Remember when Sausage — sorry, Wireless — Fest announced its line-up this year and everyone went apeshit because there were only three female acts on the bill? Well, by some miracle, after the social media uproar, the sold-out three-day music event are offering reparations in the form of the Smirnoff House stage, whose weekend line-up features only female artists.
Smirnoff House — the vodka brand's partnership with Rinse FM — has become a part of Smirnoff's Equalising Music project which was launched in 2017, aiming to tackle gender equality in the urban music genre. The all-female stage ups the festival's female act count from just a measly five to 30, and is being hosted by Rinse FM's Emerald and Julie Adenuga. Over three days, acts highlighting female talent in urban music not just from the UK, but the rest of the world, are taking the stage to show that women have well and truly carved themselves places in hip-hop, rap, grime, garage and beyond.
“Smirnoff set up Equalising in Music in 2017 because the music industry had been sidelining female talent for too long,” said Sam Salameh, Head of Smirnoff. “And we’re continuing to put our money where our mouth is. This is about giving under-represented talent a platform, inspiring the next generation of women headliners and influencing the industry to enable genuine, long-lasting change.”
“Since its pirate beginnings, Rinse has been nurturing talent and pushing boundaries. Thanks in no small part to the likes of Julie Adenuga, Maya Jama and Emerald, female presenters have inspired and influenced our entire radio output,' said Sarah Lockhart from Rinse FM. 'It’s fitting to be teaming up with Smirnoff Equalising Music and Wireless to celebrate a wealth of diverse female talent and promote a shift in urban culture.”
With the initial bill released to the public featuring Cardi B (who pulled out in April, her baby's due date now looming incredibly close), and only two other female artists, many originally thought it was a joke — same — but what it did manage to do was open up a wider dialogue about the way women are excluded from music, specifically urban spaces. Whilst Smirnoff House to many may seem like an attempt at a second thought or quick fix, the Equalising Music project's heart is in it. Wireless sparked such outrage for its exclusion of female talent that it makes sense for the project to set the event in its sights. Additionally, I would imagine that Wireless has learnt its lesson, and shouldn't find itself caught up in an oversight like this again.
Is it good? Of course. But with a multimillion — billion, even — pound industry claiming to support its female talent more than ever before, it's only a start.
For a week of special Equalising Music programming from 9th July, tune in to Rinse drive time (4-7pm), plus an additional 12 hours of highlights from the festival on Saturday 14th July. To find out more and for the chance to win tickets to Wireless 2018, click here.