Last year was tumultuous for gender politics, between the Women’s March, Tarana Burke’s #metoo movement, and the spectre of Trump’s Access Hollywood tape looming like an evil, creepy cloud. Thankfully, Girl Fest returns this week to recognize and celebrate the amazing women making music in the Pacific Northwest.
“Girl Fest was designed as a celebration, and a space where women’s voices are elevated,” says founder Madison Sturdevant, who started the mini-festival in 2014, when she was just 19. “I was a writer for a couple of blogs at the time, and I noticed a huge disconnect between how men and women were being booked and promoted in the city. I saw all these talented women, many of whom were missing the recognition they deserved, and decided that I just wanted to create an annual show that would spotlight them.”
Seattle blogger and hip-hop expert Miss Casey Carter will MC this year’s festival. “For someone like me who loves working with up-and-coming talent, this event already means a lot,” Carter says. “But to have it feature a lineup of all women? It speaks volumes and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of something so dope.”
This year’s Girl Fest couldn’t come at a better time—it’s a crucial moment in the fight for gender equality that’s inspiring both anxious and hopeful feelings about the future.
“Now more than ever, I am excited for Girl Fest to show the region how powerful and badass our female artists are,” Sturdevant says. “My favorite part of Girl Fest being in January is that it really feels like we get a small opportunity to set the tone for the year.”
Here are three artists on the Girl Fest 2018 bill that I’m particularly excited about. May this year be filled with girl power, good music, and dismantling the patriarchy.
For Seattle rapper Gifted Gab (AKA Gabrielle Kadushin), Girl Fest is about “solidarity and celebrating women and their dopeness.” Her 2017 album Gab the Most High is filled with catchy jams and tributes to iconic hip-hop and R&B. If mumble rap isn’t your thing, you might like Kadushin—she’s a nimble wordsmith, and she can sing, too. “Piece of My Love” sounds like it could be on a D’Angelo album (is that a sample of “One Mo’ Gin”?), but Gab gives the track her own spin, transitioning seamlessly between rapping and singing.
Shana Lindreck and Papi Fimbres are a Portland power couple. Lindreck plays with Bitch’n, Fimbres drums with Sun Angle and Máscaras, and both perform with Orquestra Pacifico Tropical. Their two-piece band Dreckig (the name means “dirty” in German) combines their individual talents with cumbia rhythms and harsh krautrock vibes; it’s funky, freaky, and weird.
Paris Alexa is a 19-year-old singer from Bellevue, Washington, who constructs catchy pop songs with layered, Brandy-esque vocals that sound like a choir of clones. On her 2017 single “Like Mariah,” Alexa complains about a stalker-ish beau: “You tell me I’m the best and I’m the one you’re trying to marry/Tell me why you’re so obsessed/I’m feeling like Mariah Carey.” It’s a cute nod to Carey’s diss track about Eminem, “Obsessed,” but it’s also a relatable tale of romantic attention gone wrong where Alexa has to set boundaries: “You should know I’m not the one to mess with.”