My interview with Erin of Inigo was a fortuitous one. Walking from coffee place to pub with the rep from Footstomp music, it was a suddenly organised “Erin! This is Katie from Banshee, oh you guys should do an interview!’. What followed was an amazing impromptu chat with Erin about her experiences within the music industry and particularly her experiences of being a woman within the Jazz genre and the advantages and disadvantages of gender specific events.
So tell me about your band because I know nothing about it
We’re a Brisbane-based seven piece soul-pop band so it’s me and six guys with three horns; trumpet, baritone sax and a tenor sax and a really really shit hot rhythm section. I say it’s alternative pop new soul but that’s just a label, we’re often a mashup between Hiatus Kaiyote and Kimbra so got we’ve the hip hop elements mixed with pop and soul.
How do you mash that all together, like you’ve got so many people in your band and then so many influences, how do you even write a song?
I predominantly am Inigo and formerly a sax player, so I feel lots of horn stuff and kind of want that in my sound. I write the songs and then when I take them into the band and we workshop them and turn them into a completed piece. The scene that we’re a part of in Australia is really up and coming, heaps of the acts I saw last night were on the same pages as us..
It hasn’t always been that way either, I kind of feel like bands like Saskwatch really helped bring that style of music forward..
Yeah definitely, there’s kind of that uprising of the Australian soul scene and it’s really exciting. People like Ngaiire, Haitus Kaiyote, the New Venusians who I saw play last night – it’s kind of nice to know that I’m not alone in the Australian scene making this kind of music.
I also like teeing up with bands who are outside that realm and playing shows. Because we are a bit of this and bit of that, it’s easier to hook up with other bands and playing to different people who might not expect that kind of music.
So what attracts you to creating music? What is it about being a musician and playing that music to an audience that is rewarding to you?
It’s my happy place I think. Everytime I’m on stage performing I feel really great and I love making music with other people which is why I have a seven piece I suppose. I love dancing and being a part of it too.
I took some time off music for a while and I just wish that I was back into it the whole time.
Any reason why you took time off?
I was a sax player and I had lots of confidence issues. I was doing jazz sax and I was like one girl in a boys club; it was an interesting vibe and I kind of got a bit worn down and it wasn’t for me anymore. I tried to do other things and as I was trying I realised that I loved music and definitely wanted to be a part of it, it was just that I was on the wrong instrument. So I started singing for fun and I was like ‘this is something that I want to do forever now’.
So you said you noticed that it was a bit of a boys club, was that something noticed early on and how did that affect you?
Like you’ll play in a big band and you’re the only girl or you’ll be one of two girls. In some perspectives you become one of the boys and I grew up in a sporting community too where I was one of the boys. But sometimes it’s really nice to just get dressed up and dance around and take on my more feminine side and do what I want as a front woman.
Do you see and imbalance in how people are regarded due to their gender?
I think it’s a really interesting topic, on one hand I’m like ‘girl power’ and relating to other women and having women’s events is really cool and then on the other hand I’m a bit of a feminist in the fact that I wish we didn’t have to have those women’s events. In the Jazz scene we have this women’s Jazz festival and I just feel really strongly against it, women should just represent women in an everybody festival and I think that by making something specifically for women, it often gives people who probably wouldn’t have earned a spot otherwise a chance and it kind of doesn’t represent the good female body.
Gabriella Cohen said the same sort of thing, you don’t want to be just booking anyone because they’re a woman, it’s got to be about whether you’re actually presenting music that’s worthwhile.
I don’t want anyone to be disadvantaged because of their gender, I want them to be accepted because of their talent and what they’ve got to offer. Like I’ve never seen gender as a thing or race as thing it’s always been ‘cool they’re really good’.
But in saying that we had a women in music event a couple of days ago and I found that really great because it was like ‘there are so many girls in this scene and I wasn’t aware of that’ and it was so nice to meet people.
I think that’s the thing, for me I started Banshee because I realised there was so much good music by female artists that I wasn’t hearing, In saying that do you think that there’s something the industry itself needs to do to help perpetuate the change of having a more equal representation of everybody?
I think just acknowledging talent and good music is a really great place to start. I was reading some stats and there a whole less women in the industry to begin with, and I don’t know whether that’s because of Australia’s development in music? I don’t want it to have to be a thing I want it to be ‘here’s good music whether it’s hardcore, jazz, pop, blues or country’. I don’t care I just want people who want to make music and who are good at making music to have the opportunity to do so, regardless of gender. I hope that in my generation and in generations to come that girls don’t feel like it’s a bad thing to make music or that it’s a boys club, that everyone is welcome to play music for whatever they want.
Where do you think that idea for women that they won’t be good enough comes from?
Maybe…I hate genderalising…
I’m going to steal that word
Yeah take it [laughs] I think that women are more, and this is a very big generalisation, women are very more in touch with their emotions and when things don’t work out often you’re intimidated or scared to try again. I know that’s from my perspective. Having to learn ‘no’ was a really good skill for me and having to acknowledge things that are a part of me and my experience and how I respond to things and how I learn to accept this and work harder at this.
From my background as a jazz musician, the people that invented jazz, they were all men and there’s no female instrumentalist that I can really name that are representing women from fifty years ago, so there’s such a small percentage of people to monitor yourself off. That percentage is growing and growing and getting bigger which is exciting but Billy Holiday was a famous female jazz singer, and she was black. When playing a show she would have to walk through the back door because she was female and black and that shows that we’ve come so far. It’s come a long way but..
Still a way to go.
So back to your band, what have you guys got coming up?
We’ve just been booked for a few festivals which is really exciting and some support shows as well. We’ve just gone into pre-production for a new single which we really excited for.
Inigo’s debut EP ‘Souls’ is out now and available through bandcamp.