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A Beautiful Way To Be Crazy: Genevieve Carver returns with cross-art project

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Genevieve Carver is a poet and musician based in Sheffield. After attracting critical acclaim for her previous live show, "a raucous funeral party for the dead musicians you've never heard of", Carver returns with a new performance piece looking at female experiences in the music industry, based on real-life interviews and research. She told us more.

Tell us a bit about A Beautiful Way to be Crazy.

A Beautiful Way to be Crazy is a cross-artform performance piece about female experiences in the music industry from me and my live band The Unsung: Ruth Nicholson, Tim Knowles and Brian Bestall.

The show was researched through interviews with female and non-binary music practitioners, and combines spoken word, live music, theatre, audio clips from the interviews and some of my own teenage diaries. Topics include confidence, female working relationships, toxic masculinity, mental health and role models. The accompanying music from the instrument-switching band crosses genres, from soul to electronica via baroque and math rock.

I read an article revealing that over 70% of music acts in the UK are all-male

Is it getting better for female and non-binary performers in the music industry?

The overwhelming response from the women I interviewed was yes, but we still have a very long way to go. Organisations like Brighter Sound and PRS have initiatives supporting female musicians, and some of the people who have the power to change things are starting to take the positive action that's needed - for example, the pledge made by 45 festivals worldwide for 50/50 gender splits on their line-ups by 2022 - but there are still plenty of people out there who are either unwilling to see that change is needed or don't want to take responsibility.

Part of the problem is that many of the reasons that so few women go into music in the first place are down to deeply-engrained social stereotyping. Opportunities at the micro level are good, but what we really need is a society-wide questioning of our attitudes and subconscious biases.

It's also a much bigger issue than gender alone. Things might be getting better for middle-class white women like myself, but how many voices are we still not hearing?

Who or what inspired the project?

I read an article revealing that over 70% of music acts in the UK are all-male, and that when it comes to things like sound engineering, women make up less than 2%. I knew things were bad, but I had no idea they were that bad.

I also was starting to realise a lot of things about my own journey into performing - the confidence I lacked as a younger woman, the way I always felt the need to apologise for taking up space in the world. I think gender stereotypes are something you can go a long time without seeing, but once you see them, they won't leave you alone, so I delved further and further in, talking to more and more people about their experiences.

The Unsung has always been about bringing to the fore the stories of people who otherwise wouldn't be heard, so it felt right to talk about my own experiences alongside a diverse range of other voices.

A Beautiful Way to be Crazy comes to Theatre Deli on Thursday 14 March. Tickets at £8/£6 via Eventbrite.

Sam Gregory & Sam Walby

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