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A Magazine for Sheffield
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Le Shig performing at The Hide for Boxie.

Boxie is a new gig series looking to showcase emerging female artists in the city. It's just one of a whole host of new nights like Plenty Fuss, Pink Wafer and Girl Gang that aim to diversify the male-dominated lineups in the Sheffield scene. We spoke to co-founder Teah Lewis to find out what inspires her.

What inspired you to start Boxie?

Me and my friend Hannah Lloyd are both female musicians in Sheffield. I think I went to three gigs in one week with nine different bands and there were literally no girls at all. As a female musician I think: why am I not being booked more? Why is it that my genre doesn't fit these venues? Why does it feel like I can't be part of these lineups?

We're trying to switch things up and level that playing field

Three different venues, three different events, nine bands, no girls. It doesn't make sense. I know so many other female musicians, so it doesn't line up that they're not there. They're not first on the list because other bands have had more opportunities and more exposure. We thought that we need to bring it out ourselves.

What's the ethos of Boxie?

It's about giving a platform to female musicians and putting them at the top of the bill. It's about mixing up genres and giving everyone a space to perform without feeling like what they're doing doesn't fit. A lot of the time on a lineup a female singer-songwriter will get put first, for example, and then you'll have two male acts who aren't necessarily better or more interesting.

It's just the underlying format, and it doesn't make sense. It's not necessarily coming from anything negative, but they should be headlining. We're trying to switch things up and level that playing field. We're promoting great artists who might not normally get seen in that way.

Do you aim to have a mix of genres?

Not necessarily anything majorly experimental but showing that it's not just one thing or another - it's everything. It's bringing together those different artists and putting them on in one place with that specific idea of promoting female artists. It depends who you're able to contact and who you're able to approach. The last gig was exclusively folk musicians - not on purpose but that's what transpired. It's not going to be eclectic every time but it's completely open to genre and ability.

What's been your favourite gig so far?

At the most recent one we had some really good talent - three strong acts. Katie Mac from Liverpool and Chloe Foy are really successful in what they're doing at the moment, going on tour and getting radio play. It was great that they wanted to support us and that they liked the idea.

Some performers are so indulgent, and female performers don't behave like that.

Having other female musicians on-board with it and excited about it is really cool. It's quite a small project - it's just based around what I can do with a full-time job. I wanted to showcase that level of talent, and I wanted to take it from being an open-mic night to being a gig. The calibre of the music was so good and I just want to carry that on.

What could the bigger venues do to promote gender equality?

They need to seek it out. I think this is the case in Sheffield, not just to do with gender but to do with the same bands. There's very similar lineups all the time, and bands that people go back to. It's about trying to prioritise not just gender but diversity in all senses. It's important to go 'this is a band of five 20-year-old boys, which is fine, and they're talented, but who else is there?' It's thinking outside the box, and seeking it out, and making sure there's something interesting on every lineup.

I think Sheffield needs reinvigorating, and I think people are very complacent when it comes to seeing live music now because there's so much of it. That's why venues like Delicious Clam are really great because they do something different. It's on a very small scale but they manage to get this big following. I want more gigs to be like that. The culture of it is so different to an open-mic at a pub. Some performers are so indulgent, and female performers don't behave like that.

Who would be your dream booking?

Lilith Ai, Sansha and Kate Davis.

Sam Gregory

Boxie return with another gig in the autumn. In the meantime, you can follow them on Facebook

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Katie Mac performing at The Hide for Boxie.

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