In a normal world, the raucous and confrontational nature of punk music and the more regimental requirement of parenthood would typically go together like chalk and cheese.
“But why should they?” is the question asked by J Ranae, one of three front women of Hoxton based punk bank SH!TSICK, who themselves have had to determine the right balance between the demands of parenthood alongside being part-time musicians.
One recent outcome of combining these ordinarily juxtaposing things was the Punk Mum Day Fest event in Dublin Castle, Camden, hosted by SH!TSICK, where mums were invited to enjoy punk music and poetry, however with their kids still in tow. Of course the event took place on Mother’s Day.
The Punk Mums Day festival was a completely child-friendly event.
Speaking to J Ranae and the band at her mother’s flat, just off the Columbia Road in the East End, she said: “We timed the event to be in the day time specifically so mums with young kids could come. It was experimental territory, but it actually worked well.”
Both children and parents were accommodated for.
“We had things like a table where the kids could go and make art and posters, and we tried to speak directly to the children when we were singing. We’ve still got a lot to learn about having young kids as part of the audience, but we’ve planned lots of similar events for the future, so we have a chance to improve.”
Fellow front woman Quartina Blue has a two-year-old son, and she and the band have always consciously tried to make her boy a part of their journey.
“I’ve felt the challenge personally of working in the creative industry, and being a mum, and learnt how to make that work.”
“When he was younger, he could come to rehearsals and appreciate the music, but now he’s a toddler he doesn’t want to sit down, so this creates new struggles. Making sure that he is cared for and involved is an important part of our process.”
SH!TSICK formed back in 2012, after three South East London girls J Ranae, Quartina Blue, and Tilly Squeeks met whilst performing a play, and soon felt that the raw chemistry between them meant they were inclined to do something together creatively.
They began writing poetry firstly, performing at various open mic nights around London.
But when they met now bassist of the band Herman Stevens, he felt that music would enhance their message, so they started defining their sound that soon drew similarities with the punk genre.
Though the three front woman also play guitar in the band, the whole make up of SH!TSICK also includes Herman – bassist, guitarist Ana Tosh, and a drummer, who they refer to as JJ.
On the topic of parenthood, they said: “Our generation of parents have new challenges, particularly with the current political climate. We want children to be empowered, there are new ways to bring children up in the world we live in, and we don’t want kids to feel restricted by this.”
“The best way to get children into music is to create space for them to come to a gig.”
“All gigs are at night in venues that serve alcohol, which directly isolates children from coming. We weren’t sure whether people would bring their kids, but they did and they liked it.”
A lot of the band’s songs feature profanity and expletives, and there’s no doubt some parents would be opposed to exposing their minors to this.
But SHITS!CK challenge this and say: “We’re not directly swearing at someone, more so at something, at an experience. It’s an expression of our emotions. And if there’s no aggression insinuated, then what is the problem?
…After the gig finishes the kids didn’t come up to us repeating the swear words, they repeat the lines from the chorus.”
The band knows that as lyricists they don’t conform to mainstream music’s expectations.
But in a world where music can be streamed so easily, and without necessarily the help of a record label needed, controversial themes and opinions have a wider platform to be shared through music.
“Now, it’s cool to be the rebel and say what shouldn’t be said, and this hasn’t always been the case.
“We wanted to make something that is unifying for different types of people. And if there’s more honesty in that message and in our lyrics it is more likely to resonate with people.”
“And again, involving children in this is important because:
“Children are an important audience, and there shouldn’t be certain demographics to focus culture towards.
…Ultimately, the message is it is possible to be both a parent and a performer.”
Stay tuned for the next Punk Mum’s day event by following the band on social media: