- 27 Oct 20
"To hear some men in the industry further perpetuating the idea that menstrual cycles make us seemingly incapable is truly unfortunate. As it is very telling of the lack of education around a woman’s experience in this world," Soulé tweeted.
Following the rise of the Times Up and Me Too movements around the world, it would be naive to think that the global music industry is now free of harassment, discrimination and condescension.
Ireland's own scene is no different, with statements made over the weekend adding yet more examples of exhausting experiences for women in music to cope with.
Noteworthy women in Ireland's music scene have responded to controversial comments made over the weekend by Dublin musician and drummer Emmanuel ‘Smiley’ Osungboun on last weeks' A Drummer in Dublin podcast, which has since been taken down.
Recorded just prior to lockdown, the episode was hosted by Fiachra Kinder and Adam Byrne, and was released on October 23rd.
In a conversation about his time in the industry, Osungboun spoke about his experiences of working with Irish female musicians, naming electronic-pop artist Soulé specifically.
“But like, you need to understand with females – we don’t get periods – do you get what I mean?”, he began.
“I’m not being sexist or anything, but if I give out to a female I have to be more careful because they might just feel like you’re shouting at them or whatever.”
“These are top female musicians but if you compare them to top male musicians in Ireland, it’s like – do you get what I’m saying?”, he continued, going on to state that he simplified arrangements around women.
“Because I knew I was arranging for them, and they probably haven’t played with arrangements before like syncopations and little chord substitutions...So, I was just like: let me simplify these arrangements. Let me make it more A-B-C."
Needless to say, the reaction to the sexist conversation - which went unchecked by the podcast hosts - elicited a swift and frustrated response by women who have faced attitudes like this time and time again.
"It’s hard enough being a woman in a male dominated industry - it’s another thing having fought and succeeded in obtaining a seat at the table to have our skills undermined based on our 'periods'," Soulé tweeted.
"To hear some men in the industry further perpetuating the idea that menstrual cycles make us seemingly incapable is truly unfortunate. As it is very telling of the lack of education around a woman’s experience in this world. There’s a need to recognise that standing by & allowing such a conversation to have taken place AND be published, is just as problematic as projecting them," the artist added.
"I do not condone sexist comments and will always speak up against misogyny. Trust and believe that when you work with me no such thing will slide. To my Irish women in music, I have the utmost respect for you all. We are succeeding and are winners. PERIODS AND ALL!!!"
Pop artist CMAT injected her trademark wit into the situation while blasting a needless 'debate' about menstruation on a podcast featuring three men.
"Hearing some reports about blatant sexism in the Irish music scene. I for one am shocked, and never could have seen this coming. I try not to be too aggro or looking for fights these days (I'm grown) , but if you are going to have three men on a podcast about music and turn it into a debate about MENSTRUATING and women’s artistic ability, well then that my friend is the definition of Chat Shit Get Hit."
"I could go on a podcast and talk about how an interaction I had at aged 19 with one of the hosts of THAT podcast levelled me and contributed to my anxiety about not being able to play an instrument on stage for years ... but I wont. Because again, I'm grown," CMAT continued.
"Let me end on a positive. Girls & non-binary kids of the extended alternative music scene in Ireland - there are a lot more people rooting for you to succeed now than there was when I was a teenager. We love you, and if anyone ever gives you shit let me know and I'll fuck them up," she joked.
Róisín Ní Haicéid, frontwoman of indie band Banríon, also tweeted her distain at the comments, only to be blocked on Twitter by the podcast hosts after criticising the episode.
noo way, the podcast page and the hosts blocked me ?? like whatever if they genuinelu made a mistake but blocking the people who are fairly criticising what was said just shows none of it is about learning and ite just to save their skin ?? https://t.co/9RkQqcl9gE
— banríon (@banrionbaby) October 24, 2020
Derry musician ROE made a statement on her social media accounts, noting that the industry is consistently male-heavy and heteronormative.
"To hear about this kind of sexism in 2020 is completely unacceptable and gender has nothing to do with talent and ability. Womxn in this industry have to work 10 times harder to be taken seriously because of misogynistic views such as the one expressed in this episode.
"The fact that this had to go through editing and approval shows that you really thought these comments were fine to air and that's what angers me the most. The music industry is still heavily male-dominated and your views are part of the problem as to why there isn't gender equality here. It's 2020. Get your act together and put your sexist views in the bin," ROE concluded.
RE: A Drummer in Dublin Podcast. pic.twitter.com/P187QD8vt6
— ROE (@Roe_music) October 24, 2020
Limerick rap star Denise Chaila noted that this is an example of an "industry-wide problem";
"Can’t be a musician right now. I’m too busy MeNsTrUaTiNg to know how syncopation works. Real talk though, this isn’t about one person. This attitude is an industry-wide problem that we need to treat on a broader level than one individual. Women, Black and gender non-conforming people deal with the legacy of these ideologies Every. Day." Chaila tweeted. "Support them. Uphold them."
'Smiley' later apologised via his social media accounts after the hugely negative response to the podcast episode, with A Drummer in Dublin podcast later making a statement on the matter.
"To anyone affected or upset by the comments made on the most recent episode of 'A Drummer in Dublin', we would like to apologise, " the hosts wrote.
"We understand that feminism is a process of undoing a long history of systemic problems ingrained in our society, not something you adopt overnight. These societal problems form in rooms like the one we found ourselves in. They are also problems that can be unravelled and challenged in those same rooms. This is something we didn't do, and we deeply regret it."
The hosts emphasised that their DMs are open for healthy, positive discussions and an opportunity to learn and grow from the experience.
"If there is anything that can be taken from this it's that we have now illustrated clear as day what not to do. Don't do what we did. Don't be silent. Call it out. It's not ok. We know it's not and we will do whatever we can to make things better for women in music in the future."
For a thorough exploration of Irish or Ireland-based female/non-binary artists, check out We've Only Just Begun's directory: