My dream has always been to write, record and gig my music, but I’ve always struggled to get it going.  I’m scared of fucking up, playing things wrong, saying the wrong thing, listening to the wrong music, finding musicians who won’t be the right people, and of course, scared of playing live in front of so many people judging me.  I don’t want to be a joke anymore – I’ve had enough of that already.  Last week it was looking as if I was going to perform at a Women’s Network open mic night, and I was so conflicted – part of me wanted to do it so badly, but another part of me did not want to do it at all because I was afraid of fucking up and everyone thinking I was a loser.  It’s now looking as if the gig won’t go ahead, which I am surprisingly relieved about.  It’s so frustrating.  What’s wrong with me?

Recently I’ve been getting into playing bass – it’s the only creative activity in my life that feels pressure-free and fun, like it doesn’t matter if I’m any good, I’m just messing around and having fun.  I also like the idea of being a woman who can play bass better than most men can – I’d like to be that person who challenges people’s sexist beliefs about women in music.  The main problem is this: I’m scared that my time has passed, that as a late learner it’ll be too late for me to be successful.  By the time I can play properly, I’ll be working full-time, and probably too old and too responsible to throw it all away on a music career.  I can’t believe this.  I’m 20 and I think I’m too old!

However, I read this article about the Riot Grrrl revival a few weeks ago, and it really inspired me to start performing and writing again.  The Riot Grrrl heyday was before my time, but the idea of DIY feminist punk-rock is very inspiring.  For me, Riot Grrrl is a reaction to the male-dominated music industry which tells women that they can’t rock out, and that their only worth as musicians is their image and their sex appeal.  Back in the early 90s, women were overlooked in the punk, rock and metal genres; 20 years later and things haven’t changed much.  Pop music is currently very female-dominated, but the most successful women in pop today adhere to a very strict definition of (thin, young, white) beauty, very sexualised, and few write their own songs.  It’s a good thing that women are out there in the music industry at all, but mainstream pop right now isn’t making waves, pushing boundaries or challenging gender norms.  We need some more powerful women who play their own instruments, write their own songs, and have some bravado!  We need women in rock who sing about the things that really matter – misogyny, feminism, bigotry, politics, ethics, sexuality and philosophy.  I want to be one of those women. I want to defy the messages that women can’t do rock, and show that women can write and play just as well as men can.  Jennifer Hall summed those ideas up quite well, and this echoes my own feelings about the revival (quote taken from Amber Forrester’s blog):

“I’m all for it (the revival of riot grrrl), but this time around we should really show ’em and actually learn how to play music. With the amount of musical ineptness that resides in most bands (at least the relatively popular ones) now, a brilliant, technically-able, thought-provoking, ass-kicking set of female musicians would be a revelation. As a musician that has worked hard at my craft for many years, I’m always vaguely insulted that I’m lumped in with bands like Bikini Kill and Hole, whom I appreciate for so many things, but not so much for their musical prowess.”
– Jennifer Hall, musician, Tripping Hazard

I want to fill that gap, and be part of the new wave of Riot Grrrl.  It’s really difficult for me – I feel like my desires are clashing with my personality, that big part of me that constantly whispers negative messages in my ear, telling me that I will be ridiculed, I will never be a good enough musician to make an impression, I will never overcome this shyness, I will never be taken seriously, my time has passed, etc.  But, for the first time ever, I’m feeling as if I really need to overcome this fear and anxiety and start kicking some ass.  I’m practicing every day, writing new material, and getting ready.  Fuck this horrible, overwhelming social anxiety – it’s time to rock.  Who’s with me?  🙂

In other news: I started the 101 Things in 1001 Days challenge last week!  This idea is from, in which you have to list 101 things you’d like to do in 1001 days (about 2.75 years) and document your progress. Everytime I complete or fail a task, I’ll report it on the blog and update the page.  2010 is going to be a braver year for me, and this is a small step I’m taking towards improving myself.  Wish me luck!

4 Replies to “Music, Fear, and the Riot Grrrl Revival”

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