Photo courtesy of Bridget. Credit: Olly Bromidge (@ollybromidge)
Welcome to our STRAND Showcase Spotlight series, where if you haven’t pencilled in the date for our upcoming live music showcase yet, we show you why you should.
When I first enter the Zoom call I’ve arranged with Essex-based punk singer Bridget., I’m warmly greeted by her dog. Hazel the short-haired collie barks happily from her perch on the singer’s bed, before being shepherded out of the room.
“It looks like Hazel wanted to be interviewed,” I venture, but there’s sadly no space for her on our schedule when I’ve got so much to talk to Bridget about. The second artist on our upcoming Strand Magazine X FEMMESTIVAL lineup, Bridget has already made huge moves in the music industry at just 21 years old, including a support slot on PET NEEDS’s 2022 tour and plaudits from BBC Radio 1, BBC Essex, and BBC Radio Suffolk.
Speaking of Essex, my first question to her is how being born and raised in the South-East UK - not too far off from the STRAND’s home turf - has influenced her journey as a musician so far. “I love that question,” she says, “because I definitely wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t living here. I was born and raised in Essex, and it comes through even more when I perform on stage.
“I grew up in practically the middle of nowhere. I live next to a farm, in a small town with lots of different opinions. You see a lot of sheltered lives, and at the same time a lot of poverty, and you meet a lot of weird and unique characters. It’s all given me a lot of inspiration, but it also gave me the drive to think, ‘I want to see what’s out there beyond this little town.’”
Her Deftones t-shirt draws my attention. I ask her who else has inspired her as a musician. “There are some really good local bands who inspire me just because they’re something different. Rad Pitt are one of my favourite local bands; they're just crazy. They’re very punk and screamy, with a mishmash of time signatures. I also like Cassyette, who some people might be more familiar with. She's from Essex as well, which is cool to see.
The main other ones would be Skunk Anansie, Amyl and The Sniffers, Nirvana, Hole, all of those 90s grunge bands. I also like Hot Wax, who are doing really well this year, and A Void, who are a London/Paris-based band. I like it when people are raw.”
Her own music boasts a raw and unapologetic sound, packed with attitude and a self-described “run-into-battle” energy. As Gen from Gen and the Degenerates has previously said of her performances, “if you have the chance to see her live, I wouldn’t miss it”.
While you take that hint from us and pencil our January showcase - which is completely free to attend - into your diary, here’s what Bridget herself had to say about performing live: “I like performing live so much. People often ask me if I get nervous; I'd say that when I'm on stage, it’s like my alter ego. I’m in a different mode, and a different mood. I feel like I’m a vessel for rocking out, and for helping people to do the same!” If that alone doesn’t get you ready and raring to rock out at the Star of Kings next month, we don’t know what will.
As for what else Bridget’s been up to, December 1st marked the release of her most recent song, ‘Teeth’. It’s a song which kicks steadily into overdrive across its second half, erupting into a euphoric mix of distorted vocals and frenzied guitar. What was the inspiration behind it, I ask? “I woke up one morning and went on Facebook, as you do. Chris, an absolutely brilliant drummer who records all the drums for my tracks, shared something on Facebook about a boy with 526 teeth in his head. And I thought, wow, that's a lot of teeth in there. So I wrote a song about it!”
The lyrics are about having a drive and a ‘bite’ within you, she adds. A large part of Bridget’s rise to success in such a short time has likely owed to having that drive herself - a drive which more and more female artists are starting to express, which she thinks is leading up to a much-needed revolution in the music industry.
“I think the scene is changing now, from below - women are getting fed up and just making their own thing, like this showcase, which is great.” But more still needs to be done at the higher rungs of the industry. “I still look at event lineups and wonder, ‘where the heck are all the women?’. Promoters might choose one band who happened to have a female member, and think that’s enough. And that might be the only reason they’ve picked that band.
“It’s not that there aren’t female-fronted punk bands or female punk artists out there, it’s that they’re not being booked, or they’re being made to feel like they can’t push themselves out as much because they’re not what the industry thinks a “female artist” should look like.”
I ask her how she feels about performing on our all-female lineup, which seems to make a change from the norm for her. “I’m excited. The lineup, with FHUR and NXKXTA, sounds like it’ll be nice music but with an edge to it. That’s cool, because one thing I’ve sometimes seen with female lineups is that people tend just to put on really lovely acts, as if that’s all there is to see from us. But there's also some weird alternative stuff to see as well!”
“It’s also nice to work with people who really care about us instead of just looking to put a token woman on their lineup. You’re doing an amazing thing.”
We’re flattered, and also excited to ring in the new year with what Bridget describes will be a “new era” for her and her music. “Ellipsis, question mark.” She adds. “Make sure you add that in.”
It’s also not the only new era (“...?”) we’ll be celebrating on January 25th - the date is also, coincidentally, Bridget’s 22nd birthday! I ask her how she’s planning to celebrate it with us. “I'm gonna invite my friends. A lot of musicians will relate to this: some of your closest friends will never actually come to your gigs; it's like an unwritten rule. But this time I’m hoping to get down some of my close friends who are pretty much like my family. I’ll make it into a little birthday party!”
Save the date to Bridget’s birthday bash - otherwise known as our STRAND X FEMMESTIVAL live music showcase - and we’ll see you on 25th January 2024 at the Star of Kings.
This live music showcase is part of KCLSU’s Arts and Culture Festival 2024, taking place from 20th January - 2nd February.