Folk-punk artist LILY GASKELL talks to Felicity Collier about how the changing political landscape impacts on her work
FROM early on in her career, when she played Rock against Racism nights, folk-punk artist Lily Gaskell’s work has been infused with a socialist attitude to music-making.
Along with like-minded people who shared her views to this and other local issues, she developed “a sense of responsibility to stand up for people and share their message,” she tells me.
Lily hails from Thatcher’s hometown of Grantham and, if further proof were needed that the latter was responsible for millions of children’s misery, the singer tells me that aged 13 she had to clean cobwebs off the iron lady’s clothes during her work experience at the town’s museum.
“There’s no cleaning that amount of mess off though,” she quips.
When she’s not rollerskating, the professionally trained musician tours around co-operatively run venues such as Bradford’s 1 in 12 club and Sumac in Nottingham.
She performs covers in pubs as a means of income but says that she has had to turn venues down in the past “if their political values are way off mine.”
Music is in Lily’s blood. She grew up in a musical house and both her parents — who still play — were in a band together. “My dad got me my first electric guitar when I was 11,” she recalls.
“I couldn’t play a single chord until I started going to an after-school group and it quickly became all-consuming.
“I was gigging regularly from the age of 12, playing bass in a few bands. But I didn’t start writing or singing until I was around 14 and became more confident in myself.” Hugely inspired by songwriter Jeff Buckley, she tried to mimic his intricacy and style. Pearl Jam, Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins have all been influences, along with The Clash, Rancid, Black Flag, Bad Religion and Misfits.
Currently, she draws inspiration from promoters like Loud Women, who encourage all-female line-ups at their gigs.
“It’s very necessary and totally awesome,” she says. “In our patriarchal society women need to reclaim space and feel safe doing so.
“While it’s great to have all-female line-ups, it’s just as much about the people who attend the gigs. The atmosphere and safe space these events create makes it more accessible and in turn will get more women involved in music. Girls to the front!” And she’s inspired by the changing political landscape. The Tories —“every one of their sentences crawls with lies” — are on their way out, “no doubt,” and she found the June election empowering but emotionally draining. “It woke up the youth and showed they can make a difference. We showed everyone that the Labour Party is a viable alternative and it was the start of something really significant. “I helped my parents’ campaign in Skegness, where my dad ran as the Labour Party candidate. “We drove around in his bright red ‘Corbyn Camper,’ with my Mum doing hilarious Thatcher impressions through a megaphone down Skeggy high street.” No doubt Lily will make a similarly storming appearance at the London fundraiser for the Morning Star on Saturday. Don’t miss!
Lily Gaskell and rap/spoken-word artist Potent Whisper are appearing at the Constitution pub, 42 St Pancras Way, London NW1 on Saturday October 14. The event starts at 7.30pm and tickets are available from firstname.lastname@example.org, eventbrite.co.uk or on the door.