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

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

Many will know Amy Thatcher, Holly Clarke, Cathy Geldard and Janice Burns from their own folk musical endeavours, but the quartet’s new project, ingeniously titled RE:VULVA, takes a new approach to alt. folk sounds by reclaiming classic folk tracks and adding sparkle to their own millennial pop compositions.

Accordionist and synth/drum pad maestro Amy shared her perspective on the inspiration and goals behind the project: “There’s a big problem with a lack of female instrumentalists in instrumental folk music.” Amy highlighted the dual challenge of a meritocracy and a patriarchy in the music industry and it’s this combination of factors that has perpetuated gender biases and stereotypes and created a cycle of under-representation, which, in her words, “needs breaking in a big vulgar way.”

Amy talked about the unique challenges faced by women in the music industry, particularly the pressure to outperform their male counterparts. “There was always something intangible standing in our way, like we were never going to quite measure up, not quite nailing it, not quite as good as the boys.”

Amy emphasised the importance of visible role models for aspiring female artists, citing musicians like Karen Tweed and Kathryn Tickell as inspirations. She pointed out that these role models can impact the next generation of female artists: “They’re really creating a momentum for non-male artists right now, it’s really important that the rest of us pick up on that.”

There was always something intangible standing in our way, like we were never going to quite measure up, not quite nailing it, not quite as good as the boys

Amy explained that the lack of representation – particularly on festival line-ups, which RE:VULVA are determined to challenge – has a huge impact on gender minorities aspiring to be musicians. “It’s just harder to aspire toward something which doesn’t exist in the same capacity.”

RE:VULVA sees itself as a mascot for change, using a provocative band name to spark curiosity and encourage constructive debate. “It challenges conventional wisdom and sparks a bit of curiosity without resorting to personal attacks or hate speech.” Amy says. They aim to be present and visible, providing young women with a path into the folk tradition.

In terms of systemic change, Amy emphasised the importance of diversity and inclusion programs, gender quotas, and awareness campaigns to level the playing field. She also called for an end to rhetoric that suggests gender balance is shifting the other way. Amy cited several successes in the industry, including initiatives like Queer Folk UK and PRS Women Make Music fund, alongside festivals like Women Are Mint and the DIY Ceilidh in Newcastle, which foster inclusivity and equality.

Underlining the importance of collective efforts to overcome the “bullshit politics” that hinder women’s music from reaching a wider audience, Amy emphasised the need to raise awareness through music and create unapologetic, fun and positive music: “We are creators and we try to do that to the best of our ability, hopefully promoting solidarity and turning some heads on the way!”

RE:VULVA’s commitment to addressing gender inequality in the music industry is not just about challenging the status quo, but also about inspiring a new generation of female musicians and pushing for lasting change. Their passion for music and their mission to break the cycle of under-representation in folk music is a welcome and vital contribution to the industry.

RE:VULVA play Cobalt Studios, Newcastle on Thursday 30th November, with support from Bell Lungs.

Like this story? Share it!

Subscribe to our mailout