IWD - Run Dem Radio
Today we are celebrating IWD on Run Dem Radio, a community station which has been set up by Run Dem Crew founder Charlie Dark, whilst in the middle of a pandemic. It's physical home is within London's Elephant and Castle, but the station's online home can be found on either www.rundemradio.com or via its Mixcloud profile www.mixcloud.com/rundemradio. Station Manager Sophia has compiled a day of female guest selectors to bless your ears and embrace the variety of women who are currently sharing their thoughts, voices and records with listeners.
The theme for 2021 IWD is to Challenge, so its in keeping with the ethos of the day that I found this show my hardest to compile. Not because there is a lack of female artists that I could select from, but how do you pick an hour of music from a lifetime of listening to female voices and inspirations from nearly 5 decades. I also realised that my usual show mixes up a range of breaks, instrumentals and a balance of both male and female musicians and vocalists, so to remove one gender from the balance presented me with a couple of awkward realisations.
I like balance.
I could have filled the hour with women who are all pop icons, whose music is equally as dominant or important as their politics and imagery. Women like Debbie Harry, MIA, Grace Jones. Whilst these and many other female artists's work has each had an impact in my musical journeys, I didn't want to stray too far into those territories. I could have played an hour of feminist funk and soul from Marva Whitney, Lyn Collins, Patti Drew and others but I have mellowed over the years and I no longer feel that 'sticking it to the guy' is true to how I feel about the male / female dynamic. Don't get me wrong, I still love all of their work, but I prefer it mixed up amongst heavy hip hop beats or broken down instrumentals.
In former requests to do themed mixes, such as my Top 100, I found similar issues.. Too much choice, having a wide brief is hard. As with the top 100, I found it easier to narrow the field - pick a format - then define the range of why it's an important track to add. All of my sets on RDR are vinyl only, so the format decision was made. Though I tried not to worry about why my selection may seem off-topic from my normal style, it genuinely gave me the fear. Choices were made based on those tracks or artist's whose music or vocal delivery I have really admired, or tunes that were really special to me.
For example - opening up with New Rotary Connection, with vocals from Minnie Ripperton alongside Kitty Haywood and Shirley Wahls, there are multiple Minnie Ripperton tunes to choose from, but I didn't want to get lazy on the selections. Massive Attack's Protection was first released when I was a single mum in my early 20's and always has a special place in my heart. I love the lyricism of T-Love, Wildflower, Tempa and Estelle and the feels delivered by tracks from Lalah Hathaway, Sindecut, Neneh Cherry and others on my playlist for the show. There's a couple of cover versions listed such as Ain't Nobody and I'm Every Woman, as you can never have enough variations of some songs.
So despite giving myself a major stress out about how best to narrow choices, I have settled on 13 songs which have given me joy, helped me dance, or made me feel like someone else knew what I was going through when they wrote their songs. Creative voices from women who I have admired over the years, or songs within which I have been able to be free for a while, sing my heart out or bounce around to.
Music is a deeply personal experience, though sharing beats, rhymes and reflective moments continues to help me feel good to be part of a truly special community and I am really proud to have been invited to participate today. I also realised that I have huge gaps in my collection and my research for female producers, musicians and songwriters needs some continued efforts. Hopeful that the record shops and charity shops open again soon, for a good rummage through the crates xx