To celebrate publication of the Silver Jubilee edition of She Bop: the Definitive History of Women in Popular Music, the author Lucy O’Brien is hosting a conversation with Gina Birch (singer/guitarist, The Raincoats), Rhoda Dakar (Bodysnatchers/The Specials) and Polly Popinjay (The Popinjays and co-founder of blog PunkGirlDiaries).
She Bop was first published in 1995, and since then there has been #MeToo, #TIME’S UP and a digital landscape that has transformed the music industry. This panel will be telling their stories, reflecting on what female artists have achieved, and what still needs to be done.
Lucy O’Brien is a writer/academic and broadcaster. She has co-authored It Takes Blood And Guts with Skin, the lead singer of Skunk Anansie, and a special Silver Jubilee edition of her book She Bop: The Definitive History of Women in Popular Music is out early November. She is author of Dusty: The Classic Biography, now in its 3rd edition), Annie Lennox, and Madonna: Like An Icon (translated into 13 languages). She has contributed to Q, Mojo, The Guardian, The Sunday Times and The Quietus, and numerous anthologies such as Mute Records: Artists, Business, History (2018) and Voicing Girlhood in Popular Music: Performance, Authority, Authenticity (2016). She played in all-girl band The Catholic Girls, and is working on a memoir about punk and feminism.
Gina Birch is a founder member of The Raincoats, who formed in 1977 and recorded four post punk and experimental albums. She also worked with avant-rockers Red Crayola for many years, had a solo project called The Hangovers with many different exciting musicians, formed a pop band Dorothy with Vicky Aspinall, and toured with Michael Clark in Big Bottom. She is part of eco electro trio The Gluts, and has directed music videos for The Libertines, New Order, The Raincoats, Palma Violets, Beth Orton, and many more. She co-directed the film Stories from the She Punks, with Helen Reddington. Currently she paints most days in her studio, and is working with Youth on a new record to be released on an exciting label.
Rhoda Dakar began her career as lead vocalist with all female 2Tone band, The Bodysnatchers. She also recorded with both The Specials and Madness. A respected DJ, Rhoda toured last year in Mexico, USA, Europe and the UK. Her last ‘singing’ gigs this year were in Australia.
A recent colab with the Dub Pistols, Stand Together, with a US civil rights themed video, was coincidentally released in June at the height of the Black Lives Matter worldwide protests. Bagging her first sync, Welcome To My Themepark appears on the closing titles of award winning short, Goodnight London, currently available on Amazon Prime.
Rhoda has a radio show, Pork Pie & Mash Up, broadcast on Totally Wired Radio first Monday of the month. Whilst her most recent sleevenotes were for Trojan Records’ release, Love Is All I Bring.
Still a campaigner and local activist, she is variously a patron, an ambassador, a Chair and an NHS governor.
Polly Hancock was active in the London Indie scene since 1987 when she worked alongside Jon ‘Fat’ Beast at his HYPE clubnights at the Bull & Gate in Kentish Town, before booking early shows by artists including PJ Harvey, Blur, and Kingmaker. As the guitar half of the Popinjays, she co-wrote and recorded three albums with One Little Independent in the early 1990s, and after an unexpected US college radio hit in 1992, signed to Epic records for their third and final LP.
She then moved to the Mean Fiddler in Harlesden for seven years, and since 2001 has worked as a photojournalist. In 2015 the Popinjays played their first show in 21 years, and have continued right up to the night they played the 100 Club on March 14th 2020.
She is co-founder of the blog site and zine punkgirldiaries.com with Ruth from PO! Which now takes up most of her time.