The Guardian view on lockdown creativity: a freedom for female musicians?
The coronavirus pandemic has reconfigured the home as a site of creativity, one glimpsed through webcams and headphones. The format will surely vanish when arts venues reopen. But for some female musicians in 2020, before and during lockdown, the domestic space has offered artistic liberation at odds with the home’s reputation as a place of constraint for women.
Some have long understood the benefits of recording in isolation, away from an industry that prizes looks over sounds. Lockdown’s most highly rated album is perhaps US songwriter Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters. As a 90s teen prodigy, she was dogged by media intrusion, which by her own admission took a lasting toll. But Apple has centred herself by recording in the California home she has seldom left in 20 years. From there, she addressed her past on the album with biting humour and deep feeling.
It might be said that Apple’s case is exceptional. Working from home can provide freedom from corporate oversight, a situation that has plainly suited the experimental British pop star Charli XCX. She has described the process of making an album in lockdown, How I’m Feeling Now, as revelatory. Nobody, the singer said, could turn up unannounced or interfere. Pop’s detractors say its stars are puppets: by documenting the process online, XCX underlined her agency. Her album was recently nominated for the Mercury prize, the shortlist for which now features more female artists and female-fronted bands than men. Creating in a familiar space also offers ...
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