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Will Kherbek
art critic
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piqer: Will Kherbek
Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Reversal Of The Muse: The Women Behind Music

In addition to being one of the best British songwriters of her generation, Laura Marling embarked on a project as a podcaster between the recording of albums. Marling became interested in the role of women in the music industry and her podcast, Reversal of the Muse, consists of interviews with female musicians and performers, but also engineers and studio techs, even female guitar shop owners, to record and explore the ways women approach the creation of music and the culture around music – a culture that is often dismissive and disempowering. 

This episode features a conversation with the musicians, Shura and Marika Hackman. The discussion ranges widely. Shura begins by speaking about the beginnings of her interest in music, and the difficulties she had in finding musicians to play with her. At a certain point, she says, she realised that she couldn't rely on other musicians to turn up and had to embrace the Do-It-Yourself approach. Marling poses the question of whether the DIY ethic is inherently feminine, and the discussion turns to the insecurities women are often made to feel in music studios. "If I make mistakes in private," Shura says, "it's OK."

Though the artists recall many sadly familiar instances of tyrannical behaviour by industry figures – not least Hackman's recounting of being forced to put her sea-punk blue hair into a beehive by stylists because the stylists felt it conveyed the "right" aesthetic for Hackman's music –, the most rewarding aspect of this episode of Marling's podcast, and of the series in general, is listening to musicians talk about the ways they relate to music. Shura speaks of having short, passionate "flings" with albums, and Marling theorises about an "athletic approach" to music versus an "intuitive approach" whereby, Hackman rejoins, growth comes through limitation, rather than despite it. But not all limits are so generative, and Marling's podcast does the critical work of exploring psychic, creative and structural limits.

Reversal Of The Muse: The Women Behind Music
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