The Franklys: "There's a constant undercurrent of sexism in the music industry"
Your new favourite band talks misogyny, homophobia and their debut album
(left to right) Fanny, Jen, Zoe, Lexi
Indie-rock four-piece The Franklys have the kind of raw, gutsy energy in their songs that I aspire to have in real life. In-your-face and awesome, their tracks are almost guaranteed to make you feel a little bit invincible. I couldn't wait to find out more about the women behind the music.
DIVA: To start with, can you each tell us (a) a fun fact about yourself, and (b) something interesting about your bandmates.
ZOË: I'm a big biology nerd, Jen loves IKEA, Fanny is a great bargain hunter and Lexi hates caterpillars.
LEXI: I have five True-Romance-inspired tattoos and some could say I'm a bit obsessed with the film. Jen loves pastry. Fanny loves charity shops more than life. Zoe can never finish her food and usually Jen or Fanny will finish it for her.
JEN: I have two wonky toes. Fanny has never smoked a cigarette in her life. Lex doesn't know how to go clothes shopping. Zoe is terrified of rollercoasters.
FANNY: Jen has, in fact, three wonky toes. Lex doesn't hate caterpillars, she hates centipedes. Zoe loves biology - but especially the physical and chemical structure, function, development and evolution of this vast field. Myself - bit of a nitpicker.
Thanks for the great intros! Let's get to know you a little better. What song would be the theme tune to your life?
ZOË: Dreaming by Blondie
LEXI: Time After Time - Cyndi Lauper
JEN: You Can't Steal My Love by Mando Diao
FANNY: Simon & Garfunkel - Sound of Silence
I saw that you took part in the women’s march and from your band name I’m guessing you’re pretty outspoken, which is brilliant. How important are your politics to your music? Can music change the world?
ZOË: While we might not always have an overt political message behind every song we write, it's still in the background because we are all political people, and I think that it's just part of us all, and something that drives us. Any art form can play a part in changing the world. If you're in a position where you can get your voice heard (really heard) by even one person, if you can be a part of something that makes people stop and really think, then that's world changing at the most basic level.
What’s your experience of sexism within the music industry? Do you remember any particularly shocking or weird instances of it?
ZOË: There's a strange constant undercurrent feeling about it, I mean sometimes it's overt and right in your face, but other times it's sort of almost subtle and makes you go "hang on a minute? what the fuck?" Sometimes you read an article or watch something on TV and you just ask yourself "Did feminism ever happen?" "Did history teach us nothing?" We're living in a world that's going backwards. In terms of the music industry it seems to be as if "female" is presented as a music genre in itself, or a niche market.
Male is seen as the default. Have you ever seen a poster for an "all male rock band"? Maybe it does exist somewhere! There's always the classics: "I don't usually like all girl bands, but I like you", "You play well for girls", and a personal favourite, "Oh, where's the drummer gone? Has she gone to do some shopping, to buy some new shoes?"
LEXI: There's too many to count. My favourite to date is, “Oh look, the strippers have arrived.”
JEN: I think what's most sad is that gender equality in general isn't talked about as much as it should be. Just like Zoe says, it feels like equality in the music industry has started going backwards. Things we're looking up for women in music in the 90s, but now it's like we're back at square one again. And the worst part is that people doesn't seem to realise and are still surprised when these "shocker" announcements come out, like the other month, that men at the BBC get paid way more than women in the same profession. Because it isn't a talked-about topic, it's hard to realise how unequal the music industry really is, and that you kinda need to be in it to know what's actually going on.
FANNY: One of the things that really bugs me is the perception that women aren't as capable as men and need help. One thing I will never forget is at one sound check a few years ago, when I was saying the sound on-stage didn't sound right the sound engineer came up and started twisting the knobs on my guitar, as if I didn't know how my own guitar worked. And when I was like, "Woah, don't touch my guitar, dude" he got all pissy and said he knows best because he's been in the industry for so long. Arrogant, condescending moron. And after the gig he asked me out. Don't think so, mate!
Two of you are LGBT - has that ever been challenging in the music business?
ZOË: For me personally, it's not a challenge that I've encountered yet, through regrettably I'm sure it will come and I'm sure that so many other people within the music business have not been so lucky. In other areas of my life I've not been so fortunate. For example, school where the teachers were just as homophobic as the students, save for my amazing friends, and it was a living hell. I think that representation is key, the sooner people realise that that members of the LGBT community are actual people, not defined by their sexuality, the better. Why are people so pre-occupied with the lives of others anyway?
LEXI: Thankfully this hasn't been challenging for me in the music industry and I'm super grateful for that. Like Zoe, I've experienced homophobia in other areas of my life.
What’s the most memorable or bizarre thing that’s ever happened at a gig?
There's been quite a few! One was when we played a venue in London and there was a little old lady in the crowd who we thought was loving it. She was really getting into it and it was great! Then we realised she was just singing her own song and would continue to just shout, "Woah woah yeah yeah!" between all the songs; she started dancing suggestively with a pool cue and tried to get onstage when we had finished. Turns out she also tried to take a swing at the sound guy later on and subsequently got thrown out the venue afterwards. She wasn't an easy one to forget!
Tell us about your debut album Are You Listening? What can readers expect from it?
JEN: Variation. We're not a pigeon-holed band who just likes to write one sort of thing, we love playing around with genres. If you listen to the album and you get bored, then we've failed.
What’s in store for The Franklys this year?
JEN: We're currently focusing on writing, but have a few shows booked for autumn. We're also releasing our latest single Keeper from the album, along with a spanking new vid. So that should be fun! Then we'll probably end the year with our annual Franklys Xmas dinner.
Check out The Franklys' brand new single, Keeper, premiering exclusively on DIVA:
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