“Rather than glorify its subjects as a disenfranchised minority, Her Sound Her Story proves a crucial point: there are women in the industry. They’re passionate, hard-working, brimming with creativity. And will not be silenced.” triple j
“Representation matters. Women can’t be what they can’t see – or hear.” Marie Claire
Her Sound Her Story is one of the most vital films about Australian music ever made, after a hugely successful cinematic release in 2018, we are excited to announce it will be released online via hersoundherstory.com
The powerful documentary is an intimate conversation unveiling the personal experiences, histories and significant social impacts of women in the Australian music industry. Featuring more than 45 artists spanning six decades, including Tina Arena, Julia Stone, Sampa the Great, Mojo Juju, Her Sound, Her Story’s unique narrative brims with strength, beauty and triumph: a moving and uplifting dialogue that extends beyond the music industry to ask, “Where do we want women’s voices to sit in the world today?”
Created by long-time friends Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore and Michelle Grace Hunder. The pair uncovering very late into their inquisition their film was not the first instance of women in Australian music being put front and centre on screen.
Jen catches up with Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore and Michelle Grace Hunder to find out more.
Hi Claudia and Michelle, I admire what you have done for the female’s in the music industry, there is a glaring gender imbalance everywhere. I find particularly in the music that I review it could be easy to post mainly men as that is the most submissions that I get. I am now thinking of doing an audit of songs reviewed and posted! That would take a while.
I am almost turning 50 and I look back over the years and find myself frustrated that this issue is still going on. It has been decades now. Do you feel the same way?
CSD: Along the process of making the documentary I think I always personally questioned how important it was for us to keep going, wondering if we were going to be able to make an impact or add to a conversation that for many people feels like a long haul battle over decades as you say. After stumbling upon Lindy Morrison’s documentary Australian Women in Rock and Pop Music both Michelle and I were disheartened to hear so many of the same stories coming out. It felt like 25 years later we everyone was just the same. We were on a panel at Big Sound with Lindy a month back and she was asked this same question. I think both Michelle and I were pleasantly surprised by her answer being so hopefully and positive. Yes, she had seen changed so much change. I feel like you would have to ask me in another 25 years to truly know.
So the documentary Australian Women in Rock and Pop Music was created to be used as an information resource for women in the music industry today. Have you received positive feedback from women who have used it? If so, can you please share a couple?
CSD: It was in 1995 when Lindy made Australian Women in Rock and Pop Music both the documentary and the accompanying study guide. At the time commissioned by Aus music as a learning resource. Unfortunately the film never really got to see that light of day as it never attainted interested from any major broadcasting platforms to screen it. I think that’s a big reason for why we are so excited to be able to host the film on our website, making it freely available for people to watch. Otherwise great historical resources just tend to sit in the shelfs of libraries and are long forgotten.
I was interested in Michelle Grace Hunder’s personal project of documenting the hip hop music industry of Australia. I am not involved much in this genre but was shocked to find that only ten of the 182 artists were women.
Do you put this down to women being put off either entering or staying in the music industry? I can see that it could be both.
MGH: Keeping in mind at the time I published my book (2014), I put it down to a few things. The genre is male dominated from a world perspective, so its already a challenge when it could be perceived from the outside that it isn’t a very welcoming culture for women to begin with. This wasn’t my experience at all, but I do believe it has an impact in terms of being incredibly intimidating. Then the women who are involved feel like they are constantly having to prove themselves, win over audiences, because its already assumed that they’re not going to be very good. It would get incredibly tiring I would imagine….
I do feel in 2019 things have really changed. There are a lot more women making Hip Hop and they’re really talented. Women like Sampa the Great are really showing at they level of the music is world class, and we are seeing so many more women being involved which is really cool.
I too, was disappointed with the Triple J Hottest 100 listeners poll. I am certain that more people would have voted for female artists if the radio play was to play female artist more. I feel that the radio needs to take responsibility for this. Do you agree with this?
MGH: I do, and I do feel like Triple J are really stepping up to the plate in this regard, They’re consciously making an effort. I would love to see the large Commercial Radio stations following suite, I think its an absolute disgrace how little Australian Music our commercial radio stations play, which means the mainstream think there is no great music being made here, which could be no the further from the truth.
I can imagine in the meeting of different female artists around Australia there was a story that stood out for you. Can you please share one?
CSD: I am always fond of the day we met Mojo Juju. Non of us knew each other. Like many of the interviews we arrived at Mojo’s house and went straight into looking for spot that would be the best place to set up for her interview. We set everything up and the conversation began. In the span of that conversation I think I caught Mojo of guard, there was humour, deep sentiment and a little tears. We were asking questions that perhaps were not the common to her standard interviews. Once we were done, we all headed to the bathroom, Mojo ran a bubble bath, got in it fully dressed in a boxers, shirt, sox and suspenders, posing reading a Playboy magazine. While Michelle stood in the bath looking down on her taking photographs and I sat on the toilet apposite them filming it all. We finished up and all retreated to Mojo’s couch sitting side by side each other a little overcome by the experience we had all just shared. Like fast tracking a 10 years of friendship kinda experience. I would say though not so extreme as ours with Mojo the meeting with each of the artists where very personal like this. Memories Michelle and I will hold on to for a long long time to come.
It is great to hear that you were able to present your work and have over 1 million visitors! That is awesome. Did this pass your expectations?
MGH: Well and truly. As an independent artists to know that many people have seen your work is pretty humbling, not only from my perspective but from the view that so many Australian female musicians were able to be seen in that space. That’s really cool.
The all-female concert, the night after the opening would have been an awesome concert to attend! The coming together of these artists, Julia Stone, Vera Blue, Montaigne, Sampa the great, Ecca Vandal, Ella Hooper, Mojo Juju, Mama Kin, Airling, Elizabeth Rose and Nyne (and more) as well as all female musicians would have been great to watch, and I expect very empowering. Were you very proud of how the concert ended up being a great success?
Was there a funny story that you can share with us that occurred during the concert?
CSD: The 3 days around the concert where some of the most formative parts of the documentary coming to fruition. I had been personally struggling to find a narrative or way in which to tell a story out of the 48 hours of footage we had collected over the 2 years before. Part of putting the concert on was in response to me not having finished the documentary and still wanting to find another creative output to bring these women together. We asked a lot of them if they would travel to Melbourne for both the launch of the project, a photographic installation and the concert which coincided within a day of each other. Unable to afford accommodation for the artists we decided to turn my house in a b&b where we would host everyone for the 3 days. It was in those days that I had a real running point, at that point it dawned on me that the work of what Michell and I were doing was as much about documenting the women as it was about bringing them together and fostering community. The concert being the final night was a like a big love festival, everyone together back stage, having time to spend with one another and just be. After the concert we retreated back to the house for an after party where I think we made the longest mannequin challenge video with
everyone init. The footage lost in abyss on a broken phone, the memory makes me smile from ear to ear.
Thanks for your time! I really enjoyed this interview.