Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Sarah J Stanley

Sarah J Stanley is an artist and musician based in Scotland. She runs businesses and an art gallery for the past 5 years alongside her professional art and music career. She involves herself in all aspects of sound and production as well as regular live performing.

I've experienced a lot of patronising behaviour from men in the industry. Without being sexist myself, I say men because I've also worked with women and it's always men who feel the need to pass you their knowledge etc before they know much about you other than that they notice you're female. I have dealt with heaps of guys who think they know everything and are ready to tell you something you already fucking know, and in a lot of cases better than them. There seems to be a general idea that women know nothing about cables, PA systems or difficult chords. I've found myself in situations where men actually turn out to need your help, after spouting off their knowledge as if it makes their cock look bigger, and as if you care.  In one situation, after a long talk about recording and sound with one sound guy (and yes sound men are the fucking worst), once he realised I could speak the same technical language as him, he told me 'you know you're actually more intellectual than I thought you'd be'.  Apart for the fact 'intellectual' is the wrong word and he is NOT a fucking intellectual, he basically revealed he sees himself as 'intellectual' (for knowing what an SLR is and how to work a mixing desk) and that he'd initially judged me. Says it all really, men have a massive ego issue and are more often than not, under par to not only their own ideas, but the rest of us too.  I can say without any sexism, the best sound people (to lay into them) I've ever heard and worked with have been female. sometimes a bit lesbiany, but with a fully functioning non testosterone-led brain. Some girls in the industry are tits, but I've met as many, if not more, boys. I think it's something to do with boys who think 'yeah I've got 3 chords and a break up poem-I'm a rock star!' and most girls think 'god I've only got 3 chords and break up poem, maybe I should get better first before embarrassing myself on stage'. In saying that, I've seen some right shit girl musicians too, but trained female sound people are actually better. I am completely convinced by that.

 Do you think that you get compared to other female artists too much (like its a genre in itself?)

fuck yeah. If you're overweight and you sing, you're Adele. If you use a ukulele you're bunched in with some twee bimbo trying to catch people's eye with their 'cute' demeanor and 'colourful' personality because after all, shit is the new ace these days, on Sauciehall Street (in Glasgow) busking. If you only play an acoustic guitar you're KT Tunstall. if you're Scottish, you're KT Tunstall. If you are a girl on your own it might be 'singer/songwriter' which has never made sense to me because a lot of people in bands with be singers and songwriters no? And oh god, if you say 'singer/songwriter' you're in danger of being categorised into the shitfest that is Sandy Thom or Amy Macdonald. if you're fucking quiet and take too much influence from Mumford and Sons maybe you'll be a Laura Marling. who is also shit. I often hear 'female acoustic acts' blocked in as one genre but that's like giving the genre 'band music' to So Solid Crew and U2.

Do you feel pressured to dress a certain way when you're on stage?

aha, I personally don't give a shit. I rarely make an effort. Oh I know if I were skinny and vulnerable and pretty and blonde I would have more stupid boy followers. I tend to find though this type of musician girls are shit at guitar, play the same songs including a cringey cover, and end up staffing all the music skills out to a boy which then rapes any actual good out of their music. Gosh, that was a rant sorry! Answer-no. No pressure. If my music can't catch an audience I don't think a fancy blouse would.

Do you feel that men are surprised that you can handle the sound, production etc?

Oh fucking hell yes. Why, I don't know. Well, I do know-it's because they assume all girls know fuck all about sound. After all, stuff with cables and wee lights and knobs (gay) is a man's job right? I sometimes work with one sound man who spends the first part of the gig bigging up some amazing equipment he's brought to the gig, or his latest software he's trying out and I can literally say to my mates 'I give it 10 mins before *unnamed* will come and ask for my help' and yes, he has to ask. To be fair, at least he does. I've also worked with guys who I have had to mention stuff like 'eh that's not even plugged in' or 'you need to press this button' or ' to stop that feedback you need to do this' etc etc. worse still sometimes you tell them something like 'I'm used to my own equipment-the reason it's not working is this-this is a common problem' but that might mean I'm working WITH the sound man and often they ignore that until 3hrs later they come to the same conclusion but through a completely long and winding route. Ok, not all soundmen are dicks. I'm aware I've painted a really fiery picture of my opinion. Answer is yes, but to be fair, I often assume soundmen are going to be dicks and I'm sure I'm wrong sometimes too.

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