Kim Watson is the promoter and founder of She17 and a Walthamstow-based musician. As well as curating the She17 #SHEFEST night, she is also playing in two bands across the festival. We caught up with her to find out more.
Hi Kim. Tell us a bit about She17 and why you set it up.
Myself and my partner Angie Hillcoat have always been keen guitarists and songwriters but were nervy performers in our previous bands and earlier outings with our band SULK. I’d started gigging again locally accompanying Sam Kurt, a friend who I met through a local choir and was giving guitar lessons to at the time.
Having got a taste for gigging again, Angie and I also started talking about doing something that we could fit around work and our daughter. The idea was to organise a few events for female musicians we’d met who were either starting out and wanting to test their songs or covers to fellow enthusiasts or like us were trying to get back into playing again. I searched for the She17.com domain, it was available and here we are today 14 events later! We are all about offering a fun and supportive environment for emerging or experienced female performers, that is family friendly and men are very welcome to come and watch and enjoy a night off from the limelight!
What have been the highlights since you have been running it?
The biggest high for us both was getting Emily Barker to headline our 1st birthday show in 2014. I’ve also really enjoyed our ‘She17 and Under’ junior showcases where we raised money for charities. The main highlight for me is seeing some of the acts that we’ve programmed developing over time like Sam Kurt and teen musician Jessie Godwin. I also really enjoyed our last show, as SULK got to air some new songs to a full house and they went down really well.
Less chopping and changing of acts doing one or two songs each and more songs from fewer acts for starters. We’ve got four Walthamstow-based acts, Lady President, Crow Hall, SULK and This Is Cleo, and two solo acts from Essex, Sam Kurt and Silvi, so its still a packed bill but the punters will get to hear a bit more from these fabulous women.
As well as organising #Shefest, you’re also playing in two of your bands. Tell us about that.
I met Rebecca Jade through She17 and last #Shefest we performed two songs as the early formation of Lady President. The Uncommon Earth‘s Anna Shorten joined us very shortly after that on percussion and we have had one heck of a great year rehearsing and gigging together, plus we’ve recorded a few of our songs and were lucky enough to get a slot at the Walthamstow Garden Party this year.
My other band SULK is more of an outlet for mine and Angie’s songwriting and jamming at home. We have a bass player, Pam Donaldson and another singer, Tracy Dover, on board now and recorded our first EP last winter. We are all mums and so gigging can be a challenge at times.
With SULK I’m the front person, and I write or co-write most of our songs, sing and play guitar. With Lady President (with the exception of one of my songs) Rebecca does the writing and I play mainly bass, lead guitar, backing vocals and harmonica so I get to improvise a bit more. It’s really great to be in both bands and has improved my confidence in singing and playing no end.
Tell us what it’s like being a musician in Walthamstow – the good, the bad and the ugly.
I love the music community in E17. Being a musician in Walthamstow is really emotionally rewarding when people get what you’re doing and enjoy what you’re playing. I love seeing other local musicians too when I get the chance.
There are some great resources, groups and venues. Sometimes it’s disappointing when our generosity in promoting other events or groups isn’t always reciprocated, but that really is a minor niggle.
If Walthamstow were a classic album, what would it be?
More Songs About Buildings and Food – Talking Heads
What’s next for She17 after Stow Festival?
On 4th October we are hosting an afternoon of She17ness at the Rose and Crown as part of the nationwide We Shall Overcome weekend. We’ve called the event She Shall Overcome and yes in 2015 some (non-local) musicians have suggested we’re discriminating against men by doing so! Beyond that, until there’s equality of opportunity for women in music we’ll keep on doing She17 events.
She17 presents #SHEFEST on Friday 18 September at the Grove Cafe. Entry is £3 on the door.