We sent Kes to Brighton to interview Veni Vidi Vici – local and up-and-coming all-girl (yeah, we said it) rock band. Except she never got that far, because Southern Rail. So here’s a podcast of their video call instead.
Tell us a bit about the band. First of all, how do we say it?
VVV: Veni Vidi Vici [Venny Veedee Veechee] – yeah, no one really gets that; we get all sorts of names.
So have you got something coming out soon then?
You guys have been gigging around Brighton for a while?
VVV: Yeah, we play a lot around Brighton. We’ve had, like, one show in London, but it’s difficult to kind of get everyone free at the same time. But we’re trying! But we have a car now, so we might get somewhere!
Obviously [JUST A GRRRL’s] focus is on Feminism, so what kind of challenges have you faced, being women in music and being in an ‘all-girl’ band? Have you faced any?
VVV: Well, there’s two sides you could go for really. One is that it’s… we don’t really find it hard because we feel that we shouldn’t be separated male and female, because that’s what’s making it slightly harder – that everyone thinks ‘so we’ll have a girls night and then we’ll have a normal night’, like we shouldn’t really separate it like that.
Like men are the default?
VVV: Yeah, kind of. It’s just that it shouldn’t be separated – that’s our main view.
It’s so much that we’re separated and we’re not considered to be equal musicians. It has to be the different female nights… which is awesome, because it’s great to play with them – it’s great to have that big group of people together – but at the same time it would be nice just to be considered as just a band!
Do you think interviews like this – where we say you’re an ‘all girl’ band or asking ‘what is it like to be a woman in this industry?!’ – is that harmful to everyone else and to yourselves?
VVV: I don’t think it’s harmful… You’re stating a fact, in a sense – like ‘boy bands’ – you’re stating a fact; we are an all-girl band, but it’s when people shove us just to the girls’ side of things…
Do you ever get [hear], ‘they’re good for a girl’?
VVV: Yeah, a lot!
Because that’s really [blatant]!
VVV: There’ve been times where we we’re at gigs and we’re setting up and we know what we’re doing – we might mess up occasionally but we know what we’re doing – but every guy in there feels like he has to come on stage and help you. And be like, ‘do you know what to do with your pedals?’. Like, yeah, I’ve been doing it for f–king ages!
And they never let us carry anything! For me [as a drummer], they’re always like ‘can you put the cymbals on?’. I carried them here; I can put them on a stand! We carry our stuff every time, and every time we rehearse.
So it’s just the… thinking you’re less than you are and thinking you’re a little girl rather than someone who can actually look after themselves!
We’ve had some promoters who didn’t treat us like that – of course – we’ve had some.
Do you get the low-level stuff – always being called ‘love’ or ‘sweetheart’?
VVV: I think it’s just ingrained into society, that’s the worst bit about it. I hate it if someone calls me that but then everyone is like ‘why? they’re being nice to you’, but why do they have to do it in that way? Like, I’d be happy if they just hit me on the shoulder, saying ‘alright mate?’, but it has be to be a sweet way of saying it.
Or like, ‘you guys were good’ instead of ‘good for girls’!
Have you guys worked with any female promoters and other [female] musicians in Brighton? Has there been any kind of sisterhood?
VVV: Yeah, we worked with Femrock and O’ Sister Promotions – they were really good. That was quite a good gig actually. And ARXX we always used to play with them, and Pussyliquor, they’re quite fun to play with. What’s the one in London? Who Run the World. There is a lot of sisterly love and I quite enjoy that. It’s nice to have that support background – other people who know how it feels!
Do you find that as you get more established, you get less of the [sexism]?
VVV: I think it was worse when – like, when I just sang, I think it was a lot more… before, we had another guitarist and she left last year and then I took over the guitar parts and I feel like we look more like a band now and people aren’t saying as much as before.
But the bigger the gig, the more it’ll come. It tends to be the bigger gigs that are all boybands and we’ll be the only girls at all and you’re just under the radar.
You get to see, during the soundcheck sometimes, people looking at you like ‘I want to see what you’re going to do!’.
The soundcheck is the worst!
It makes us a lot more nervous as well, especially if it’s like loads of guys there. Like, we’re getting ready to soundcheck and there’ll always be a point where something will mess up and then it looks like we don’t know what we’re doing and we do!
You get scrutinised a lot more. We find that with female singers as well – like you have to be Beyonce or leave.
VVV: Yeah, being a singer as well, like, I’m not always perfect and I quite like that, I like the whole kind of not being completely on-point, it kind of gives a bit more of a real feel to it. I mess up… quite a bit sometimes, but there’s part of me that, because I quite like the grungy side of things, I don’t want it to be like Beyonce and my vocals to be perfect and on-point the whole time. I’d quite like to be alright, but… [laughter] not like I’m being recorded the whole time; I don’t want it to sound like a recording.
How long have you [Veni Vidi Vici] been around?
