The idea is to ask, ‘Yes, and...?’ so that we can focus on the positives and generate ideas for positive action
Leisha Jungalwalla and Cat Leahy, who are This Way North, have just flown in from their home town of Melbourne and the three-hour time difference is messing with their heads.
“Yes, it’s just enough of a difference to feel like jet lag,” said Jungalwalla. “But we’ve been on the road, constantly travelling for the last three years now. We don’t really have a home.”
Experienced travellers, This Way North have been constantly touring over the last three years, only a couple of years after the band’s two members started working together, literally as a garage band.
“We started jamming together in a garage,” said Jungalwalla. “We weren’t trying to start a band or anything, we just wanted to play music together. We didn’t really know where it would go.”
Leahy takes up the story: “That took the pressure off, having no expectations. We could just play music and it was fun and honest.” Asked what she means by ‘honest’, Leahy elaborated, saying, “We could just focus on the music, on being authentic. We didn’t have to worry about whether it would go anywhere. These days, they say that a pop song should have a new element every seven seconds. Our songs aren’t like that. We maybe have seven seconds of silence every seven seconds (laughs).”
This Way North are in WA to play a string of dates, including Nannup Music Festival and a return of 'Sass The Patriarchy', which will take place at Fremantle venue, The Aardvark on International Women’s Day, 8 March. A year on, 'Sass The Patriarchy' continues to provide an opportunity for musicians to profile and celebrate female-led artists, bands and events. The events also include space for discussion about ideas for positive change in the music industry.
“The idea is to ask, ‘Yes, and...?’ so that we can focus on the positives and generate ideas for positive action,” explained Jungalwalla. “We could see that a lot of people were talking about issues of gender equity and inclusion of female, trans and non-binary people in the music industry, but there wasn’t a lot of action happening. So we decided to have a go at doing something that is about positive action.”
Leahy took up the back story, talking about how far out on a limb the two sometimes find themselves since they’ve started to engage in this way. “It’s scary doing something like this. You set yourself up for all sorts of people to comment and criticise and, it’s not easy. These are not simple issues, it’s really complex and trying to create change takes a long time. But I think things are beginning to change.”
This year’s 'Sass The Patriarchy' event is hosted by RTR Breakfast host Taylah Strano and features This Way North alongside local artists Axe Girl, Grace Sanders and Hyclass. All are welcome, including cis males. “Cis males are often excluded from conversations about gender equity, but we need everyone’s support and everyone is welcome to come along and to join in the discussion.”
Sass The Patriarchy happens at The Aardvark on Friday 8 March.