This Way North: Improving diversity in music industry a 'multi-faceted issue'

INDIE POP ROCKERS: This Way North's Leisha Jungalwalla and Cat Leahy will perform at the Candelo Village Festival and run Sass the Patriarchy. Picture: Megan Kemshead
INDIE POP ROCKERS: This Way North's Leisha Jungalwalla and Cat Leahy will perform at the Candelo Village Festival and run Sass the Patriarchy. Picture: Megan Kemshead

According to This Way North's Leisha Jungalwalla, it is amazing to be a woman in the music industry right now.

The guitarist and vocalist for the indie pop rock two-piece, which she formed with drummer and vocalist Cat Leahy, said there is an amazing community of women who are creative, inspiring, empowering, empowered and supportive of each other.

But while the industry has been taking positive steps towards equality, there were still some more to go.

"Often we still come up against people who automatically assume that because we are women we don't know what we are doing as much as men," Jungalwalla said.

"Often we get asked questions that we know we wouldn't get asked if we were men, such as if I know how to use a guitar amp or if I really know what kind of stage sound I'd like."

This Way North - Head Above Water

The duo takes their harmonies, beats and infectious guitar rifts to a sound level that will leave you convinced there are more than two members in the band, and Jungalwalla said their biggest chemistry came from the two loving playing music together and playing music live.

"The fact that we are a two piece means that we have to stay connected when we play, I think it's easier to get distracted in a four-five piece band but when it's just the two of you; you have to stay on point!" she said.

For her, the highlight for the band came last year when they were invited to play a festival in Iqaluit, Nunavut, just below the arctic circle in north east Canada.

"It was in the tundra, so no trees or bushes or grass," she said.

"It was summer there so it was 24 hours of sunlight and there were ice burgs in the bay.

"We collaborated with local Inuit artists who did throat singing on our songs and were welcomed into the community there like nothing else.

"It was just a world away from where we are from."

Aside from performing music, over the last couple of years they have also been running an event called Sass the Patriarchy which is about celebrating and empowering gender diversity and equality in the music industry.

From running this event Jungalwalla has found the ways the industry could improve when it comes to how it treats female artists is a multi-faceted issue.

This Way North. Picture: Megan Kemshead

This Way North. Picture: Megan Kemshead

She said there needed to be change from the top - festival directors, music labels, boards of directors - down to those just starting out, such as young people getting into music.

"The industry can improve by not treating being a woman as a category or genre of music, by working hard to create a bigger platform for women and non-binary artists rather than all of us compete for the small platform there is now," she said.

"By this I mean creating the same opportunities that male musicians have for getting on festival bills, tours, radio play etc."

The everyday person can have a bigger impact than they think, she said, as they were the customer/consumer and could contact festivals and venues if they saw a line-up that was not diverse.

"They can call people out who aren't working hard enough to improve diversity in the music industry," Jungalwalla said.

"The industry will listen to people buying tickets."

This Way North will perform at the Candelo Village Festival on Saturday, April 27 from 3pm at the Candelo Hotel.

Sass the Patriarchy will run at the festival on Sunday, April 28 at 10.30am the Candelo Town Hall, featuring a discussion panel with some of the festival's organisers and musicians.

For festival tickets and more information click here.

This story This Way North: Improving diversity in music industry a 'multi-faceted issue' first appeared on Merimbula News Weekly.

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