Safi Bugel talks to members Katie and Rosie about how Make Noise provides a network for female-identifying musicians and gig-goers in an effort to make Hull’s music scene more inclusive.
In 2017, Hull became the UK’s City of Culture, welcoming large-scale structural change and funding for the arts and culture scene. As this transforms the city’s cultural skyline, impressive progress has been made by an all-girl-identifying DIY collective who have made the local music scene safer and more inclusive. Less than two years since Make Noise started, the collective has put on events, encouraged people to listen and, more importantly, made clear changes in their hometown.
It all officially started in late 2017, when female-identifying people from Hull and beyond met for an open meeting to discuss the city’s music scene. Much to their surprise at the time, around 60 people showed up to the panel discussion and meet-up, suggesting that change was indeed in demand. “A lot of people in the group had experienced sexual harassment at venues and had not had a very good response when trying to deal with it,” Rosie, team-coordinator of Make Noise, says. “[Make Noise] came organically because we’d all complained about these things together and we were just thought ‘why don’t we just do something about it?’”.
Although Hull is quite a big place, it has a really small community - especially the music scene. Word about this sort of thing spreads quickly.
Since then, Make Noise has put on a number of female-focused workshops, parties and gigs in order to raise awareness for the cause. The progress has been notable, as Rosie expresses: “Most venues have been really receptive to what we’ve been doing. The Polar Bear has changed massively since we’ve been working with them: they’ve completely changed their security team and their bar staff; they’ve changed the rules of the place so it’s more of a safe space. It’s really cool to can see change”.
The impact of Make Noise is not just reflected in the enthusiasm of the venues, but also in the community attending: “We had people that were like, ‘Thank god, this is finally happening!’”, Rosie says.
As well as making the gig experience safer for women, Make Noise aim to get more female acts onto the stage too. Although Rosie and Katie speak highly of Hull’s music scene, they lament at the lack of diversity: “It’s levelled out to being just a lot of male bands playing the same kind of music. It’s not like there wouldn’t be the space for a female-fronted band, because we’ve put on gigs with all-female lineups and people have been really receptive. It’s hard on the base level: the places to practise and learn to play are really male-dominated. There’s not really space where a woman can practice and be shit, or just pick up a guitar and start messing about. We want to make a space where you can just chill and mess about with no pressure”.
Taking influence from Leeds-based groups like Girls That Gig and Girl Gang, Make Noise are keen to promote their favourite female-fronted bands that exist across Yorkshire, from the angry music of Finno to folk artist Jade Cuttle. Katie thinks Hull is an appropriate place for bringing these musicians to the forefront: “Although Hull is quite a big place, it’s a really small community, especially the music scene. So, everyone does talk to each other and word about this sort of thing does spread quickly”.
What will the new year bring for Make Noise? Applying for funding is at the top of Katie’s list. So far, Make Noise have operated independently, with only the support of The Warren - a local youth organisation. More financial backing means more progress for the group, who run Make Noise as a labour of love alongside studying and working. In the meantime, you can expect more events for the community, starting with a Christmas party at one of their favourite venues, The Adelphi.
Within our short chat, it becomes very clear that Rosie and Katie are still as passionate and driven as when they started; with them on the team, Make Noise offers real hope for the music scene across Yorkshire.