of being a one-off event I saw an opportunity for GRL to be the start of something that evolved around community and sisterly support.” A Facebook group has followed, along with a pre-GRL event. “The Big GRL Social is being hosted at Disgraceland on Friday 6th and will feature performance from Girl From Winter Jargon, whilst Pineapple Black have curated an exhibition to be shown there too, that’s just the warm up event!”

The alldayer itself is an eclectic affair, with co-headline duties shared between London four-piece Bugeye, whose brand of punk-meets-disco has seen them described as Blondie vs Pixies, and Leeds’ feisty punk trio Dead Naked Hippies. Also on the bill is Darlington songstress Eve Conway, who comes fresh from a recent session at BBC’s Maida Vale; the super-talented master of loops Me Lost Me; groove-ridden pop from The Lulas; and Hartlepool songwriter Charlotte Grayson, plus there’s shouty delight from GGAllan Partridge, odd pop from Head of Light Entertainment, the gorgeously understated songs of Jodie Nicholson and the ferocious pop of Leeds’ Bad Bug.

I saw an opportunity for GRL to be the start of something that evolved around community and sisterly support

In addition to live music there’ll be spoken word performances from Lisa Lovebucket and Sarah Crutwell, there’s a feminist market featuring stalls selling prints, clothing and jewellery, plus live art will be created throughout the event by Slutmouth and Lucy Farrar. “Slutmouth will be creating a new wall mural display on one of the walls of Base Camp for the duration of the day and Lucy’s intriguing work will be projected around the walls of Stage 1.” Explains Heather.

As with her work promoting as AMPT, Heather’s passionate about enabling dialogue around important subjects. “There’s a real sense of solidarity across the art and music scene in Teesside right now, and I think GRL has come along just at the right time to create a sense of empowerment across a bunch of different mediums.”

Heather’s keen to point out that GRL is an inclusive and welcoming event which aims to create an empowering and supportive community for female and female-identifying people in Teesside, and it’s important that conversations around feminism, sex and gender are taking place in the region. “GRL is about inclusivity which means anyone can and should attend, including men, and take advantage of the platform we’re trying to create for people to open dialogues about important issues such as gender, feminism and sexuality and where we stand amongst it all as a region, not just on Teesside.”

The Big GRL Social takes place at Disgraceland, Middlesbrough on Friday 6th, with the main all-day event taking over Base Camp, Middlesbrough on Saturday 7th March

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