Meet Road Gals LDN, the collective behind 'PIRATES LIVE'

Road Gals LDN is making waves in the arts scene with their strong ethos of celebrating road gal culture, UK music and focusing on promoting and amplifying women’s voices.

Following a week-long residency at Rich Mix, they presented PIRATES LIVE, an exciting showcase of emerging artists and musicians. I sat down with the founders of Road Gals LDN, Jasmine Kahlia and Abondance Matanda, to talk all things pirate radio and road gal culture...

On Road Gal Culture:

AM: We’re talking about the narratives and life experiences of different working class girls from inner city areas of any race but particularly focusing on black girls. And looking through the lens of grime and hip hop culture and the way we extract narratives through music.

Road Gals LDN and what it means to be a women-a key theme of this year’s TAKEOVER festival:

JK: So we’ve got an all female DJ line up and basically our ethos is to bring forward female faces and voices within UK music subcultures. We basically want to just amplify the voices and experiences of people, especially people that identify as women and non-binary, which want to express what they know through their art forms and through PIRATES LIVE.

AM: And we are sort of rewriting history…we did a workshop yesterday and one of the girls said that there aren’t many female MCs from Britain and that’s not true! So we’re just letting people know that women have been about and they have been making music so there is kind of a historical perspective so that people can understand that they are part of a legacy and part of a story.

On the women that have inspired PIRATES LIVE and Road Gals LDN as a whole:

AM: One of the main ones is Shystie because of her TV series for Channel 4, Dubplate Drama. And we have been using it as a resource in our workshops just to introduce people to pirate radio culture but through a lens of outsiders because Shystie’s character is trying to find her way into that culture. Even through her acting we trying show how women are capable of more than one thing as she even influenced the writing of that show as well. I’ve been listening to her music and have also been inspired by the likes of NoLay, Ms. Dynamite, Lioness.

JK: yeah definitely!

AM: What’s sick about them is that they are still relevant now!

On their previous events at Rich Mix:

JK: This is the fourth event that I’ve done at Rich Mix! It was a year ago that I did my first event, which was completely different artistically! Each time I’ve done an event it’s always been something specific that has had a different theme.The first event was with Video VEXens that was called ‘Interface • ty’ which was about women and online media and being able to control your personal façade with your social media façade. And after that I did Road Gals LDN with Abondance! We’ve known each other for a year and a half now so it was really good to collaborate on that and from there we’ve kind of developed a whole body of work as well which is really cool!

AM: The response from that event was really strong and people felt that what we were doing was necessary. And we love what we do and we do it regardless but it was nice to see that there is a demand and Rich Mix seems to be the place that supports our growth and there is not a lot of arts venues doing that and I think that’s what keeps us willing and happy to work here!

JK: A lot of the creative work that we’ve made over the past year, with all the resources that the Rich Mix has offered us and supported us with, has been so important for our development as young artists.

On this weeks residency at Rich Mix:

JK: We’ve been doing a lot! It’s been really great to have the residency here at Rich Mix so that the resident artists are already comfortable in the space and they know what’s going to happen in the day and how to visual it so it’s been really important! To be here for the residency and have everyone break off into their own spaces and come up with work designed for this space has been really exciting.

AM: On Monday everyone got given 35mm film camera and went around taking pictures as we are looking at pirate radio and grime music which was pretty much born in this area so that’s why Rich Mix has been important as well as it is in an area relevant to what we are looking at! And just getting people used to controlling their media that they are consuming and producing which is what pirate radio is all about.  And we’ve been having workshops looking at Dubplate Drama and discussing the role of women in the culture.

JK: During the residency our aims have been to learn from each other and with each other about pirate radio and also each other’s art forms as we have a range of different types of artists. We have some connection to music. The event will also be British Sign Language (BSL) signed as for us it’s about looking at how we can translate music for people who might access music in different ways!

Find out more: / @kaislegrai / @abondance_ / @videovexens

Photo credit: Jasmine Kahlia/Road Gals LDN

Written by Ayan Mohamed, August 2017.