Louisa Jones is no stranger when it comes to building a platform for women in music. The Dutty Girl founder has been in the music game for over fifteen years. Known behind the decks as Diss Miss, Louisa established DJ and MC collective Dutty Girl with the launch of new female-led clubnight in 2003. She has remained at the heart of Bristol’s music and music culture scene ever since, with a desire for female equality and opportunity never far from her mind.
Louisa established DJ and MC collective Dutty Girl with the launch of new female-led clubnight in 2003
Dutty Girl expanded to include Bristol-born lifestyle brand Shop Dutty (now That Thing), which she co-founded with friend and local designer Joh Rindom. But after a lengthy legal battle against retail giants Massimo Dutti over name rights, and the birth of her son last year, Louisa decided to part ways with the shop and take a brief step back from everything.
Louisa used the time out to re-focus and form together her most passionate project yet, SisterWorks – an open network of women in the music and creative industries to share knowledge and skills, motivate and inspire each other.
Following a launch party at Crofters Rights last month, SisterWorks will be kicking off the new year by extending this concept to the women of Bristol and beyond, with a day full of workshops and panel discussions on all aspects of the music industry for women, by women.
SisterWorks have launched a Crowdfunder appeal to help them raise the £5,000 needed to get the event off the ground – find out more about why SisterWorks need your help, and what rewards are on offer for those willing to put their hand in their pocket.
Taking place at dBs Music’s studios on 13 January, the day will consist of an all-star team of experts and influencers sharing their knowledge and skills across the board, including music, art and dance
Taking place at dBs Music’s studios on 13 January, the day will consist of an all-star team of experts and influencers sharing their knowledge and skills across the board, including music, art and dance. From getting a grasp on the basics or honing your DJ skills, learning to create a piece of graffiti art or forging a career in dance, the action-packed day will provide something for all women thirsty to learn more about the music and creative industries.
while Bristol is lucky to already call itself home to some brilliant platforms for women in the industry, including Saffron Records and Bristol Women in Music, there is still much to be done…
And while Bristol is lucky to already call itself home to some brilliant platforms for women in the industry, including Saffron Records and Bristol Women in Music, there is still much to be done, because the sad fact is that women in the British music industry account for only 30% of senior executive roles, despite making up more than half the entry-level positions. That’s why Louisa and the SisterWorks network, which currently stands at 40+ women, hope to make SisterWorks a permanent fixture in Bristol.
women in the British music industry account for only 30% of senior executive roles, despite making up more than half the entry-level positions
Nitelife had a chat with Louisa about the exciting upcoming event, but before we went into detail about the day, Louisa describes her own experience starting out in a male-dominated music industry.
‘When I started DJing over 15 years ago, I found it hard to meet other women that were into it. I knew guys that were doing it, but I never felt ‘safe’ to ask them to help me or ask to have a go on the decks myself. I suppose the confidence wasn’t there and I was worried about asking guys to help me, in case they thought something more going on.
‘I thought it would be nice just to have girls together to do that with, but I looked around at the time and couldn’t find anything. Also looking around at festivals and events, I couldn’t see many girls on any of the lineups. That’s when I started putting on the Dutty Girl nights, to bring more women in the music scene together.’
looking around at festivals and events, I couldn’t see many girls on any of the lineups. That’s when I started putting on the Dutty Girl nights, to bring more women in the music scene together
Moving forward to present day, Louisa explains the concept behind SisterWorks: ‘It’s a place to share skills. SisterWorks mainly consists of women who have a professional career or some form of success in the music or creative industries, who are able to share these skills with other women over sixteen. We’re not focusing on young women, we want to be open to all ages, ethnicities and anyone who identifies as a woman.
We’re not focusing on young women, we want to be open to all ages, ethnicities and anyone who identifies as a woman
‘Twenty-six seems to be the age where you stop receiving workshop funding, which is a shame because I think these kinds of workshops should be available to everyone. Often, it’s around the age of twenty-six when you actually decide what you want to do in life!
‘The event in January will be a place to come along and speak to women who have a career in music, learn how they got to where they are and get a taste of their skills and knowledge. Whether people are interested in having their own career or fancy a hobby, it’s about giving women confidence in what they choose to pursue.’
While the full event lineup is yet to be released, so far confirmed speakers and workshop leaders include Bristol singer, songwriter and MC Eva Lazarus, Bristol’s first lady of reggae Queen Bee, graffiti artist Miss Hazard (listed in The Guardian’s top 5 female graffiti artists in the UK), and Hannah Williams of Bristol soul band Hannah Williams & the Affirmations, whose track Late Night Tales and Heartbreak was heavily sampled on the title track of Jay-Z’s recent album 4:44.
Louisa goes into a bit more detail: ‘We’ve got Hazard, who is an amazing established graffiti writer from Bristol doing a graffiti workshop. We’ve got Hannah Williams from Hannah Williams & the Affirmations, who were recently sampled by Jay-Z coming along to do a singing class. We’ve also got female DJs from all over Bristol giving you various genres of DJ workshops, using CDJs or vinyl.
There will also be workshops based around things like empowerment, how we speak about ourselves and how we can price ourselves in the creative industries
‘There will also be workshops based around things like empowerment, how we speak about ourselves and how we can price ourselves in the creative industries, with hopefully a few things on events and festival promotion too.’
As we continue to talk, Louisa expresses why she believes this type of action to unite women within the creative and music industry is welcomed and encouraged now more than ever.
‘There are so many empowering conversations between women going on at the moment, and there’s a lot more women coming up through the ranks in these industries. I think feminism is being accepted and rejoiced now, rather than being frowned upon. People are recognising that things do need to change and we are not going to be complacent. What with all the Harvey Weinstein reports, along with everything else going on in the media, it feels like now’s the time for people to make a change.’
People are recognising that things do need to change and we are not going to be complacent.
Coming to the end of the interview, Louisa looks forward at what’s on the horizon for the newly established SisterWorks community after their first big workshop event.
‘Creating a platform for women is the main thing. It could be that we are sharing and empowering as many women as we can, but I think potentially longer-term workshops is the way forward. Who knows what the future holds for Sisterworks though, it could go on to become many things. I think as more women get involved, they will soon find their own niche. I’m excited to get everyone together and see what is possible.’
To help make the much-needed event a reality, you can donate to the SisterWorks crowdfunder appeal at crowdfunder.co.uk/sisterworks.
Words by Abi Lewis
Photos by Martin Thompson