With International Women’s Day fast approaching it is time for us to reflect on how far we have come and what more we have to do. Although we have achieved a lot in the past few years, there is still a lot more we need to do. This is why Somerset based event organisers ‘Live From The Living Room’ have decided to put on an evening of fantastic music to raise money and awareness for Period Poverty.
I caught up with headliner Louise Distras to find out about her latest EP ‘Street Revolution’, her thoughts on period poverty and why she supports these important causes.
So now Street Revolution is out there, how are you feeling about it? What has the response been like?
Most of 2018 was spent writing, recording and mixing the new album in California with Steve Whale of The Business and Ross Petersen (Bruce Springsteen, Goo Goo Dolls). So I’m excited to be back and to start sharing all the new music I’ve been working on. The fan response to ‘Street Revolution’ has been amazing, plus it’s been getting a lot of radio play
and it went to number ten in the iTunes Chart. I’m really happy that everyone is enjoying the new EP and can’t wait to share the new album later on.
The whole EP is a rallying anthem for the new underground movement of working class kids, rising together through music to fight for their future. But it’s one of those records that means a thousand different things to a thousand different people. A few weeks ago a fan wrote to me and said they’d been playing it at the ‘Anti Austerity March’ in London, which is extremely cool!
What would be the Louise Distras revolution?
Equal rights and chocolate for everyone!
You will be touring this EP. What made you decide to work with musicians against homelessness?
I ran away from home as a teenager and spent a lot of time living in dangerous situations with strangers who took advantage of me because I was young and vulnerable. Music saved my life and brought me to where I am today, so Musicians Against Homelessness is a cause that’s close to my heart and supporting them is my way of giving something back. We’ve been providing a text number for fans to donate at the shows and also providing more information about how everyone can support.
You are also performing for Period Poverty awareness in March. Do you think more needs to be done to make people aware of this issue?
Period poverty is a massive issue. Just last week I saw a statistic that said 1 in 10 young women are unable to afford period products. For many families, even the cheapest of menstrual products can be too expensive when they’re already depending on food banks. So if you know your family can’t afford food, you know they can’t afford menstrual products and you end up suffering in silence.
Imagine what the world would like like if men had periods? I bet this issue wouldn’t be happening if they did. Coz period poverty isn’t just a symptom of being poor: it’s a reflection of gender inequality. It’s disenfranchising and and disempowering for women coz it affects access to education and to opportunity when you have to skip school or work because you’re on your period. Menstrual products are an essential everyday that shouldn’t be taxed. They should be free and universal to everyone in schools and in our wider communities.
Apart from putting on events on International Women’s Day, what else do you think we can do to prevent their being an issue with period poverty?
I think that talking to our friends and family is a good start. Having your period is an everyday thing so it should be a part of everyday conversation. By keeping the subject ‘on the table’ it helps other women to feel more comfortable about asking for help, getting access to information and exploring their options. Recently on tour, I saw that a bunch of the venues were providing free menstrual products in the bathroom and I thought it was a great idea!
At a recent music panel there was a strong debate about choosing musicians to play at festivals based on merit rather than just gender.
What are your thoughts on this?
Well if someone asked me to play a show because of the way I look instead of my talent, intelligence and hard work, I’d tell them to fuck off. People keep telling me that being a woman who plays rock music is hard. Well, I’ll tell you what is hard; being a single Mum, a refugee, being homeless, unemployed, addicted or disabled. So it pisses me off when people victimise me, because being a woman in rock is actually the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m not saying there isn’t inequality, I’m saying sometimes it’s about perspective.
If I was to go around thinking that I was at a disadvantage because of the way I was born, then I wouldn’t even get out of bed. Being able to play music is a complete privilege so you just have to get on with it and if people don’t like it, then fuck em. That’s how you get shit done!
So Las Vegas! This is exciting. Apart from performing will you get the chance do some exploring?
This years Punk Rock Bowling is a once in a lifetime lineup, so I imagine I’ll be too busy rocking out. Can’t wait to see Amigo The Devil, Grade 2, Turbulent Hearts, and of course Rancid!
Which other Countries would you love to perform in?
I haven’t been to Japan yet but they’ve been playing my music on the radio there so it’s next on the list, along with Australia and China. This summer I’m heading back to Germany to play some festivals including Crashfest Berlin on 15th June with Dropkick Murphys and The Interrupters, so excited!
What would you say was the biggest learning curve in your career?
Go hard or go home!
And lastly … what 5 things will you make sure you take with you to Vegas?
Y’know the usual, standard stuff. My guitar, one thousand brown M&Ms, an amp that goes upto eleven, six fluffy kittens and hopefully my dignity!
Punk Rocks Period is on March 8th at The King Arthur in Glastonbury.
You can get tickets by clicking here!