Meet the founder of Bristol music collective challenging the patriarchy

-Credit: (Image: Charley Williams)
-Credit: (Image: Charley Williams)

In an industry dominated by men, female musicians often find themselves having to work in an environment that was never designed to meet their needs. But one Bristol musician has spent the last six years challenging the industry’s norms by carving out a more inclusive space.

In 2018, NGAIO Anyia put together the Bristol DJ collective Booty Bass and has since began to produce her own music alongside her work as an inclusion and diversity consultant. She is also a tutor for 13 to 17 year-olds at the Bristol Beacon, where she launched her latest EP Four Quarters at a sold out concert last week.

Coming from a family of musicians NGAIO, who is 34, was exposed to a range of music from a young age. Taking inspiration from the influential Nigerian musician Fela Kuti and powerful female artists such as Nina Simone, she always wanted to create something more than just records that would sell.

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But she found that as a woman, there were not only expectations put upon her, but there was an internal need for 'perfection'. With the creation of Booty Bass, came the ‘rules of the dancefloor’, which includes not touching anyone without permission.

NGAIO said: “Across all industries women are expected to be perfect and I think that is external but also internal and the amount of pressure we put on ourselves to look a certain way and to act a certain way and be perfect all the time.

"When Booty Bass started it was about saying, ‘I might be wearing the shortest shorts in the world, I might be wearing just one big fishnet but it doesn’t mean you can touch me and I might be dancing around and shaking my arse but it doesn’t mean you can touch it'.

“We create a space where we don’t have to adhere to anyone else's standards, we just get to be ourselves and we can run spaces in a way that make us feel protected and make people who are coming to our events feel protected. I’ve had conversations with my male friends who don’t think this is a problem anymore but because you’ve put that out it meant that we were able to have a conversation about harassment in a way that we weren’t able to have before.

“This has evolved into my more recent music project which is really me going into the tech world. Djing and music technology has been very male dominated partly because the music industry is male dominated.

“As a female and as a vocalist, there is not a lot of control that you have over your music. Anything I do is always about taking up space, especially if you’re a woman and especially if you’re a woman of colour.

“The music industry has been created predominantly by men, for men. That’s not all men’s fault but it just means that it runs in a certain kind of way.

“As women it’s not just about objectification but also about how we are not allowed to age. Once you get to a certain age you become invisible because you are no longer seen as something to objectify.

“It doesn’t matter what age we are, how big we are or how tall or small we are. None of these extra things matter in terms of being able to be good at our jobs. A lot of the women in my circle are now having babies and we are thinking, ‘how are we going to make this work to support women to thrive in this space when we have all these other responsibilities?’.

“Even if I don’t have kids I don’t necessarily want to be playing until 5am every single weekend. Learning music production has opened so many doorways. It’s made me feel more confident in the trajectory of my career.”