Introducing: GIRLFEST NW - Words With The Organizer

By: Brandy Crowe

July 31, 2014

"So often the kind of female musician role-model that kids see are just feeding this expectation of what a woman is supposed to be. So really we want to provide some awesome women to look up to that are really working hard at what they do and taking themselves seriously."

As a young woman, musician and music journalist, Madison Sturdevant recognized a need to strengthen the support mechanisms in place for female musicians in her community. To that end, last year she decided to found a non-profit organization dedicated to just that, and is now poised to hold their first event. Behold, GIRLFEST NORTHWEST 2014: an evening of six radically different girl-powered bands and solo acts, at the now all-ages Lola’s Room at the Crystal Ballroom on August 2. This one-day benefit music fest encourages men and women to come out and support girls making noise in the community, and it is just the beginning of Madison’s non-profit plans. The Deli got a chance to ask Madison a few questions about her cause.

Deli: Tell me about the work that you do?

Madison: The organization that I have started is Girlfest NW. We are a small 501C3 non-profit organization. Right now it is just the fest, but there is a plan in place that will enable us to do more non-profit work.

Deli: Is this the first Girlfest?

Madison: This is the first ever Girlfest. This is the first event like this that I have ever put together, I dont have a whole slew of experience, and at this point there isnt a set financial goal, it is more about getting people to come out and get in front of some good bands.  It began as something that became very important to me, that I very quickly became passionate about. I feel very lucky that it is all coming together.

Deli: You are also a blogger in the music community, right?

Madison: Yes, specifically I write about the Northwest hip hop scene for Respect My Region out of Seattle. But more recently I have become a contributor for a publication called We Out Here Magazine.

Deli: What is your history with Rock n’ Roll Camp For Girls?

Madison: I was a camper there for quite a few years growing up, then I interned there for a summer.  I have always loved their mission and was  always  encouraged and inspired by my time there. It has definitely been an influence on this project.

Deli: What kind of struggles do female musicians face in this industry?

Madison: I think for any artist trying to break into the scene, there are so many roadblocks. First of all there are just so many artists trying to get noticed and get their music out there. But for female musicians, specifically, there are many added expectations - because we are living in pop-culture america, where people expect you to look a certain way and behave a certain way. We are kind of just trying to open up a space where these artists can just be true to themselves and not have to impress anyone with anything other than their awesome music.

Deli: One of the artists Blossom had mentioned in one of her video interviews that it can become really taxing because you “really have to prove yourself”.

Madison: Right. There tends to be a tight definition of what a female performer is supposed to be. The industry is male dominated at this point, so there tends to be this expectation that a female act may not be as exciting, or may be more of a quirk performance rather than a main performance.

Deli: But how does that play out for a male band that is female fronted?

Madison: Yes, that is something that I have been thinking about,  and observing how different bands and their audiences interact, such as my weekend spent at PDX Pop Now.

Deli: How did you choose your line-up?

Madison: The way that we selected our acts was that each act had to be at least 50 percent, or more, female. We set up this guideline that we really wanted to showcase bands that were not just female fronted, or even all female, as we have a male/female duo and a trio featuring two girls and a guy. But we really wanted bands where the girls were driving the music.

Deli: Besides the artists, who else benefits? How are kids involved?

Madison: This is an all ages benefit, we are welcoming everyone. Lolas just became an all ages venue and we are really excited about that. So often the kind of female musician role-model that kids see are just feeding this expectation of what a woman is supposed to be. So really we want to provide some awesome women to look up to that are really working hard at what they do and taking themselves seriously. One of the long term goals for our organization is to hold a fall or winter event that is specifically to raise funds to provide music lessons and musical instruments to kids that are disadvantaged around the Northwest.

Deli: What kind of artists and activities will be going down at Lola’s?

Madison: The number one thing that I am excited about is the crazy variety that we have. We have six bands, and none of them are like the other.

We have Blossom’s R&B and punk, followed by Bed., which is lo-fi classic indie-rock. Little Warrior is a one woman act who plays trip-hop mellow electronica with her keyboard--and local hip-hop artist Goldini Bagwell will be joining her for a song.

Then we have Daughters of the Dead Sea, which is an all girl Alt-rock band from Seattle. They are actually reuniting to play for Girlfest NW.

Tuff Shet--is a brand new punk rock group consisting of two girls and a guy. So much fun, I think live they will be a total party.  

Finishing up the night is Neka and Khalo--Urban contemporary hip-hop. They have a very unique sound that can't really be described genre wise. They will have a blues guitarist, drummer, and dj on board. It will probably be something a lot of people in our audience haven't experienced yet.

Deli: And who do you want to see out at GFNW?

Madison: Everyone! I cant tell you how many times people have asked me if men are allowed. Yes they are. Please come. Bring your kids! Bring your wife! We are really trying to stress that this is for men and women, and that we want all people to come.

Buy tickets to Girlfest NW and support this awesome cause here.