Venus Rising
By Robert Nichols
Tuesday 24 Sep 2019 15:59:00
Browse all Music articles
Venus are a young 5-piece all girl alternative rock band from Leeds, they have left a big impression from both their energy and songwriting skills when playing on Teesside. Recently they turned heads at Darlington's Last Train Home festival, after last year playing an outstanding set at Twisterella in Middlesbrough.

Venus are forging a path for women in alternative music, and are leading advocates for a safer and more diverse music scene.

Keyboardist Grace Stubbings comes from Hartlepool where she played in bands before leaving to study in Leeds. It is Grace that took time out in advance of embarking on a national tour to tell me more about the band, their music and what they stand for?

Q: Grace can you tell us a little about Venus – how did you come together, when and where?

Grace: We are a 5 piece rock back from Leeds. We all went and met at Leeds College of Music. Back in September 2017, GK put a post on Facebook looking for female/identifying instrumentalists and we all came together from the call. Because we were all strangers apart from GK and I, it was very awkward to begin with and we didn’t actually become an official band until December 2017.

VenusQ: The band has real energy through – riot grrl punk but you also have that electro space-rock element – how did those elements come together?

G: Initially we came together and thought we would just be playing riot grrrl influenced music as this is what brought us together. When we came to writing our own material and started collaborating, we all just brought our own individuality to the band. Although I have played in punk/ riot grrrl bands previously, I write and produce a lot of Dream Pop, especially with me playing synthesiser this definitely is apparent in the music. As for the rest of the girls, we all have preferred music tastes. Jess has played in a lot of jazz and funk bands, Hannah has played in Brit Pop influenced bands, GK has been in blues bands and Gabby listens to a lot of Rock and Pop. So all of our tastes and styles of playing has just came together and formed VENUS.


Q: I saw Venus play live at last year's Twisterella festival and you really left a big impression on me with the energy and full on performance – have you been getting positive reactions? What have been the highlight gigs so far?

G: We have been getting loads of positive feedback! Especially from the North East which we are so grateful for. Personally, I think my highlight has been our debut single launch at Hyde Park Book Club back in January, I think the rest of the girls would agree too because we were so overwhelmed by the turnout. We managed to sell out our first headline show, we were just amazed! I also have a couple of favourites playing in Newcastle  - Little Buildings and Middlesbrough - Westgarth Social Club supporting Bloxx.


Q: How are you looking forward to striking out on this national tour?

G: We are really looking forward to playing and meeting local bands across the UK. It’ll just be amazing reaching out to new people and gaining a stronger fan base. 

Q: You put feminism and positive activism high up in your band description – Tell us about promoting a safer more diverse music scene?

G: We just want to promote that women+ are NOT a novelty, trend OR object in the music industry and we should be respected like anyone else when we are doing our job.

Q: What kinds of barriers are you having to hurdle as young women in music? 

G: On different occasions we have to deal with sexual harassment whilst we have been playing on stage, we have dealt with people just speaking down to us and underestimating if we can actually play our instruments. Once a sound engineer was shocked that I plugged my synthesiser into a DI box even though I have a degree in Music Production... 

Q: Do you see signs of change for the better for women in the music scene, am thinking of initiatives like Noisy Daughters?

G: I do see positives changes, we also love Noisy Daughters. They have given us a platform to perform to so many new people in the North East and we can’t thank them enough for the support they have given us.
I’d also say the likes of festivals such as Primavera Festival which has a 50/50 lineup but I still think there is a long way to go. Down to lineups having a variety of different people, to festivals having more of a gender balance. 

Q: Songs such as Sour turn small minded prejudice on its head – do you hope you can give others strength through your words and experiences?

G: I passed this question onto GK due to the lyrical content. And that’s exactly the point of Sour. Words hurt, even though we shouldn’t care what other people think, it’s unrealistic to go through life without feeling pain when alienated by other people for things a simple as your appearance, sexual orientation, gender, race etc. Sour is about dealing with that pain processing it, it’s okay to be hurt and angry, and that it’s not as simple as ‘not caring’. When GK lost her hair to Alopecia, she had people telling her it didn’t matter what anyone else thought, when yes, it doesn’t. But it didn’t mean that all of those who laughed at her and made her feel ashamed, didn’t contribute to her trauma and make her feel worse. So Sour is about encouragement and self-empowerment but with a more of a empathetic and realistic attitude

Q: You were originally from Hartlepool playing in bands – there seems to be a real scene emerging there now. I wondered whether Hartlepool and the many young music makers there have shaped/influenced you in anyway?

G: Yes, Hartlepool has definitely shaped me. It’s amazing to see such a supportive music scene and I love playing there. I’d definitely have to say my friend Madeleine Smyth influenced me (check our her music!!). I met her when I was 15 and we instantly started making music together, for a short while we were in an all girl indie band called ‘Debris’ and this inspired me to go on to performing. Even to this day we collaborate, I produce some of her music which you can find on my Soundcloud (@gra4ce). I’d also have to say the girls from Armpit and the Glitterbabies inspired me too, we had such a fun time gigging in college and it really introduced me to the music industry.


Q: Finally - What music have you released and how can people listen to it?


G: So far we have released two singles; Sour and Deranged. You can find them on all major streaming platforms such as Spotify, Youtube, Apple Music etc. We will be releasing our third single ‘Freaky Friday’ on Halloween! 

Q: When are you next coming to this region?

G: We are playing Newcastle on Friday 15th of November at Head of Steam and Stockton at Songs from Northern Britain the following day, Saturday 16 November.

Website with band info/tour info and a video too - venusgrrrls

Venus band

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