You may recognise Lauren Mayberry as the sweet-voiced vocalist (and additional synthesisers) from the gorgeously emotive electro band Chvrches (how unnatural does it feel to write it like that?) who formed not so long go in 2011 after several months of writing and recording in Glasgow. As an internet marketer, I absolutely and geekily love that they used the roman “v” to distinguish themselves from “churches” on internet searches — never let your artistic integrity get in the way of your SEO.
I was first introduced to the band via the track Recover, which I immediately fell in love with, at a very poignant time (isn’t it always, though?). Just in case you haven’t heard the track, maybe just take a few moments to fall in love with it yourself, it has one of the greatest choruses I’ve ever heard. In fact — play it loud.
Chvrches isn’t Mayberry’s first band. Playing piano since being a child and drums since being a teenager (awesome), prior to Chvrches she was involved in local bands Boyfriend/Girlfriend and Blue Sky Archives. It’s worth noting that Mayberry also studied for four years for an Undergrad degree followed by a Masters in Journalism, leading her to a career in production running and freelance journalism, for which she won an award in 2010. Since then, in Chvrches, along with Iain Cook and Martin Doherty, she has enjoyed huge commercial success down to relentless touring in 2012 with some top names in the business (as well as headlining and festival gigs) such as Depeche Mode and Passion Pit. The band have said they are influenced by 80s music, which you will recognise in their sound, particularly, they state, Cyndi Lauper, Kate Bush, and The Cocteau Twins. Three of my personal favourites (Cocteau Twins though), and three of our faves at KQ. We heart her.
Now, I have a total woman crush on Lauren Mayberry. I think she is awesome — obviously for her talent and the fact that I love synthy electro, but because she is one of us. She’s approachable, she “gets it”. She tweets about watching Gilmore Girls.
Lauren Mayberry makes no secret of being a feminist — she’s one of the few women in the public eye who actively promotes the movement and is more than happy to be associated with it. That’s cool because in 2015, there are still many women who think being a feminist is bad and that there’s just no need for it. It’s great to have people like Mayberry associated with the movement because she can speak to a younger generation whose minds haven’t been, well, tainted so much. The more young (and old) people that go on to recognise that sexism exists in our world, and be disgusted by it, the less common it will become in years to come because more people will be fighting it. I feel like my generation (the generation Xers / early generation Yers) are on the cusp, we’re not ‘quite sure’ about this feminism business because — “didn’t it end in the 70s? Why is it back? But there aren’t any problems any more, right?”
What I’m witnessing more and more is millennials and younger, as young as children, spreading a positive gender message. Of course there are always exceptions, I’m not suggesting that sexism, transphobia and homophobia are going to be completely wiped out in 10 years, but I really do feel like something good is happening in our young’ens. The ones that are on the tinterweb everyday, in their online communities, who are witnessing sexism online. They’re the ones living in the world where female gamers and game designers get death and rape threats. Also, while we are by no means tolerant and equal, we do live in a more tolerant and equal society than when I was born. Things have changed — new problems arise. But with that change, teens and children are experiencing a different kind of definition of what’s “normal” — you only have to look at the latest MoneySuperMarket ad (how fucking awesome is that strut) or shows at Christmas about a boy who wears dresses — things are different. As I say, new problems arise — like the rise of misogyny on the internet. But the youth, I do think they’re with us (us being feminists), more than most. I really feel like, based on what I’m seeing in my world, the next generation are very open to the idea of challenging sexism.
And women like Lauren Mayberry seriously help with that by challenging sexism in their worlds, as well as, of course, other figures in popular culture, like Aziz Ansari, Emma Watson, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey — also, Beyonce and recently JLO with her video for I Luh Ya Papi and its feminist undercurrent. More people are saying “this is not cool”.
In 2013, Mayberry wrote an article in the Guardian entitled “I will not accept online misogyny”. In the article, matter-of-fact, she opens with “I am in a band that was born on the internet”. Very poignant, very relevant. She goes on to explain that the reason for writing her article was down to the responses she received after posting a screengrab of an inappropriate message from a fan. The message was inappropriate, calling Mayberry “cute”, talking about making love to her and totally disregarding her talent. Seems harmless, no? Well, like Mayberry rightly pointed out, it says something deeper. On the responses to this posting, and criticism in the music industry, of which she says is totally acceptable, Mayberry pointed out, “What I do not accept, however, is that it is all right for people to make comments ranging from “a bit sexist but generally harmless” to openly sexually aggressive.” Here are some of the responses she received:
“This isn’t rape culture. You’ll know rape culture when I’m raping you, bitch”
“I have your address and I will come round to your house and give u anal and you will love it you twat lol”
“Act like a slut, getting treated like a sluy [sic]”
“It’s just one of those things you’ll need to learn to deal with. If you’re easily offended, then maybe the music industry isn’t for you”
Do you think that’s okay? Because it’s not okay. And I fucking love Lauren Mayberry for not standing for this shit where many women before her and around her should be doing the same. Women shouldn’t just have to “get over it”, those doing it should stop bloody doing it. Women aren’t the problem here — and that’s such a valid and important point. Let’s spin this. Let’s actually all get the point here that we shouldn’t have to get over it — people shouldn’t be saying or doing things to cause us offence. This is called gaslighting, and it’s a thing. Playing the “don’t be so offended” card to make someone doubt their own emotional reactions is wrong because it’s an excuse for you to say and do whatever the hell you want and take no responsibility.
Lauren wrote, “During this past tour, I am embarrassed to admit that I have had more than one prolonged toilet cry and a “Come on, get a hold of yourself, you got this” conversation with myself in a bathroom mirror when particularly exasperated and tired out. But then, after all the sniffling had ceased, I asked myself: why should I cry about this? Why should I feel violated, uncomfortable and demeaned? Why should we all keep quiet?”
She makes a good point — and it hits on something that really gets on my nerves as a feminist. Why should we all keep quiet? For whose benefit? So that people (men and women) can continue getting to say what they want, decide what worth is placed on people and their talent? I say good on you Lauren Mayberry — and I know I’m a little late to the party here, but this is a Woman Crush Wednesday after all — we can reference the past!
Lauren hasn’t disappeared from the feminist-radar since then, you’ve only to look at her Twitter to see her stance. In September 2014 she took part in a talk at Google in which she discusses the article and music, gender and social media and particularly how they interact with fans, and interestingly, states “there’s a thread throughout society which makes people think it’s okay to say these things” — and goes on to discuss a rather disgusting event, late at night, where a man at a station in Glasgow chose to show her his penis. Grim. She also talks about the aforementioned gaslighting as an effect of victim-blaming culture, and interestingly, the pornification of women in advertising — “what the fuck has that got to do with headphones”, I think is her wording! Give it a watch:
As I hope this article has highlighted — Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches is awesome. I’ll leave you with some more of my favourite tracks:
Under the Tide
And my ultimate favourite….