Gaggle sisters doin’ it for themselves
PUBLISHED: 12:56 21 July 2014 | UPDATED: 12:56 21 July 2014
When you think of the description “girl band”, the latest batch of simpering, over-sexualised X Factor rejects springs to mind. Add choir into that mix and you have a bunch of operatic 16-year-olds of the young Charlotte Church variety. However, all-singing, all-dancing, all-girl band Gaggle have a new kind of look and sound that manages to defy any kind of label that is thrown at them.
Their famous onstage getup – all hooded neon robes and wild make-up – combined with a punky, drum and bass, operatic sound will be gracing the stage at the new Sisteract night at Proud Camden.
The bi-monthly night, on July 30, will be showcasing the best of female talent and is in collaboration with the charity Oxjam.
“I’m excited that they’re doing a night dedicated to women,” says band-founder Deborah Coulson.
“We’ll be bringing a big, exciting load of noise and beats to the stage.”
The 34-year-old, who formed the 20-piece band in 2009, describes her inspiration behind the band.
“I wanted Gaggle to be a group of women who are doing something different together.”
Coughlin goes by her surname, but the rest of the crew have names like Gusset, Peachy Bitch and Lipstick; pseudonyms that allow for a more subversive stage performance.
Their debut album, The Mouth of the Cave, was released in 2012 with Trangressive Records, the home of groups like Two Door Cinema Club and The Noisettes, and featured in the London 2012 Paralympics opening ceremony.
They also reworked a forgotten 1969 opera by the Women’s Institute called The Brilliant and the Dark, which they took to the ICA and later The Royal Albert Hall. It was dubbed by The Guardian a “vivacious, visceral, spectacularly indignant wall of sound”.
In between leaving critics babbling nonsensically about their talent, Gaggle have also found the time to open a pop-up shop and have a comedy show at The Etcetera Theatre at the moment called The Gag Show; a grotesque musical comedy sketch show.
So where does one go about finding a set of strong, feisty, musical women to join a girl band?
Lesbian nightclubs, apparently, are a good place to start.
“A friend of mine ran Club Motherfucker [on Hackney’s Stoke Newington Road] so I asked her if she could put the word out – obviously I thought she’d know loads of women,” says Coughlin.
“And then I turned to friends in London who I’ve known for ages who were frustrated with their careers at the time.”
The women, who join and leave the band all the time, are picked out for their character as opposed to perfect pitch and harmonies.
“I wanted it to be purposefully amateur. I wasn’t looking for women who wanted to be big pop stars.”
Instead, Coughlin strives for that uplifting community feel you can find in a large group of people.
“It’s not about individuals being stars, it’s about making something really powerful and beautiful together.”
Gaggle play Sisteract at Proud Camden on July 30. Tickets are £5.60. Visit proudcamden.com.