Interview: Shooting Daggers “Women still have to be validated by the cis men from the scene to be accepted.”

Making some serious waves on the scene right now are London based Shooting Daggers. With songs such as ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ and ‘Missandra’ having plenty to say on the treatment of women the feminist punk/queercore outfit are in no mood to pull any punches. Gary Trueman chatted to the band about their influences, taking back the word Misandry and collecting baby Yoda figures.

Let’s start at the beginning. How (where, when) did you meet up and what brought you together to form Shooting Daggers?

“Bea and Sal met on an app for musicians back in late 2018. They just moved to London and didn’t know anyone. It was a match! They played a couple of shows with their former drummer Godinha. Then coronavirus happened and Godinha left to live in Spain. In November 2020 we found Raquel through connections and we clicked straight away! I think we all wanted this band to happen, we’re glad we found each other.”

You cite acts such as Gouge Away, G.L.O.S.S and Turnstile as your main influences. Those are all bands that are well away from the mainstream. Do you think that it’s easier to find music that fits with your taste and ethos with the advent of platforms such as Spotify and Bandcamp?  That the big labels have lost some of their stranglehold on what people listen to?

“Turnstile became kind of mainstream recently with their latest album “Glow on”. Gouge Away and G.L.O.S.S also did very well and they found the perfect balance between becoming popular and still retaining their DIY punk spirit. Spotify isn’t the most ethical platform but their algorithm helped us to discover so many good bands and artists with great lyrics and ethos that fits ours. But these already had many listeners and are getting more and more every day. Whilst there are so many unknown artists and bands that are stuck with little streams because they didn’t have enough of them in the first place or they don’t have the resources to promote their music. Spotify gives us the  “The rich get richer and the poor stay poor” vibe. Not so fair. Bandcamp seems to be a better platform to find small bands and support them (you can buy their music/merch). Although Bandcamp requires more effort and research than Spotify to find good bands, at least there’s more chance you’ll find smaller artists to support. It’s definitely more ethical to support people’s music fairly and not only support the lucky ones that are on the right side of the algorithm. There are so many good bands that you don’t know about whilst there might be some “meh” bands in your playlist that got there just thanks to luck.”

Is the way forward solely DIY or is there still a place for the big labels?

“Signing with a big label will mean that our message will reach more people. We are totally open to that. We will always try to don’t compromise our vision and ethos even if we sign with a big label in the future as this is a big part of our music and message.”

Your own sound has been described as a mix of punk, Riot Grrrl and metalcore. Genres are a bit of a tired thing now though aren’t they? Isn’t music more of a spectrum, or do those tags still have a place? Your music is full throttle for sure but how does it differ from say what people think punk sounds like? And where are your similarities to old school Riot Grrrl like Bikini Kill or Babes In Toyland, and what are the main differences?

We feel like music genres are a bit of a tired thing today. Concerning us, we all come from different scenes: Bea is the Screamo kid, Raquel has a Doom/Post-Metal background and Sal is a massive fan of Hardcore. We don’t know what people expect from punk in 2022 but I think we for sure fit in the spectrum. We don’t know exactly in what genre to classify ourselves either. We found in the punk hardcore scene our home and it’s where we feel more comfortable performing so I think that’s enough to call ourselves a punk band. Riot Grrrl is not a music genre, is a movement that combines feminism, punk music and politics. You could say we are part of that movement but at the same time it’s a bit tiring when people assume that just because we are a bunch of girls playing music with a political message we are all gonna sound the same and they put us all under the same box aka Riot grrrl as if it’s a music genre when is really not. Not all Riot Grrrl bands sound similar. Like Babes in Toyland and Bikini Kill don’t sound the same for example.”

You’ve released a limited edition 7”flexi disc single featuring ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ and ‘Missandra’. It’s a fantastic debut. Will we be getting an album at some point in 2022?

“We are releasing an EP this year through New Heavy Sounds.”

And will you be looking to play plenty of gigs too?  Anything already booked?

“We’ve got plenty of gigs booked for this year, we’re so excited to play in different cities and countries. We can’t wait to announce some of them soon.”

Feminism generally has seen a much higher profile in recent years although the music industry is still lagging behind other professions such as acting. From a timeline starting with break through bands such as the Runaways, through the Bikini Kill era to now how far do you think music has come in recognising women as equals? Obviously there’s still a long way to go so what would you like to see happen next that would be viewed as an important moment?

