Talking self-worth, gender parity and new material with Before Breakfast – the folk-pop quartet made up of longstanding pals Gina Walters, Lucy Revis, Debra Finch and Annie Rushworth.
It’s great to have you in for this month’s Exposed In Session. Could we kick off by getting the story behind Before Breakfast?
Lucy: We’ve all been mates since uni and it actually felt strange that we hadn’t come to the conclusion of making a band sooner.
Gina: The most important thing for me was working with friends and creating a safe space to be an emotional wreck.
We’ve caught you at an exciting time – just a few weeks before you’ll be heading out on tour with C Duncan. How did that come about?
Gina: We’ve been big C Duncan fans for years and we are now lucky enough to share the same manager. He introduced Chris to our music. Going from fan to tour support feels pretty unreal.
Have you decided which track you’ll be playing for us, and could you tell us a bit about it?
Gina: We are going to play ‘Body’ for you, a song about feeling detached from the horrendous world we live in. With every terrorist attack, Cancer Research advert and refugee crisis I just feel more and more numb and unaffected – it sucks.
Lucy: Even though we may sometimes interpret our songs’ meanings differently, what resonates with me about Gina’s lyrics is that they’re brutally honest.
Debra: I think the uncomfortable honesty of ‘Body’ is what makes it quite a relatable song. And the chorus explores something so many of us experience, which is a desire to be loved even though we’re flawed and imperfect human beings.
You’ve spoken previously about making the music industry a better place for women. Fairer representation on festival lineups is an issue, but in what other ways do things need to change?
Gina: The festival line-up issue is really bloody irritating and it causes a scene every year because it’s tangible, seeing names on a poster for example. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg. People in positions of power within the music industry need to give women more opportunities in order for these women to become role models to the next generation. That goes beyond festival posters, it means supporting local artists, hiring and training women crew and engineers, promoters, labels and producers. This is a huge question and I can’t possibly start to answer it in full without losing my head. But for anyone about to pull the “music has no gender” card, do some research, yeah?
Lucy: The disparity can sort of go unnoticed unless you stop and look and then it becomes so disheartening that the whole issue is completely overwhelming. If everyone takes notice then it cannot be ignored.
Debra: Making sure that more women hold positions of power too would no doubt effect positive change.
Annie: It’s important to say as well that the issue of fairer representation in the music industry goes beyond gender alone, but that doesn’t make it any less of an important issue.
Are there any female musicians or artists out there at the moment that you take particular inspiration from?
Gina: SELF ESTEEM (Rebecca Taylor) for sure. Breaking away so boldly from Slow Club to do what the hell she wanted is not the sort of thing many artists would dare do. I saw the band at Plug the other week and enjoyed every delicious pop music moment. What she is doing is unapologetically brilliant and I am excited to see where that project goes. YVA is a new voice I’m also keen on, mainly because of her actual voice as it is technically sublime and I am well jel.
Your music has taken on important themes such as body image and self-worth. In today’s world, how important do you feel it is to discuss these subjects?
Gina: It’s vital and you should have conversations with your friends, colleagues and children about it every day. Instagram isn’t real life and good god I need reminding of that all the time. I’d hate to be a teenager in 2019, I feel so sorry for all of you – the biggest issue I ever faced was dropping off someone’s Myspace top eight. But equally, we’re not setting out to be therapists here; I don’t feel like we’re doing anything new with lyrical content, probably just a little less poetic in delivery.
Annie: There’s now a generation of people who have grown up on social media; it’s hard to know how that feels but it has clearly had a huge impact.
Lucy: I’m officially addicted to my phone and am trapped in the Insta, Twitter, Facebook cycle. I honestly can say I only know one person who isn’t and he has a Nokia 3310. He seems happy.
Debra: It’s hard to imagine discussing topics such as self-worth and body image without social media playing a part, because whether or not you choose to engage with social media, we all have a relationship with it. On the flip-side, social media has helped grow body positive movements and has provided a platform for voices which contradict mainstream media portrayals of people, especially women. So there is a lot of positive stuff to be said about the democratic nature of social media as well.
Are there any other topics that you’re keen to tackle?
Gina: Not actively, I just don’t want to sing songs about boys. But is that because girls are continuously ridiculed about singing songs about boys? Discuss.
Debra: We could sing songs about girls?
Annie: Nah, Gina’s doing herself a disservice. Some of our new songs that we’re working on look at pressures a lot of us are dealing with in our society.
Lucy: Gina has it covered but I’m pretty sure she gets all of her inspiration from me anyway.
How is the rest of 2019 shaping up for Before Breakfast?
Gina: So far, so good. At the moment we’re just really looking forward to touring and playing in some legendary venues, um, hello London Scala! Certainly new music, though. I’m pretty sure our pals hear our setlist and think “ugh, not this again” but slow and steady wins the race!
Annie: We cannot wait to get gigging. We’re also supporting The Dunwells for three shows at the end of May.
Before Breakfast’s new EP Open Ears will be released on April 19th