VVV: Two years! We started in 2014, in October/November time. Me and Christina used to live together, and we used to just sit in her attic like ‘we really want a girl band!’, then we met Laura and auditioned Clara – we pretended we’d auditioned loads of people! Like, ‘you got the part!!’. We also had Tash at the time… I feel like, in the last year – nothing against Tash, I love her to bits – but we’ve progressed in a different direction because her songwriting is so different to what my songwriting is when I write guitar parts and… the band’s direction has changed a lot in the last year.
Spotlight is the start of the new direction we want to go in and I think we’ve finally found our sound.
Have you guys got any gigs coming up?
VVV: 4th November at Brighton Electric. Doors are at 7pm and all the money is going to RSPCA – a dogs shelter in Cyprus.
We have some things coming up but we can’t give any announcements!
Do you find there’s a kind of lad culture, especially at gigs, or is that not so much of a problem anymore?
VVV: It depends because at the girls gigs there’s more of a female following…
We’ve got a lot of support – the one we played with Pussyliquor, Girls do it Better, the amount of support we got from that was incredible, we got so many likes. Usually, certain gigs we play, people won’t even pay attention to who we are, so that’s why those nights do help because you kind of find your fanbase. That’s obviously what they like…
It depends what kind of show we play. If we’re the only girl band then I do think they kind of latch on to us, like…
Like they weren’t really watching us either!
We, me and Laura especially, we’ll start kicking each other, start having play fights in the middle of the gig and call each other really… rude names!
We push our way into the lad culture but they don’t really… we’re kind of on our own! No one else joins in with us!
But we’re at that stage where we don’t care. We’re just doing our thing, we’re really enjoying it, and the lads, if they want to treat us in a patronising way, it’s like ‘well we’ll show you!’.
When we wanted to play music and when we wanted to be in a band, we didn’t think ‘it’s a man’s thing’, so you don’t think about that you just like it, so you do it. So therefore we won’t separate ourselves. Whoever likes us, likes us, and whoever doesn’t – okay!
What’s your favourite thing right now?
VVV: I’m freaking out about uni at the moment so there’s nothing else in my brain!
I’m excited about our show!
I’m excited to get everything there. I’m a little bit scared at the same time!
We’re playing to a whole new audience who’ve never seen us play, so it’s a bit more nerve-wracking.
And because we’ve reached out to quite a few different bands, they’ll bring in their fanbases and it’ll be a whole new room of fresh faces so we’re really excited for that. It’s going to be really good.
Anything else you really want to tell me right now?
VVV: One thing actually! Obviously when we were all kids and we all got into music, you had like Paramore and that and they were the big faces of… who you looked up to because they’re a female in the music industry but one thing that annoys me now – like, I’ve dyed my hair red now and I love my hair those colours but whenever I do it [people are] like ‘you’re Hayley Williams!’, I’m like no, I’m not! I’ve tried to stay away from that so much in my lifetime because I used to try and be her and I regret that. So it’s that thing of being compared to people who aren’t men in the industry.
It’s typical that we’re related to clichés…
I love those people, but I don’t think my music or I sound like them.
They just see a girl band or a female frontwoman and relate it to any female band out there!
We ask people which bands [they think] we sound like and they answer with only girl bands and my influences are not girl bands!
When you were first taking up taking up rock instruments, did you face any push-back? Not necessarily people saying ‘you can’t do that, you’re a girl’, but was it uncomfortable at all?
VVV: I don’t know because we don’t really, like… care what people think! We’ve all been doing it since before we came to uni, before we all met each other so… and, BIMM to be honest, there’s girl instrumentalists at BIMM, so it’s quite a comfortable thing to start off there. You get people – female, male, whatever – playing all kinds of instruments.
In BIMM I’m the only girl in any of my classes, it’s me and 19 guys and it has been for 3 years, so sometimes when I get up and play I feel like I’m being super judged, like they’re thinking I can’t really do it. So I get up and I think I can’t do it. I can and the teachers are really good at encouraging you… and the guys in the class aren’t like that, but I just have it in my head that they think ‘she can’t really do it’!
Personally, I had to try a few guitar teachers back home until I landed to the guitar teacher that helped me get into BIMM and the only reason I stayed with him because he said ‘I’m not going to feel sorry for you just because you’re a girl; I’m not going to be easy with you. You have some balls, so show it. Or else give up.’.
For me, I remember the first time I played electric guitar I was in college and my tutor came into the room while we were practising and he was shocked that I was playing power chords… like I should’ve been playing open, acoustic chords. They’re not that hard! It gave me a bit more motivation because I can do it, and if you think I can’t then —
I’m going to show you!
It’s made me more determined.
So! Make sure you go to Veni Vidi Vici’s gig on the 4th November (that’s today, guys), give them a like on Facebook, and listen to all their music on Soundcloud immediately! They’re positively smashing.