“In the alternative scene we think there is still a lot to grow and don’t think the music industry has recognised women as equal in most scenes. At least not all women for sure. It also depends on the scene, women will struggle more in some scenes than in others. There is for sure more space for us now and more people are listening to what women and queer people have to say  but we’re still bound to sing about our struggles living in this society. Women still have to be validated by the cis men from the scene to be accepted. We got this strong feeling that this is a cis men’s scene and they gatekeep it and chose the women that can be allowed in. We also think that the male gaze still plays a major role in women’s success and that selling sex in our lyrics or visuals is praised and sometimes it feels like it’s the only way to be seen or heard. The ultimate goal would be for women and queer people to be able to make music without having to be angry at patriarchy all the time to make people notice us. It would be nice if we could express ourselves as human beings, talk about our desires and emotions. Truly expressing ourselves as artists, like cis het men have been doing since forever. We can’t afford to do that unfortunately yet, we haven’t achieved equality in that sense. So that’s what we would love for the future. At the end of the day we just want to be seen as human beings making music, F genders.”

We’re seeing misogyny being regularly called out in music at the moment.  There have been a number of high profile names linked to disgusting and unlawful behaviour. Does any one case stick out in particular? Has anything surprised you (in a good or bad way) in terms of how people have reacted to allegations of abuse?

“There’s so many cases of misogyny and abuse in the music industry and in the alternative music industry. We are not surprised by people’s reactions, although we are deeply disgusted. It sucks that no matter how much people say: “fuck all abusers” when it’s time to go against someone they know or someone they admire then they start raising doubts and wondering if the allegations are real against that person. It’s disgusting and tiring to hear cause it’s always the same story just with a different guy being accused. Quoting the really great Rabies Babies “Rape is Rape, Even if the Rapist is in a Band That You Like”

You’re song ‘Missandra’ which you say deconstructs the concept of Misandry and that Misandry is a healthy reaction to oppression. Can you expand on that? Why is it a healthy reaction? If the oppression was no longer an issue would misandry become valid or would there be no need for it to exist at all?

“We’re claiming back the word “misandry” but just to be clear we’re talking in fact about a concept that has similarities with the words “heterophobia” and “reverse racism”. Anti feminist groups has coined this word to attract women rights activists, something similar to what they have done with the word “Feminazi”. To ridicule them and also to claim that feminism is oppressing men. These are concepts that don’t really exist. The people that have been historically oppressed have a reason to despise or feel fear around their oppressors, hence the hate. Men, white people and straight people have no valid reasons to hate women, people of colour and queers; that’s just pure violence and will to predominate. That’s why “women hating men” isn’t violent, it’s just a reaction. Not everyone  finds this a healthy reaction to overcome their angst, but for others it works very well to claim their power back. A scenario where oppression doesn’t exist is not even remotely realist. But let’s pretend that oppression was stopping to be an issue, history can’t be changed and scars and trauma would still be there, so yeah “misandry” would still be valid.”

Moving on a little you often find band members are very different in real life to the way people may think they are because of the music they play and the lyrics they sing. So are there any surprising things you’d care to divulge about the Shooting Daggers posse?  Anyone have a thing for a mainstream pop artist, if so who? A fondness for unicorns? Anyone in the band with a talent that’s far removed from being on stage?

“We are all very quiet and calm in real life actually. Not your average chaotic punk band I must say. It’s more likely you find us working on our laptop discussing with a cup of coffee and vegan doughnuts than wasted in a parking lot haha. One of us secretly listens to French rap/reggaeton (like JUL), Some have a huge passion for 90’s and early 00’s house/dance music, some spend way too much time watching speedruns on Twitch, someone can speak Chinese and someone has way too many  baby yoda figures around the house.”

Imagine each of you get a chance to bring back a person from history that you think could do some good right now (this can be on a big scale or something more personal). Who would you choose and why?

Bea: “I don’t know if anyone from the past would have the right mindset to do good in contemporary society. The standards have changed and keep changing so what we desperately need now is fresh minds to save us from the void. The only person I can think of that I wish were still among us would be David Bowie. I think he could’ve helped a lot of great queer artists to get discovered, as he did for Placebo for example.”

Sal: “If I could I would bring back Kim Shattuck and I would go see The Muffs. I absolutely stan.”

Raquel: “Can’t think of anyone from history that would be back, although after this crazy year we had  I would definitely love to bring back those who left us too soon.”

Shooting Daggers – Facebook

Interview by Gary Trueman